A Coun­try Life

All we need is a mir­a­cle

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents - Words & Im­ages Julie Collins

Pan­dora was the first goat to join the Collins Clan and she has been a much loved pet ever since. She had been specif­i­cally ac­quired to al­low our younger daugh­ter So­phie to train and show a kid at the school’s agri­cul­tural day.

While she was blonde in colour, she was far from dumb, tak­ing out the supreme cham­pi­onship award on the ap­pointed day. That meant au­to­matic en­try into the re­gional agri­cul­tural show and she per­formed very well there too.

So­phie quickly formed a love-bond with Pan­dora. From the day she ar­rived, So­phie would visit her goat ev­ery evening, tak­ing her a treat or two as part of the ri­tual. Pan­dora, alert to her Mistress, would bound across to the pad­dock gate as soon as she spot­ted her. She would bleat whenever So­phie spoke, a baby re­spond­ing to the sound of its mother.

A year later, we had a sec­ond goat to care for and Rambo won many agri­cul­tural awards too. He wasn’t as bright as Pan­dora, but we felt he had a cer­tain charm and be­came a win­ner based on his An­glo-nu­bian hand­some­ness. His bound­less en­ergy, unique mark­ings and big floppy ears were off the chart on the cute­ness scale.

Rambo was the mis­chief maker of the two, the es­cape artist who could cre­ate havoc in any sit­u­a­tion and chews things he ought not to. He even got the fam­ily dog un­der con­trol at an early age, stomp­ing over the top of him to reach the best sunny spots. There was an air of de­fi­ance when he dis­obeyed hu­man “STOP!” com­mands, like the time he stole a plas­tic peg from the clothes line. He ran to a safe dis­tance, looked his pur­suer in the eye and de­lib­er­ately pro­ceeded to crunch and swal­low.

It was a typ­i­cal Fri­day af­ter­noon when So­phie re­turned from school, pre­pared her ‘goa­tee snacks’ and ran out to­wards the

pad­dock. I was busy pre­par­ing din­ner and my hus­band was away in the South Is­land on a mo­tor­cy­cle jaunt and not sched­uled to be home for at least three days.

It didn’t take long for So­phie to re­turn. She was out of breath with an alarmed ex­pres­sion. “Some­thing’s wrong with Pan­dora!” My first thought when I saw Pan­dora was “Oh no, she’s had a stroke!” Although only four years old, she was down on the ground, her head tilted and al­most locked onto her right flank, her eyes flick­er­ing, and she ap­peared to be paral­ysed down one side. I called the vet and flagged that our goat may need to be eu­thanised.

While wait­ing for the vet to ar­rive, I googled her symp­toms and was faced with a list of pos­si­ble causes to her ob­vi­ous neu­ro­log­i­cal emer­gency: lis­te­ria, goat menin­gi­tis, goat po­lio. All were very se­ri­ous and life-threat­en­ing. Lis­te­ria, if not caught early enough, was likely to have a fa­tal out­come.

What­ever it was came on fast and poor Pan­dora was un­able to stand de­spite at­tempts to get up onto her feet.

It was easy to get into self-blame mode. Did I give her some mouldy food? Should I have checked her ear­lier?

Our vet was there within 20 min­utes, a lovely young woman who had ful­filled her child­hood am­bi­tion and tack­led her cho­sen ca­reer with great pas­sion, knowl­edge and care. She di­ag­nosed pos­si­ble thi­amine ( Vi­ta­min B) de­fi­ciency as the most likely rea­son for the goat’s flick­er­ing eyes but there was uncer­tainty as to the cause of the neu­ro­log­i­cal symp­toms. Lis­te­ria was the most likely sce­nario, or pos­si­bly an in­ner ear in­fec­tion.

She sug­gested a rem­edy and gave us hope for sav­ing our much-loved pet. It was a no-brainer for me. We would at­tempt to get Pan­dora back to good health and so be­gan her Vi­ta­min B ther­apy and daily in­jec­tions of a high dose an­tibi­otic.

