I collect sayings and proverbs about sheep and goats and a Finnish favorite is, “If you’re short of trouble, take a goat.” As a goat obsessive I don’t necessarily agree with that sentiment but it’s true that keeping animals, especially much-loved animals, is sure to bring some heartache to your door. I’m presently dealing with having my favorite old ewe put down soon, another ewe with a persistently abscessed hoof, and of all things—a goat whose teeth are falling out!
The lame ewe is Rebaa (pictured above) who has been hopping around on three legs for many weeks. We’ve tried ichthammol and Epsom salts gel poultices; soaking in warm Epsom salts water (I’m still doing that every day); and now, homeopathic remedies. It’s better but still has a long way to go. We’ve used booties designed for dogs (now appropriately referred to as Rebaaks) to hold the poultices against her bandaged hoof and coronary band. She is not amused (and it’s surprising how fast an elderly, three-legged sheep can run) but since she’s tame, this hasn’t been too terribly hard to do.
Then, day before yesterday it occurred to me that Bon Bon has been ‘smiling’ quite a lot these past few weeks. She does that, pulls her upper lip back to expose her teeth, but… Imagine my surprise and considerable horror when I opened her mouth and found that her front teeth are loose and falling out! For those who don’t know this, goats (and other ruminants like sheep, cattle, deer and the like) have lower incisors that meet a hard dental palate rather than upper teeth. Bon Bon, who is only five years old, had perfect occlusion but now it looks as if her teeth are being pushed out. They’re quite floppy—one has already been lost. Pictures and a description made the rounds of the goat and sheep lists and people have offered many observations but we still don’t know what’s afoot. The one vet who examined them pretty much summed things up when he said, “I’ve never seen anything like THAT!”