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Kindergarten Pup
by Loretta Baughan

photos provided by the Author

Puppies learn at a phenomenal rate. They learn... starting right from their first moments of life.

As with any other mammal, a puppyís first and strongest instinct is to find nourishment. Even before its fur has dried, nature calls the newborn to itís motherís breast. The puppy learns very quickly how to create a suprisingly powerful suction with its tongue - enabling it to latch on tightly to the teat. He learns the necessity of this in order to prevent another pup from knocking him off from the breast and claiming his place. Likewise, when its mother is vigorously giving him a bath while he is at the nipple. This ability to hold tight to the breast is especially vital in large litters - where there may be competition for the milk from more puppies than there are the number of teats.

Itís basic survivalÖ but, at the same time, it is far more than that.

As a breeder, I am always watching out for the smaller pups in the litter - to insure that they are getting adequate opportunity to nurse. A puppy that isnít nursing - or isn't getting enough milk - can become too weak to nurse in a very brief period of time.

In a recent litter, I was concerned about one particular, small, female pup and whether she was nursing properly.

However, while watching her, I soon became amazed at her resourcefulness. She used her diminutive size to her advantage by burrowing her way beneath the nursing pups to secure a nipple that her larger siblings couldnít get to... because of their size. She became quite adept at finding a "protected" spot to nurse.

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