Don’t all dogs play a friendly round of fetch with live ducks?
This photo, from 1949, snapped by photographer Loomis Dean, brought to life the odd and unlikely friendship of Trigger the dog and his web-footed buddy, Donald. The aptly-named Donald the Duck wasn’t new to interspecies friendships (just like his cartoon counterpart), having been adopted by a local Washington family, and raised amongst humans and dogs. But when he was ousted to a ranch to rejoin the wild, it wasn’t long before Trigger, a Chesapeake Bay retriever – and hunting dawg! – befriended Donald and decided he was far too delightful to leave for the pond.
Featured in the 2008 LIFE Book, The Classic Collection, the caption summed up the scene quite pawfectly: “Don’t worry! The duck’s fine!”
And that is why this photo is funny, and not tragic. Here’s the story: One day in 1947 the Olson family in Yakima, Wash., brought home a duckling named Donald (of course). Donald instantly became friends with the family dog, to the extent that Donald emulated everything the dog did, including chasing children and other dogs from the yard. Donald actually became quite a nuisance in the neighborhood, so the Olsons gave him to a rancher a dozen miles away. There he became pals with a Chesapeake Bay retriever named Trigger. Now, whenever the rancher tossed Donald into the pond so that he could be with the other ducks — in other words, his own kind — Trigger would immediately dash in and retrieve him. Trigger was as gentle as possible, as we can clearly see here, but ultimately it was decided that Donald would be best back with the Olsons.
Like they always say… dogs are a duck’s best friend.
Hat tip to LIFE for this pawsome story.