The staff at Woodland Village in Chehalis works to make sure the seniors who reside there are always the center of attention.
But on Thursday afternoon, a group of furry visitors stole the show.
Four pygmy goats — Sue and Rain, both 3 years old, and their babies, Maria, 8 weeks, and Luna, 3 months — were brought from their home in Winlock to entertain the seniors who happily poured all of their attention on the small animals, which are affiliated with the Cascade Pygmy Goat Association.
As the seniors gathered around to pet and hold the small goats, Sundina Bryan, 50, the owner of the goats, and her “goat partner” Nicole Desmond, 43, answered questions and helped the residents handle their new friends.
“How much do they weigh when they’re born?” one senior asked.
“Two to four pounds,” answered one of the handlers.
Another senior asked if they give the goats treats to train them.
“I don’t give them treats so they behave without them,” Bryan responded.
A different resident asked if the goats minded water.
“Yes they do! Goats can’t stand water. They’re like the Wicked Witch of the West. They think they’re melting,” Bryan said.
Someone else asked about their horns.
“We have all the goats disbudded,” meaning the horns are removed, Desmond said. “It actually makes it safer for the goats so they don’t hurt each other.”
Bryan would later add Maria and Luna had been debudded a couple weeks ago and their skin would grow back where the horns were.
“They almost always look perpetually pregnant, but they’re not,” Desmond said after one senior asked if the two mother goats were pregnant.
“They eat meat, which is why they get so chunky,” Bryan added.
As Bryan and Desmond, both members of the Cascade Pygmy Goat Association, the oldest such association in the Pacific Northwest, walked to another area of the retirement community, they answered questions from The Chronicle.
“We do about five shows a year. We show them until October, about every three weeks,” Bryan said.
“Winning ribbons is fun,” Desmond added.
Bryan said she’s been raising pygmy goats for eight years now.
“I got invited to a table at a show, and it’s been history ever since,” Bryan said.
Desmond said she had only been working with Bryan and the goats for a year.
“I’m from Southern California, so I never had farm animals. I’ve only been doing this for a year. (Bryan) is my neighbor and I brought my daughter over to see (the goats) and she fell in love with them, and that’s how I got started,” Desmond said.
The two women also discussed the reproduction process for the pygmy goats.
“You want to breed them by the time they’re 18 months old,” Desmond said.
“After 18 months, they won’t take,” Bryan added.
Bryan said the goats nurse for 10 weeks and are later fed orchard hay as well as meat pellets with barley. When asked how long pygmy goats typically live, Desmond said they usually have a 12- to 15-year lifespan.
“They’re such a sweet natured animal … It’s so cool to watch the moms just know ‘that’s my baby,’” Desmond said.
“I love being an ambassador for the breed. They'll cuddle with you when handled from an early age. It makes them great for seniors,” Desmond added.
As they brought the goats to a new part of Woodland Village, the goats had the chance to receive attention from another group of seniors.
Desmond told the seniors that pygmy goats come from the Cameroon Valley of West Africa.
“Lots of people don’t know pygmy is a breed and not a size,” Desmond said.
As the visit to the retirement center wound down, Bryan and Desmond began to discuss the rising popularity of pygmy goat ownership.
“More and more cities are making it legal to own pygmy goats within city limits,” Bryan said.
“They’re definitely becoming much more popular as a backyard animal,” Desmond added.
The two said the best thing to do if considering the purchase of a pygmy goat is to visit the website of the Cascade Pygmy Goat Association which lists all members, allowing a buyer to connect with a breeder.
They also warned that if one were to buy from a breeder who is not a member of the association, the customer risks the possibility of buying a crossbred goat that isn’t pure pygmy. But the two also emphasized that someone seeking to buy a pygmy goat needed to buy at least two of them due to the breed’s nature as a herd animal.
Learn more at http://www.cpga-pygmy.com/.