If you think that's a little smile you see on Poe's face, it is. He's a happy goat despite the many road blocks he faced in life. You see, Poe was left in a cold snowy cemetery when he was one day old. Barely five pounds, he arrived only to be snatched away for a ritual sacrifice. That is, until the people who took him got spooked. Literally.
The next day, I received a call from a friend who worked at the cemetery asking if I would take him. The maintenance department had no idea what to do with a baby goat and while baby goats are super cute, they also have endless energy.
Poe spent his first week of life in my kitchen, playing with the kids and snuggling with the dogs. However, when the vet arrived, she announced that Poe would not learn to be a goat without another goat, a proclamation of which my husband was not thrilled with.
After much searching (as there are not many baby goats born in January), I found three one-week olds who were slated for slaughter. As I drove there to pick one up, I knew the fate for the other two was bleak. I don't think my husband or children were the least surprised when I returned with all three.
The new Nubian goats knew Poe wasn't one of them (he's a Sheehan) and while they played together, Poe was often odd man out. Yet, he didn't let it bother him. He insisted on being included in their games and, would never let them bully him around. Poe made friends with whoever came into his paddock--the sheep, the llama and even the farm cat that would often cozy up with him. He seemed to know they all came with their own rescue tale.
Eight years later, Poe has been diagnosed with cancer in his shoulder and has lost most of the use of his left leg. But typical of Poe's character, he never feels sorry for himself. He still plays with the other goats and never passes the opportunity to escape the pen when I forget to double-lock it. With his bum leg, he's the first to greet me each morning and always does it with his signature smile.
Poe had lots of reasons not to be happy in life. He had a tough start, was raised with other animals not like him, and I'm sure despite all the medicine he's on, his bones creak in the morning. Yet, Poe wakes each day eager to start his routine and anxious to share that smile with anyone who comes to visit.
We all choose our response to what comes our way. There's no life that is continuously easy or doesn't come with obstacles. We don't always start off with an easy road and undoubtedly along the way there are roadblocks. But, like Poe, we can persevere. We can find ways to get around those hurdles and we can start and end each day with a smile.
By the way, Poe was named after Edgar Allen Poe. The other goats are named after famous writers: Dickens, Yates, and James Joyce. Together they are called the literary goats and like their predecessors, they each have a story to tell and a lesson to teach.