Don Foster of Macon had a problem. He had four newborn Siberian Husky puppies with a mother that was too ill to feed or care for them.
The puppies were born on July 20 by Cesarean section to a mother suffering from pre-eclampsia.
"We saved the mom, but she was so weak that she couldn't even stand up for two days," said Foster. "She couldn't nurse or take care of the puppies. Some people may not know this, but a new puppy needs to be licked in the belly area for their bowels and urination to begin working properly.
A dog borrowed from Tom Nelson provided foster care for the puppies, but she had her own family and not enough milk for four extra mouths to feed."
To solve the rest of the problem, Foster purchased a pygmy goat to nurse the puppies. Pygmy goats have smaller nipples making it easier for the puppies to latch on for nursing.
"I call her Ninny the Nanny," laughs Foster.
Ninny nurses the puppies twice a day, in the morning and again in the evening. Each puppy feeds for approximately five minutes.
"I began by holding them up to nurse," he said. "But now they are beginning to be tall enough to reach on their own."
The puppies will continue to nurse for about another week and then begin transitioning to solid food.
"I will start them out on moistened dry food," he said. "It has more nutrients and is much better for them than canned food."
Foster has used goats for surrogate nursing in the past for moms with very large litters.
"I've had Old English Sheepdogs and Irish Setters that have had 10 to 15 puppies at a time," he said. "I would rotate nursing between the momma dog and the goat."
Foster says he has been raising dogs all his life, but has operated a dog breeding business in 1968.
"I try to stay busy since retiring," he said. "I just don't want to sit around and watch TV all the time."