Regrets, I’ve had a few /
But then again too few to mention.
— “My Way” (1969), popularized by Frank Sinatra
Like any conscientious human being, I’ve regretted plenty of things I’ve done over the years. Like Ol’ Blue
Eyes, I’ve just tried
not to drag too many of my mistakes
around with me. But a few of my decisions haunt me to this day. Maybe
the worst involved, of all things, the
death of a goat.
Years ago, my then-wife and I
owned a 10-acre place in semi-rural
Whatcom County, where we raised
our two kids and a menagerie of
dogs, cats, indoor and outdoor fish,
and two pygmy goats: JJ and Java.
Pygmy goats are hilariously entertaining. Although they’re about
two feet tall and 60 pounds, they all
think they’re mountain goats or bighorn sheep. We built ours a platform
to climb on, and they spent half the
day trying to knock each other off
with dramatic ram-like collisions.
They would rear up on their hind
legs, bow their necks, and clank their
de-horned skulls into each other like
a scene from a 1960s Yellowstone
Our goats and dogs lived in separate quarters at opposite ends of a large
shed. Each species also had a separate
outside pen, separated by wire fencing.
One weekend my wife agreed to board
a one-year-old husky, Tui, belonging
to a friend of hers who was going out
of town. Tui had gone on walks with
our dogs and they all got along fine, so
we anticipated no problems. I thought
nothing of it that Friday night when our
friend dropped off Tui, and my wife put
him in the pen with our dogs.
Saturday morning, I was startled by
a pounding on the back door. I opened it
to find my wife in near-hysterics, which
was entirely out of character for her. “It’s
JJ,” she stammered tearfully. “He’s on
the ground. His tongue is hanging out. I
think he’s dying.”
We both knew immediately what had
happened. We had forgotten that over the
years a hole had developed in the fence
between the dog and goat pens, allowing
the dogs to wander into the goat area. Our
dogs had been neighbors with the goats
for so long that the predator-prey instinct
had been extinguished. Other than the
dogs annoying the goats occasionally
by barking at them playfully, there were
never any incidents. Of course, for young
Tui, who knew no better, the goats would
have been perfect targets for canine ter-
ror. JJ wasn’t bitten, but he apparently
fell off his sleeping platform or perhaps
simply succumbed to shock while being
chased by the lanky, rambunctious pup.
NWLawyer Editor Michael Heatherly
practices in Bellingham. He can be reached
at 360-312-5156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more of his work at nwsidebar.wsba.