An unusual bond has turned into a lifelong friendship.
Max and Quackers belong to Patrick and Kirsten Riley. Max is a 12-year-old Huskie, Quackers is a 4-year-old duck — and the two are inseparable.
For the 25 people that live in tiny Strout, Minnesota, the story of Max and Quackers is already legendary.
“Sometimes on my way home I actually hope they’re out there because they’re just too precious to look at,” said neighbor Alisa Godejahn.
On any given day, rain or shine, the pair can be found sitting along Highway 28, looking like a greeting card just waiting for a caption.
It’s a lonely country roadway, and in some ways that’s symbolic of how this unlikely pair came to be.
“Initially he was very energetic. He was everywhere,” Patrick said.
Laid-back Max was 5 when the Rileys adopted him. He became friends with Sasha, another Huskie they had at the time. But when Sasha passed away, Max was alone — until the Rileys got Quackers the duckling. He too had lost a couple buddies along the way.
“He was without any friends, and so Max would sit next to his pen all the time and I think they just kind of bonded that way,” Patrick said. “After we let him out, they just never left each other’s side.”
You could say that Quackers took to Max as a duck takes to water. But the feeling was mutual. Alone no longer, they now do everything together — everything.
“They sleep together, they eat together, they drink together, they go for walks together down the road. Everything is together,” Kirsten said.
They share carpeted sleeping quarters in the garage, and it’s not unusual to hear the sound of webbed feet and paws bright and early in the morning — sometimes even a quack and a bark.
“It’s enough to get anyone driving by to do a double-take,” Patrick said.
“We see people stopping over there all the time. The traffic gets clogged up over there sometimes because of all the pictures getting taken,” Alisa said.
Pictures that they will send to the Rileys.
“They love it. They say it brightens their day. They’re so happy to see this different friendship and love,” Kirsten said.
The Rileys know Max is no longer a young pup. He’s 84 in dog years, but if you measure your journey through life by being a good friend to someone else, then these two have put on a lot of miles together.
After all, if a dog and duck can put aside their obvious differences, why can’t the rest of us?
“Some people have said that a duck will find a mate, a companion, and once they have that companion they’re set,” Kirsten said. “And that’s what Quackers found with Max.”
The Rileys say Max and Quackers will sit along the road in their favorite spot, but they spend more time closer to the house in the winter.
Patrick does go duck hunting, and Max likes to sniff the birds he brings home, but he obviously doesn’t look at Quackers as that kind of duck.