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Patsy the House Goat

Posted Monday, August 18, 2008, at 7:57 AM

Patsy and my daughter's dog Chigger walk the levee lane. Goat pen to the left, pond to the right.
Now that the Olympics are almost over, I guess it's time to post that story that I promised about my little house goat, so here it is. Sorry it's such a downer. I'll make the next one funny. Promise!

Patsy was born unexpectedly one cold, drizzly February morning, shortly after one of my other goats had given birth too young and had let her baby die. I was determined that it would never happen again, so when I heard a baby goat crying out in the dry leaves in the back pen, I rushed out, scooped her up, and brought her into the kitchen, where she started life in a cardboard box with a heat lamp.

My son and I caught her mother and milked her to get the colostrum for the little goat. After the first couple of days, we put her on milk replacer, which I fed her in a baby bottle. I had to enlarge the holes in the nipple with a hot needle.

The weather stayed cold and wet that spring (05, I think), so Patsy remained in my kitchen behind a barricade, until I finally moved her out to the dog pen, where she lived by herself in a doghouse with a heat lamp at the doorway. Seems as if it took forever for the weather to warm up that year.

Patsy took walks on the lane with the dogs and me, twice a day, early morning and late evening. The photo I've posted shows my daughter's blue-eyed hound Chigger shepherding Patsy across the levee. The little goat would stop and nibble on weeds and grass, as we walked my half-mile lane from the house, across the pond levee, past my son's grape vines, past the pear trees, up the hill, and then down to the mailbox.

Even after I put Patsy into the pen with the other goats, I would go down and get her out for walks on the lane. She really looked forward to this ritual, and I kept it up until she got much bigger and I couldn't keep her out of my son's grape vines. That ended her walks with me, and I missed it as much as she did.

She didn't like those rude, pushy goats in the pen, and they most certainly didn't like her. I spent a lot of time trying to find just the right place for her, so that she wouldn't get picked on by the alpha females or bred to her grandfather Billy. She developed a friendship with the little white goat Tinker Bell, who also had to be kept away from Billy, since he was her grandfather, too.

For all the good it did! One Christmas Eve, Billy broke down the gate to the back pen and nailed Tinker Bell. Absolutely flattened her. Hot Shot was born five months later, but Tinker turned out to be a good mama and a buddy for Patsy.

I don't know what happened to Patsy, but it seemed to start with her feet. I couldn't keep her hooves trimmed, they grew so fast and became all warped. She got progressively more crippled, and by about March, when I took her to the vet, she was really struggling to walk. I could tell that it wasn't her feet. The vet thought she might have some nerve damage.

In June of this year, she had deteriorated so much that she couldn't go out in the field to graze. I fed her in her house, but it became obvious that she wasn't going to get better. It's possible that she had some sort of cancer.

My son came one weekend and put her down for me. She's buried by the pond, but I prefer to think that she's gone away to Planet Goat, like FJGuy says. He's even shown some visual evidence of her ascent. You can see it at http://forejustice.org/md/hotshot3.html.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

What a nice story, sad, but enjoyable reading. Thanks for sharing, you're a caring 'momma'.

Now hopefully no one will make anything political out of this.....lol..............

And the Olympics arent over, just almost, they're thinking everyone will tune out now that the swimming is finished. Now softball and baseball are being ended in 2012 because the USA usually wins. Oh well, its been a nice ride and enjoyable.

-- Posted by changedname on Mon, Aug 18, 2008, at 9:37 AM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Thanks, dexterite. Haha! I see no way in blue blazes that anything political could be tied in with a story about a goat!!

I'm not very astute, I guess. I thought the Olympics were over. I guess when the women's gymnastics is done, I think that's it.

MD, you can also see Tinker Bell and Patsy "space cloud surfing" at, http://forejustice.org/md/tinker_bell_an...

-- Posted by FJGuy on Mon, Aug 18, 2008, at 12:31 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
Thanks, FJ! I tried four times to get that link to work on my blog copy, but it kept telling me that the page was "unavailable"!

MD, after feeling the bout of losing your favorite house-goat, I can truly understand why you'd give it all up. As sure as the rain, you and your family will have the wonderful memories of Patsy imbedded in your hearts and minds for many years to come.

