NDIP neighbourhood delights in two new residents
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
The goats are better behaved than most dogs, obediently following their owner and have a special love of eating dandelions, much to Lévesque’s delight.
The COVID-19 outbreak that saw the population sequestered in their homes for the past two months has had some surprisingly positive effects on the greater community – one notably being that area animal shelters have seen adoptions take place in record numbers. And while dogs and cats are the usual go-tos when most people are looking to adopt, a Notre-Dame-de-l'Île-Perrot woman has recently discovered the joy of owning goats.
“The follow me everywhere like dogs,” said Marie Lévesque, owner of caprine sisters Coton and Ouaté, which basically translates to 'cotton wadding,' commonly used in French for the word 'hoodie.'
“If I walk, they walk; if I stop, they stop, and they don't bark.”
The goats have become such a fixture in the area that some parents have been helping alleviate their children's quarantine boredom by letting them walk by for a visit.
So well behaved are 'the girls' there have been no neighbourhood complaints and unlike dogs, goats subsist on a vegetarian diet allowing their droppings to quickly biodegrade in the grass.
The girls harmoniously share a pen behind Lévesque's home with a few chickens who, like the goats, will not wander off her property.
Her goat ownership began when she casually expressed to a Saint-Lazare acquaintance that she'd always thought about owning goats and when the friend could no longer keep the sisters, Lévesque's fate was sealed.
While she admitted that after a single week she initially didn't want them anymore, explaining that getting to know and understand them took longer than she anticipated, but the goats slowly won over her heart and she's grown quite attached to them. There's a mutual trust and affection that's evident between Lévesque and the girls as they never stray too far from her side and are known to fret if she leaves the house.
COVID-19 confinement rules that left the now-retired healthcare worker at home means she's been able to foster a close connection to the goats and began taking short walks with them in the neighbourhood to the delight of passersby who will come out to see them. On the day of this interview, a pair of passing cyclists stopped in their tracks to marvel at the unlikely sight. “It's very common in parts of Europe,” one cyclist said. “I'm really happy to see goats here.”
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
NDIP resident Marie Lévesque said it didn’t take long for her to fall in love with her two goats named Coton (chewing her leg) and Ouaté.
The goats' diet is uncomplicated – commercial feed from a supplier in Sainte-Marthe along with some hay and they're left to freely graze on the grass and leaves on Lévesque's property.
“Oh,” Lévesque added, “and they love dandelions! I'm very happy about that.” True to goats' reputations, they'll even eat plastic, rubber, or litter requiring close attention on the owners' part.
Currently about two years of age, these goats – who are roughly each the size of a large dog – have a life expectancy of about 15 years.
While initially standoffish with strangers, as long as they're approached gently and respectfully, they quickly warm up, especially to back scratches.
“And they love kids,” said Lévesque, describing a young neighbourhood toddler who, prior to social distancing rules, loved to pass by to see the girls and give them hugs.
Lévesque is hoping to eventually see the goats involved in zoo therapy programs for both children and seniors.
“That's my goal.”
Recognizing goats as companion animals, while new, is growing in popularity.
“They're like dogs but better,” said Lévesque as the girls wagged their tales at the sound of her voice. “They follow me, I don't need to run after them. They're loyal and protective. I've fallen in love with them.”