The weakened economic condition has taken a toll not only on people but also on dogs whose owners are no longer able to care for them and have chosen not to take them to the overcrowded animal shelters. When dog owners do not feed their pets, dogs have no choice but to get loose if they are not restrained by a leash. This has led to an influx of stray dogs roaming neighborhoods in search for food to survive. Of most concern, when stray female dogs become mothers, they become more desperate for food. From my personal observations, I have detailed the keys to survival for a stray mother dog and her puppies.
For a stray mother dog, finding food in neighborhoods is a full-time job especially during the winter. She is desperate because if she cannot find food she cannot feed her puppies. Some stray mother dogs express their frustration by howling. Although the tossed away scraps of food that they come across don’t provide the same nutrition as real dog food, this is their primary source of survival.
Instinct and Adaptation
Developing and using keen instincts serves the major purposes of protection and sense of direction. A pregnant mother dog must use her instincts to determine the safest place to have her puppies, which is typically under a small elevated building such as a utility house. This location protects them from predators and harsh weather. When the puppies are born, they use their instincts of huddling together to keep warm. Also, stray mother dogs must use their sense of sound to detect danger. They must be able to run quickly and bark when they encounter vicious dogs or mean-spirited people. Further, stray mother dogs must have a strong sense of smell and direction to maintain a daily route to search for food and return to feed their puppies. It is not unusual for stray mother dogs to travel several miles to restaurants so they must use their instincts to safely cross roads.
Health and Hygiene
Not having access to a caregiver or veterinarian, stray mother dogs must do their best to stay healthy and clean. I have noticed stray dogs constantly scratching and biting themselves since they lack the proper bathing and grooming. Nearby streams and rain water are their main sources for bathing. They also lack the vaccinations to protect them from diseases such as Distemper and Rabies.
Communication between a mother and her puppies is vital for the puppies’ survival. I have noticed a mother dog barking at her puppies to order them to stay within the boundaries of safety when she is away searching for food. The puppies also bark to alert one another of danger.
From these observations, it is without a doubt that stray mother dogs should be honored for their roles as both the breadwinner and caregiver of their young puppies. Credit should also be given to good Samaritans who help feed these dogs. I was touched when I witnessed a lady feeding a stray mother dog the remainder of dog food that she normally feeds her own dogs. Many stray mother dogs are sweet, harmless, and intelligent creatures who do not deserve the lack of sympathy and scorn that they often times face from people who act from fear, ignorance, or cold-heartedness. The world would be a better place if more people followed the examples of good Samaritans. Above all, stray dogs have survived because of grace and mercy.