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Me and My Pet - Robert Ogden and Dave the goat

PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 October 2017

Robert Ogden and his goat Dave (who, just for a change, is eating)

Robert Ogden and his goat Dave (who, just for a change, is eating)


Harrogate jeweller explains why his goat is a diamond grazer

Photographs by Lucy Ann Brown

Dave (mind your head!) with his sort-of-brothers Alex and Cocoa Dave (mind your head!) with his sort-of-brothers Alex and Cocoa

If I’m being honest, Dave is not strictly my goat. He belongs to my son Ralph who, along with his twin sisters Rosie and Claudia, each received a goat and a hen as a bribe for moving to the countryside.

Dave is the first thing I hear every morning. He might resemble a small cow, but his unorthodox bleat is a keening sound that always reminds me of the women’s voices in Monty Python. A little vibrato or variation in the sound would go a long way, but this unique voice obviously works for Dave, and that’s the important thing.

Along with his brothers (I understand two of them may share a father), he bleats a lot. The smallest provocation – a door closing, a car reversing – and the chorus begins its strange three-part harmony, a noise that only stops when the food bowl is filled.

His bleat is not the only distinctive noise Dave can make. You should hear him drinking water! Like cattle and sheep, goats are ruminants with four-part stomachs, and the gurgling and slurping noises are ever present.

Perhaps not the brightest of the three goats, Dave spent much of his early life with his head stuck in a gap in the fence. Because of his long, stiff ears, reversing is much more difficult than going forward, and we often spent long hours extricating him and pointing out that the food he was searching for was actually behind him.

From satyrs in Greek mythology onwards, goats have long been associated with lust and lechery, but I have to say I haven’t seen those tendencies in Dave. Obviously, gelding surgery has played a part in curbing them, but food is such a driving force in his life that I’m not sure he has time for anything else. Goats will eat anything, so only the oldest, tattiest clothes are worn in the goats’ enclosure, as they will soon be nibbled to netting.

Every day the leads come out, and the goats get a short walk in the field. They enjoy the chance to visit the blackberry bushes and we enjoy being pulled in random directions.

Goats are fairly low maintenance, but every few weeks we need to clip their hooves. This can be a traumatic experience that raises the decibel level higher than ever and sometimes ends with an accidental hoof to the face. Dave, however, finds it soporific and, after a short skirmish, begins snoring softly. These are the moments I treasure the most, when he’s completely relaxed and at peace, and I am not being hit by flailing hooves.

Robert Ogden is the fifth generation of his family to run the luxury jewellery company, Ogden of Harrogate, which has served the families of Yorkshire since 1893. There are now three shops: the original Edwardian premises at 38 James St, Harrogate; Ogden Harrogate; and The Little Diamond Shop in York. For more information, visit ogdenharrogate.co.uk

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