First I want to start this week's blog post by acknowledging all of our front line workers that are tirelessly putting themselves in harms way during this time of crisis. The service that you give freely to your communities, so that we can all pull through this to live to see better days again, is deeply appreciated. Thank you for all that you do for us. <3
For this weeks blog I wanted to choose a goat that had a great story of overcoming incredible odds. As this is also Easter weekend, (albeit the strangest Easter in my life to date) I feel that an uplifting story about the power of love is in order! So, for this weeks post I have chosen to share the story of SRM Legolas. This young wether (neutered male) had one of the roughest starts to his life that I have experienced, and against all those odds he is still with us. By all rights, he isn't even supposed to be here, but to see him alive and thriving three years later is wonderful to me, and reminds me to never give up! Especially when the odds are stacked against you. This dear boy is my Leggy, and this is his story, which actually begins with his mom, who happens to be my dear Maisie - Therapy goat number 1 and arguably one of my most special friends. Maisie has through her many years found new and exciting ways to try to die each and every year, always keeping me on my toes. In the winter of 2017 she was diagnosed with a bone disorder that caused all of her teeth to become loose. The decision was made that for her own safety and ongoing health, Maisie needed to have all of her teeth surgically removed. The problem was that she was pregnant. My vet advised me that the drugs she would be given for her surgery would cause her to abort her pregnancy. As this is Maisie we are talking about of course I would do what was in her best interests to survive. The decision was made to go through with the surgery and Maisie pulled through with flying colours! She did not however terminate her pregnancy, which meant I really had no idea of what I would be facing when she did in fact give birth a few months later.
On the day that Legolas was born, Maisie was her usual self, never cooperating and giving me absolutely no signs that this was the day she would give birth. Under the circumstances though I was not leaving her alone while I went to work, so I had someone stay with her each day. Wouldn't you know it, she went into full labour while I was delivering my mail route that afternoon and I was not going to be able to get back in time. Legolas was delivered safely into the world by friends while I rushed home. Poor Maisie had quite the ordeal delivering this massive boy! Legolas was born weighing in at just a hair over 6 pounds and he is by far the largest Nigerian Dwarf goat baby that I've ever seen. To put his size into perspective, the average size for a baby Nigerian dwarf goat is 1 1/2 lbs at birth. Maisie was a trooper and as usual an attentive and loving mamma. There was something horribly wrong with Legolas though and it was apparent we would need to work extra hard to help this giant boy survive. He was unable to stand, appeared potentially blind, and he was suffering from seizures. He also had a neurological head shake happening that was quite heartbreaking to witness. Maisie could tell something was also wrong with her boy, but she never rejected him and worked diligently with me through those first scary weeks of his life. It was very fortunate that she only gave birth to a single kid that year, as Legolas was going to need all of her attention and nurturing to bring him through. The one thing he had going for him right from his very first day of life was an insatiable appetite. He couldn't be dying if he was this hungry right? It gave me hope and with each feeding he grew stronger.
In previous years I had great success with the use of thiamine injection therapy to help ease other types of neurological issues when they've arisen in my goat herd. Thiamine is water soluble so any excess is expelled through urine. Due to this, it is something I can always try to see if it will help, without stressing about any negative impact. Over the years I have been surprised again and again in how often a shot of thiamine makes all the difference in a sick goat thriving. Where Legolas was concerned, I had absolutely nothing to lose by trying it on him. To my great relief, I began seeing tiny signs of improvement in his strength and coordination each day. It wasn't until he was almost a month old however before I felt confident enough in his improvement that I was sure he was out of the woods and would make it. By the time he joined the herd he was as big as kids 2 months older than him. As long as I continued to give him daily thiamine injections, he was almost completely symptom free, with no more evidence of seizures or head tremors. When you watched him at play with the other kids, it was VERY obvious that he was not as quick or capable as the others. He was easily confused and would get lost at ANY opportunity. Baby goats are notorious for getting lost, but Legolas was REALLY good at it. He needed to be monitored constantly that first summer. Legolas is a son of our recently deceased champion buck Jose. Legolas inherited his sires sweet temperament and personality, and due to his special needs stature, was a perfect candidate to be a therapy goat.
After the first few months, Leggy continued to get stronger and required less and less of my interventions to keep him going. By the time he turned a year old you could not tell that there was ever anything wrong with him at the start of his life. He has grown into a very handsome young wether who watches over his younger siblings and protects them fiercely. His little brother Remis is often seen with him while we hike, and they always sleep together. Legolas is a very shy and quiet soul. Rarely do you ever hear him speak or make a sound. He is always playful though and seems to delight in playing with his younger siblings. He adores naps and will often come and lay with me in the shade during the hot summer days. VERY food motivated, Legolas comes completely out of his shell if there are treats being offered. A huge lover of salty things, he still turns down no snacks ever. It seems an authentic quality he has possessed since birth :) As long as it keeps this special boy strong and healthy, I don't mind one bit. Legolas is strong and very fit, and will perhaps one day belong to a special group of goats that will be part of a future program here. Until then though, Legolas is part of my main therapy herd and is always part of our goat walks and outdoor programs. There is no explaining how this special boy came to be and also how he managed to survive those first few months. Maisie and I fought the hard fight for this boy and to win a victory like that and be able to watch him as he connects with people in our work, it really does feel to me like Legolas is a living miracle. Each person I watch him with brings my heart such immense joy. Ugh, just thinking about how long it has been since we have hosted guests or worked with clients makes me incredibly sad :( I really hope we all see an end to this pandemic soon and that we all can enjoy some lovely days in the warm sunshine with the herd again. Until then my friends, stay safe and please #stayhomesavelives With love, Angee