Do you know what farmyard animal is like a dog?
Hard to believe, isn’t it! For example, dogs wag their tail when they’re happy. When a goat gets grain, she wags her tail. If she likes someone, she wags her tail when they pet her.
There’s a ticklish place on a dog’s chest. A soft spot next to the front legs. If you scratch there, a dog’s back leg starts scratching in the air. Exact same thing with goats. In fact, goats love to be scratched so much, they will grab a person’s arm with their front leg and move it toward their chest.
Dogs get jealous. A goat does too. Like if you’re paying attention to one goat, another one will come up and push the first one away. Or she pushes her head under your arm so you will pet her, not the other goat.
Dogs like to jump on people to say, “Hey, I’m really glad to see you! Let’s play!” Goats jump up on people too. The goat kids want to be picked up. The older ones just want you to look at them and then maybe scratch them - or give them a treat - like the string on your sweatshirt hood!
And a goat may follow you around just like a dog. The difference is the goat will eat all your mom’s flowers along the way.
And that’s a big difference between goats and dogs. Sometimes a dog eats a little grass but mostly he eats meat because he’s a carnivore.
A goat eats grass and trees and leaves and - well just about any vegetation she can reach because she’s an herbivore. She walks around eating much of the day.
When she’s not browsing, a goat rests and burps up what she’s already eaten (called ‘cud’) and chews it again...and again. Sometimes a goat will make a little squeak and then a wad of food shows up in her mouth and she starts chewing. It would be just too gross if that’s what a dog did. But that’s how a goat breaks down all the grass and hay she ate earlier.
Because teeth are used for eating, you can imagine goats and dogs don’t have the same kinds of teeth.
Dogs need teeth for biting and tearing meat or gnawing bones. That’s very handy for a carnivore. But an herbivore needs teeth to grind up grass and branches.
When a goat smiles (and they do sometimes), you can see she doesn’t have front teeth on top, just on the bottom. Except in the BACK OF HER MOUTH. There she has several teeth on the top and bottom. She breaks and chews tree limbs and all kinds of tough things with those teeth.
Teeth can be dangerous. That’s why it’s not a good idea to put your fingers in a dog’s mouth and you never want to put them in a goat’s mouth.
With a mouth full of teeth, a dog can bite you wherever you put your fingers. But most of the time a dog doesn’t mean to bite and it doesn’t hurt.
A goat, on the other hand, will try to get your finger to the back of her mouth where her teeth are on the top and bottom and will ALWAYS chomp down - just like your finger is a stick. And it ALWAYS bleeds and hurts really, really badly.
But she’ll still wag her tail the next time she sees you.
Written by Barbara Nissen, 2010
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