Ducks don’t often get this lucky.
Then again, Lucky the Duck has been fortunate her entire life.
She was just a tiny hatchling when found in rural Lambton, alone and without her mother, by Sarnia’s Betty Ann Bukovinsky.
Bukovinsky took Lucky home, grew to love her and nursed her through a nasty infection that affected the bird’s brain. The duck survived and was taught how to walk again. Another stroke of luck.
Then, three years ago, Lucky got another break when she and Bukovinsky were invited to visit a young resident at St. Joseph’s Hospice.
Bukovinsky’s sister, Mary Jo Mather, is a hospice volunteer and had befriended the young resident, jokingly asking if a visit from her “niece” was in order?
“I handed her Lucky’s photo and she immediately wanted to meet the duck,” said Mather.
Lucky took to her visiting duties at the hospice like, well… a duck to water. It’s a natural fit. She loves the attention and the residents love her. She’s been regularly visiting the hospice ever since, spending hours adored and admired.
“She thinks she’s a human and she’s very interested in people,” said Bukovinsky. “She’ll cuddle in with them on their beds and let people pet her. She’s a very different duck, really.”
Lucky is a white Muscovy. She’s 10 years old and likes to honk and get excited. But somehow she knows to stay quiet at the hospice, a home-like residence on Christina Street that provides 24-hour palliative care to people living with a terminal illness.
Adelle Richards was visiting her late mom, Hazel, at the hospice earlier this year and was surprised to see Lucky there, surrounded by children.
“So I told my mom about it. She was such a friend of all animals with fur or feathers. She said, ‘Bring that duck to me,’ so we set up a special appointment,” Richards said.
Lucky settled in with Hazel on the bed.
“Mom constantly stroked Lucky and she smiled. It’s unconditional love an animal offers to us, no matter if we’re sick or healthy.”
Hazel also had regular visits at the hospice from her own dog, Patti, and Richard’s dog, Eddie. The duck was scheduled when the dogs weren’t.
Executive director Larry Lafranier said Lucky’s visits complement the hospice’s trained dog therapy program.
“Lucky’s visits are all about living,” he said. “We see the reaction of our residents and their families, and it’s unique. If it helps the individual emotionally or otherwise, we’re happy to do it.”
Bukovinsky agreed Lucky is unique.
“She’s soft and loves to be stroked. She is very soothing to be around.
“I swear she dropped down from heaven.”