One evening, a few months back, I was driving out of the property and heading into town to pick up supplies for the animals. Our Nature of Wildworks care center is located at the end of a mile long private dirt road and the first quarter mile leading out from the property is very wild and lighted at night by only the moon and stars. Often there are rabbits grazing by the side of the road and once a grey fox darted in front of the car and then disappeared into the brush. Occasionally, I’ll get lucky and an owl will fly past. It’s always exciting to see the nocturnal inhabitants of the area at close view but this time, as I was slowly driving down the steep dark hill toward town, I saw something in the middle of the road that really didn’t belong there.
I was about 100 yards from the entrance to the property when she first came into view. It was a four-legged hoofed animal, the same size and color as a young deer. As I stopped the car she turned her head to look up my way but instead of bolting like a shy fawn she began walking toward the car. As she came closer I could see her more clearly. I opened the car door and she walked right up and called out softly “ Maaaa, Maaaa”.
I reached over and touched her soft nose and then ran my hand down her back. Her coat was rough and her ribs and backbone were protruding. This mysterious animal was now easy to identify. She was a baby goat and she was starving to death.
Of course, I couldn’t just leave her there in the dark to be certain prey to predators or cars so I picked her up, put her in the back seat of my Honda and turned the car around. Back at Wildworks there was a small but empty enclosure available and I carried her into the compound and placed her inside. We house four horses at the facility so there was plenty of alfalfa available for her.
The poor little thing was very hungry and began eating immediately only pausing in between bites to call out for company with a loud “Maaaa” It was obvious that she was lonely and confused so I put Hopi, the Australian shepherd dog, into her pen for companionship. Hopi has raised many of the Wildworks critters including foxes and bobcats and, as I soon discovered, she was willing to add a goat to her long list of companions. It was Christmas time and very cold so a large dog igloo was added with a plastic heating pad for extra warmth. In spite of her physical condition she was a very spirited and outgoing little animal and so, in honor of the holiday, we christened her “Merry”.
All the TLC we had to offer couldn’t change the fact that the little goat was just too thin. She also had a respiratory problem accompanied by a terrible cough and needed to see a veterinarian ASAP. I made an appointment the very next day and upon examination the vet suggested a few options. We could perform a number of tests that might better determine the exact nature of her illness. This, however, would be costly. Another option would be to just treat her symptoms without knowing exactly what we were treating. And finally the vet suggested that one last option we may want to consider was euthanasia. After just one day we had all fallen in love with her so we decided to give her a chance and took home some penicillin injections to treat her symptoms.
Her recovery took some time but we are glad to report that little Merry has fully recovered. She still loves playing with Hopi the dog and as Merry runs around the compound devouring every plant in sight all the wild cats and canines love stalking her from inside their enclosures.
It remains a mystery as to how Merry the little goat ended up at our doorstep in the dark of night and in such bad condition but we’re happy that she did. In fact, Merry is doing so well now that she’s traveling with Hopi to outreach programs to teach people about domestic animals and to share her unique story.