Stitching Up A Tough Old Goat

Dr. John Kaya
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Wednesday - June 23, 2010
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Most of my working days are spent indoors in an air-conditioned hospital. Such is the plight of a companion animal veterinarian. My colleagues who work at zoos, aquariums or on livestock enjoy the pleasant distraction of working in the sunny, beautiful Hawaiian outdoors. I can only daydream.

One summer’s day as I gazed out the clinic window admiring the gorgeous weather outside, a call came in from a person who owned a goat named Ramsey. The innocent critter had been ravaged by a pack of stray dogs and was bleeding from wounds throughout his body.

“We need to give aid to this helpless creature,” I barked. “Pack my instruments. I must get to this poor beast as soon as possible.”

As I ran to my desk looking for my car keys, my hospital manager reminded me of the full appointment schedule and the other patients that needed our help. “But ... Ramsey… needs our help, too,” I stammered. She then informed me that Ramsey’s owner happily agreed to bring in her injured goat. So much for an outdoor adventure.


Ramsey arrived at our hospital with multiple lacerations covering his body. The looks on the faces of our other patients in the waiting room said it all: Abloody ram? In the city?

Our hospital really was not equipped to handle a large ram, but often veterinarians need to improvise. Our surgery table was definitely too small for our goat friend, weighing more than 200 pounds. One of our technicians, Dave, suggested stitching Ramsey up where he stood. Goats are tough, and although the flesh wounds appeared gnarly because of the blood-stained fur, they actually weren’t that bad.

First, I administered medication for pain and an antibiotic to prevent infection. While doing this, our veterinary technicians shaved and cleaned each wound with surgical scrub. Dave volunteered to straddle Ramsey and hold on to his horns. I would have done it, but someone had to do the surgery, right?

Although Dave looked as if he was about to go for a casual ride through the countryside, it was pretty gutsy to mount a stressed out ram with a formidable rack. Through all of this activity, though, Ramsey stood motionless.


Taking a deep breath, I proceeded to sew the lacerations. I counted a total of 10 large wounds with a smattering of smaller nicks and punctures. The procedure took almost an hour, and through it all Ramsey just stood there, not even a flinch. It amazes me at how tough these farm animals are. I started to pity the pack of dogs that attacked Ramsey. I’m sure those large horns did their share of damage.

After we were done, Ramsey went home with antibiotics for a couple of weeks and we returned to our air-conditioned appointments. I know, I know the grass is greener on the other side. Yes, I’m cooped up in an air-conditioned hospital, and my daydreams of donning overalls don’t include high humidity, scorching heat and biting insects. Still, I can dream. Can’t I? Oh well, I guess if you can’t get to the wilderness, sometimes the wild side comes to you.

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