Caper Goes to the Vet

Caper has been limping for two months. At first I thought that it was a stone bruise that would go away. Or maybe a muscle pull. After a few weeks of watching Caper limp, I had Dr. Sarah come out. Luckily for us, Dr. Sarah not only has a small animal practice, but she’s also married to a dairy farmer and knows livestock AND does house calls. Dr. Sarah wasn’t too concerned about Caper, she thought it might be a strained muscle and gave him a shot of banamine. Unfortunately, Caper continued to wave his right front foot in the air. Clearly he was saying, “ow, ow!” It was decided to do x-rays, which meant a trip to Dr. Sarah’s office.

The goats are twin brothers and have never been separated. They also haven’t been in a car since they were delivered here when they were babies. I wanted to make this trip as stress-free as possible, and so the minivan was turned into the goat van and Pip came along to keep his brother company. I introduced them to the back of the van using my target stick and treats. These are clicker-trained goats. They’ll follow the knobby end of that target stick just about anywhere. So, instead of tugging and pulling, I simply had them go towards the stick. Still, Steve had to pick the boys up and put them in the van.

The ride was surprisingly uneventful. A bit of meh-mehing. They were so busy learning how to stand up in a moving vehicle, that they didn’t try to dismantle the back seat. The drive to the vet’s office is only 20 minutes.

We waited outside. The boys decided to do some landscaping for Dr. Sarah. These branches needed trimming.

The boys noticed plants inside and offered to help trim them, too. We said no.

After a thorough exam, much prodding of shoulder muscles, and trotting back and forth across the parking lot, it was decided to x-ray Caper’s knee. The boys liked saying hello to the nice people in the waiting room. I goat-proofed the examination room (dangling IV tubes are a magnet for goats.) I also cleaned up.

Caper had x-rays taken of both knees. Dr. Sarah doesn’t get to read many goat x-rays, so she compared the injured joint with Caper’s healthy one.

There appeared to be a slight bone chip in his right knee. No wonder Caper has been ouchy! The diagnosis doesn’t change how I care for Caper –  this will take time (and maybe a few aspirin) to heal. But, I am relieved to know what the problem is and to be reassured that I’m taking care of him as best I can.

In order to give a correct dose of aspirin, Caper needed to be weighed. Dr. Sarah picked Caper up and put him on the scale. Caper, being a goat, even a gimpy one, immediately hopped off. Instead of having to wrestle him still, I pulled out my target stick and treat bag. Caper politely stood on the scale. It registered 45 pounds. Big boy.

After saying enthusiastic good-byes to everyone, the goats got back into the goatvan. This time, there was lots of bleating and head butting. Finally, three miles from home, they laid down.

The trip to the vet was fun for the boys, expensive for me, and something I hope we won’t have a reason to repeat anytime soon. But, perhaps a road trip somewhere else is in the future?


  1. Your boys are super cute!
    I am so glad to hear that you finally have a diagnosis for Caper’s limp. A chipped bone is no fun, but at least it will heal.

    It looks like you now have an official goat-mobile! Have you thought about getting a couple of soft sided packs and taking them for a hike once Caper’s knee heals up?
    Our weather & bucks loved it. It gave them some fun time off the farm. We only took the bucks in the spring and early summer though. They were kind of stinky and rather unruly during breeding season. Silly boys!

  2. I can’t believe how well behaved they were! Well done with the goat training. I should think that the other people at the vets thought your boys were adorable!

    Hope Caper is gets a little better every day.

  3. Another adventure in your life already so agitated :-)

  4. LOL! Nothing funnier than a goat. Twice the fun with two! Goats are terribly intelligent and quite easy to train. We used to have a Pygmy goat and he was ALWAYS quite comical. One of the most intelligent and easiest animals I even owned. I’ll pit their intelligence against a pig’s any day!

    Goats usually freak people out….I’m assuming it’s because of “those” eyes…and the fact that sadly people aren’t around farm animals anymore.

    I just found your site the other day and am “enjoying” it very much!

    Mollie Jo
    Owner of 4 PET Chicken Girls

  5. Hi Terry…I take my llama out for a walk after I have had a crummy day…It is hard to be grumpy walking a llama..We have been know to stop traffic and cause some near car crashes, but he really likes it and actually stops to look at things like he is thinking about life…Too funny….Dogs usually run the other way and he has been known to cause a few walkers to turn around and go the other way as well! Glad Caper is on the mend! LOVED the pics!!!!!!!

  6. I love goats!!! I would absolutely LOVE meeting YOUR goats…especially a surprise run-in at the vets! I know what you mean about expenses…we probably spend a few thousand dollars on her every year for food, check-ups and medications. She is 15 years old though and a very sweet girl.

    Glad to know that Caper will be getting better!

  7. Enjoyable post! Earlier today, I was bragging about you and your clicker-trained goats to a friend who just got two pygmy goats. Her husband found one of them standing on top of the car yesterday! I think you are amazing with your animals.

  8. Very nice work, Terry! The targeting is SO much easier and more efficient than the usual ‘positive’ but not operant approach, of many-practice-efforts-with-praise-and-feeding.

    I love the picture of the two goats at the clinic window in front of the houseplants, looking at you simultaneously when you said “No” about those plants. “Oh, you said those are a no? Ok.” With clicker training you don’t need to teach ‘obedience’, because you can teach cooperation.