Adorable dog raises 15 orphaned ducklings after mother duck suddenly disappears

A loving Labrador has taken on the responsibility of 15 orphaned ducklings, after their mother suddenly vanished.

But Fred the 15-year-old Lab is no stranger to being a foster father – in 2018, he made headlines when he raised nine abandoned ducklings in a similar situation.

Years later, the old dog has become the proud dad to a new brood, and he couldn’t be happier about it.

A series of pictures show the tiny ducklings huddling between Fred’s front legs and resting proudly on his back, as they lay together in the sun.

The bright yellow balls of fluff appear to be happy and comfortable, tucked up closely to their new parent.

Fred is the resident pooch at Mountfitchet Castle near Stansted, Essex, where the ducklings’ mother mysteriously disappeared overnight.

Ever since, Fred has made sure to look after his new furry foster children, carrying them around on his back and showing them off to staff and visitors.

Owner Jeremy Goldsmith, director of Mountfitchet Castle, says he isn’t surprised that Fred found a new family.

“Over the 15 years of owning him, Fred has spent a lot of time at the Castle with the animals and it has become second nature to him being amongst the various rescued animals,” he explained.

Fred has a very calm and gentle nature and the baby ducks have taken to him instantly.

They are expected to remain with Fred at the castle until they’re old enough to survive on their own.

Fred isn’t the only dog with a paternal instinct, Balu the dachshund has taken on the responsibility of seven new-born kittens.

The sausage dog lovingly cleans and kisses each kitty before tugging on the blanket and wishing them goodnight.

His affectionate nature even took owner Julieta Gonzalez Laplac, 27, from Argentina, by surprise, who hadn’t seen him express this caring behaviour before.