Ching Farm Rescue and Sanctuary founder Faith has been helping me complete the stories of the many individuals I have photographed at the Salt Lake City sanctuary over the last two years. A few bring up sad memories of individuals who have passed, and others are joyous. Today’s story hit me in the gut when Faith shared it with me. I would like to introduce you to Deuce, a goat whose story has been similarly reflected in the literature of dog and cat shelters when they talk about humans surrendering beloved companions.
Deuce arrived about three years ago, brought to Ching by his human dad with whom he was intensely bonded. Deuce followed him around everywhere. He slept with the family’s horses at night, but all other times he could be, he followed his human dad around. Deuce’s dad gave him a banana, skin and all, every day. Theirs was a bond of companionship and family like many of you experience with dogs and cats.
I wish I could end the story there for you, but alas the family decided to move. It is a tale I have heard many times: a family is losing their home, or moving for a job, or shifting back to the city after a failed attempt to be country folk. The reasoning may be different, but oftentimes the result for nonhuman companions is not: they are not to accompany their families. For a goat family is everything. Goats bond intensely as familial units; you will see the lucky few families at sanctuaries most often together - lounging, browsing, goofing, plotting to take over the world, etc. Deuce was different only in that he did not have other goat siblings or parents, but instead had human parents.
So when Deuce and his dad arrived at Ching, Deuce followed him around with Faith as they walked the sanctuary grounds. He got his banana. But then Deuce’s dad left through the gate and got in his car, without Deuce. Faith said Deuce’s head shot up, and she swears his eyes bulged in alarm. As the car pulled away, Deuce frantically ran along the fence line with the road, trying to follow his dad. When he came to the corner edge of the property, his dad’s car disappearing down the road, Deuce stopped, and waited. Faith said Deuce waited without budging for four days, watching for the return of his family in 100 degree heat. Faith brought Deuce water and food, tried to lure him away from that corner vigil; however, it took a month of determined effort before Deuce could be brought closer to the main house. He showed no interest in any of the other sanctuary goats – what did he know of these strange, small four-legged people? Deuce knew only his human and his horse friends. Once closer, Faith was able to get Deuce to spend time with the sanctuary’s senior horses, giving him new friends more familiar from his home. And every day he got his banana.
With time (and daily bananas) Deuce started to settle into his new home. As with any severe heartbreak we might experience, it took Deuce time to heal. Part of that healing process was his gradual integration into the goat herd on his own terms. While not occurring overnight, it did happen, and now Deuce is a flirtatious member of the herd, fully part of his new goat family.
Stories like Deuce’s choke me up, partially because I cannot fathom leaving a family member behind, but also because they demonstrate so clearly the remarkable emotional lives of my nonhuman friends. When I photographed Deuce, sleeping standing up in the feed tub that snowy late December day, I had yet to hear his story, but I knew there was one waiting to be learned. All of the residents of the sanctuaries have them. Not only that, but they each have their own way of interpreting the world, just like us. It is this rich inner world into which I hope to provide glimpses with the Yoga Animalia portraits and stories, and I thank you for taking this journey with me.
May joy find you,
Yoga Animalia: Caprine - Deuce
Ching Farm Rescue & Sanctuary, Herriman, Utah
Deuce was a beloved family companion, bonded intensely with the husband whom Deuce followed everywhere. However the family moved, and their considerations did not include taking Deuce with them. Ching was able to take him in, but when Deuce’s dad left, Deuce ran the property line trying to keep up with the departing vehicle. At the fence edge Deuce stopped and waited for the return of his human without moving for four days. Gradually the heartbroken goat was lured closer to the main house, showered with affection, and, with time and healing, he discovered the joy of being a goat amongst other goats.