The vet re­turned the next day to check on her and pro­vided lessons on ad­min­is­ter­ing her drugs. We were in­structed to lift Pan­dora onto a hay bale to get the blood cir­cu­lat­ing to her left side as the in­va­sion of bac­te­ria to her brain meant that she was im­mo­bile. Her only move­ment was from the se­ries of kicks from her strong hind leg which only en­abled her to move in a cir­cle in a clock­wise direc­tion. Her re­peated at­tempt to move wore a bald patch on her leg and soon she had an un­sightly bleed­ing scab on her left thigh.

Try­ing to lift a heavy-weight, semi­paral­ysed goat onto a hay bale was a back-break­ing process. Pan­dora re­sisted any at­tempt to lift her and when she was strad­dled across the hay bale it looked far from com­fort­able. We were un­able to keep her still but all too quickly she was on the ground again.

So­phie and I worked to cre­ate shel­ter and shade, keep­ing her liv­ing area com­fort­able and clean. We fol­lowed our vet’s ad­vice and ban­ished Rambo to the ad­ja­cent pad­dock. When you have a sick goat, it’s pos­si­ble that a healthy an­i­mal can be­come ag­gres­sive to­wards it.

One thing we knew for cer­tain was that Rambo would dis­rupt any makeshift shel­ter. This had been cre­ated us­ing sheets and shower cur­tains strad­dled

our vet was there within 20 min­utes. SHE sug­gested a rem­edy and gave us hope... it was a no-brainer for me.

be­tween the goat hut and fence line. Clothes pegs (Rambo’s favourite snack!), bun­gies and crock clips were all used in our con­struc­tion process. The need to strad­dle Pan­dora across the hay bale seemed to fall off the radar as we naively thought she would be ok left in a po­si­tion she was most com­fort­able in. At least the clean fresh hay pro­vided some food.

Thank­fully, we were blessed with stun­ningly good weather and Pan­dora was eat­ing grass of­fer­ings, fruit, de­hy­drated ba­nana pieces, peaches, ap­ples, bread, chopped car­rots and hay. She was tak­ing wa­ter from a sy­ringe and oc­ca­sion­ally drank from a small bowl. Her bowel and blad­der were still work­ing so I knew that we were man­ag­ing to keep de­hy­dra­tion and star­va­tion at bay.

We set up an au­to­matic fly sprayer to keep the an­noy­ing in­sects away, and oc­ca­sion­ally I would douse my hands with in­sect re­pel­lent, then smooth my hands over her coat which worked a treat at keep­ing the tiny black sand­flies off her.

By Day 5 Pan­dora’s neck had only a slight tilt and her eye flick­er­ing had stopped, but she was still un­able to turn her head fully to the left. My hus­band was home when our vet­eri­nar­ian next vis­ited our prop­erty. She noted that Pan­dora seemed brighter but em­pha­sised the need to keep the left limbs mov­ing. We rolled Pan­dora across a towel, us­ing it as a lifting aid, and then plonked her back on top of the hay bale. I shud­dered at the sight of the nasty wound cre­ated by the lack of mo­bil­ity and shuf­fling on her hind quar­ter. Pan­dora was still show­ing paral­y­sis in her rear left leg and sig­nif­i­cant weak­ness in the front leg on the same side, and the vet sug­gested that she be put down in a cou­ple of days if no im­prove­ment was seen. A goat un­able to walk was not a sus­tain­able op­tion.

D-day (De­ci­sion Day or De­struc­tion Day) was set for Fri­day, ex­actly a week af­ter she’d gone down. The high dose an­tibi­otics were still be­ing ad­min­is­tered but the thi­amine in­jec­tions had now been phased out.

We were in­formed about an­other goat show­ing sim­i­lar symp­toms which had been put down af­ter five days. This was a blow to my con­fi­dence and we were now on bor­rowed time. I felt sick to the stom­ach know­ing I had wasted the op­por­tu­nity to try to get mo­bil­ity and feeling into her left legs. I de­vised a plan to roll her right over onto her back then onto the other side, to give me ac­cess to her weak limbs.

