It's been a week since I started her treatment, and I'm ready to say that I think that we've caught/stopped Elsa-goat's meningeal worm infestation*. Elsa is looking ...perkier. She never lost her bright eyes or appetite, but she seems to be a little more energetic now and a little more coordinated when she walks.
She's also not scratching herself so much. That doesn't mean she is well
by any stretch of the imagination. Her rear right leg is still not working correctly, and she walks with her front legs as square as possible with her back legs moving almost sideways with the left leg/side leading. Picture a hound dog trotting along with the offset rear end. That's a good day for Elsa.
I'm also thankful that Elsa is a pretty easy-going goat about the twice-daily medication. She doesn't like it, and will duck and run when I walk up with it, but once she's caught she stays caught. She doesn't fight me or squirm much. And she understands that there is a treat just for her
once I'm done. In anticipation of that treat, she will follow me back to the buckets after I finish squirting meds in her mouth. I think it's kind of funny, but it's definitely a bargain that I'm willing to keep.
I expect that Elsa is going to be a special needs goat for at least a year or two, if not longer, as she heals and recovers. And I expect that this season's fleece is trash due to stress breaking her hair and the excessive scratching. But she is both young and in general good health aside from this episode, so I am hoping that she can eventually heal herself of most of the neurological damage. She may never be able to breed, though, because of the required shift in gravity and coordination over those back legs. That's ok. I know my goats are pets, and just because she can't breed doesn't mean she can't stay. She may just be an early inheritor of the Summer/Jessie adult-doe-in-the-kids-field supervisor role. (Did I mention that I'm really glad
she didn't get pregnant and then sick? SO GLAD.)
The politics of food in the girl pasture are fascinating right now. I've been overfeeding the occupants of the girl scratch-n-dent field ever since Pansy came up pregnant last year to make sure that Summer, Pansy, and the smaller goats got plenty to eat. Even after Summer died and Pansy was sold, I still put out adult servings for the four girl kids plus whomever to make sure everyone got some. ("Whomever" is currently Jessie, Pan, Elsa, Emma, and Lily.)
My concern for sufficient food availability in the little girls' field has resulted in a predictable happenstance: leftover food at the end of the scrum time. So this group of goats has gotten into the habit of assuming food availability rather than food shortage. After a year of more breakfast food than they can eat in a serving, the Jessie herd isn't anywhere near as pushy during feeding time as any of the other groups. Sure, they have their preferences, and if I put down the leftover llama food there will be a fight, but in general there is only a minimum of initial shoving as they all get down to business. And there is no final scrum for the last few crumbs because half of the bowls still have food in them when everyone is done with the initial intake. The bowls are empty by the evening, so I think they are cat-snacking all morning.
The best part of knowing/seeing the food just sitting there when I'm done with morning chores is that I'm pretty confident Soma (so tiny!) is getting enough to eat.
Until Elsa is physically more agile and able to react properly when threatened or shoved, she will likely stay in the little girls pasture. That will keep her off of the receiving end of too much adult goat politics (i.e. Scout and Dahlia) and ensure that she keeps getting enough food. She is at the bottom of the adult pecking order in Jessie's field, but that puts her square in the middle of the whole herd, not the bottom. Soma is of course at the bottom of the stack.
The vet is coming tomorrow for the annual blessing of the goats, I mean, shots and a look-over. So he'll get a chance to check Elsa out and post facto confirm my diagnosis as well as make any revisions to the course of treatment. The directions that I received for treatment weren't as solid or well explained as I might have liked, so having the vet out to talk to me is a real help.
* It's odd how the word "infection" sounds so much cleaner to me than "infestation." Infections are bacteria and protozoa. Infestations are multicell animals such as parasitic worms.