Several years ago when I had just started doing jobs off of Vashon Island on the "mainland" I was doing a job in the woods of Woodinville for a couple who wanted their woods cleaned up by the goats. I was new to traveling with my herd. The site was pretty intense. It was a woodland with lots of downed trees and stumps and a variety of brush and invasive species of plants covering it. It was very hard to get around and the customer wanted the goats to clear out the brush so they could park out their land.
Goats were a perfect fit for this site as it would have required a bulldozer without them. I had my 60 goats with me and it was early spring. One night it poured down rain. I would sleep in my truck at night in the back seat and always kept my rear slider window cracked open just a bit so I could hear the goats. As I said it was pouring down rain and the noise of it pounding on my truck made it hard to hear anything. Late in the night I was woke up by the faintest sound. I listened for awhile because I could not tell what it was. Suddenly however I heard it louder and bolted out of bed. It was a goat crying very faintly some distance away. I grabbed this HUGE flashlight, you know, one of those million candle numbers that is the size of a small boat anchor. I headed into the goat pen to investigate. It was still pouring and all the goats were standing under cover of the trees their eyes glowing as the million candles glinted off of them. I proceeded through the downed trees and brush following the faint cry of an obvious goat in distress. Suddenly my light found Dewey. He was suspended by his two front legs which had become wedged in the crotch of a tree. He was limp and hanging there, soaking wet and exhausted. I lifted his 75 pounds and managed to get his legs unstuck and he fell to the ground. He was almost dead. He had no energy and could not even lift his head. His front legs were completely limp and showed no signs of life. They were ice cold. He had not broken them however. I knew I had to get him back to the goat trailer to warm him up and vet him. He could not stand let alone walk. I picked him up and began to carry him and the stupid flash light through the woods. He was heavy and we had to climb over downed tree trunks and through blackberry vines to get back to the trailer. About half way my million candle light crapped out on me so now we were in complete darkness. I continued on a few feet at a time as I had to stop to rest my arms and back. At one point it was too difficult to continue. I knew it would be getting light out soon so I just sat down and held Dewey to try and get him warm. He was so weak...Light came and I carried him the rest of the way out. I got him in the trailer and gave him inject- able Vitamin B which is good for stress, Injected him with antibiotics and gave a pain medication. I also gave him a litre of Sub Cutaneous Normal Saline. I bedded him down in straw and waited. I wanted to give him a few hours to see if he would improve. He did improve and regained his strength however he could not use his front legs. They remained motionless and did not improve. I was fairly certain that he had sustained either nerve damage to them or that he had lost blood circulation in them and they would die. I decided at this point to take him to the vet. I contacted Pilchuck Vet clinic. This is a renowned clinic that happened to be close to where I was working and they specialize in farm animals. I was really sad as I knew he was mostly going to have to be put down. Dewey was the sweetest Nubian boy and still really young. I put him in the front seat of the truck to keep him warm and bless his little heart he just laid there letting me pet him as I drove. I prepared myself for the inevitable.
On arrival I checked in and they had me just leave him in the truck so the vet could come out and check him. A lovely young woman vet came out and we headed to the truck. I told her what had happened and what I had done for him thus far. She looked at him and did a needle test of his legs. He did react some which was a good sign. She said " you know, these guys are pretty tough I think if you just keep doing what you have been doing he may come through this". She also said that he had pressure spots on both his legs and that they would most likely turn into pressure sores. She instructed me to put antibiotic ointment on them when they open up and to wrap the legs at that point and keep them dry and clean. I was so happy! I was so sure she would advise me to put him down but she didn't!. So, we headed back to the job site. I did what she said and kept him in the trailer while the other goats worked. Just like she said he got better and started moving the legs and eventually he stood up. He was very gimpy initially but got steadier on his feet with time. Just as she said the sores developed and opened up. I followed her care plan and he eventually recovered completely. It took a few months before he was totally normal but in the end he was just fine.
Fast forward now a year or two.
It was winter and I had my goats at the winter pasture that at that time was a field I had to fence in with my electrified netting as it was not fenced. It had a small building to use as barn. One night the goats escaped the fence. They went to the house that was on the property and pigged out on Rhododendron which is extremely poisonous to goats. I arrived in the am to feed the herd only to find them out and eating the plant. I was freaked out as I had no idea how long they had been out and how much of the plant they had eaten or how many of them had eaten it. My herd was about 70 at the time. I got them back into their pen before any of them had started showing signs of poisoning. I fed them as sometimes if you dilute the poison with hay it will cause less symptoms. Within a very short period of time one goat started puking and then another and then another.. I tried as best I could to get a slurry of activated charcoal down the throats of the sick ones. They just kept puking and would shake their head to expel it from their mouth as goats cannot project vomit. It was like a scene out of the exorcist! Goats spewing puke and shaking their heads side to side causing it to spray everywhere. I was covered not only in goat barf but also now black activated charcoal that they just spewed backup. They were in horrible pain due to GI distress as well and crying and often throwing themselves onto the ground and rolling. I had one friend that came to help thank god! I called the Vet and they told me to do what I was doing . My vet has outfitted me with many medications and IV fluids etc to care for my herd. They know I am skilled and capable from my years of being a Paramedic and from all my goat experience. I do everything they would do so they have me do it and keep them appraised and then if they need to come out they do. More and more goats were beginning to vomit and pretty soon 40 goats were in the throws of the toxin. I got all the sick ones into an isolated area so I could better care for them and to keep the toxic puke away from the unaffected goats. They were getting puke into the feed bins and water and potentially poisoning the other goats with that. I was giving pain meds, anti inflammatory , SQ Iv fluids and charcoal to 40 goats around the clock for at least 48 hours. By day two I had about 6 goats who were somewhat critical. I kept up the treatment regime however and they began to also improve. One goat however was really bad. He was not improving and it appeared he had gotten so much toxin that he was cardio toxic. After hours of caring for him and still caring for the 40 who were now at least improving it became evident that he would not survive. I had been shown how and given a means of euthanizing a goat should I have to because when I work I am often not anywhere near a vet that knows how to treat goats. I had never done this before however and I knew that I was faced with having to do it now. I was a wreck. I was crying so hard and so conflicted. I could have called the vet but it was a weekend and after hours I knew it would take awhile to get the vet there and he was suffering . I also knew I had to do it myself to show myself that I could. I was sitting on the ground in the goat shelter and many of the other goats were lying about recovering. All of a sudden Dewey showed up. He was one of the affected goats but was recovering well. He came to me and put his head over my shoulder from behind his big floppy Nubian ears warm against my face. He just stood there and snuggled his head next to my face as I cried. He did not move from that spot. I could feel him supporting me as I cried and as I struggled with having to give the final injection that would end my goats suffering. He communicated with me telepathically and said and I heard "it is okay, it is his time" He said" you were there for me when I almost died and you gave me every chance to survive, you did not give up on me and I am here now because of that" He said " But this one cannot survive and it is okay that you help him to the other side..It is time and I am right here with you".. with that I injected the drug and watched one of my beloved goats pass out of his misery. I cried and cried and Dewey he stayed with me the whole time and let me cry onto his big ears and head.. He walked me through it .. I was absolutely blown away by this act of compassion and love.. I was changed by it.. Dewey lives on to this day in my herd and will always occupy a very special place in my heart.