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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have been training our yearling pack-goat, Tripp, (he just turned 1 year last week) by taking him on hikes every 1-3 weeks with us, usually at least several miles, wearing an empty soft dog-pack.

Yesterday, we were just completing a 12-mile hike, during which he did REALLY well and seemed to enjoy himself, when he was spooked off the trail by a herding dog coming from behind us that we didn't see until too late. He went off a steep embankment into a large creek that was flowing high and fast due to warm temps and snow-melt here in the NW. He was swept under and downstream before we could do a thing. We actually lost sight of him for 10 minutes or so - we couldn't find him at all! It was horrific! I was completely freaked out. My husband and I were walking the bank of the creek, calling for him, but couldn't find him. Finally, we barely heard something downstream and ran down - he had been swept over a small (man-made) waterfall and the current had lodged him against some large rocks near the other side of the creek - at least his head was above water. My husband ran into the creek and somehow managed to deal with the slippery rocks, the swift current, and the deep places to reach Tripp, then managed to pull him in to the opposite bank. Tripp didn't seem to have broken bones, but was stunned and shocky - really not able to move himself about. There was no way to get him back across the creek at that point (and no way out from the other side of the creek due to the steep, high rocky walls).

Fortunately, wonderful helpful people were gathering on my side of the creek (which was right by the parking lot for the trail-head) and started organizing a plan. They produced a rope and some life jackets, and we had my husband move Tripp slightly downstream to a place where the creek ran deep, but narrow. Throwing across the rope, we managed to pull Tripp (first) and my husband (second) back across the creek. Both were completely soaked with the really cold water, but the plan worked.

Tripp was exhausted and stunned for the rest of the afternoon - he has lots of scrapes, a few small cuts, and I suspect many bruises from hitting rocks on his way downstream and over the falls. I can't believe, though, that he actually made it out alive. This morning he is looking almost back to normal - eating, alert, "talking" to me. I'm so grateful that we escaped tragedy.

Now, though, we are all traumatized. I don't know if Tripp will go back out on the trail, and I'm terrified to take him out lest something like this happen again. Almost everywhere we hike has sharp drop-offs and creeks/rivers/etc. - I can only imagine what the horrible outcome would have been should this have happened in other spots that are much more dangerous. I can't imagine losing him that way.

On one hand, I think this is probably a fluke, but I can't help but be afraid that it could happen again. I was just about ready to buy a wooden saddle and panniers for him to start hiking with, but now I'm afraid to because I think he would have drowned if he had those on.

Has anyone else lost (or almost lost) a goat that fell off the trail? Am I being ridiculous for now being fearful to take him out?
 

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What a terrifying experience! Amazing how ten minutes feels like an eternity in a situation like that. I'm so glad Tripp (and your husband) are ok and that Tripp is recovering. Goats do have an amazing ability to "bounce back" from the most horrific ordeals.

My advice, though, is to take 2-3 weeks to let the initial trauma subside (and let Tripp heal) and then get back out on the trail. There's a decent chance that Tripp learned a valuable lesson and won't be jumping off any more embankments, but will run to you next time instead. You might consider putting a leash on him while on popular trails so that he can't get away from you if he spooks again. You might be able to get him to walk between you and your husband. Often Cuzco walks behind Phil and in front of me on the trail (I'm dominant enough to make him keep walking when he wants to stop and browse). You may even find you've suddenly developed a much greater awareness of dogs and other dangers on the trail after this. It's amazing how the senses can sharpen up after a traumatic experience!

