Stephanie Pearce: Sledding with a dog and goat
Winter holds so many wonderful memories for me. My daughter is getting to where she hates seeing the snow come, but I remember when she couldn’t wait for it. She used to love getting out and playing in the snow.
We used to have a goat named Vader. Vader loved attention and loved my daughter. He followed her like a dog.
One day, he was following my daughter through the snow as she was pulling her sled to the sled hill. She had just learned about the Iditarod in her schooling and had a bright idea. The next thing I know, she is putting a large dog harness on the goat. Then I see her using bailing twine and tying it through the sled handles and each side of the harness with the sled behind the goat.
As she sits in the sled, Vader turned around and looked at her like “Are you kidding me?” But she gave a little kiss on the nose, like she does with her horses, and the goat faced forward. He took a deep breath and walked forward. He pulled her up the hill and she slid down. This went on for about an hour. You would think this goat would get tired and run away, but he seemed to enjoy his new job and the attention he was getting from this little girl.
It wasn’t just uphill that Vader pulled the sled. It seemed that once my daughter got this goat to pull her, he pulled her everywhere. He pulled her down the road. He pulled her to do her chores. It seemed this goat genuinely enjoyed pulling her around.
It appeared as if her dog got jealous because her German shepherd/greyhound mix, named Girl, decided she wanted in on this action. So, my daughter hooked her up to the sled. Girl went much faster than the little goat and Girl loved to run. My daughter would fly through the snow on that sled with the dog in front like she was on a snow machine. You could hear her laughter carry through the air and the more she laughed, the faster that dog would go.
It became like a contest between the animals to see which one could get her to hook them up first. They all seemed so happy in the snow.
Vader, the goat, died a few years ago and Girl, the dog, died this spring. About five years ago, we decided the goat and the dog were too old and she was too big to pull and that’s when the mystique of winter started to disappear. I would encourage her to go outside and she would tell me it was too cold or the snow was too deep. I could tell that without her buddies, it just wasn’t the same anymore.
Today, we sit in the house while it’s minus 15 outside and share our memories about the goat and dog. I am starting to agree with her that winter is just too cold.
What often begins as a hobby to pass the time by creating something appealing to the artist or appealing to the eye, to the ear, something tasty or something — anything, can often flower into a real source of income that can help working families in rural economies like ours.