OMG You Won’t Believe What This Rescue Goat Finds Comfort Wearing!
The internet is awash in animal gifs and memes. From otters to giraffes to insects, there seems to be a cuddly (or prickly) animal Patronus for everyone. Of course felines rule the internet world, but cat dominance may not last forever. Why? Well, it has something to do with the rise of the goats.
Introducing Goats of Anarchy!
Have you ever seen anything cuter than a baby goat? What about a baby goat in baby clothing? Well, that’s just what you’ll see at Goats of Anarchy, home of one special little goat with a particular quirk!
Goats of Anarchy is a rescue group for special needs baby goats in Annadale, New Jersey run by founder Leanne Lauricella. All of the goats at the rescue are in need of help, either because they’ve been rescued from abused or have disabilities. The goats are raised as pets, not for farming, and have millions of followers online. Goats of Anarchy lets viewers watch the goats’ antics on YouTube, Instagram or Facebook, and you can see these little guys get stronger by the day. The goats are so popular online that they’re even starring in their first book, out March 2017. As the book puts it, Lauricella’s mission is to “save the world, one goat at a time.”
You can’t deny that these goats are scene-stealers, and complete hams for the camera. The 2017 calendar featuring goat pics was in such high-demand that it sold out very quickly. However, for all of the goat pictures and videos that Lauricella has shared over the years, nobody expected to see what happened next with a little goat with a number of problems.
Meet Polly the Baby Goat
Meet Polly, a 6-month old baby goat. Polly is a little goat with several medical issues, but she’s still a lovely little goat. Polly is partially blind and she also suffers neurological problems. Her neurological conditions cause her to have trouble eating, and she is underweight for her age. Like many rescue animals, she also has anxiety. Little Polly is attached to Lauricella, and when she has separation anxiety, she can get nervous when her mom is not around or if there any too many people around. She even told The Dodo that “She’ll find a corner of a wall in the house, and she’ll just start sucking on the wall. So all the corners in our house have these little suck marks from her mouth.”
If you have anxiety, you know how it can be hard to find something to comfort you and relax you. Well, the same could be said for little goats, who don’t have the same ability to voice their anxiety like humans. So Lauricella comforts Polly by keeping her nearby and just being there for you, but what else works?
You won’t believe what Lauricella did to calm this little goat down!
Enter the Duck Costume
Polly has an unusual outfit to calm her down. Lauricella was shopping at Marshalls department store one day before Halloween, and spotted a cute costume for a child..or, a kid, in this case! It was a duck costume, soft and “feathery” with a separate orange bill and webbed feet. She often dresses the baby goats for warmth and comfort, similar to swaddling a baby. She threw it in her cart, thinking it would be cute to see Polly wear and might provide some comfort. Polly frequently wears diapers in the house and a baby onesie to hold the diapers on, so clothes aren’t new to the little kid.
She soon discovered not only was the duck costume cute when worn by Polly, but it worked wonders on her anxiety! After putting it on to snap a photo to share, she realized that Polly had calmed right down, and wasn’t displaying her usual anxiety symptoms. It was like a natural soother for the little goat, she says. “”As soon as I put it on her, she just instantly got calm.”
Animals that suffer fear and anxiety can be swaddled to help reduce anxiety, which is why shirts like the ThunderShirt are so popular. The shirts offer “constant, gentle pressure” on the body, are billed as an anti-anxiety treatment for dogs and cats. ThunderShirt has an 80% success rate, but doesn’t work for all animals. Lauricella had already tried the ThunderShirt as a way to give Polly comfort, but it didn’t work. However, with the duck costume was a huge hit, and made Polly just slip into a “trance” with happiness.
The Duck Costume Saved the Day
Lauricella couldn’t believe how the little goat reacted to the fuzzy costume. “There’s something about that duck costume that calms her. She goes into a little trance. She just closes her eyes and she’s out.” She quickly realized that it would be a great way to offer comfort and calm to Polly when she suffers an anxiety attack. It’s become the best way to ease Polly’s separation anxiety and Lauricella thinks it feels like a “big hug” to the little goat. If Polly has unease about anything, the duck costume is a nice source of constant comfort.
It’s crazy what Polly can do when she’s in that duck suit!
