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Nervous? I nearly shat m’self


Okay, about those goats. I was wrong. Nervous goats (AKA fainting goats, Tennessee goats, stiff-leg goats, wooden-leg goats, Tennessee scare goats) are not epileptic and they weren’t developed at Vanderbilt.

But we really did have a small herd of them when I was a wee slip of a weasel. And I know ours came from Vanderbilt, where my parents were alums (well, my dad was. My mother dropped out when morning sickness made her upchuck on patients, a thing generally frowned upon in nursing school). The goats worked out a lot better than those experimental lab rats he brought home, that’s for sure.

The proper word for their condition is “myotonia.” They have two mutations on a gene that controls chloride ions in the skeletal muscles, whatever the fuck those are. It means their muscles lock up when they’re startled. Lasts about ten seconds.

They fall down, which really doesn’t give a sense of the thing at all. It’s like the ordinary physics of gravity do not apply. They fall down like cartoon characters fall down. They land with their legs stuck straight up in the air and slowly waving about (see the pictures above). And, because this mostly affects their legs and doesn’t affect their brains at all, they go down with a look on their faces like, “Dammit! What the hell?

Sometimes the older ones are able to stay upright and drag themselves along, or wobble back and forth like rocking horses. And it’s instantaneous. Like BANGthud.

See, I’m trying to explain why this was fun and not hateful and cruel. Oh, here. Here’s a YouTube video that might help.

See what I mean? Could you resist knocking ’em down like bowling pins?

Anyhow, if it makes you feel better — as I said in whatever thread I first mentioned these things — the senior billygoat got me up against the barn one day when I was nine and whaled the living shit out of me. Turns out a nine-year-old is not startling enough to flatten an enraged billygoat.


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 11, 2007, 4:47 pm

One day, they slipped the fence and got into the neighbor’s garden. We had a couple of acres in the suburbs then. The old lady went flying out to the strawberry patch waving a broom over her head and screaming, with the predictable result that they all promptly fell over.

She called us up and said, “I’m so sorry…I killed your goats!” By that time, of course, they had happily gone back to eating her strawberries.

Oh, how that woman must have hated us for neighbors.

Comment from mesablue
Time: June 11, 2007, 6:45 pm

Skeeter the Narcoleptic Poodle — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbmbQkX7czo&NR=1

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 11, 2007, 6:51 pm

Ha! I was going to point out the link to Skeeter, which pops up when the fainting goats video is accessed. Then I realized that “Skeeter the Narcoleptic Poodle” is the only fun part of the experience, and the dog himself is kind of disturbing. And I was seriously bothered by “spaztic cat” — did they spin that poor animal around on an office chair, or does it have brain damage, or what…?

Comment from mesablue
Time: June 11, 2007, 6:56 pm

From the comments, the cat is just really messed up. I have a spastic cat, but it comes not from a medical condition, but just the fact that he is really stupid.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 11, 2007, 8:15 pm

The goats are amusing, but the puppy (aaawww) was sad.

My neighbors in AZ many Moons ago had a spastic cat. It liked to attack that paddle cactus that grows in bunches – uh – prickly pear? The cat would get all these spine punctures in it, and heal a day or so, and then stalk and attack again. They told me it got tangled up in some clinging cactus thistles when young, and its brain went Tharn.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 12, 2007, 8:10 am

I wonder if we could infect politicians with this disease? Or the MSM (the Hollywood beat in particular)? More research is definitely needed…

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