2001-Tue Jan 17 06:00:44 EST 2017
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Goats are great! I know this because I’ve had three in my life . . . so far. And I intend to keep many,
many more in the future.
Ever since I discovered goats in vet school, I’ve become somewhat obsessed with the notion of raising, breeding and milking a herd of gorgeous Nubians. They are adorably intelligent, and their personalities are absurdly alluring — and I know that this is completely at odds with the popular perception of goats.
Here’s where I have to chalk up your possible aversion to the caprine as stemming from a number of popular misconceptions about goats. Due to their rectangular-shaped pupils — not to mention wily personalities — goats have been portrayed as devilish in both art and literature. Similarly, folklore teems with references to their “capricious” nature, with plenty of Satanic references at that!
With all of that working against them, it only makes sense that they’d also be dissed unduly for their pungent aroma and their willingness to eat anything in sight. On both counts, I have to rebut: Sure, intact boys smell — badly — of urine that reeks like an unkempt barnyard. But most girls and neutered boys (called “wethers”) have a pleasant, musky whiff to them that most serious animal lovers wouldn't find offensive.
So, too, does their penchant for the inedible ring untrue. In fact, it’s tough to get my picky goats to switch feed brands, much less start to munch on my clothing. But there is one big caveat here: Goats will often nibble on anything at all just to elicit a reaction, which is how petting zoo goats tend to get you to feed them more of those fattening pellets.
But enough of the bad rap rebuttal. Here are the real reasons why I love my goats:
Goats get high marks for their smarts. They’re every bit as intelligent as dogs and cats, and their interesting antics display a natural brilliance that you’d never think possible for a prey species. In fact, their adventurousness and creativity are so legendary that it gave rise to the term “capricious” to describe a lively, mercurial personality.
The only downside to their brainpower: the widely held belief among goat keepers that our beloved creatures carry locksmith genes. In my case, it took multiple attempts at fencing to come up with a reasonable containment solution. And the gate now has three latches on it lest they suddenly decide that the grass truly is greener on the other side.
Mine have what most people consider “doglike" attitudes, evidenced by their solicitous “pet me!” behavior, and the “she’s home!” kind of excitement that most people only associate with more traditional pets. One of my goats actually loves to be leash walked!
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