Warning: This blog contains graphic descriptions of the birth process in dogs. If you are faint of heart, perhaps you should wait for the next post.
Have you ever watched a bitch have her first litter of puppies? She will stop eating a few days before the event. If not confined, she may go off to create a nest for the newborns. It seems almost effortless, one slides out, she takes the pup in her mouth, tears off the sack and licks the puppy to life. This happens again and again. She eats the placenta and may eat any puppies born dead. We assume this cannibalistic instinct is to keep the nest clean so as to not attract any unwanted predators. She nestles them in a semicircle for warmth and protection. The puppies’ eyes are closed but they are able to find a nipple for nourishment. The mother keeps her babies’ bowels moving and clean by licking them. She is protective and is distressed if one is removed. The nature of instinct, an innate ability, and knowing things that were previously unknown! Amazing!
So is instinct purely DNA? How about the concept of cellular or body memory? This is where life experiences have some impact on the individual and a “memory” is stored somewhere other than the brain. Many breeders of sporting dogs believe that a dog that has been hunted will produce offspring with better hunting instincts. Breeding emphasis is usually placed on the sire. And yet it is the mother that contributes more to the offspring. One reason is that while DNA is known to be in the nucleus of the cell, there is actually DNA in the cytoplasm of the egg. But it is obvious that the overall health of the mother will reflect in the offspring. Most human health care focuses on prenatal and postnatal care. Preconception care is the overlooked part of a healthy pregnancy, birth, and offspring.
There were 9 pups found after work, one dead being held in the mouth of the mother. Another one died later in the evening. The next day, I received a call from home that she had another pup that was dead. She ate the dead pup. The veterinarian came for an exam and administered a shot of oxytocin to stimulate uterine contractions. This was almost 18 hours after what was thought to be the last-born. Two more puppies were immediately born. One pronounced dead by the vet and was placed in a bag. The other was a runt about one-fourth the size of the others. A few minutes later, the bag is moving; that puppy is not dead. So now there are nine- four males, 5 females. The 13th was found in the yard the next day and was about 2 inches long.
The runt was not doing well. There was too much competition from the littermates. Mom was holding the pup in her mouth in the same way she held the other dead. This one may have to be bottle-fed, so off to the store for some goats milk which was a wasted trip as the pup was too weak. Her little head dropped off the side of my wife’s hand. The pup needed energy. Homeopathy?
Which remedy…perhaps phosphorous…fire! There was no homeopathic phosphorous but there was a tube of Magnesia phosphorica 30C. One little pellet in the side of her mouth was almost too large for this pup. Within a few minutes there was a little more movement. This runt was offered one of mom’s nipples that she latched onto with new vigor. Mom kept trying to remove the pup but was denied her instinct. Runt was allowed to nurse every couple of hours and was soon able to refuse her brothers and sisters from taking her teat.
Meanwhile, the puppy that came back from the dead is alive and well. The biblical female raised from the dead was Tabitha interpreted as Dorcas. Perhaps we should call her Dorcas as Tabitha for a dog just does not work. Either one of these pups might just be a keeper. Amazing life!