Everyone has a bad day every now and then. And children find different ways to brighten up those "off" days – a double dip of ice cream, a favorite television show or just a walk down a country road. One of my junior high students, Flynt, was having a bad day a couple of years ago. As he was riding home one chilly spring afternoon, he found something unexpected that really cheered him up, a newborn baby goat. He saw it standing in the ditch as he and his mother were driving towards the ranch. They stopped; Flynt scooped it up and put it in his lap. The baby was weak and in need of some nourishment and attention.
"Can I keep it, Mama?" he implored as he caressed the brown furry head and soft hoofs.
How could she refuse? All the crummy things that had contributed to his not-so-wonderful day melted away in light of this new discovery.
Flynt examined the kid. He wondered how it had ended up in the ditch. Apparently it had slipped through the rails of a stock trailer as it zipped past their house. Although it was a little scratched up, it was not badly injured. There were no other goats in the nearby pastures, so there was no one to return it to.
His family had a few nanny goats with kids, so, rather than trying to bottle feed it, he and his grandmother tried to force one of the mama goats to adopt the orphan. After several tries, lots of dodging, side-stepping and butting, they gave up. The little kid was dehydrated and ravenous. It needed no coaxing to accept the warm milk from the rubber nipple. It slept with Flynt that night and for many other nights after that. He named it Son, and they became inseparable. The minute the boy got home from school, he fed his pet and played with it. His mother allowed the goat not only to sleep in the bed but to stay in the house much of the time. And soon it was basically housebroken.
When Son was about 2 months old, he was able to jump up into the chairs in the family’s gazebo. He would jump back and forth between the two chairs and do a little twist in the air in between. It always made Flynt’s day to watch Son perform funny tricks. When Son wasn’t jumping, they enjoyed wrestling in the grass. Flynt would get on his knees and meet the goat with his shoulder when it reared up to butt him. By that time, Son was in the process of growing horns, so the boy had to make sure and steer clear of them. When they’d go fishing in the stock pond, Son would step into the boat with Flynt and go out on the water with him as if he were a dog.
Son grew into a 200-pound billy goat. So sleeping in the house and playing around with Flynt became out of the question. A few weeks ago on a warm fall day, Flynt and his friend were swimming in the pond, when, out of nowhere, Son came galloping onto the scene. The friend was surprised and shocked because he was afraid the goat would butt him as he leaned down to lace his tennis shoes. He and Flynt dove into the waiting Ranger and Flynt’s mother hit the gas pedal. And that was a good thing for the friend. His eyes were big as saucers as they zoomed up the embankment and away from the menacing goat. But Flynt just laughed. He knew Son wouldn’t hurt a flea … at least, not on purpose.