There is a goat on my kitchen deck this morning.
It’s still dark and I am shepherding (perhaps I shouldn’t use that word) the dogs out for their morning pee and as I let them out the door, Chester growls and rushes and I look up and see that Patcha, (one of) my neighbor’s pygmy goat(s), is on the top step. Goats and dogs are not always a good combination. Nigel is not wearing his radio collar at this time of the morning. When he’s wearing the collar, he won’t go up to the fence, which gives the goat some escape room to crawl back under the fence without a dog’s immediate help.
Haul the big dogs back inside but let Chester out, because he is most likely to pee inside if the need is strong and at 13#, least likely to attack the goat by himself. (Two, maybe three, of his grandparents were Chihuahuas.) Get the radio collar and a leash on Nigel. Take the big dogs out. On her own, Molly is unlikely to attack anything, but she is a pack animal and will certainly go along with anything the boy dogs start.
Nigel pees and sniffs in Patcha’s direction but obviously has a fair amount of respect for Patcha’s defensive equipment. He does not challenge her.
Bring the dogs inside for now. Patcha has run a few feet away from the deck and peed, and now climbs back up the steps to the deck. She might be pregnant; I don’t know what goat labor looks like. Is she looking for a safe place to give birth and picked my deck? To her, it may look like a cave on a craggy mountain. I wonder how her rectangular eyes process the deck railing—do the bars appear to be solid? She is still there now.
When I have a party, some number of guests will want to wander through the back yard. I explain that there are four dogs there (my three and their best friend) who are friendly, but to be aware that the dogs are dogs on their own ground. The last guests to wander through the back yard at the last party came up to me after and said, “You didn’t tell us your dogs had horns!”
After living in rural NC for 20 years, I am used to being “in the country,” the destination some city people think they can take their unwanted dogs, and someone will take them in. It happens. Four of the six dogs on these two properties were “country dumps,” and I’ve rehomed at least five more that I wasn’t able to keep. It never surprises me to find a new dog in my life for a time. I am not certain that I am ready to feel the same way about a goat.
A bit later, Henry the little brown dog with a pit bull mother came over to visit his best friend Nigel. They generate too much energy to be indoors together, so I carefully let them outside through the basement door. Patcha reclined on the deck and chewed her cud. Left to his own devices, Nigel is usually happy to let anything be, but Henry feels considerable ownership about the deck and was most unhappy to find a goat resting in his place. However, Henry is not stupid. He intuitively understands some elements of military strategy that eluded losing generals throughout history: do not attack uphill, against a larger and better-armed opponent. I’ve seen Henry attack a goat before, and if he can get behind the animal and grab a rear leg, it can be bad news for the goat. But Patcha has at least 20 if not 30 pounds on Henry, and with her sitting in the middle of the top step, he wasn’t getting around her horns and hooves to attack from the rear.
She chewed her cud. Henry whined, and yipped, and wanted me to make everything right. Nigel looked worried, thinking he ought to do something but really not wanting to get involved in any way that might generate the “bad dog” he sensed was hovering around the edges of this scene. Eventually, the steps warmed up and the dogs retreated to their cave in the basement.
Just before leaving for the office, I looked across the fence to see all three goats back in their own pasture. No goat babies on the back porch today, at least.