Another of our animals had an emergency this week and now we are hoping we are done with sleepless nights and trips to the vet for just a little while — we need the break.
Going out yesterday evening to gather the next morning’s hay, Dave and I noticed Cupid the Goat in the hollow of the big oak tree in his enclosure. It wasn’t that is unusual to see him there in one of his favorite spots. I suppose it mostly caught our eye because it made for such a pretty picture at sunset. I even stopped the Mule and hopped off to try to take a photo with my phone camera – but he was too far off.
I did have a slightly uneasy feeling during those moments. It was strange that he hadn’t run to the fence to beg for some fresh hay or scratches. And he seemed to almost be trying to hide. And Cupid, being a perfectly narcissistic little buck goat, never hides. I chalked it up, however, to him simply having eaten enough fresh green saplings that night and went on to get the hay and visit with cows.
We passed the buck pen on our way back just in time to see Peter arriving to feed the boys dinner. Cupid didn’t get up to greet him or come for food and my heart sank. Peter noticed too, of course, and we watched as he approached the goat in the tree hollow. I saw Peter talking to this goat that he raised from an eight week old baby… And then I saw my baby look from the goat to my direction with a look that said ‘help’.
Jumping off the Mule again and leaving Dave with the hay, I rushed to the goat pen and the hollow to see what was wrong. Emily and Yvonne must have seen my rushing (which they have come to know means someone or something is in trouble) and arrived a few minutes after I did asking how to help.
By this time, it was obvious that Cupid was very uncomfortable, but I wasn’t willing to move him to assess the problem until I had some supplies at hand. From the look and feel of his distended belly, I already guessed that we were either dealing with bloat or urinary calculi. I absolutely did not want to deal with either. They’re both potentially deadly. And if you read the internet too often – you will be convinced that they are always deadly.
I sent Emily to the house for some baking soda and to clean out and refill the water trough. I returned to the barn for some probiotics, a drenching syringe, and a premixed solution of ammonium chloride. Then we all regrouped with Peter and his billy goat at the tree hollow. Cupid stood up briefly at all of the commotion and stretched out like a wooden rocking horse – straining. I lightly pressed his swollen belly in the area where his bladder would be and he screamed a terrible goaty scream. Yep. Urinary calculi. There was definitely something blocking the flow of urine. On the bright side, my touch and his scream released the slightest dribble of urine – so there was not a total blockage yet.
Now, our dilemma was that the sun was going down. I knew from his symptoms we were past the point of simply hoping to dissolve the stones with oral doses of ammonium chloride alone. But I also knew we were not going to be able to take the next steps necessary without veterinary assistance. All I knew to do at that point was drench him with a dose of A.C. right then and hope he could make it until morning. He really hated the drench. I really hated leaving him.
I tried to remain optimistic that night as we got ready for bed. I may have gotten up a few times throughout the wee hours to listen for goat sounds. I most definitely did not sleep much.
Blessed morning arrived to find Cupid carefully moving around his enclosure a bit. I even briefly thought that perhaps he had passed the stone. Peter, Dave, and I went in to grab him and load him onto the trailer for his trip to the vet. He was terribly spry for a sick goat and had obviously not forgiven us for the ammonium chloride drench the night before. He also has huge horns. Upon closer inspection (once we got his collar and leash on) I could see his lower belly was even more swollen and the dribbles had stopped: this was truly an emergency.
The entire family piled into the Jeep to accompany him to the vet in Salina. Unfortunately, we got there a few minutes too late and the vet was already in surgery. Rather than wait – knowing Cupid really didn’t have the time to wait – the girls and I returned home to take care of the rest of the animals while the boys went on to the veterinary clinic in Pryor.
At the vet, Cupid was sedated in our trailer and his pizzle was removed (That sounds bizarre, but that’s what it is called… Really.) in order to let any stones pass. The vet then manually expressed his bladder a bit before reviving him from anesthesia. It was all going smoothly until he awoke from sedation and then flopped over – eyes rolled back and tongue hanging out. The vet asked if he was a fainting goat. He is not. Dave and Peter tell me this was an understandably tense moment. I’m glad I wasn’t there.
Fortunately, he was revived once again and stumbled off to eat some hay before he made the trip back home. At last check up he was happily foraging in his enclosure – and not letting me get close enough for a good picture, lest I drench him with something or send him off to have his pizzle removed. (It’s okay. He can hold a grudge. He had a bad morning.)
He’s on a strict hay and water diet for the next week and we will be dosing him with ammonium chloride every twelve hours to break up any remaining stones as well. We aren’t entirely out of the woods yet, but at least we can see the clearing.
And I may be able to sleep tonight.