There is a small, tan colored puppy that Margie Patton has come to refer to as Mighty Moe.
The puppy was born to a dog at the Glasgow-Barren County Animal Shelter about three weeks ago, but when the mother dog, an English bulldog, pitbull terrier mix, refused to care for her puppies, they all died but one.
“She’s a sweet little dog. She just didn’t take care of the puppies,” said Patton, president of the Barren River Animal Welfare Association, which oversees the management of the shelter. “She might have in a quiet environment, but at the shelter, even though we had her back in a quiet area, … she just wouldn’t settle down long enough to feed them and keep them warm.”
Mighty Moe was the lone survivor of the litter, but still his mother would have nothing to do with him.
Patton placed Mighty Moe with another dog, a black labrador retriever mix known as Tessa, that had delivered four mix-breed puppies one week earlier.
Tessa, a black labrador retriever mix, is also a shelter dog.
“Some people brought her in. The puppies were just a couple of days old and she had arrived at their house and promptly delivered puppies, so they brought them to us,” Patton said. “All of hers have survived. There were four.”
Tessa has treated Mighty Moe as if he was one of her own, nursing him and caring for him along with her four other puppies.
“He’s plenty plump, so far, so good,” Patton said earlier this week while holding Mighty Moe.
It’s not uncommon for a mother dog to care for a puppy that isn’t biologically hers.
“It’s not difficult at all to take a puppy from a litter where the mother doesn’t have milk and move to another mother that has milk,” said Dr. Jim Heltsley, a Glasgow veterinarian.
In some instances, animals will even care for other babies of a different species.
Heltsley recalled a time when his sister’s cat had a litter of kittens in the dog house. The family did not know where their cat had gone to have her kittens at first, but after the third day they found the kittens and also learned she had caught a wild baby rabbit and moved it in with her kittens.
Inviting Tessa to care for Mighty Moe is not the first time Patton and the shelter’s staff has had a mother to care for a litter of puppies from another dog.
“We’ve done it a couple of times,” Patton said.
Tessa’s biological puppies are four weeks old, but Mighty Moe is just three weeks old.
Mighty Moe comes from parents who are smaller in size than Tessa and the father of her puppies, so even though there is only one week in age difference between Mighty Moe and his step-siblings, he is considerably smaller than they are.
Tessa’s puppies have come to be quite rambunctious and playful, while Mighty Moe is still trying to learn how to stand on his wobbly legs.
Mighty Moe’s mother is available for adoption now. The puppies will be ready to go to forever homes by Christmas or shortly thereafter. Tessa and Mighty Moe can be adopted in early January, Patton said.
To inquire about adopting Tessa or any of the puppies, call the shelter at 651-7297.
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