Friends come in all varieties

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2004

Most people have the ordinary run of the mill pets growing up. A dog here, a cat there and several goldfish in between. I had all of these pets as well. But keeping in the tradition of being a little bit different, our family had a few pets that were a little out of the ordinary.

I got home late Friday night and started looking at some old pictures that reminded me of just how odd these pets were.

I do have to say that by having some non-traditional pets I did learn a lot. Not about responsibility though. Just a lot about everything.

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We went through several turtles, some crawdads and even a few chicken snakes that moved into our storage building.

At one time there was even a baby mocking bird. By the way, if you ever have a pet mocking bird they don’t eat chocolate cake (sorry about that Roscoe and rest your soul wherever you are).

The most educational oddity that our family took in was a goat. We named him Patches because of his multicolored coat.

There was never a dull moment as long as Patches was around.

The first thing that I learned from Patches was that goats spook easily.

Learning this lesson probably took several years off the poor goat’s life. One day we decided to put a bell on poor Patches just because we thought it would look cool.

The only problem was the every time the bell rang it scared the goat to death and he took off running. The faster he ran, the louder the bell rang. I’m not sure how that story ended because I wasn’t along for the goat hunt that followed, but I’m pretty sure they found him passed out five miles down the road.

Patches also reaffirmed the old tale that a goat would eat anything. Though he never ate tin cans or any metallic items he did eat a few things that definitely do not qualify as food.

One day I made the mistake of leaving the mail within his reach while I was pouring his food. By the time I turned around he was on the last letter. This would have been okay if it had been junk mail. But Patches ate a few bills and an application to Cub Scout camp. Instead of hiking, fishing and canoeing I stayed home that summer with my goat.

Patches taught me more than just the characteristics of a goat. He helped to expand my vocabulary. Patches had some epic battles with my Papa that are still talked about at holiday gatherings. I was fortunate enough to witness some of these Nip and Tuck fights that took place at feeding time and caught a few new words along the way. I was an awfully popular kid on the playground every time I learned a new &uot;nickname&uot; that Papa had given the goat.

Papa and the goat battled many times. Papa once finished a goat fight with stitches and the goat once finished unconscious. It was always a fight to the finish.

I guess Papa got the last laugh because nobody is really sure where Patches ended up.

Patches taught me a lot through those years. I am not really sure how much of the information I took in was helpful. But when I stump my toe or hit my finger with a hammer I always know exactly how to express the pain.

I just roll out a few of Patches old &uot;nicknames.&uot;

Rick Couch may be reached at

383-9302, ext. 132 or

via email at rick.