In the end, nothing will ever be completely safe. Sometimes goats get attacked by dogs or bears in their own pen at home. We can't guarantee nothing bad will ever happen to them, but it's not fair to keep them locked in padded cells all the time either. Tripp loves going for hikes with you, so to stop taking him out because of one unfortunate incident wouldn't be fair to him even if it would make him safer. My Nibbles got stuck on a cliff last year and it took us over two hours, a long extension ladder, and a very precarious rope-hoist to get her back, but we still took her hiking with us in Utah. We kept a little better eye on her after that, but it wouldn't have been fair to leave her at home. Of course, we hope she learned a lesson of some sort, and you can hope that Tripp has too. I also hope the dog owner feels terrible and has learned to keep their dog under control!
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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We get alot of buyer traffic here but anytime, regardless of who it is, if they have a dog in the car/truck I have em get it out and I go get Legion. The more dogs I expose him to the better he gets. I always stand by Legions side to give him courage and protection if needed. Which so far, I havent had to protect him from any dogs. But just standing next to him letting him see my relaxed state seems to help quite a bit. The last dogs I showed him were 3 herding dogs that a hay broker had with him as he was dropping off some hay. They were running around sniffing, brought Legion out and the dogs trotted up to Legion. He presented his horns a few times as they tried to get close enough to sniff him, butted one that wasnt paying attention and that was that. As typical with dogs, if it doesnt run, its no fun to chase. And I have been lucky in that all the dogs that I have let Legions meet, have been fairly well behaved.

I wouldnt worry to much about Tripp not wanting to get on the trail again. It may take a few weeks for him to get over it but I think we will and be better off for it. I swear goats have no common sense when standing on the each of a cliff. So maybe, with this event Tripp will respect cliffs a bit more. I sure wish mine would. And as for dogs, Id keep him on a lead for the time being if I were anywhere dogs/owners might frequent and let him get used to dogs a bit more. Here there are a few hills that the yuppies like to walk with their dogs and is a great place to interact with them. Its funny telling someone walking at me "You might want to watch your dog, if he gets to excited and runs up on my goat, he will get the horns" But 95% of the time people are pretty good with their dogs when they are walking up on us. They see the horns and that alone makes em pull their dogs closer :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I just wanted to add a follow-up post...we kept Tripp off the trail for two weeks to let him completely recover physically and hopefully forget about his ordeal in the creek. Today, we took him out for the first time to a trail new to him - one that had no other people and no dogs and hardly any cliffs! He did great - really well - and we're delighted that we didn't have to have to push him much at all. He lacked confidence with a log bridge and was hesitant about shallow creek crossings at first, but did much better on the return trip. I was worried about the possibility of losing ground in his training, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

He definitely doesn't have any more fear of sharp drops into moving water, though, darn it! He'll still go right to the edge to get a tasty-looking blade of grass...
 

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Goats sure are resilient creatures, aren't they? Definitely keep an eye out for dogs, though. Tripp is a lot more likely to associate this ordeal with dogs than with cliffs or waters, since that's what set him off. I know that my Cuzco was terrified of dogs for years after one chased him off a 30' cliff to a hard landing on the highway below. He lost a horn and was really traumatized, so we've had to be extra specially aware of any dogs in the vicinity ever since. We've never quite been able to train that fear of dogs out of him in all the years since that accident, but getting the two young does last year seems to have helped him find his courage more than anything else. I guess he feels a manly urge to protect the girls even though he doesn't like them and spends most of the time chasing them out of his way.

Glad to hear your first hike out went well. I hope future hikes go just as smoothly!
 

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So glad to hear Tripp is ok. Best case, you can hope that he learned something from the experience. I try to socialize my goats with all sorts of dogs, and they seem to not be quite as spooky around them on the trail. If anything, they'll start posturing to sort out who is dominant (which usually ends up being the goat). Glad to hear he's doing fine after his ordeal.
 

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We had a goat fall off a log bridge once and become lodged under the log. The goat was completely submerged under water. he weighed 280 lbs with 50lbs of gear on and with the current holding him firmly in place it was impossible to pull him out. After trying everything it was decided to cut straps on the saddle and panniers to try and free him. Obviously the goat was about to drown and gave one last frantic struggle and it was enough to let him slip out the other side. The goat acted just as you described and we got him out and dried off as best we could. The goat eventually packed as strong as ever but even years later when we would come to a log bridge he would crawl down the embankment and wade the creek instead of walking the log. I never tried to get him back on the logs. I figured if he was tough enough to continue to pack for me after his ordeal he could deal with creek crossings anyway he wanted.
 
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