For you novices out there, you’ll be happy to know that terrifying a goat is a lot easier than you think. As any expert in the field will verify, it largely depends on what color sweater you put on the poodle.
Many of the uninformed members of the Goat Frightening community think a light brown sweater works just a well and a dark blue sweater, but that has not been my experience. A light brown sweater on a white poodle – and, yes, it has to be a white poodle – causes a general uneasiness amongst the goat cadre; where a blue sweater, especially a blue sweater with white circles, generates absolute terror amongst the goat rank and file. And by “rank,” I’ve seen a nearly two-hundred pound goat lift his tail and emit goat output at the site of a poodle in a blue sweater.
The poodle in question is named Priscilla.
My son rescued Priscilla a few years back. He was out in the middle of nowhere scouting hunting locations when he spotted a small, white dog that had clearly seen better days. It was a sad sight. She was thin. Her fur was matted in painful knots. She was hobbling because the nails on her feet had grown so long they curved back into the pads of her feet.
He caught her and brought her home.
“Hurray,” my wife and I cried at the prospect of raising yet another animal one of the kids brought home.
“This dog has heartworms,” the vet we took her to told us. “It will take approximately the entire contents of your savings account to fix her.”
“Hurray,” we cried.
We live on a small farm with goats, chickens and ducks. We gradually introduced Priscilla to the existing menagerie. Of course, she chased everything with feathers and barked savagely at the goats. A big rooster and a bigger duck taught her that some things with feathers bite back. She knocked it off with them.
The goats largely ignored her. For one thing, all of them are well over the one hundred pound mark. Nine pounds of fluff barking at them was little more than a curiosity.
Then came the chilly winter’s day my wife brought home a light brown dog sweater. Priscilla, who was old and stayed cold, loved it.
That very day, she followed us to the pasture where the goats live. By then, she and the goats had an uneasy alliance. She didn’t bark at them and they continued to ignore her.
This time was different. This time they did not ignore her. Every last goat stopped what they were doing, some in mid-chew, and stared at her. In as much as a goat can look concerned, they looked concerned. What in the name of Heaven was this thing that had just meandered out into our pasture?
For her part, Priscilla was oblivious to the goats’ reaction to her. She sat down in a sunny patch of grass as she always did and cleaned her hind leg.
The braver of our goats, Patsy, took a few steps forward to get a closer look at this… whatever this thing was. She lowered her head towards it and took a big sniff. At that precise moment, the whatever it was stood up.
Panic! Terror! Every goat for himself!
They stampeded away in all directions. After a few minutes, they all met up at the edge of the pasture and stared fixedly back at the terror of all goat kind.
For her part, the terror of all goat kind, ambled on back to the house to take a nap.
Over time, the goats got used to Priscilla in her light brown sweater. We never thought about it again. That is until my wife bought her a new blue sweater. This time the reaction from the goats was instant panic. No staring. No trying to analyze what this thing was. They took one look and the situation became absolutely explosive. Goats stampeded in all directions every last one of them crying out for salvation.
The cause of their terror spent a few minutes scratching various and sundry parts of her person, then once again moseyed on back to the house.
To this day, we can’t let her wander into the pasture with that sweater.