Friday, September 19, 2014

Shaggy the Very Best Goat

Ronnie and Shaggy: Best Buddies!
Shaggy has always been the best goat! Before we brought him to our house his name was Mercury and he was the pet of Dan the goat man's wife, Gloria. Dan told Willie that he would sell him Mercury and Mercury's friend (we would name her Ronnie) but that his wife would cry when she found out. Sure enough, Gloria was sad to see him go, and asked that she be able to visit him if she wanted. We agreed wholeheartedly!  Little Mercury came to our house and we decided to name him Shaggy, short for Shagrath, the lead singer for Dimmu Borgir. His friend came with him, and we named her Ronnie, after Ronnie James Dio. They were the best of friends! 

Tallest Goat Shaggy

Shaggy, taste testing my new garden hoe.
We had a lot of fun learning about how to take care of our new little friends. They would run and jump and climb all over! Their favorite games to play were Tallest Goat (who could get to the highest point possible and maintain their position there) Chase the Goat, and Chase the Human.  Once we played a game of Chase the Human, and the goats hid in the goat house and ambushed me when I went to find them. They also chewed on everything, which we thought was very cute at the time, little did we know just how much they loved to chew. After the new year we got money back on our tax returns, and we decided to go back to Dan the goat man's house. When Willie had gone to pick out Shaggy and Ronnie he was able to hold a brand new, newborn little goat. He thought it was the cutest thing ever! Turns out, it was Shaggy's sister, Frankie. When we went to Dan's house, she was ready to go home. We brought her home and named her Dani (after Dani Filth, of Cradle of Filth.)
We had brought Dani home to keep Shaggy company, because Ronnie was pregnant and soon would be giving a lot of attention to her new babies. We didn't want Shaggy to be lonely without the attention of his friend! At first we were a bit disappointed, as both Shaggy and Ronnie were mean to little Dani, and I had to "come to her rescue" several times whens he was stuck out in the rain because they wouldn't let her in the house.
Dani dominating her brother.
Shaggy demonstrating how hungry he is.
I sent this to my friend to convince her to
sell me home hay!
Eventually, Shaggy started to slow down a bit, taking longer naps, not running around a lot, just acting like he didn't feel good. I took him to the vet, and the vet treated him for an infection (he suspected it because of a higher than normal temperature) and hoof rot. I told him about Shaggy's recent laziness and lethargy, and although the subject of CAE came up, he said he had never seen any clinical signs in any goats he had ever treated. Since Shaggy didn't have any signs, other than slowing down and being lethargic, we dismissed the possibility of a CAE infection. (On a side note, CAE stands for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis and is a retrovirus which causes chronic, progressive arthritis and weight loss in adult goats. Once of the easiest to identify signs is swollen knees on the front legs, in addition to the weight loss, lethargy, and signs of painful joints.) Shaggy came home, I learned how to administer shots, and he seemed to perk up a bit.
Once the babies were born, Shaggy and Dani had become pretty good friends. Shaggy was very good with the little baby goats, Toki (after Toki Wartooth of Metalocalypse) and Jezebel (after Sarah Jezebel Deva of Cradle of Filth) while Dani headbutted them, he was very nice to them and very gentle. He taught baby Toki how to fight like a goat!

Shaggy waiting to go home after his medicine.
Around the time that we were contemplating weaning the baby goats is when Shaggy's next health trial came about. We noticed his eye was watering and red, and when we came in close to examine this, noticed that he also had a big bump on his jaw on the other side of his face. Willie called a few vet's offices and found one that could see him the very next day. So, off we went! Shaggy and I went to see the vet, and have him examined. His watery eye was caused by a scratched cornea, and the bump was a piece of grain that had wedged between his teeth and worked its way out through the bottom of his jaw. Treatment for the eye was straight-forward, we just had to apply two types of ointment twice a day.The abscess, however, was much more difficult, and it broke my heart. Twice a day we would have to smoosh the infection out of it, and flush it with surgical soap. While we were smooshing, Shaggy was crying like a baby goat! To top it all off, he had to have a round of penicillin shots as well. Poor little guy! During the treatment process, Willie had to go out of town for work. We was worried about his little buddy, but I promised to take good care of him. It was also during this time that the baby goats had to be weaned, so Ronnie went on a month-long vacation to Dan's house. Little Shaggy was a sad fellow. His eye and his jaw hurt, and he didn't have his buddy Willie, or his buddy Ronnie, just mean ole Chuck who gave him shots and smooshed his face. Once a month had passed, Willie had come back, and I went over to Dan's house to pick up Ronnie. He was so excited to see his buddy Ronnie! He loved her so much! All he wanted to do was put his head on her, and fight. (That's what goats do, they fight!)

