For the past few years, the University of Maine has brought in therapy dogs — mostly cuddly golden retrievers and adorable Pomeranians — to soothe the frazzled nerves of students during finals week.
This spring, however, it decided to try something a little different: baby goats.
Brittany Smith, a staffer with UMaine’s campus activities board, got the idea when a co-worker mentioned that her sister, Abby Skolfield, owned and operated a goat farm, Valley’s Edge Farm, in the western Maine town of Strong.
“It was like, ‘Of course we should bring the goats to campus,’” said Smith. “The dogs are always a big hit, so people would probably like goats too, right?”
A few quick phone calls later, a truckload of baby goats was on its way to UMaine, bound for an afternoon visit with students — most of whom had no idea they were going to hang out with month-old Nigerian Dwarf goats. Once word got out, a line stretched all across the mall, full of students waiting for their chance to pet a goat.
“I thought maybe 30, 40 people would show up, but this is ridiculous,” said Smith. “It’s a huge hit. We’re definitely bringing them back.”
Skolfield’s goats are old hands at dealing with crowds. Her goats are mostly for show, and they visit daycares and walk in parades regularly.
“I get hit up for goat yoga more times than I can count,” said Skolfield. “I don’t see how that’s relaxing, but hey, whatever works.”
Skolfield says people are naturally drawn to goats because she believes they’re very similar to dogs.
“They come when called. Their little tails wag,” she said. “They are the most dog-like of all livestock.”
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