Do you think maybe you'll find some other animal to raise? I know your Border Collies have to be going nuts not having those goats to herd...and as we've talked about before...that's never a good thing.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Mon, Aug 18, 2008, at 12:55 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
As long as I have plenty of frisbees, I can keep my border collie occupied. And this weekend, my son brought out a new toy he got from Orsheln's -- a tennis ball slingshot! It holds four tennis balls. It's a little hard for Sassy to get used to it, because she watches for a HAND to throw the ball, but she's still pretty pleased with it.

I've raised everything from gerbils to cattle, and I can't imagine wanting to bring out anything else, but who knows. It's pretty lonely out here!

Yeah, it can get pretty lonely. I wish my grandma could've gotten around better after my grandpa died so she could've occupied her time with something like that...but since she couldn't...she opted for cats...which I just so happened to be alergic to. A trip to grandma's house meant me being in a drowsy haze of Benadryl...and still itching like I had poison ivy much into the middle of the week.

The border collie I had (her name was Brandy) didn't find much interest in frisbees...not even the flexible ones. But just let her catch a tennis ball in her sights, and my arm was sure to be sore! She was a hardcore tennis ball addict, but she was gorgeous to watch. I sure wish them tennis balls would've been enough to keep her from getting bored and chasing cars. My husband told me this week that we were going to look for another one soon, but I'm just not sure I'm ready.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Mon, Aug 18, 2008, at 11:49 PM
Madeline Dejournett's response:
My son is looking for one, too, but I'm not at all sure he should get one. He lives on the main highway through Kelso, and his back yard isn't fenced. He thinks he can train the pup, plus use one of those underground fences and a collar. I don't think it'll work. Border collies are the smartest dogs out there, but they get so focused on chasing things, that they don't pay attention to danger. And, in the case of your dog, they actually CHASE the speeding cars. They need to be out in the country away from roads. My place sure fills the bill on that count!

Yeah, those underground fences don't get very high grades when it comes to hyperactive, or intelligent dogs. I live in Dexter, and because of our leash ordinance, we can't even have those fences. I hate chaining dogs up, and my Great Pyrenees is built to ride, so leashing her is a challenge that takes muscle. I think we need to be in a different location for a Border Collie. But, as most men are this way...TRY TELLING HIM THAT! ;-

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 8:00 AM

Could anyone make a home for some half-wild cats?

-- Posted by gardengirl on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 12:12 PM

Underground fences are a terrible idea. Aside from punishing the dog for crossing an invisible line (how much sense does that make to even the smartest dog?), shock collars can cause burns and cardiac fibrillation and lead to severe anxiety in dogs. Not to mention that many dogs cross the line to chase a squirrel or rabbit, and then are afraid to come back through.

To see a victim of the invisible fence, go here: http://blog.helpinganimals.com/2008/07/p...

Raising animals may be fun for the person doing it--who doesn't love baby animals?--but when you think of the millions of animals who are put down each year for want of good homes, breeding animals is just not a responsible thing to do. You could always foster animals for an area shelter if you want to keep babies around. Shelters can always use help from folks who are willing prepare young or abused animals to be put into a permaent home.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 12:36 PM

Youngest Child, I'm all about helping out animals who need a home. It's senseless that so many are put down for whatever reason. But, I also see a problem with blaming breeders, if they're responsible, and it's hard for me to take a shelter dog over a puppy.

The reason behind me not wanting to blame responsible breeders is they're not TRYING to hurt anything. So many have a lenghty application process, and different sorts of checks and what not just so they don't put an animal in a later-unwanting home.

As far as taking in a shelter dog, don't get me wrong...it's a perfectly wonderful thing to do for some. As for people like me, who not only have another dog, but also small children, a shelter dog can't be raised to whatever specifications I may need, and their temperment tests only cover a normal range of things that could happen to the animal. These tests are run in a controlled environment, and I can tell you one thing...my home is no controlled environment!

Again, I'm not knocking adopting shelter animals in any way...I'm just trying to let you know that it's just not a thing that can work for all people, because your words pretty much dictated that you're COMPLETELY against breeding any new animals.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 3:54 PM

You're right mrsd, I am completely against breeding. There is no such thing as a "responsible breeder." Five million animals are euthanized in US shelters each year! For every animal a breeder brings into this world, another has to die at a shelter. It's that simple. Maybe breeders aren't trying to hurt anyone, but they are hurting someone all the same. Does their intent really matter? I would urge you to volunteer at or visit an open-admission humane society or municipal shelter. When you see all the perfectly healthy and adoptable animals--precious puppies and adorable kittens--being killed just to make room for more, you might change your mind. These shelter animals are just as deserving of a home and life as purebreds, and it's wrong for anyone--a breeder or a consumer--to take that home away from them.

