After having met thousands of sanctuary residents from coast to coast, I've come to realize that certain individuals will instigate relationships that stick with me, despite perhaps only meeting them for a brief visit. Rather than think of this as favoritism on my part or theirs, I have come to think of it as no different than the humans with whom I have varying levels of relationship. Certain individuals feel like they have been part of my world for ages.
Jake goat was one such who demanded a level of intimacy from our very first meeting. He struck me as the kind of grandfather some experience: the one whose adventures continue unabated into elder life, unmitigated by concerns about leaving gates unopened or potential treats undiscovered. He was bold in character and in body, with his massive horns and toothy smile. My two visits to New Moon included following and being followed around by Jake, enjoying his company and his elder goat wisdom and moxie.
When I first arrived at New Moon, it was Jake who greeted me, despite being in an area where goats were not supposed to be. A gate was no obstacle for him however, as he figured out how to open them. He assumed the critical responsibility of being the greeter goat, and this extended to ensuring my time at the sanctuary was full of goat scratches. Jake was also frequently instrumental in the goat care classes that Ellen leads, and he helped educate so many humans as to the appropriate number of treats to be offered (all of them, obviously), in addition to the details about proper caprine care such as hoof trimming and anatomy and toxic plants.
When I saw New Moon post about Jake's death, it struck me intensely. Though there was deep sorrow in learning this, he had a long, amazing life, and knowing him fills me with joy, as I know it does the many people with whom he was connected. I am honored to share these images and stories about his life. What also struck me were the beautiful tributes that poured in to the New Moon Facebook post about his death, testament that Jake touched many lives, so much so that a wake was held at one of my favorite restaurants in Seattle, No Bones Beach Club. A powerful figure was Jake in the sanctuary world, and one who will be dearly missed.
Jake's life and his celebration after death reaffirm for me the importance of sanctuary: holding space for connection. And treats, don't forget lots of treats.