Dur­ing day­light hours, my vis­its to Pan­dora in­creased to ev­ery hour to feed, wa­ter and roll her. Goat physio con­sisted of gen­tly stretch­ing the weak limbs and ex­tend­ing them to a nat­u­rally straight po­si­tion, then fold­ing them back to their rest­ful state. The first time I moved her the poor an­i­mal showed no re­sis­tance but gave out piti­ful bleats and groans as I mas­saged her limbs. How­ever, she seemed to ac­cept that this was some­thing she had to en­dure.

Pan­dora’s groans qui­etened dur­ing the day as I re­peated the rou­tines, gen­tly tug­ging on the limbs to in­crease cir­cu­la­tion and strength. On the fourth roll Pan­dora made a lit­tle at­tempt to roll back to her more com­fort­able po­si­tion but then set­tled. I no­ticed that she wasn’t groan­ing dur­ing her mas­sages but seemed to be drift­ing off into a dreamy snooze.

On the Thurs­day she pro­gressed, pulling her limbs back into her body her­self, but Fri­day morn­ing ar­rived with no signs of stand­ing. The vet­eri­nar­ian was booked to put her down at 3pm.

I con­tin­ued my reg­u­lar vis­its and ex­er­cises. By 1pm Pan­dora was able to look up, was kick­ing me with her weak hind leg and mak­ing a valiant at­tempt to get up us­ing this limb.

My heart jumped for joy. I rushed back to the house to find my hus­band with the front loader on the trac­tor, head­ing out to the pad­dock to dig a burial hole. The vet was on her way.

I felt an ur­gent need to stall the euthana­sia de­ci­sion. I in­ter­cepted the vet at the en­trance of our prop­erty, hopped into her ve­hi­cle and en­thused about the sud­den im­prove­ments to Pan­dora’s well­be­ing. Once she was con­vinced that there were no wel­fare is­sues, apart from not be­ing able to stand, a life ex­ten­sion was granted to the following Mon­day.

“Mir­a­cles do hap­pen,” were the vet’s part­ing words.

Adrian de­vised a plan to try to get Pan­dora onto her feet. He made a ham­mock-like con­trap­tion us­ing a fadge which he at­tached to the front end loader us­ing ropes. Pan­dora was sus­pended across the ham­mock morn­ing and evening on the Satur­day and Sun­day and was lifted so that she would have to sup­port her weight on all fours. By this time she was lifting her head and mov­ing

D-day (de­struc­tion day) was set for Fri­day, ex­actly a week af­ter she’d gone down. We were on bor­rowed time.

it both ways and took this op­por­tu­nity to graze at a few tufts of grass from her stand­ing po­si­tion. Adrian wasn’t con­vinced of the progress and an­nounced on Sun­day evening he couldn’t see any im­prove­ment. I prayed hard that night for a mir­a­cle.

Mon­day morn­ing, dawn. I went across to see Pan­dora, only to find her around two me­tres away from her shel­ter. There were no scuff marks on the ground and it sud­denly oc­curred to me that per­haps she had moved to this po­si­tion her­self. I gath­ered up a bou­quet of red clover and tossed it just out­side of her reach. Her back quar­ters went up and she el­bowed across on her front legs to reach the food. When this food source ran out, she stood up.

I can­not ex­press the joy I felt let­ting ev­ery­one know that we had our mir­a­cle. Although Pan­dora limped for the next cou­ple of days and fell over when she brushed against an elec­tric fence, she went from strength to strength. She’s now back to run­ning, climbing up gates and do­ing what nor­mal goats do.

goat physio. Rolling Pan­dora, ready for

Pan­dora in­spect­ing her shower curtain Rambo is be­hind shade. her, keep­ing an eye on things.

Lifting Pan­dora onto her feet us­ing the front end loader on our trac­tor.

Pan­dora and Rambo to­day, happy and healthy.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.