Meet Gareth (the one holding the baby goat, not the goat itself you understand). Well, perhaps I should say Phil. Phil, aka Gareth, has the same affliction as my better half. He's got a name for Brits to call him a name for Greeks to call him. Since Greeks can't seem to get their tongues around "Gareth" he's reverted to his first given name since moving out here. After all, Philippos is even a Greek name, so they can handle that much better. Anyway, his initials are thus PGA, so I'm often tempted to call him "Golf Tour", but think better of it. He's a brick, though, as is his wife Vicky. Probably something to do with the fact they they hail from "God's own country", South Wales, where we'd lived as close neighbours without even knowing it for a couple of decades. Funny old world, eh?
Anyway, to the "Goat" Story. Gareth's got a dog, Cara, who the keen-sighted reader will have spotted at the bottom of the picture, just behind her owner. Cara's a big dog and she's the kind of colour that you expect to find in your mug when you order a Cafe Mocha in Starbuck's. Gareth calls her his "Velcro dog" because she's stuck to him most of the time. She'll bark at you when you visit, not because she's going to bite or anything, but simply because she wants to make sure you know she's there. Hug Gareth (which I only do in a manly sort of way of course) and she'll bark again, this time to say, "Oi! He's my owner, go get your own!" Anyway, I digress (I never normally do that of course; well, sometimes when I'm... oops off again), ...to the story:
Gareth took Cara out for a walk the other day. Not far from the house he saw a herd of goats crossing the river gully, which (usually) only runs with a few inches of water at this time of year, becoming bone-dry during the summer months. Nothing unusual about that, no. But not long afterwards, while placing an errant puppy back over his friend's fence where it would enjoy a significantly higher degree of safety from various dangers - including those heinous poisoners, he felt a nudge on the back of his leg.
Turning around and expecting to see Cara expressing her jealousy, he was surprised to see that it was in fact a baby goat. Now, we all love the fact that the hills and groves are fairly brimming with baby goats during the winter months here, but to get close to one is a near impossibility, since virtually all goats will run away if you approach to within a few yards of them, their offspring in hot pursuit. Yet here was this kid brushing up against Gareth's legs in a way that said, "I rather like you!" Somewhat mystified, he tried to shoo it back towards the herd, but it resolutely refused to leave his side. Stepping it out as he walked away back towards home, calling Cara to coma along, he thought he'd leave it in his wake and that it would soon decide to trot back to the now receding herd.
No luck. Eventually its intention to stay with him led him to pluck the poor mite up and take him home, to be greeted by Vicky with a comment something like:
"I only let you out to walk the dog for five minutes and you come back with a GOAT!" Whereupon Gareth tried to explain that it wasn't his fault, "He (or she) just took a shine to me!" he said in defence, "What was I suppose to do?"
The mystery as to why this infant had attached itself to him was soon explained. Behind their house is an olive grove and Gareth spotted the goatherd, who knows him quite well, strolling along among the trees to catch up with the herd. Hailing him, he showed the man the confused baby, and the goatherd, heaving a sigh of relief, answered:
"Ah, there he is. His mother up and died and so we've been bottle-feeding him. When he saw you he just thought, 'Human - LUNCH!!' You can keep him if you want to look after him." Gareth, ever ready with a witty (if slightly dark in this case) response, replied: "The only kind of goat I can use is the kind that I can put in my freezer!!"
When I caught sight of the photo on Gareth's "desktop" on his PC, I just had to know the story. Having heard it I didn't need much of an excuse to share it with the rest of the world, since the photo's irresistible, isn't it.