The Goat With the Broken Leg


Story by: Jon Erickson


Not everyone would pay thousands of dollars for a goat, but then again, Al Oeming wasn’t just anyone. He was the founder of the Alberta Game Farm and he knew the value of a goat when he saw one. That said, Al didn’t have much interest in domestic goats (Nubians, Pygmies, etc.) even though he kept some hanging about.

Exotic goats were another matter. Siberian Ibex, Caucasian Tur, and Markhors were of great interest to Al because their climate was similar to Alberta, they had truly magnificent horns, they were able to survive in harsh environments. Plus, they were on the endangered species list.

Even with roadblocks like these, Al managed to acquire two Markhor goats. That was the good news. The bad news was they were both females. Still it didn’t take Al long to locate a male goat and make arrangements to ship it to the farm.

On the day the male goat was due to arrive we thought we were prepared for any contingency. What we weren’t prepared for was seeing the goat stagger out of the crate — it’s right rear leg broken! When the shock of seeing this magnificent animal suffering subsided, Al told me to go to General Hospital, get x-rays, and hand-deliver them to Dr. Sato, our veterinarian.

When I called General Hospital’s Radiology Department, I got some unexpected push back. The technician I was talking to was insistent about General Hospital being a human hospital, not an animal hospital. I was just as insistent pointing out that this goat was on the endangered species list, that it was worth thousands of dollars, and that General Hospital had the very best equipment to do this job. Eventually I wore him down and he said to call him back in an hour.

When I called back, the technician was apologetic but offered some hope. No, he still couldn’t get the goat into the General Hospital x-ray lab, but he had a friend in the University Hospital x-ray lab who could take the x-rays later that night. Great! I went looking for Al to tell him the plan.

"My God, they will think we're all drunk out here"

When I found Al, he was bulldozing the buffalo paddock, but stopped when I pulled up. I explained to him the situation — that General Hospital was being difficult but that I had checked the goat into University Hospital.  Al looked at me with a blank look. You what? I repeated my story, when Al said, “I said ‘General Animal Hospital’”. ‘No’, I insisted, you said ‘General Hospital’. With a stunned look, he said “My God, they will think we’re all drunk out here.”

I finally conceded that Al was right and hurried back to get x-rays for the Markhor goat. To save face, I called the x-ray technician and told him the mixup as to which hospital I was requested to get the x-rays done. But, at that point in time, the technician was so invested in helping the male goat, that he insisted to push forward with the x-ray with his friend at the University and also would come along for the journey. 3 hours and 2 technicians later, the x-ray was complete and the male Markhor goat was casted and ready to be sent back to the Game Farm.

After all the effort of getting the male goats leg casted and healed, the unfortunate reality hit when a visiting veterinarian came to asses the issue. After a few unsuccessful attempts to have the male goat impregnate one, if not two of the female goats, the veterinarian concluded that the male Markhor goat was in fact infertile....