A beautiful soul by the name of Leo took the train out last week, and has rejoined his beloved Ernie. Leo and Ernie, both Boer goats, came here about four and a half years ago after the household dogs got ahold of them. The goats had to be put back together at the hospital and were quite afraid of dogs for a while after that. The family, although they loved the goats, knew it was not safe and so asked us to take them in. At that time, Mr. Newman Goat was quite elderly and we thought he might appreciate some young company. Apparently, the jury is still out on that one.
Leo and Ernie had their “sides”. Ernie, while absolutely adoring to people (he’d lean his head against yours and rub and rub and rub), was quite the jerk with the sheep. And Leo, larger and more robust, made sure no one messed with Ernie and sometimes preemptively bashed an unsuspecting volunteer or visitor.
But time is an odd duck. It cures some things, and then when it seems like peace has been achieved, takes them away from us. Leo mellowed with age and became very sweet, particularly after Ernie died of complications from liver failure, just over a year ago. Actually, Leo was never the same. He and Ernie slept together, ate together, and followed each other around. After that he was inexplicably alone, the other goats really offering no comfort to his confused heart. He began to lose weight, was more prone to parasites, and sometimes didn’t even want to share meals with his compatriots. He became more human-oriented and while he tried to bond with Falkor (now that is quite a daunting task), in the end, his best friend was Marvin the white rooster. They slept together under the heat lamp every night.
Leo spent a bit over a week at the hospital, during which time they diagnosed him with “vagal indigestion”, apparently a common disturbance with cows but not so much with small ruminants. This meant that his body could not move his food from his esophagus to his rumen and he could not bring the food from his rumen back to his mouth for chewing his cud (a very very simplistic explanation from someone who just barely passed “Biology for poets” in college). We brought him home so he could spend one more night at his place, with his friends, and so he could cuddle one last time with Marvin (who was visibly distressed at Leo's passing). He was peacefully euthanized early in the morning with a half dozen volunteers there to kiss and hug him.
Every single soul matters. Every living being has a heart, a mind, a personality. If you see a large group of animals in a field, do not think they are all the same, or that they don’t matter because, by chance, they don’t have names. Leo, a Boer goat (bred largely for meat), got a winning lottery ticket. He was able to life a full life, attend parties, steal treats from others, and hang out with a multi-species gang. He was just shy of his 10th birthday when he died last week. Old by some standards, young by ours, as our animals tend to live well into their teens. He was loved every day of his life, and still is loved. Safe travels, my dear, dear friend.