View from my window – Goodbye Ruth


Oh Ruthie, we are so sad to see you go and you will no longer part of the view from my window. You were always curious and adventurous, keeping us on our toes. Ruth will be missed.

A raccoon with rabies wandered into our paddock, right next to the goat hutch to die. Discovering the raccoon first thing in the morning I had no idea when it arrived and what had taken place before I saw it. I followed all the right protocols to isolate our animals from the raccoon and had the vet out the next day to give Caddy and the goats their booster rabies vaccine just as a precaution.  They were still current, but I wanted to be sure.

I was reminded a few days later by the Health department to keep an eye on our goats for neurological symptoms, as there is no rabies vaccine approved for goats. I wasn’t worried though. My goats had been vaccinated every year with the approved sheep vaccine. Although the vaccine is not approved for goats, it is because of lack of research to prove it’s effectiveness on goats, not lack of effectiveness.

Then on day 19 since the raccoon visit, Ruthie was laying down in the barn and in obvious pain. Just shy of her 11th birthday, I assumed she was sick with a digestive upset. I offered her some baking soda, ( I know right?, but goats seem to like it when their tummy hurts), she wasn’t interested, but Allie ate some! I petted Ruthie and brought some hay and water, but she wasn’t interested. I went in and thought about what could be wrong. Then I saw she was stumbling around out in the paddock. Oh no I thought, that is a neurological symptom and I wondered could she have rabies?

By the time I got out to the barn she was laying down again pressing her head against the wall ( head pressing is another neurological symptom).  I alerted Dean to what I suspected and called our vet. I moved Caddy and the other goats and kept checking on her until the vet arrived. Of all the goats, if one would go investigate the raccoon it would have been Ruthie! But even so, I was sure the vet would tell me that he didn’t think it was rabies.

Ruthie was standing up when he came, she was head pressing, wobbly, drooling a little bit and in obvious distress. The vet had seen a lot or rabies, but never in a goat, but he really thought that was what he was looking at and said she should be euthanized. And so she was and a brain specimen sent to the lab for testing. Thankfully the results came back negative. I don’t know what she had but I don’t regret euthanizing her to have her tested. At her age I don’t think she would have recovered and I don’t think I had a choice considering her symptoms. We are all relieved to know she didn’t have rabies and can still be confident in the rabies vaccine.

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