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Full Version: Hail the Queen
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I'm in my basement next to the wood stove with sweet Petunia lying on a horse blanket by my side. She's been sickish on and off for the last three months but it seems to have come to a head this week. She hasn't eaten anything for days and is now quietly moaning. She doesn't want to leave the fireside and although she's clearly not well, at least she doesn't seem to be in terrible pain. The vet is coming this afternoon and we will bid farewell to our beautiful, beloved herd queen. She was the first goat born on our place in 2013 and has given us eight beautiful kids, including my amazing Sputnik. Sputnik inherited his brains from his clever little mother, who still remembered all her tricks perfectly last week even though I hadn't asked her to do them more than 2-3 times in the last five years. Last week she was feeling well and I thought she was on the upswing, but it seems now as though it was her last kick before she slid downhill fast. At only six years old, I thought she had many more years of raising kids and making sweet, creamy wintertime milk for us. We have no idea what's wrong. Her temperature has been low a lot and she has a somewhat low white blood cell count, which is very odd. Other than that her bloodwork came back normal, and there are no parasites. There's obviously no hidden infection. She just faded away and we don't know why. When the vet comes she is going to look for internal tumors or a foreign body in the rumen. Those are about the only things we can think of that would cause this unexplained illness.

We will sorely miss our "Pretty Pet". She's been a fantastic herd queen and was always the best mother in our herd, looking after not only her own kids but also other does' kids. When Pet didn't have kids of her own, she was the "cool aunt" who hung out and played with all the babies. She was a fantastic milker who gave an abundance of delicious, creamy milk all winter. I've made a lot of ice cream from her milk over the years. I'm going to miss her white face with the lopsided black spots, her magnificent flying ears, her sweet little heart-shaped nose, and her bossy, take-charge attitude. Petunia had a tendency, when she got loose in the basement, of rampaging around and tearing into every box, bag, and bucket in her quest for food. Until these last few months, Petunia was the last goat to ever miss a meal.  

Petunia with her mother, Lilly, enjoying her first day in the Wide World
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"May I have this dance?"
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Ears a mile wide.
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Goblin Valley in fall 2013.
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Petunia proudly pregnant the day before her first kids arrived.
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Snickers and Sputnik.
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Babysitting Nubbin's kids
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Petunia with her last babies.
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Best tail ever.
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We said goodbye to our Pretty Pet this afternoon and the place seems lonely without her despite all the other goats running around. We found nothing of note in the necropsy except that her spleen was pale with unusual speckles. However, the vet said this is usually nothing more than an indication that the goat is sick. Her rumen had no food in it but contained several gallons of brown liquid. She was dehydrated, so the liquid was clearly not moving from the rumen. One of her other stomachs (can't remember what it was called) had a lot of impacted food in it that also clearly wasn't shifting. It had been at least three days since she last ate, and longer than that since she ate more than a few bites so that mass had to have been in there for a good week or more. Unfortunately, we didn't discover the reason why her digestive system stopped working--there was nothing clogging it--but clearly things had ground to a halt for quite some time. The vet took samples from various internal organs to send to the lab for testing, but at this point I doubt they're going to find anything. We're going to make sure and rule out Johnnes, but I don't think that's what it was and neither does the vet since the symptoms don't add up and her small intestine appeared normal. Poor baby. She was much too young for this to happen. I was hoping we'd find a tumor or something to explain it, but at this point it feels like we put down a perfectly healthy, normal goat. But obviously something was far wrong and since she had given up fighting for herself it didn't seem fair for me to try to force her to hold out any longer. I spent all day sitting with her and she knew she was loved. She's buried on the hillside near Jet and we will not forget her.
that's way too soon. Only thing that comes to mind is a failure of the nerve node that stimulates and regulates the contractions of the stomachs. But this, too, is a sickness more common in older goats.

