Wednesday, September 9, 2015


(Today we have another blog entry from Bella (age 17). She's working on her college application essays and here's what she has come up with--I added photos...)
Of all the goats in the field, Pupa was the one for me. To the untrained eye, she may have looked like any of the other black, sixteen-inch tall, seventy pound pygmy goats in our backyard, but to me Pupa was a symbol of fierce independence. When I first stepped into the goat pen in sixth grade, it was love at first sight. 
The vast majority of the herd- about forty goats- were lying in the sun, chewing their cud, and avoiding human contact. But in a shady corner far away from the group, wolfing down grain, there was an especially chubby doe. Immediately, I was drawn to her. 
Her intelligence was obvious: it was almost one hundred degrees outside- why sit in the sun when it’s ten degrees cooler in the shade? Why chew on partially digested hay when there is a perfectly good bucket of grain near the fence? And why on Earth would any goat in his or her right mind want to avoid the creatures who provide food so reliably every day? Pupa and I seemed to ask the same questions. 
So when my step dad told us that we could each choose a goat to keep as our own and take to shows, I ran out to the field and clipped a lead onto Pupa to practice walking and “setting up” her legs squarely to be inspected by a judge. 
A month or so later, we made our showing debut at the Cloverdale Citrus Fair, and for the next two years, Pupa and I were unbeatable. We had a routine. While the other people in my showmanship classes tugged at their goats’ leads as they bleated to their herdmates back in the holding pens, Pupa marched around the ring almost automatically and I snuck her tortilla chips when the judge wasn’t looking. We were the West Coast showmanship champions two years in a row before we decided to retire.
I learned a lot from Pupa in those two years, and even after we stopped showing: just because everyone is doing one thing does not mean that you should join them; with a little dirt and a lot of determination, it is possible to turn white hair permanently brown; and a plethora of information about goat anatomy (did you know that a goat’s stomach is made up of the rumen, the abomasum, the omasum, and the reticulum?). 
Also, thanks to the long, slender shape of my hands, I became proficient at delivering baby goats- kids. It was probably good for my relationship with Pupa that she never found herself in a situation where I had to pull any Pupa Jr’s out of her, but she was always there to morally support her herdmates… or maybe she just liked to camp out in the kidding barn because it featured an endless buffet of high-calorie grain and was air-conditioned.
When my younger sister called me one night last February, I could immediately tell something was wrong. After some awkward small talk about my classes and her trip to Mexico, she told me that Pupa’s quality of life was deteriorating and she could barely walk due to her arthritis. She was ten years old- about average for the life expectancy of our goats- but I wasn’t ready. 
My sister asked if I wanted to wait a few weeks until spring break for the vet to put her down so that I could see her one last time and be there during her final moments. Pupa always seemed to be calmer for the vet when I was there. 
I said no. I didn’t want to prolong her suffering, and I told my sister it’d be selfish to drag Pupa’s life out if she couldn’t climb tree stumps and headbutt other goats out of her way anymore. What I said was true, but the real reason I didn’t want to wait was because I knew I wouldn’t be able to bear seeing the vet inject the syringe into my favorite pet- my security blanket of sorts- one last time. I didn’t want to see Pupa struggling to lie down or stand up. 
In a way, I made the selfish decision. I cried more than I thought I would when I saw my sister’s Facebook post commemorating our herd’s quirkiest goat. My friends were sympathetic but I don’t think they understood how much that one goat out of forty meant to me. 
I felt, and still feel, terrible for not being there for her. If I could go back in time I would tell Katherine to wait- to put Pupa in a bedded pen in the kidding barn and feed her grain and tortilla chips until I could be there to hold her hoof as she waddled to the goat field in the sky.

No comments:

Post a Comment