Available: Experienced Baby-Goat-Sitters

| 6/17/2011 9:17:44 AM


 By Cam Mather 

Babysitting animals has not always gone well for me. When I was a kid I used to babysit for a family who owned a dog that had particularly bad flatulence. Unfortunately for me the dog insisted on hanging around me the whole time that I was babysitting. A few years ago we offered to look after our neighbour Agnes’ horse and donkey. Our paddock was empty but we weren’t ready to purchase our own “big pets” yet. The horse was elderly and suffering from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder) when she got here and she died suddenly about a month after she arrived.  I’m still traumatized by the memory of Agnes’ son dragging the horse out of the barn with a tractor and loading it on a trailer. But really, what else can you do with a 2,000 pound animal? Agnes was very gracious though and took it all in stride.

So when our neighbor Alyce recently asked us to look after her baby goat “Parker” while she was away, I was kind of torn. My record to date hadn’t been great. But I try to be a good neighbour and I have successfully looked after Alyce’s horses in the past. My tasks then included turning the horses out into the paddock for the day, and then getting them back into the barn at night. But Alyce is never one to do anything the easy way and her paddock is across a driveway from the barn, which means herding the horses through an open area before you get them into the confines of a fence. And if a horse were to bolt it could disappear into the woods and never been seen again. No pressure there at all.

Here’s what I know about horses. Horses will respect you if they know you’re not afraid of them. They’ll still pound you and kick you and try and throw you, but at least they’ll usually do what they’re told. But if horses know you’re afraid of them, they’ll treat you like crap. They will abuse you and not do anything that you ask them to do. And I am terrified of horses. I have never been thrown or kicked by a horse, but my selective memory reinforces my fear every time I meet someone who has. Plus at my weight of 150 pounds I figure a 1500 pound horse has a weight advantage of 10 times over me. My odds would be better as the 98-pound weakling on the beach versus a “UFC” (mixed martial arts fight to the death) fighter.

Eventually the only way I could get the horses back into the barn, across the very open and free range driveway, was to bribe them with grain. Alyce doesn’t believe in this method of parenting or horse management. Funny, it was only that once she asked me to look after the horses.

But since she knew Michelle would probably be the go to person with goat sitting, she decided to give us another shot.

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