But the symptoms of only eating small amounts, than seemingly bouncing back for a few days sound eerily familiar.
Yeah, the vet said she'd encountered similar symptoms in older goats as well and she also wondered if it were neurological in nature since we could not find any mechanical reason for her rumen to quit working.
Hugs Nan & Phil. It's never easy.
Ah man. I agree with the decision. I just wish something could have been figured out earlier. I had something like this happen with my first goat, Tina, whom I bought to make milk for my yak calf. I've been really fortunate for the last many years and other than Victoria getting into fights with the boys and taking damage, and an abscess in Woodstocks' upper molars, I havent had any issues with the goats. But the more animals you have, the more this kind of thing happens. The lack of goat medical science doesn't help.

In truth, even 6 years of her life would make most goats jealous.

I just had one of my small parrots get sick and visit the vet for only 250 bucks. Turned out it wasn't much of a big deal, thankfully.
I am so sorry about sweet Petunia, Nan. May her memory be a blessing to you, Phil, & the rest of your goat family--Saph
(01-10-2020, 03:45 PM)Charlie Horse Wrote: [ -> ]  I just wish something could have been figured out earlier. 

The problem with this, if it was indeed that neurological problem with the rumen ganglion, is that it comes slowly and you only see it when the damage has progressed significantly.
Thanks everyone for your kind thoughts. It's been a strange week without Petunia leading the herd. Even when she was sick, her presence seemed to go with the herd. They've been a little bit lost this week and have spent more time hanging around their pen than usual. Petunia used to lead the herd on their foraging forays, and even near the end when she quit going round with them, the herd seemed to go under her blessing and supervision. No one seems sure who is in charge now, so the herd seems a little confused and less orderly, but I see Tigerlily and TinCup starting to take the reins. There hasn't been much fighting, but I anticipate there will be some squabbles once Tigerlily and TinCup start to realize that the crown will come to one of them. If they fight, my money is on Tigerlily. She's the stronger and more aggressive of the two. But if there's no fight and someone just has to step up then my money is on TinCup. She's the more practical and capable and she seems to care more about making sure things get done. Tigerlily has a large independent streak and doesn't have a strong nurturing instinct like TinCup, so she may simply not care about leading the herd and may leave it to TinCup to avoid responsibility. I personally think TinCup would be a fantastic herd queen if the others are willing to respect her. She's not the fightingest goat in the herd, but she genuinely cares about everyone in much the same way Petunia did.

I sure do miss Petunia's sweet little funny face and the way she would bustle out to pasture every morning with her tail standing straight in the air and the herd marching along behind her. Sputnik was her muscle and would make sure everyone respected his mom. Petunia was a gentle leader and one of our smallest does but she nevertheless had a core of steel and few goats dared challenge her for more than a round or two. Tigerlily was Petunia's most frequent challenger, and based on size and strength I would expect Tigerlily to mop the floor with Petunia, but it never happened. Tigerlily always backed down after 2-3 short rounds.

Petunia is the only goat I've ever owned that managed to pull me over--and she did it TWICE! If Petunia wanted to go somewhere, she went. She didn't care if I happened to be hanging onto her collar! Petunia was usually overweight and didn't need grain, but if I was feeding grain to other goats on my porch, it was always easier just to let Petunia in with the others and give her her own portion because trying to block her from getting past the gate was almost never possible. She loved her vittles! I always had to tie her up because after inhaling her own meal she would bustle around the porch and help everyone else eat theirs.

Petunia was very much a "family" goat and loved to share milk with the human "kids" in her life. That included Phil and I but it apparently didn't include my relatives. I'll never forget the time my in-laws visited and Petunia stopped letting down her milk. I'd been getting almost 2 quarts/day and as soon as the relatives showed up she started giving less than 2 cups/day. Yet her udder felt full and hard with milk! I'd squeeze out what little I could and then let her out with her babies where she would immediately stand and let down her milk for them. As soon as my in-laws left, Petunia started letting down her milk for me again. What a little goof! Petunia really did have a very silly personality which I already miss. She could be a headache when she tore around our basement looking for hidden treats, but she always made me laugh. Petunia was always very personable with strangers and was usually the first goat, along with Finn, to greet visitors. It's one reason I always loved Petunia's kids the best. With the exception of Sputnik, they all took after their mother and were extra friendly and curious about new people.