Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Goat Killer!!

As I mentioned in an earlier post we have 8 goats on the property with us. I was less than thrilled about this fact when we were first moving out there, but now they are much more like a pack of 8 dogs with horns. They all have names and personalities of their own! John and I have grown to love the varmints!

Meet the Goat family! The first three goats my brother Robert brought out there were Lucy, aka Nanny (because of her breed (female pygmy) and she is a momma goat) and her two sons Fred and Ricky (ha, ha, ha... the joys of pre-named goats!). Then he added two Nubian goats, Clifford and Lady. For those unfamiliar with goat breeds (and I would pretty much expect you to be unfamiliar with them...), a Nubian goat is a European breed of goat - they are very large! About the height of a big miniature horse, their heads come up to about the height of my shoulder. Then came the misfit pack, two fainting goats (Rupert and George) and a really cute three year old pygmy goat named Cooper (by far the most pet-like of the pack).

Clyde cooling off on a hot day.
Living out in the rural parts of Texas means that dumped dogs are a common-place feature. Very frustrating but a reality. We had a black and white blue heeler mix come up to the house as a stray. She is such a good dog! We couldn't help but fall in love with her despite all my insistence that we wouldn't take her in. We let her hang around our two dogs, Clyde (a boxer - our rescued dog!) and Chloe (an AKC registered Chocolate Lab) in the back yard while I put up fliers in the area thinking that surely she was just lost. For goodness sakes, she is housebroken and other than a particularly pesky habit of chewing things (like my undergarments!) she is a great dog!

Well, Chloe and Pepper (yes we named her... and yes, before you ask, we still have her) both like to chase our goats; and when they did it together, they were very good at herding them. We weren't terribly worried about it. Pepper obviously has a herding instinct and therefore was bred to know not to attack... or so we thought.

I was leaving to see friends and looked out in the yard (we always do a goat head count to make sure they aren't getting in trouble) and saw that all three dogs were on the defensive, seven very angry goats were protecting a very dead looking Nanny/Lucy. I was terrified!!

It had been about 3 hours since I was last outside doing stuff so for all I knew this could have been going on for three hours! (We can't hear a lot from the pasture into the house) I got John and we went to see if there was anything we could do as I called Robert.

Nanny's neck not long after the attack
We were pretty sure she was going to die. The dogs had ripped her neck up. We could clearly see muscle and tendon tissue. She had lost a lot of blood. Then there was the minor detail that it was a holiday weekend... getting a large animal vet to even look at her (ie a house call) is now going to be $200 + . Robert works with a retired vet so we called in a favor, which was really more like we were sending him pictures and he told us what to do. We wanted to try to let her live. Once we got her out of the pasture and into the large "dog pen" area she was doing better immediately, translated, she could stand up and her beating calmed. We decided to give her the weekend, if she didn't greatly improve we would have her put down.

We stuffed the muscle tissue back into her neck and repaired what we could with butterfly strips. Then cleaned the wound with peroxide, disinfected with alcohol and covered in iodine. Next came a generous helping of Triple Antibiotic Ointment on sterile patches and then we pushed the hole closed by wrapping an ace bandage around her neck. The tears of the skin were not clean enough for stitches and we knew it was going to be essential that the wound close internally first. All this was topped off with a heaping shot of penicillin (the shot to her hip brought more of a reaction than any of the other treatment did surprisingly enough). Rinse and Repeat... we re-bandaged twice a day for a week.

She was obviously on the mend. We managed to get maggots in the wound at one point, which turned out to be one of the best things! They ate away the dead flesh leaving only healthy and we caught the little critters early enough that with a squirt bottle of peroxide and a pair of tweezers we were able to get all the maggots out in a matter of 3 days (we had progressed to only needing to change the bandages once a day).

After a month of great attention and care Nanny was back to normal! She had gained a healthy weight (She had been a little underweight before the attack), was eating greedily and the wound was healed to the point of appearing to be an external cut. We laid the fence down in such a way that when she was ready she could go back to the herd but they couldn't get to her (we weren't sure if they would accept her again or if she would be on the bottom of the 'pecking order' and get beat around). A week or so later she hopped over into the main pasture and never looked back!!