It appears that by essentially swaddling Polly just like a human baby, the goat calms right down. Swaddling has been a time-tested technique for soothing infants and toddlers. Swaddling keeps the baby (or baby goat!) from being disturbed by their own startle reflex. It mimics the condition in the womb, and also provides warmth.
If Lauricella needs to make a quick trip to the store, and can’t leave Polly on her own, she can put the goat costume on her to let her be calm and relaxed in the store. She even took this picture of Polly asleep in the shopping cart! Not a sight you expect to see at your grocery, right? I bet some parents are envious seeing this sight, because many parents have had the store meltdown where the kids just won’t settle down! Sharing the image on Instagram, she said “Polly went shopping with me at @tractorsupply today. As soon as I swaddle her or put her duck coat on, she’s out like a light! I bet every parent wishes their kids behaved this well in the store! #swaddlebaby”
Lauricella realized that other costumes had the same effect on Polly’s anxiety. However, after buying a few, the duck costume is still Polly’s favorite of her “duds.” For now, Polly has a pig costume and a fox costume, and a unicorn costume too. Polly even dressed up like a pea for Halloween! As you can imagine, it makes for some adorable pictures too. The costumes also serve another purpose: the goat can use it like a winter coat when the temperatures drop and she’s outside.
Swaddling can also be done with a weighted blanket, which somewhat minimizes the effects of swaddling. Researchers are finding that weighted blankets can help animals, children and even adults. According to renowned professor of animal science and autism spokesperson Dr. Temple Grandin, “Deep touch pressure is the type of surface pressure that is exerted in most types of firm touching, holding, stroking, petting of animals, or swaddling. [sic] Occupational therapists have observed that a very light touch alerts the nervous system, but deep pressure is relaxing and calming.”
Worried that Polly will soon outgrow the costume, Lauricella wished she bought the neck size up. However, she soon found something else that worked just as well for Polly’s anxiety!
Pocket the Wonder Goat
Meet Pocket. Yes, Polly and Pocket! Polly Pocket is actually a line of dolls and toys that became popular in the 1980s.The name is derived from the small size of the dolls and accessories, which are stored in a little pocket.
Pocket is a rescue goat acquired by Goats of Anarchy about two weeks ago. He’s tiny and adorable, and now, he’s Polly’s anxiety-soother. He was born without hooves, but that doesn’t bother Polly in the least. When Pocket came home to Goats of Anarchy, Lauricella placed him on Polly’s back, and Polly acted like she did with her duck costume! “I’ve noticed that anytime he’s lying next to her, she just gets calm. I’ve never seen her do that with another goat here.” Now Polly and Pocket hang out together in the house, cared for Goats of Anarchy’s busy staff of volunteers and carers.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Lauricella said “Polly will soon see a neurologist for the goat’s neurological issues,” but for now, the goat seems happy as can be. She’s also proving to be a good source of cheer for many. Lauricella says she gets many messages from people about how much they like to see her feed. “Everyday I get messages from people saying ‘I’m battling depression’ or ‘I’m battling cancer’ or I just lost a loved one and I look at your feed everyday and just seeing these little goats and if they can do it, I can do it’,” she told a news reporter.
The Enchanted Goat Forest
Polly is still a house-goat for now until she’s able to move outside to live. Lauricella recently constructed a goat playground, nicknamed “The Enchanted Goat Forest” for the Goats of Anarchy, and it features climbing platforms, a swing and other fun goat-centric features. The goats of Goats of Anarchy romp and play, and one day little Polly can join them. As she heads out to join the other goats, she’ll have her little buddy, Pocket, by her side, perhaps as a seeing-eye goat. As for Pocket, he he’s been learning how to walk on foam prosthetics, and will have real prosthetics when he’s older.
Yes, prosthetics! Although prosthetics are mostly associated with people, they are becoming more realistic for animals as well. Animals which were once euthanized because of their deformities, injuries and birth defects are now being given a second chance at life. That’s partly because of advances like 3D printing, which have drastically reduced the costs of making prosthesis.
Prosthetics for Animals is a Thing!
Pocket can look to many examples of other animals who were saved by prosthetics, like Beauty the Bald Eagle, a bird who was shot in the face, losing a jawbone. The facility Birds of Prey NW got her a prosthetic jawbone and she’s back to looking fabulous!
