My partner and I were walking our four Standard Poodles near a big, wide estuary which has mangroves around the water’s edge. Mangroves are a diverse group of woody trees and shrubs that inhabit the shallow intertidal margins of sheltered coastal and estuarine environments. They break up waves and help prevent them reaching the shore. As a result, mangroves play an important role in erosion control and shoreline protection. Many species of birds make extensive use of mangroves for roosting, feeding, and breeding.

Next to the mangroves is grass, then a footpath, another 15 feet of council property and, beyond that, million dollar homes with beautiful gardens. The four dogs were trotting happily along when all of a sudden we heard a lot of squawking, quacking, and splashing. A mother duck, swimming in the mangroves, had alerted her babies to our presence and was gathering her family. With a huge rush of adrenalin, all of the Poodles headed for the water! I yelled for them to come back. Panda returned first as she never gets more than belly-deep in water. Year-old Thea, the most obedient, as she doesn’t chase things, came out of the water next. Sherman doesn’t know how to swim so he came back too . . . not happy about it, but he’s only wet up to his sides. On the other hand, Dixie is a very strong swimmer and loves to swim.

Taking advantage of the confusion of the dogs coming out of the water, the mother duck left her babies in a sheltered area and headed out to the middle of the estuary. Dixie followed her. The mother duck then headed downstream. So did Dixie. The mother duck let Dixie get close then fluttered her wings and swam a little faster, leading Dixie further and further away from her babies . . . and from me.

Back on shore, I was panicking!! I was yelling for Dixie, and people were peering out from behind their curtains as I trotted frantically up and down the footpath. Twenty agonizing minutes went by. Could Dixie stay afloat this long? Finally, I saw her swimming back. She must have gotten tired of chasing a duck she could never quite reach and decided to return to where she had left us. I felt a huge surge of relief as she came ashore; however, the fact that she was grinning from ear to ear did nothing to ingratiate herself to me. I wanted to hug her and shake her silly at the same time!

I had to keep telling myself, "This is a Standard Poodle who LOVES water – what more could I ask from the breed?!"

Author: Anne Bennett
New Zealand

As originally published April 2009
The International Parti Poodle Gazette