We didn’t adopt Wallace as much as we had him thrust upon us.
A dark green minivan pulled up to our gate. A typically overweight pale skinned woman behind the wheel. Two typically overweight kids in tow. It was a Saturday morning and we were about top take our dogs for a walk.
“I see you have goats–”
“Do you want another?”
“Well, we weren’t really thinking about it.”
“Well, I’m movin’ and I can’t have a goat where we’re movin’, so–”
“When are you moving?”
“Well, the truck’s s’posed to come in about four minutes.”
She said it deadpan. We were stunned. We walked the dogs up the hill, to woman’s house. She had been renting it. We found out later, she was going to be moving into a Habitat for Humanity house. It was almost a year later, we read about her in the local paper. She was being evicted from the Habitat house for not paying the less than four hundred dollars a month for the place. The rental truck showed up right behind us as we approached the house.
He was a mostly white goat, with amazing light amethyst colored eyes and the remnants of his horns. He looked to be malnourished. They called him Wallace and we saw no reason to change his name. He remained Wallace, or Wally. Sometimes, we called him the colonel, on account of his long, full beard that reminded us of Col. Sanders.
We walked him down the hill, pulling leafy branches off of the trees that hugged the road to entice him to keep walking in the direction of our house. He was starving, and being loose and free were also the things he was hungry for.
At first–no, actually, for most of the time he lived with us, he was not accepted by the O.G. The original goats– Arthur, Molly and Annabelle.
He gained weight and got as spoiled as the others. He loved apples and especially tortilla chips for snacks. He would line up by the fence that separated the goats from the vegetable garden and wait for us to give him the tomatoes that had fallen to the ground, or lettuce leaves.
This winter, his coat turned color. It grew in sparse and dark in places. He looked like he had mutton chops.
We didn’t know he was growing weak with age and weariness. Curious, but lately, Wally had been more affectionate than usual. He’d press his lips to my face and sometimes try to nibble at my forehead. He’d get a faraway look in those eyes. Kind of the look he had when I found him Sunday afternoon, lying on his side half in and half outside of the goat grotto. I tried to get him to stand up. I don’t know why but learned later that it was the right thing to do. Dr. Deitrich said that when a goat lies on his side like that he’s liable to bloat. He was going and there was nothing I–or anyone else–could do. We got him to where he was comfortable, or more comfortable, anyway. Dr. Deitrich came over. He saw the blood dripping out where pee should have been. He told us he thought maybe he had bladder stones, then he took an ultrasound. Wally’s bladder had ruptured. We gave the doctor the okay, cried a bit and caressed the old boy's face as he drifted off.
He’s off running, now. In a field thick with fresh, full grass. His smile is genuine and he is free. Truly free.