A few years ago we wrote a blog about “The Naming of Goats.” Then, just recently, while shopping on Etsy, we ran across a store selling name tags for goats. And that got us to thinking: Why would a goat need a name tag at all?
Goats are quite amazing creatures in numerous ways. One way, of course, is their remarkable eating habits. The ultimate omnivores, they are known to chomp on everything even vaguely edible—or inedible, for that matter—from grass to tree bark to toxic plants, including poison oak and knapweed. They even have a documented appetite for litter when left unchaperoned. Indeed, that is the theme of the American folk song “Bill Grogan’s Goat”:
One day that goat felt frisk and fine—
Ate three red shirts right off the line.
Some dog and cat owners sometimes wonder why their animal needs to wear a pet license tag (also called a pet I.D.) all the time. This is especially true of the owners of strictly indoor cats, or of dogs restricted to secure, fenced-in backyard enclosures. The answer can be summed up in three words: safety, safety, and safety.
The fact is, with incentive enough (e.g., a squirrel on the run), most pets are smart and determined enough to thwart the most secure enclosure. A fence can be leapt over or dug under, or your careless teenager can leave the front door ajar—and then, before you know it, your pet is outside and in the wind.
Sorry, this blog isn’t about that time you and your friends went out and drank way too much and on a dare you all ended up getting a bunch of truly horrible tattoos that you really, really regretted the next morning, and now you’re desperate to get yours removed before your mom or your girlfriend sees it. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place.
No, this is actually about domesticated hogs and the various ways a pig farmer can easily identify individual animals within a drove for later processing—specifically, by tattooing a series of numbers and/or letters on the pig’s ear or shoulder or back. For the ear, you use a special ear tattoo plier; and for the back or shoulder, you use a hog shoulder-slapper.
Both tools use special metal needlepoint alphanumeric characters, called dies, that can be slipped in and out of the applicator as needed. Last but not least, you need livestock tattoo ink, which comes in green or black colors.
At one year and two months old, Daisy, a sleek, majestic Black Labrador, looks rather intimidating. Though floppy most of the time, her ears are always alert, her eyes lock on target like lasers, and her stance is akin to that of a predator poised to pounce. She often scares the socks off unsuspecting passersby with a ferocious bark. But Daisy’s paw-pals and human friends know the reality behind her seemingly aggressive demeanor. Daisy is a scaredy-cat! The slightest sound and snap startle her. Her body tenses, and the hair on her back rises to resemble porcupine needle quills. She recoils in fear and barks like a holy terror.
Yet Daisy has never attacked anyone nor bitten a human. Her parents ensured that she was trained by a certified dog trainer and passed her “doggie exam” (though her report card recommends more practice in some areas). More to the point, the bright red rabies tag on her collar reassures neighbors and friends—old and new—that on the off-chance playful Daisy nibbles on anyone’s toe or accidentally sinks an eager tooth while extracting a doggie treat from a generous hand, she will not infect them with the deadly rabies virus.
Mischief, a golden retriever full of roguish devilry and given to a wide assortment of shenanigans, for years filled Carla and Keith’s apartment with woofs of joy, squeals of delight, and occasionally a few (human) yelps of horror. The reason for the latter was this: all her doggy life, Mischief had a penchant for swiping food from unsuspecting humans. This irremediable behavior once even inspired Carla to write a poem for her niece!
Fair Warning: Our Dog Loves Spaghetti
Our dog loves spaghetti, and meatballs too,
And sometimes she even eats tofu!
My Dad tried to train her, teach her what to do:
Heel, sit, roll—and wait for a treat or two.
But she doesn’t listen, though she does understand.
Instead she ignores our every command.
She can reach every tabletop, no matter how high,
And sticks out her tongue, like a toad catching a fly,
To grab pizza crusts, or bananas with peels—
Meanwhile ignoring her own doggy meals—
Without breaking a dish or making a sound!
In a flash it’s all gone when you turn around.
“Guard your dinner well!” we tell all our guests,
To warn them they can’t trust this pest of all pests.
Swiping our food is her most favorite game.
And what do we call her? Mischief is her name.