It isn’t every day you see a duck and a Husky lying together in the grass, but that’s exactly what you’ll come across if you drive through the tiny town of Strout, Minnesota.
Max, a 12-year-old Husky, and Quackers, a 5-year-old duck, are an inseparable, albeit unusual, duo who formed a bond after being rescued by the same family.
Seven years ago, Patrick and Kirsten Riley adopted Max as a companion for their Husky, Sasha. A few years later, Sasha passed away and the couple brought home two ducklings, one of which didn’t survive the winter. That left Max and Quackers to find comfort in each other.
“We initially had Quackers in a kennel in the garage with a heater and Max would walk by and check her out,” says Kirsten. “We decided to let Quackers out one day to see what would happen. Quackers went straight to Max and they’ve been together ever since.”
Soon after, the Rileys built a special home for the pair inside the garage, complete with carpeted floors and heat for the winter. During the colder months, Max and Quackers stick close to home. During the warmer months, however, they head to the yard to soak up the sun and regularly draw a crowd along Minnesota State Highway 28.
“They are the most adorable thing ever,” says Roxanne Godejahn, who lives across the road from the Rileys. “I can see them in their spot from our kitchen window. Max just lies on the ground and Quackers runs around him.”
The pair occasionally crosses road to lie in their favorite spot, but Godejahn says the intersection, as well as the pair’s fame, slows down drivers on the road. And after a local news station did a story on their friendship, even more people are on the lookout as they pass by.
“People always slow down to get a glimpse of them,” says Godejahn.
If Quackers feels like going for a swim, she quacks at Max to accompany her to the baby pool at their home or neighbor’s pond – a perfect example of the pair’s relationship. Everyone who knows the pair says Quackers is definitely the boss, until it comes to food.
“They share the same water bowl, but if Max steps away from his food, Quackers looks at Max and tries to sneak some dog food, but then Max backs her off,” says Kirsten. “Quackers would eat dog food if she could, but Max doesn’t try the duck food.”
While Max is described as a “big sweetie,” Quackers also takes on the role as the protector. Diane Lee, Kirsten’s mother, says that one day, she went into the garage to sit in a lawn chair.
“The duck marched around me quacking, trying to get me to leave,” Lee says with a laugh. “She finally gave up and went into her house with Max, but she kept peeking out from around the corner to see if I had left as if to say, ‘give us our space.’”
What explains this unlikely friendship? Kirsten isn’t sure.
“I think they were both just lonely,” she says. “I’ve read ducks take a companion for life and I think that’s what Quackers did with Max.”
The duo’s fame isn’t limited to their tiny town any longer, and the media attention has drawn interest from people around the world, says Lee.
“Someone even made a Christmas card with Max and Quackers,” Lee says. “Seeing these two together is just a refreshing, different perspective on life. If people could figure it out and get along like animals, I think we’d all be a lot better off.”
Images courtesy: Kirsten Riley