And despite what many people believe, animals can learn to use prosthetic limbs with a little bit of help. A chihuahua named TurboRoo is one of the survivors. Four vets recommended this pup be euthanized after he was born without his two front legs. The owner refused to do it, instead leaving him at a vet’s office with the hope that he could be saved.
TurboRoo was saved when the vet teamed with a 3D printer to create a cart that lets him move all on his own. The dog has gone through 10 carts already, and they will exchange them periodically until he reaches an adult size. It will be great to see Pocket join the ranks of these bionic animals.
We look forward to seeing how Pocket and Polly grow!
The Go Fund Me Campaign
The attention Polly and her duck costume got has paid off. Goats of Anarchy is looking to expand into a second location, and started a GoFundMe for the efforts. They’ve already raised over $39k, and the amount keeps growing. The money, like the other donations made on their website, goes toward for the food, medical and housing needs of the goats. You can keep up with all of the goats growth and costumes by subscribing to their feeds, where you will see where the donations are allocated.
Lauricella wasn’t always a goat rescuer. She had a busy full-time job in New York City working as an event planner just two years ago. It was a stressful job with a terrible commute and she felt unfulfilled. After visiting a goat farm, she fell in love with the little creatures and adopted her own, Jax and Opie. She soon realized that she most enjoyed spending time with her goats after work, and started growing her little farm. Soon it grew to more goats, Tig, Nero, and Otto to the crew, a miniature horse, a pig, a small donkey and two rabbits. She also became a vegan and then began rescuing special needs goats. Speaking to The Daily Mail, she describes the move “As a leap of a faith in pursuit of happiness.”
Lauricella Formed Goats of Anarchy to Fight for Animal Welfare
The goats she named from the FX show Sons of Anarchy, which is about a motorcycle club. The show gave her the idea for the name Goats of Anarchy.
“I traded in my Mercedes for a Chevy pick-up, and the high heels for muck boots,” she says. The change in career was accepted by her husband, who had his own passion for rebuilding classic cars, and had quit his high-stress job in finance, but not everyone agreed. Some called her “foolish” but she kept on doing her what she loved even volunteering with a local sanctuary. Soon she had 26 goats.
After signing up for Instagram to share pictures of the baby goats, Lauricella’s account grew by thousands of followers almost overnight on the first day of her unemployment. Viewers — us included — can’t get enough of her pictures and videos. She’s won a Webby Award, and has been featured in Country Living, The Huffington Post, People and other publications. She does an excellent job of promoting her cause. She uses the sloan “Goats Just Wanna Have Fun.”
The promotional efforts have paid off. A Kentucky woman reached out to Lauricella after seeing her appearance on the Rachael Ray show. The woman found a baby goat who had been abandoned and was suffering from frostbite. The poor goat, named Frosty at the time, had a leg amputated. Lauricella got involved and brought the goat, re-christened Angel, to Goats of Anarchy. This little goat not only survived, it thrived! Angel the goat now has her very own cart, which she uses to wheel around the farm. However, she can’t be left alone too much since she is young and disabled, and goats can be tough.
Angel’s story gets even better when you consider her most trusted companion – Piney the Pig! Piney is Angel’s best friend. The rescue pig cuddles and comforts the baby goat. The two even snuggle in the bed together!
Lauricella is also active in advocating for new laws to protect animals. After rescuing an Arkansas goat named Grace, she started a Change.org petition to ask the Fayettville police to investigate the abusive owner. The owner had rented the goat out to high school students who almost killed her. The students fed Grace beer and cigarettes and beat her. As Lauricella notes, animal cruelty laws in many areas only cover dogs, cats and horses, and she would like to see the law change to cover all animals. So far, Lauricella is winning her fight!
(And Grace has fully recovered, thanks to Goats of Anarchy, and has taken her place amongst the rest of the pack!)
Goats on Anarchy was born as a bona-fide internet star, and the group is Lauricella way of advocating for the animals that don’t have their own voice. To keep in the loop and help out Goats of Anarchy, follow the group on their Instagram, Facebook and Twitter page and keep tabs on their newly designed website. You can also buy special gifts from Goats of Anarchy’s Etsy shop (all proceeds go to care of the goats). Of course, donations through PayPal ([email protected] ) or GoFundMe are also welcome.
Maybe some of you will read about Polly, Pocket, Angel and Piney and be inspired to start your own rescue!