The Legend of Petey the Pirate Duck
I’ve been thinking about my most memorable times at college recently, and without question, one of the things I will remember most was my relationship with Petey the Pirate Duck.
If you went to James Madison University around 2007-2008, there’s a strong possibility you may have seen, petted or even partied with this duck. But the question is, do you know how Petey the Pirate Duck came to be?
When I was a sophomore in college, one of my best friends came to visit from his school in North Carolina for the weekend. He was rushing a fraternity at the time and his elder brothers came up with a great project for their potential new members: caring for a number of baby ducks. They had gotten them from a farm, meaning these ducks would have certainly been killed, and divided them amongst their hopeful fraternity candidates. They instructed them to keep them alive, or there would be consequences that may affect their bid.
So he brought these three little, adorable ducks in a cardboard box and they stayed in my house for a weekend. Despite their cuteness, they smelled awful, primarily because my friend had been feeding them eggs, which seems a little cruel to begin with.
We took them outside and they would follow you around everywhere you went, not just a lazy stereotype. People who were outside at the time gathered around, we put them in the bathtub afterwards so they could swim around, and later, my female neighbors heard about their presence and came to visit. Awwwwws were said, Facebook profile pictures were made.
At one point in the night, my friend received a text from one of his elder brothers. It explained that the ducks were no longer a part of the rushing process, and that they could be returned to the farm. Two of my friends at college were with us at the time, and one of them was highly interested in keeping one of these ducks, but he was also incredibly wasted. My friend said to text him in the morning when he was sober so he could fully evaluate the decision, and if he still wanted a duck, he could have one.
When my friend woke up on my couch the next morning, he already had a text message from my friend stating: “WE WANT THE DUCK.”
So here he was: a real, live duck. I didn’t live with my friends, so the duck being there didn’t bother me. It was actually kind of cool. I don’t remember how the name Petey the Pirate Duck originated, but it suited him and is hands down, the best duck name I’ve ever heard.
At first, Petey was awesome. He would sit on the couch and let you pet him, and then we would take him outside and he would follow us around. We would have parties and he would just walk around the upper floor, making his social rounds. To be honest, a fair amount of sexual encounters my friends had during that time probably resulted from conversations about the duck and I’m pretty sure he was the reason most people were there.
“Hey, what are you doing tonight?”
“Oh, those guys with the duck are having a party.”
My friend even wore a tuxedo one night and put a bow tie on Petey, resulting in one of the more awesome things I’ve seen in my life.
Like most pets in a college environment, people at our parties would get the duck drunk, which would cause Petey to rest on his bill, like a tripod.
However, keeping a full grown duck in a shit hole college apartment created several difficulties. His feathers were everywhere and when people would play beer pong, the ball would hit the floor and they wouldn’t want to play anymore.
The biggest problem with Petey was that he would shit everywhere. I don’t mean just once in a while like a puppy, where it picks a specific spot and voids its bowels there. Petey would shit mid-stride. Just boom. Shit on the couch, shit on the floor, shit on your arm, and this would happen, I don’t know, around 6-10 times a day, if not more. So the obvious solution, in my friend’s mind, would be getting Petey a diaper.
I bet you’re asking yourself, “A DIAPER? FOR A DUCK?! Do those even exist?”
Why yes, they do exist. My friend searched the internet and finally found a woman who hand-crafted an apparatus specially made to hold a diaper for a duck. It was black and had straps that went around the duck, just like the one pictured above, and my friend would buy real diapers and cut them into smaller pieces, and place them in the duck apparatus.
This seemed like the perfect solution, but the diaper resulted in my two friends having to put on gloves and CHANGE THE DUCK’S DIAPER several times a day. They would dispose of the diapers in one big trash can and fail to take it out for weeks. Once again, I was glad I didn’t live there.
The best thing about it was that that the diaper caused my two friends to start fighting like a married couple with a new baby.
“It’s your turn to change Petey’s diaper.”
“I did it yesterday.”
“So did I, then I did it this morning. So it’s your turn.”
“Look, I didn’t even want the duck god damnit! It’s your duck!”
“EXCUSE ME! It’s OUR duck!”
My friend also constantly over-estimated Petey’s intelligence. He would tell Petey to do something or to not do something, and believed Petey would take his demands into consideration next time he did the unfavorable action. He would talk the duck and say “NO PETEY, NO!” and believe Petey would think “ahh, you’re right. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have shit on your shoes. Won’t happen again.”
The real problems arose when Petey somehow consumed a portion of a psychedelic mushroom.
Is this an awful thing to do to a duck, or any animal for that matter? Absolutely. I had a hermit crab named Hermie (yes, Hermie the hermit crab) and I would have never laced his water sponge with LSD. Nonetheless, it happened to Petey and is a key part of the story.
If I was present during this event, I would have strongly protested. It was once described to me as an “accident,” which is ridiculous. How do you accidentally feed a duck shrooms? Another time it was said it was done on purpose and it was just a “small piece,” which makes it totally OK. However it happened, it marked the beginning of the end for Petey.
I assume you understand that shrooms are a hallucinogen and have strong effects on human. Now imagine what they did to that poor duck. Petey did not have a frame of reference, or the brain capacity to think “Hey, I’m trippin’ real hard right now, just calm down. My bill is not melting and walls can not breathe. Just relax and it’ll be over soon.” After this event, Petey would spend significant periods of time staring into the mirror.
Something changed in Petey that day. After his tiny mind was poisoned, he became extremely aggressive and would bite almost everyone; he even bit my one friend on his face and caused a good deal of bleeding.
My friends lived on the top floor of a town house and when I would get to the top of the stairs, Petey would be staring at me from his usual position on the couch. As soon as my foot would hit the floor, Petey would sprint, and I mean full duck, hyper-speed, directly at me and bite my toes.
He would break the skin and I would have to apply several band-aids to my feet. People would ask me: “What happened to your toes?” They probably thought I was going to tell them a funny story about how I hurt myself when I was drunk, not “oh yeah, this duck attacked me.” It came to the point where I had to wear closed-toe shoes, even when it was warm out. One time, Petey even inadvertently flung himself down the stairs after I side-stepped his violent advances at my feet.
After the Spring semester ended, Petey stayed at my friend’s parents’ house for a while, and then was eventually given away to live on a nearby farm with other ducks. At the farm, Petey preferred hanging out with the horses instead, and his aggressive behavior continued, so he was euthanized.
This was probably the best thing for him, and although it was a sad end, I’ll never forget Petey the Pirate Duck. His owner had good intentions and never meant to hurt him, but like I always say, you can’t feed a duck hallucinogens and be surprised when he develops a taste for human flesh.