Sunday, November 27, 2011

I "Heart" Animals

[Congratulations to Pam Woolway for her runner-up written entry in our 2011 Creative Competition.]

He ran as fast as his little legs could carry him. Later that day I would call him Kenny, named for the friend who helped coax him from beneath our truck, but I get ahead of myself.

My husband Wes is a paddler. His relationship with water is why we moved to Kauai 10 years ago. Wes, a paddle buddy named Kenny and I, were on our return drive from the boys having done a “run.” A “run” for a paddler is a trip by sea along the coast of the island. I had dropped them off with their boats in Poi’pu a few hours earlier and we were driving north on the highway from Ele’ele.

That’s when we saw him. The goat, soon to be christened Kenny, was on a thin strip of asphalt running along the highway. Accelerating up the steep incline with a parade of other weekend drivers, Wes spotted him first.

“Whoa, check out that dog? No. Wait. That’s a goat,” he said as he slowed to approach the running goat from behind.

Fearing the worst, a panicked b-line into traffic, Wes realized his mistake and pulled back on to the highway to cruise a few hundred yards ahead of this little gray goat no larger than my 25-pound terrier.

Our friend Kenny jumped from the truck on the passenger’s side while Wes and I climbed out next to the 50-mile per hour traffic racing past. As soon as I knelt next to the rear bumper of the truck, the goat began to bleat and run faster toward us. Thankfully he recognized us for the saviors we were intended to be.

He slid past me to seek shelter beneath the truck. Kenny and I drew him out and I rode the remaining miles home to Kapaa in the bed of the truck with this goat nesting in my lap.

At home he immediately fit into our little family of three juvenile sibling cats and three curious dogs. Our terrier, Flip, was the one most endeared to him, and the little goat now named Kenny, sparred with her ruthlessly for the rest of the afternoon.

“I want to keep him,” I said, stating the obvious.

My marriage is one of mutual support. I shuttle Wes when he wants to do a “run” with his buddies, no questions asked. In exchange I get to bring home any wayward animal in need of a pillow and a warm meal. It’s a very nice arrangement.

The next morning I sat drinking coffee on a bench beneath our Kari tree in the backyard idly scratching Kenny between his two nubby horns. In Flip’s exuberance to greet him, he startled and leapt straight up in the air to land lightly on my lap I didn’t even spill a drop of coffee -- he was that nimble. That’s when I realized how very small he was: the points of his hooves didn’t even dig into my thighs. He was definitely lighter than Flip.

Kenny followed me around the yard as I watered and when I’d disappear into the house he’d stand on the back patio bleating.

“He is obviously someone’s pet,” Wes said with a warning in his voice.

I didn’t want to hear that. “I want him,” I whined.

To further enforce my case I drove fence posts into the ground and wrapped five-foot high
chicken wire around them to create a 15 by 15 foot corral for Kenny.

Wes returned from work that Wednesday quite impressed. Twelve years of marriage and I’d never displayed any handywoman prowess.

I was motivated.

Then my conscience got the best of me and I told Wes I’d list him as a found pet in the paper. I offered to even make a phone call to one of the only people I knew on the West Side.

“Hey Shan, it’s Pam,” I said into the phone. Shan works for my brother-in-law in Ele’ele and is a
native of these islands. “You don’t happen to know of anybody missing a goat?”

She said she didn’t. Whew.

But then she added, “I know a lady who raises goats and can call her.”

Shucks. “Um, okay. Call me back.”

A few minutes later she calls to describe my goat and say this friend has a son who lost a goat over the weekend.

“And it’s not a baby goat Pam,” she chides. “It’s a pigmy goat.”

Damn that coconut wireless. “Why did I make that call?” I scolded myself.

The following day Kenny accompanied me to my job at the Kauai Humane Society where his “real” owner met me.

As we walked Kenny on a leash to his truck I asked what the goat’s real name was.

He looked at me quizzically and said, “Gabe.”

For some reason I found this funny coming from a big, handsome Hawaiian guy named Kawika.
“Gabe?”

He sort of blushed and smiled.

“My daughter named him.”

That’s when my goat envy vanished. There was a little girl at home waiting for my Kenny.

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