The general consensus among animal welfare groups is that 25% of animals euthanized at shelters are purebreds. So if you want a "specific" dog, you can still find one at a shelter or rescue.

Finally, many people find that mixed-breed dogs are more even-tempered and even healthier than purebreds. Purebred lines originally came from breeding dogs/cats with similar qualities; these dogs/cats were often related. This inbreeding is the reason for all the genetic problems (hip displaysia, etc) and the often-extreme (hyperactive) nature of many purebred animals.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 4:23 PM

I KNEW THIS WOULD GET POLITICAL--sorry for the shout.

Be civil now.

-- Posted by changedname on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 6:53 PM

I didn't even necessarily mean "pure breds." Even walking into a shelter and adopting an 8 month old puppy doesn't suit me, and it's for this simple fact...I don't know it's past. It could have been taught to be defensive over food, it could have been tormented previously by children, or it could not be acceptant of other animals. If you'll read, I NEVER said I'm against adopting animals from a shelter. If I didn't have a dominant female, or children, then I probably would myself. I DID say however that it's not for EVERYONE, for various reasons...just like EVERYTHING in this world isn't for everyone.

One more thing...you shouldn't tell me what I should try out not knowing that I already have! I visit the Humane Shelter frequently in Sikeston, I've been to the adoption event our local dogcatcher held at Orschelns, and I've VOLUNTEERED. I'm a HUGE animal lover, and I'm not taking either side! You have your beliefs, let me have mine without trying to preach things to me that I already know.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 10:38 PM

One more thing...you can't blame breeders as a whole for the overpopulation of animals in this, or any other, country. You can, however, blame all the people in this world who either don't realize what they're getting themselves into, and then end up dumping their pets instead of taking the time to find a good home, or who let their animals run free to impregnate any female in heat within a 5 mile radius. Besides, who's to say that I can afford the $100 adoption fee at a shelter?

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 19, 2008, at 10:43 PM

My "pet peeves," (if you'll pardon the pun!)

* People who don't get their animals spayed or neutered and let them run the neighborhood, breeding indescriminately.

* People who dump pregnant females or puppies to fend for themselves, contract mange, become infested with ticks, fleas, and intestinal worms. (Terrible way for a puppy to die!)

* People who can barely afford to properly clothe their children but will go out and buy a $400 dog. (What are they thinking??)

* People who want a puppy, but they won't get its shots, so it comes down with parvo and dies.

* People who want a puppy, but reject it when it grows up and is no longer "cute."

* People who raise puppies in cages, like chickens.

I could go on and on, but you get the idea. These animals are so loving and accepting. They deserve better!

-- Posted by goat lady on Wed, Aug 20, 2008, at 6:13 PM

Well I typed up a response but it apparently didn't post. The short version is that I don't blame just breeders. I also blame puppy mills, pet stores, people buy from pet stores, backyard breeders, and people who allow their animals to have "accidental" litters. Reducing the overpopulation crisis is everyone's responsibility.

So mrsd, I'm sorry if I somehow offended you (your response seems rather defensive), but I'll always speak up for what I believe is right. Some feelings may get hurt in the process but I'd hurt someone's feelings any day if it meant I could save an animal's life.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Thu, Aug 21, 2008, at 10:45 AM

I'm extremely strong on spaying and neutering my pets. I once had a little female house dog. I never let her breed so I didn't think it was important to get her spayed. Later in life she developed uterine cancer and she had to have the surgery when she was much older and less able to recover from the surgery. Never again. Every pet from then on has been spayed or neutered either at 5-6 months or when I got the animal if it was older.

But to the original topic. That was a sweet story Ms. Madeline. I'm so sorry little Patsy didn't fair so well toward the end. You did the humane thing. It's fun to think of her cloud surfing on Planet Goat.

