Animals’ Maternal Instincts

Instincts are fascinating.

Pets, wild animals, even people use instincts to respond to certain situations when they may not have had the opportunity to learn from similar encounter before.

Take spayed female animals who retain their maternal instincts. Our dog, Pearl,  for example, would have made a great mother. Every little creature she comes across she loves like her own.

Lucy, (Another Exemplary Pet Owner) however, may have her beat. You first met Lucy when she had come in for dental care. She was back in today for a routine examination and her owner was telling us a story about her adventures.

A wild opossum had a single baby under Mr. C’s shed. Possums, of course, are marsupials, so their offspring are quite mature by the time they are allowed to get out on their own. Somehow Lucy got the baby and took it to the back porch to allow it to eat some of her food. When Mr. C. arrived on the scene Lucy was lying there, watching the baby eat from Lucy’s bowl.

Mr. C, despite being a retired Marine (note that there are no “former” Marines…once a Marine, always a Marine), is a soft touch. He puts up with a lot of Lucy’s frustrated-mother antics.

Lucy sleeps in a closet. It’s her personal space. A Beagle, she is constantly on the hunt, and she’s good at it. Often she finds baby mice. Not adults, just babies. Then, she brings them inside, takes them directly to the closet and makes them feel at home.

Much to Mr. C’s chagrin.

“I’m going to have to find a non-toxic way to rid my house of mice. I can’t always catch her when she brings them in, so I don’t know how many are running around inside the house now!”

Good luck, Mr. C. You’re one in a million.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

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