Photographed in the back of the squad car, Ted looks like your typical hardened criminal: refusing to look at the camera, eyes straight ahead, mouth set in a line. Actually, there aren’t many other options for Ted’s mouth, as it’s a beak.
Ted the Pet Duck, who arrived in an Oakdale back yard in mysterious fashion late last year, spent some time on the lam Thursday. According to his Instagram page ted_thepetduck (a duck with this much personality must have an Instagram page), a side gate blew open at his house and he “wandered out to explore”.
Oakdale Police officer Chelsie Stilwell was investigating a separate matter down the block when she encountered Ted.
“Ted arrived on scene and I thought he belonged to (the woman at that home),” Stilwell said. It was clear from the beginning that this was no ordinary mallard. “Ted was following me everywhere.”
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A couple of cars drove by, and Stilwell stopped traffic for Ted, asking passersby, “Is this your duck?”
Finally, she had to get into her patrol car to do some paperwork — and get out of the pouring rain. She looked out the window, and there was Ted, waiting expectantly.
So Stilwell took Ted into custody, making him, in effect, a jailbird. “He went on two calls for service with me,” she said. She radioed her sergeant, saying, “There’s something very special about this duck.”
With a little investigating, Stilwell tracked down Ted’s owner, Lydia Fields. And called her.
“I said, ‘This might sound strange, but do you have a duck?’ ” Stilwell said. Fields responded, “Oh, crap; what did he do?”
Well, he did plenty of just that in Stilwell’s backseat before she delivered him safely home.
A post about Ted’s excellent adventure on the Oakdale Police Department’s Facebook page gathered the gallivanting game extra attention, with many folks eager to hear more about him.
Ted’s story in Oakdale dates back to November, when he appeared at the home of Lydia Fields.
“I went to go close the window and I heard what I thought was a toad,” she said. “The next morning, I am opening up the windows and there’s this duck in my back yard.”
Fields put out some food and water and figured her yard was just a temporary stop on the duck’s migration somewhere. But Ted had other ideas.
“He liked the food and the pool we gave him and now he’s our pet,” Fields said. He doesn’t fly much, only getting a few inches off the ground. That made Fields think he was someone’s pet. But nobody has claimed him.
And Ted has settled in just fine. He has his pool, borrowed from the neighbor (“I have to buy the neighbor kid a new pool,” Fields said). And when it’s cold, he sleeps inside the laundry room — where the floor is easy to clean.
Sometimes, when Fields is making dinner, he will come and stand in the kitchen. Occasionally, settled in to watch TV, Ted will sit on the couch with Fields. “Sometimes he’ll just fall asleep there.”
He eats poultry scratch, as well as fruits and vegetables and the worms Fields’ 12-year-old son, Jesse, and his friends dig up for him.
Not a bad existence for a duck with a mysterious past whose goose was nearly cooked in his run-in with the law.
“He’s just your average duck, living his best life,” Fields said.
And he’s got a growing following. Said Stilwell: “I want a Ted.”