-- Posted by Ducky on Thu, Aug 21, 2008, at 1:41 PM

Youngest, I was defensive. I often get defensive when people only have one view on things, and don't leave their minds open for exceptions. Not everyone is the problem when they do things responsibly. The only reason I haven't ever had my Great Pyrenees spayed is because I've seriously thought of breeding her. Her breed isn't very well known around here, but everyone who sees her (not just her looks, but her temperment) wants to know more, and has even asked for first dibs on puppies if I ever do breed her. Now, my Bassett Hound is spayed, because she was a shelter dog. I got her when the timing was right for us to take that extra step into the unknown. It's kind of like this, even pit bulls can be a sweet breed if you raise them right...so I prefer puppies so I can raise them to fit my family...after all...that's where they're going to be for years to come.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Thu, Aug 21, 2008, at 9:28 PM

There are hundreds of Great Pyrenees rescues in the US alone... why not direct someone who's interested in a GP pup to one of those rescues? The interested person gets the breed he wants, and you have saved two lives: the one of the adopted dog, and the one for whom that adoption made room. That seems like a win-win situation, don't you think?

You can "raise" a puppy to behave in the desired manner even if he doesn't come from a breeder. At 8 weeks puppies are, as you know, highly impressionable and trainable, regardless of where they come from.

Also, it's obvious that you love your dogs and I know you would deeply regret it if your dog ended up with uterine cancer like Ducky's dog mentioned above. Cancer is not something I would want to take a chance with.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Fri, Aug 22, 2008, at 10:18 AM

I highly regret not having had one of my favorite border collies spayed when she was younger. I had to have the vet euthanize her the same year my husband died. It was horrible.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 5:43 AM

We still haven't decided on the breeding thing, though we have discussed making the decision this year.

Youngest, you will have your opinions, I will have mine. I'm on both sides of the fence, and won't choose sides because neither side looks any more green than the other to me. I'm not saying breeders should mass produce, nor should they just sell their puppies to the 1st person that walks in to buy one...there's always more than one responsible way to handle ANY situation, this one included.

I also wanted to add that, like humans, most female animals feel a necessity to have AT LEAST one baby/litter. My Great Pyr shows that everytime she gets around puppies. That's also hindered my decision on this issue. Is it honestly my right to never let her experience motherhood? Isn't that kind of like playing God? (I'll probably get a rile out of someone on that comment, but it's my belief!)

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 11:23 AM

I had an email this week from one of the rescue people in the area - They have three 3.5 month old mix Great Pyrenese pups that need homes. Very colorful, I understand. If anyone's interested, I have the contact.

-- Posted by goat lady on Sat, Aug 23, 2008, at 2:17 PM

You don't rile me mrsdolphin and I recognize that I'm in the minority, but I didn't want to produce at least one baby/litter. You are entitled to your opinion and I defend your right to that opinion. My opinion is that I am more than a baby producing entity -- and so are my pets.

If you want to breed your GP, by all means proceed. Keep in mind that even if you find good responsible homes for your puppies, there's no guarantee that they'll stay there. Many of the animals who end up in shelters started out with good homes. One of my friends who bred her dog one time told the new owners of the puppies that if they ever wanted to get rid of the dog to give it back to her. I don't know if it worked for her, but if you're serious about the breed you could try it.

-- Posted by Ducky on Mon, Aug 25, 2008, at 11:50 AM

Ducky, as always, I appreciate your input. I'd never thought of trying something like that. I know (because of Ellen naturally), that if you get an animal from a shelter, and you decide you don't want it, you have to take it back to that shelter. But this is what gets me about that...

I understand that most of these shelters are funded primarily by the adoption fees you pay. I get that, and the only thing that bothers me is that these shelters put animals down because "they can't afford to keep them past a certain amount of time," yet no-kill shelters manage to keep them. Plus, if I pay $100 to adopt a pet, and decide it's not for me, or I can't afford to feed it, or what have you, I won't be refunded that money, and they'll make $100 again off whoever gets that animal later...if anyone gets it at all. So they're profiting, but complaining they can't keep them alive past a certain amount of days.

There again, on the breeder issue, they're making profit too..but that's what they set out to do. I see the good and bad on both sides. That's why I think it's "to each his own" on this topic.

