What the quack? Meet Daniel – an emotional support duck who helps his owner overcome her fear of flying. This lil' ducko became a social media celeb after author Mark Essig snapped a few pictures of him on Twitter on a flight from Charlotte, NC, to Asheville, NC.
Daniel the duck is trained to help his unidentified owner with PTSD and her fear of flying. Part of his duty is gently quacking and keeping company for his beloved owner, who said she's owned the duck for about four years. What's even better is Daniel's fashionable outfit choice.
Yes, it might seem a little crazy to have a duck on a plane. But it's better than snakes, amirite?
Daniel Helps Soothe His Owner By Being A Cuddle Buddy
Here is a 3-second video of Daniel the emotional support duck. His human says, 'and wagging? That's happy.' pic.twitter.com/WElW9d827o— Mark Essig (@mark_essig) October 17, 2016
Author Mark Essig is responsible for Daniel's rise to fame. According to Essig, he was aboard a plane traveling from Charlotte, NC, to Asheville, NC, when he encountered Daniel with his owner. His owner – who was unidentified – told Essig she has a fear of flying that stems from PTSD. She got him at a garage sale in 2012, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
Daniel helps her by giving her gentle duck kisses and quacking lightly to help her forget she's in the air. She told Essig that when he wags his tail, it means he's happy.
He's Also Dressed To Impress
What's even more striking than the fact that a duck was on board a plane was that it was a fashionable duck. Daniel had his own leash, Captain America diaper pants, and some really snazzy red flipper shoes. As they say, dress for the job you want (hero of the universe).
Essig said many passengers on the plane were frustrated at first glance of Daniel – or just plain weirded out – but this duck with personality won over everyone by the end of the flight. Everyone, including Essig, clamored to get pictures with Daniel – whose full name is Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt.
What Are Emotional Support Animals?
Support animals are companion animals that provide help for people with a disability, whether that be a physical ailment or an emotional/mental one. Those animals who specialize in helping people with behavioral or mental issues are often called emotional support animals.
While these animals are usually dogs or cats, other animals have stepped in as support animals for various reasons. And a few of those animals – including pigs, tortoises, and kangaroos – are allowed to fly with their owners. While most have to be certified to be considered official emotional support animals, some people skirt around the rules by dressing up their animals in fake service gear. The explosion of service animals has drawn ire from critics, who say people are just making up reasons to travel with their pets.