I mentioned in yesterday’s post that I had a goat. Her name was Molly. Here she is goofing around with our lab mix puppy Casey when they were about the same age, shortly after both came to our home. They became fast friends and would often chase each other, Molly rearing up to impale Casey with her non-existent horns.
(Caution: Introducing goats to older dogs unfamiliar with goats can prove fatal to the goat, but generally puppies who grow up with goats tend to accept them and protect them.)
Molly was part Alpine and part Toggenburg and had a very large personality. When I first brought her home, she cried for a week solid, missing her mother and her sister. I ended up sleeping with her for the first 2 nights, and my mother would come out with a flashlight to check on me. Molly would be quite content sprawled across my stomach.
As Molly and Casey grew older, my sister and I would often leash both dog and goat and go for walks. Our procession would often turn quite a few heads. I’d head for the forest so that I could let them both loose for a fun run. Casey would run, circling around us and search for a body of water (no matter how cold or hot the weather, if he found water, he’d jump into it).
Molly would leap and jump for the sheer joy of being free but avoid all water at all costs (goats HATE to get wet). They had a great time.
Goats are extremely curious and Molly would follow me anywhere to find out what I was doing. She is “helping” me pot a live Christmas tree here.
Because domestic goats don’t have the opportunity to climb up rocks and keep their hooves worn properly, goatkeepers need to regularly trim the hooves or the goat’s feet can become crippled. Molly HATED this procedure, just as much as parrots hate to have their nails trimmed. The only way I could accomplish this gracefully was to spend an hour, sitting with her quietly under the willow tree. She’d hunker down as close as she could to me, eventually falling asleep with her head in my lap. Then I’d take advantage of her comatose condition, lean over, and sneak in her hoof-trim. Amazingly, she never knew what I’d done.
Casey became Molly’s guardian when I’d tether her to the yard to browse. He did in fact save her life on one occasion when a neighbor’s German Shepherd got loose and ran to attack Molly – goats look like deer to most dogs. Casey tackled him before he could reach Molly, giving me time to unhitch Molly and get her to her pen.
I had planned to breed Molly for goat milk, but life intervened and I left home, leaving Molly in the care of friends who lived in the country and wanted to have her. Casey lived to a very old age, but Molly did not. It was another German Shepherd that actually killed her. My friends’ female Shepherd had had puppies and must have felt that Molly was a threat of some kind to her babies.
I used to dream about Molly for years, feeling guilty that I’d sent her to an unsafe place. Of course, accidents happen, but I felt responsible. Then I had a dream in which Molly was frolicking as in old times, happy as could be. She turned to me and I got the message: “See, I’m OK and happy! You don’t need to worry about me or feel guilty anymore.” So I guess I’ll meet up with her some day where all my other deeply-loved animal companions have gone.
By the way, if you love animals and want to read a well-written, thought-provoking book about deep animal companionship, I recommend Good Companions by Era Zistel. It’s been out of print for some time, but often public libraries still have them. I got a copy for myself from Amazon.com. This book happens to be about 2 goats, a stray cat, and a squirrel – all “good companions.”