My 2 main reasons to breed my Pyr is #1. Her breed isn't very well known around this area, and they are FANTASTIC dogs. They're very well-tempered, easy to train, smart, energetic when you need them to be, and laid back when you want to relax, and they are bred to protect. I won't allow my husband to take her on the road with him, because I wouldn't feel safe without her here. Reason #2. As I said before, though she can't tell me herself, her actions tell me that she'd like to have puppies. I wouldn't turn her into a puppy machine, because I know myself how difficult pregnancy, labor, and delivery can be. I just don't see how it's my right to keep that feeling/experience from her. Ducky, I can appreciate what you said about having babies. My sole purpose isn't to have babies either. But I must say it's a wonderful feeling. If she growled at other puppies, or sniffed them and walked away, I wouldn't even consider it. But she takes to them instantly...I know that's not a guarantee she'd do the same with hers, but it's a sign she probably would.

My husband and I discussed it, and our Pyr should have one more heat cycle this year before she turns 4...if we decide then that we don't want to breed her, we're getting her fixed. Before now, I wasn't aware that not getting a dog spayed (or neutered) could bring on so many ill-effects. Thanks for that piece of info!

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 12:29 PM

I would just like to add that open admission shelters have to euthanize animals because they accept all animals; they don't turn away the sick, old, aggressive, otherwise "unadoptable" animals. No-kill shelters can turn away animals who they believe to be unadoptable. And let's please not group all no-kill shelters in a good light. Some are hellholes where animals spend their entire lives in cages without interaction or medical care.

Mrsd, I can see that you are putting a lot of thought into your decision. Perhaps your dog has a "right" to experience motherhood, but other dogs also have a right to life and their chances of finding a new home are reduced with every new puppy born. I think this video explains the reality of the overpopulation crisis very plainly and if you can take a few minutes to watch it, I think it would be an important issue to consider during your decision about whether you want to bring more animals into this world.


-- Posted by Youngest Child on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 12:58 PM

Youngest, I fully respect your persistance in helping sheltered animals, but we will have to agree to disagree. It would be like saying we, as humans, don't deserve to reproduce because of the starving of some here, and in other countries. It's circumstance. It's the way of the world. I understand the unfairness you're talking about completely...my question for you is how fair is it to people like me who'd like to share a wonderful breed with others, and want to stick with breed (or blood) lines so we can all but guarantee the temperment and characteristics of the animal? That way, if someone is looking for a Great Pyr because of their characteristics, they can have one, instead of getting an animal from a shelter that may not necessarily be for them, thus the animal either being let loose, or sent back to the shelter.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 5:44 PM

There is a faily large difference, mrsd, in the degree of unfairness between an animal not getting to live and you not getting something you'd like. I take offense to someone even comparing those two situations. If, however, you're personally ok with putting what you desire over the lives of animals then that is your decision to make. And I don't say that in a judgemental way; the reason I argued with you so much about this is because I hear so many people just ignoring the effect that their (animal) breeding has on unwanted animals, or thinking somehow "It doesn't apply to me." As long as you are fully aware of the results I will have to leave it alone. Like you mentioned before, you have spayed one of your dogs and you have helped at the Humane Society, and that's more than a lot of people can say. Good luck in whatever you decide.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 6:17 PM

It's far from just something I'd like. I WILL NOT risk buying an animal from a shelter who, as you pointed out, could have God knows what, or have a fighting dog temperment when I'm bringing it home to my children. I don't expect others to have to do so either. Again, and for the final time, you have your way, I have mine. I'm not knocking your way, I'm saying it's not for me. If you can just leave that alone, we'll get along just fine.

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 7:12 PM

Wow, I even wished you luck and you still snapped back. Go ahead and post another comment. I promise I'll let you have the last word.

-- Posted by Youngest Child on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 10:44 PM

I'm not snapping back...I'm pretty much repeating every word I've already said...same as you. See above that post...and you will see I appreciate your persistance. Who snapped at who?

-- Posted by mrsdolphin on Tue, Aug 26, 2008, at 10:45 PM


-- Posted by goat lady on Sun, Aug 31, 2008, at 8:35 AM

I don't know about all this stuff, but I got my last and best ever mutt dog from the center median on a four lane interstate when he was a little bitty puppy.

-- Posted by I.B. Le Truth on Sun, Aug 31, 2008, at 10:50 AM

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Madeline DeJournett
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at advancensc@sbcglobal.net.
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