selfie of Deborah and her goat Maverick

Hearing vs. Listening: A Lesson from Maverick

As an animal communication practitioner, I can sometimes get a little too close to my own animals and not always take the time to hear what they are really trying to tell me.  I have two goats (Maverick and Wyatt) that I adopted as babies that I fed bottles to for several months.  They started out young and cute and innocent and, in a short period of time, grew into boisterous teenagers.  For those of you that do not have experience with goats, teenage goats (approx. 12-24 months old) are very much like chimpanzees.  They are fast and strong, and still pretty immature mentally.  They can leap 4 feet high from a stand still and will eat pretty much anything that comes into their path.  They are pretty funny to watch and experience at times, but they can get into a bunch of trouble in an instant. 

selfie of Deborah and her goat Wyatt

Since I raised them from kids, I usually gave them more freedom to be themselves without strict structure as do many parents.  Maverick is definitely the alpha between the two goats and he rules with a strong hand.  They both have horns, but Mav’s horns are very large and they fan out perfectly to catch you with the tip at his leisure.  I have always been very respectful of their horns and do not touch them unless it is deemed necessary.  I also have a mini horse named Biscuit that shares the pasture with the goats.  Each species has their own barn that opens into the pasture. 

When the goats were little, they would easily come into their barn for the night when I requested.  When they turned two years old, they decided they didn’t want to come in at dark when I asked.  We have coyotes in the field behind us and I wanted them to be protected at night from predators.  Maverick was not interested in coming in at dusk when I wanted them to and he protested every time.  If I ever tried to put the goats in their barn before bringing Biscuit inside her barn, Mav would put up a huge fuss.  Mav would stand and stare at the back field and I knew he was worried about what lurked in the darkness.  He told me that he wanted Biscuit to be put inside first because if I put him inside before her and I allowed her to stay outside, he couldn’t protect her.  He wasn’t going to take the chance that it could happen that way.  If he went in last, he could always be sure she was in and safe. 

Biscuit (aka “Skit”)

Maverick and I continued to have battles about this topic and he would insist on staying outside.  He fought me tooth and nail about coming in at all after a while.  I was set on having my way in the name of protecting my kids and we really had some aggressive interactions.  I even got to the point of wondering if he was meant to find another home that suited him better.  I just couldn’t reach him to see my point of view.  I finally just decided that I was going to let them do it how they wanted to do it and I allowed them to have free access to the pasture from their barns all night.  I put them in GOD’s hands and decided to let go of my need to be right in this situation. 

The next morning, I went out to feed them and I found both goats and the mini horse in the goat building with their protective gate closed.  When they saw me, Maverick put his hoof in the hand opening of the gate and opened the gate fully.  All three came out of the barn at their leisure and were happy and calm.  I thought that was interesting and I took care of them and went about my day.  The next morning, I came upon the same scenario exactly.  I thought that it was a coincidence but it caught my attention.  Every morning since then for weeks now, they all go into the same barn and close the protective gate behind them and sleep for the night.  When they see me, they open the gate and come out. 

I took a minute to take my “mommy” hat off and truly check in with Maverick, and he told me that he was happy that I gave him a chance to do things his way and not think I knew better for them.  He told me that he only had the best intentions and that they had their own way of protecting themselves and he was trying so desperately to show me for so long.  He was kind in the way that he told me about this information because he knew I was doing what I thought was right when I was trying to control them.  He said that he was willing to take his mission to the brink of not being able to stay at my property because he felt so strongly about his role. 

selfie of Deborah with her goat Maverick
My strong-willed Maverick

In all honesty, Biscuit (the horse) is pretty strong-willed and will not come in if she doesn’t wish to be inside, and she most certainly wouldn’t allow me to put her in the goat pen with them.  I learned that they have their own thing going on between them – a true understanding – and that they just needed to be able to do things the way they wanted.  Biscuit was always telling me to give Maverick another chance and she always stood up for him.  I couldn’t understand why she did that for him until I decided to take the time to truly hear all of them. 

I tell this story because it is a lovely story about them but it is also a story of learning for me.  Even though I have the ability to hear my animals clearly, I need to remember to take the time to listen to them.  It is a little bit like the cobbler’s children needing shoes, LOL.  While I listen to my dogs and horses all the time, I needed to take the time for the farm kids at home and I am so glad I finally heard them.  My goal in animal communication is to help people and animals truly listen to each other, which leads to a better understanding between them.  If you wish to have a better understanding with your animals, please give me a call