The tiny pup, named Charlie by Humane Society volunteers, nurses alongside a jumble of black and gray kittens recently born to Satin, who was taken to the shelter by an owner unable to care for her.
Charlie's mother was found by the side of the road in Meriden a couple of months ago. She gave birth to two puppies, but one was stillborn. As sometimes happens with a stillborn in the litter, the mother refused to accept Charlie.
Volunteers bottle-fed him every two hours, but the effort was exhausting for them and insufficient for the puppy, volunteer Chris Chorney said.
Research indicated that a suitable substitute could be Satin, who had given birth to four kittens that have quickly warmed to Charlie.
"The kittens scrum up with him and the kittens treat him like one of their own," Chorney said. "There's a certain social benefit of small animals being with each other."
Such relationships are not all that unusual in certain circumstances, said Deirdre Chiaramonte, a veterinarian at the Animal Medical Center, a specialty teaching hospital in New York.
The cozy arrangement between Charlie, Satin and the kittens will likely changes as the pup grows. Full-grown male Rottweilers commonly weigh 100 pounds.
Volunteers are hoping that dog owners will volunteer their puppies to be Charlie's playmates.
"Dogs need to be with a litter of puppies, to learn to play with other dogs," Chorney said. "He has to learn to be a well-socialized dog."