Sucking the hind tit : related idioms

Who says there’s no food here?

Last Sunday, our six-year-old female Staffordshire Bull Terrier gave birth to six beautiful and healthy puppies. One was distinctly smaller than his four black brothers and sister and I feared he would be left to feed off the ‘hind tit’.

Among animals that birth multiple young in a litter such as dogs and pigs there is fierce competition for the milk and with puppies, bashing each other around with paws and heads is a common site around feeding time.

As soon as I laid eyes on the tiniest of the litter, I feared for his inevitable diet of the rear-most teat. Because these animals have two rows of teats, the ones near the rear are considered less full and thus offering less nourishment, hence giving rise to the idiom ‘sucking the hind tit’.

The formal definition of the idiom is to receive less of something than others who are competing for it, as is the case among our pet’s six puppies.

However, it just so happens that the bitches’ hind tit is ample and lies in one of the best positions for suckling, so the tiny pup has an advantage. Given his size, he is equally comfortable on top of or underneath his siblings, and his agility assures him a prime spot at every feed.

His substantial growth in just over a week is proof of this.

But the idiomatic expression would have you believe that left to ‘suck the hind tit’ you will be disadvantaged in some way.

Other idioms around the same idea are ‘drawing the short straw’, to be ‘last in line’, ‘to get the short end of the stick’ also defined as ‘the inferior part’ or ‘worst side of an unequal deal’.

The smallest puppy is thriving, much like his larger siblings, and the point is not to believe everything prescribed by an idiom.

Let’s not forget that every advantage has a disadvantage and vice versa. The puppy is living, lovable proof!

 

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