We continued with shots of penicillin and re bandaging her wounds to keep them clean and monitored.

The day after Nanny was attacked, Pepper slipped through a gap in the gate and got a hold of Cooper. Fortunately John had only stepped inside to get his phone when she got into the pasture so he only suffered some superficial scratches to the neck and back. I'm sure it didn't feel great but we weren't concerned with whether or not he would live. We moved him into Nanny's pen and treated his wounds as we did Nanny's, but he was healed in about 2 and a half weeks.
Cooper likes to get himself int things he can't get out of...

If you don't believe that goats are smart and have individual personalities, then you need to come see ours! Cooper milked his injuries for everything he could get! That goat ate more sweet feed than I have ever seen another eat! All of which was hand fed of course because he refused to bend down for food from the ground. At first we thought it was because his skin wasn't stretching for him to bend where there were scabs, but we eventually caught him eating when we were inside...he just knew he could be hand fed!

Pepper is quite the cutie.
Now this raises the question of what to do about Pepper...
I first had the instinct to shoot the mut... I know a lot of people who would have. However, we had taken in the dog, we assumed responsibility for her. For heavens sake, we had gotten her shots! I didn't feel it was fair to shoot a dog for acting in their nature. It was simply a matter of she can not be around livestock. She is great with kids, cats, other dogs... her only issues are things she thinks she needs to herd.
Well, we have livestock so we obviously can't keep her.

I called my dad and he said he would keep her until we could find a new home. He too understood that she is a good dog, just not the dog for us.

I talked to all our friends I could think of that wanted a dog and would be in situations that she would thrive. I felt it was only fair to be honest about why we were giving her away - and I can't fault them, but no one wanted her. They all felt that she posed too high a risk.

We had mixed emotions about handing her over to a shelter... we quickly shot down the idea of any shelters that had "kill" policies. Then I looked into giving her up to ASPCA. We researched the process and we would have to pay over $60 for them to take here, some of which was a non-refundable "deposit" of sorts for them to consider the dog. We were willing to do this if we knew she wouldn't be put down and had a chance for a good home. BUT, ASPCA won't take dogs that are strays, they say that they support reunification with their homes they were lost from. We explained very kindly that she had clearly been dumped and we couldn't keep her, that she didn't "cooperate with livestock" and needed a "home in town". If you ask me, they knew we weren't going to dump her and they didn't have room for another dog.
This is the only "no kill" shelter in the area so we were back to square one.

She was doing just fine at my Dad's house and John and I enjoyed playing with her when we visited (multiple times a week), plus she had fun in his back yard with my brothers two dogs, Midnight and Bobby. For the time being we decided that she would just stay there, we planned to build a completely separate and secure fence and bring her back home eventually.

Chloe is the sweet Chocolate lab
Well, the past week has been pretty crappy if I do say so myself. Chloe died last Saturday.
John came home between work and going to see my brother march in the high school half-time performance in another town to feed her and Clyde. If we fed the two of them they would stay in the yard with no problems.When we got home late that night she wasn't there. This was very unlike her to leave at night. Even if she were out in the neighborhood she was just a holler away and would never be gone at night.

We were very worried. We looked for her for a couple of hours with no luck. The next morning John was running in the Susan G. Komen 5K so we were up very early and were taking a different route than normal to town. Along the way we found her, she had been hit a few miles away from our house - which is soo much farther than what she would go if she were out in the past.

Clyde doesn't do well by himself, so we've brought Pepper back out to the house for now - keeping her separated from the goats is a chore, but it is helping Clyde and of course we love her.

Unfortunately we lost Nanny. We don't think it had much to do with the wound. She had been healed for over two months with continuing treatments of antibiotics. For a couple of days before her death she was acting strange. We thought maybe she had worms (aren't livestock fun!?!) so we moved up her treatment that was scheduled for a week later. She was a very old goat, about 10 years old, so as sad as it was - it was to be expected.

Pepper has 9 adorable puppies now!! Long story, but being a stray we weren't certain if she was 'fixed' - the vet that gave her shots with all the other dogs said that he believed she was from what he could tell. Well, no, she wasn't. A fence jumper came to see her and a couple of short months later we have a zoo in our living room floor!

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