Shaggy's resting pose.
Shaggy continued to slow down and act uncomfortable, and soon I began noticing that his knees were getting big. I knew what was causing it, but didn't want to admit it. I talked to Willie about taking him to get tested for CAE, but it was put off for a while because we were afraid that it would confirm what we already knew. Shaggy would find a comfortable spot in the yard to lay down, nap, and chew his cud, and his friends would all come out to visit him at different times. They would come out and nuzzle him, then go about their business. Any time they saw Shaggy eating a tasty weed or chewing on a good-looking branch, they went to investigate. Shaggy could pick out the best weeds and sticks, so they knew that wherever he was, he was munching on tasty stuff. Pretty soon we made an appointment to get Shaggy tested. While we waited for the vet to do some research on testing facilities and prices, Shaggy's feet started hurting him. Since the floor was concrete, he didn't want to lay down and rest his feet, so he just danced around. I felt bad for my friend, so I picked him up and put him in my lap. When the doc came back in, he looked at me pretty funny. Here's this woman sitting in the exam room with a miniature goat in her lap. I didn't care, friends help friends, and I wanted to help Shaggy. Sure enough, the results came back positive, and although there wasn't much to be done about it, at least we knew for sure what we were dealing with. We decided that we would look out for Shaggy and make sure he got all the best for the rest of his life. Whenever the goats got treats, we made sure that Shaggy got plenty too. We made sure that Shaggy got lots of ear scratches and tail scratches. Whenever we were hanging out on the porch or made a campfire, Shaggy got to sit in my lap and hang out too. During games of Chase the Goat, we made sure that we played with Shaggy too. He couldn't run like the other goats, but he would trot around and kick, and when we "caught him" he would jump and throw his head around and just be happy. We decided that as long as he was happy, we wouldn't put him down. Shaggy got to do a lot of things that the other goats didn't but we wanted to make him an extra happy goat.
Shaggy helping me cut down weeds.
When I went weed getting at the neighbor's house, Shaggy came with me so that he could munch on weeds while I chopped others down. All the pollen from the weeds made his allergies act up, and he wound up with a cough. I kept an eye on him, checking his lungs and his temperature, just in case it turned into something more serious. One morning I came out to find that his nose was running, his cough was worse, and upon checking his temperature I found it to be elevated. Shaggy was sick. I felt awful. Willie had just gone out of town again for work, and it would be nearly two weeks before he returned. I knew that when I told him his friend was sick, he would be very worried. I relocated Shaggy to the front yard where he could eat plenty of grass and greens, and get a rest from the dust and the other animals. I knew that I would have to give him penicillin shots, and that they would be especially painful for him because he had grown so thin. I sat in the grass, put him in my lap and just cried and apologized.
Eating his own pile of grain! Yum!

For the next few days I took him out to the front yard to graze and eat grain, and be away from the others when I gave him his shot and his cough medicine, so that they wouldn't bully him while I had him restrained. He got kind of lonely out there by himself, so I brought his friend Toki out to be with him and encourage him to eat. Over the next little while he seemed to be feeling better, although now he was painfully thin and still not eating well.

Shaggy and his friend Toki eating together
in the front yard. This is the last picture I
took of Shaggy.
I picked Willie up at the airport on Monday evening, and shortly after dark we went outside to barbecue up some dinner. It occurred to me that Willie hadn't seen his buddy Shaggy yet, so I goat-napped him! I went out to the goat house, scooped him up and carried him out front to hang out with us. He stayed for a few minutes, ate some weeds and chewed on some things that we would rather he not have chewed on, but he seemed really tired. We gave him some scratches, and Willie told me I should take him back so that he could go to bed. The next day I had to work early in the morning, so Willie would have to feed the goats before he went to work. The nurse called me on my radio and told me that my husband was on the phone, which had never happened before. I was concerned. When I picked the phone up, Willie was very upset. He told me that Shaggy had passed away, and that he had to go to work for a mandatory meeting. He didn't know what to do. I told him I would come home on my break and start preparations to bury our friend. I went home, took his collar and tag off and broke down crying. I had kept it together at work, but this was really hard. I found the shovel, located a good spot, and started digging. After I finished the rest of my shift at work I came home and continued digging. I took a break to sit and rest, and to be sad, and Dani came over to be my friend. The goats were all very quiet and solemn, as though they knew their friend was gone. I buried him in the corner of the yard. That night Willie came home and we lit a campfire and hung out with the goats. Just as the sun was going down Ronnie called for all the goats to come home, because it was getting dark. Everyone was there except for Shaggy. All the goats looked around for a few minutes, as though they expected him to show up so that they could all go to bed. Willie told me that when he went out to feed the animals, all the goats were hanging out in the house with their friend. When they came outside to eat, Willie found Shaggy. Although his body was cold, there were little warm spots where his friends had been cuddling him. Everyone loved Shaggy, and everyone misses him.