We’ve had a tragedy unfold, I will keep it direct and straightforward. Friday June 30th we set out for our first overnight in the backcountry with Yukon, Huck and Pluto little did we know what we were about to endure. We had planned to hike up Johnson Creek to Medra Pass to camp for a night, a few miscalculations that we had were a lack of water sources for the goat’s (trip reports were misguiding), how hot and humid it would be, and how out of shape we were. The morning we left I noticed Yukon having a bit of attitude but didn’t think much of it since I woke him up earlier than normal. When we started out he was doing great on the hike, he had our kid pack on with 6 pounds in it, but shortly after when there was just a little climb he started having respiratory distress. We took a lot of short breaks but it got to a point where he nearly collapsed so we had to make the difficult decision to come down and camp at the bottom. We were worried but since he had always been the “slow poke” and first to pant we weren’t “red code” alarmed. Everyone was low-lined, offered water though no one drank, and they ate grass all night. We were pleasantly surprised with how well they did overnight, they didn’t make a peep! Once I got out of the tent I saw Yukon was laying with his back towards us looking dumpy so I took his temperature, which read at 105.8F. Alarming we discussed our options, packed up, and headed to the nearest mixed practice animal hospital. By the time we got there he looked worst. He was treated with Banamine, Nuflor, and one liter of fluids for dehydration and possible respiratory infection. The DVM that treated Yukon was familiar with pack goats and had stories of working with other peoples which brought comfort. Yukon was the only one showing symptoms at this point so the DVM and us thought it was isolated to him. Due to some abnormal lung fibrosis the Dr. said that Yukon wouldn’t likely make a solid pack goat, and suggested that it was due to parasitism in the womb. Huck had a more mild version and his future packing was/is to be questioned. Pluto however was perfect.
We drove over the pass to get them home and when we got them out of the truck something wasn’t right. Yukon’s urine was the color of dark beer and we had to pick him up once he laid down. Huck was also starting to get sluggish and dumpy. With Yukon being in such poor condition we packed him and Huck back into the truck and started our way to Pilchuck where nothing good happened. They were tubed and giving fluids with lytes mixed in, and we did CBC/Chemistry’s on them. Nothing popped out of the bloodwork and our experience with this DVM, and hospital was truly terrible. So we went home, and were at a loss with the banamine not controlling Yukon’s fever of 106.4F, so I called yet another ER vet who said I needed to get his temp down below 104F by giving banamine every 6 hours and cold hosing. At this point we were giving banamine IV, and cold hosing Yukon, Huck, and Kivuli in rotation overnight and through the next day barely being able to keep up as it would only take 30 minutes for their fever to spike up to 107F. Then Echo got ill too and we had 4 goats that had this mystery illness. The vet that I talked to on the phone came out the next day and was surprised that no one had passed away overnight. She did an examine on each and said that it was most likely viral since they had antibiotics on board and became ill. We took a swab, and some serum from Kivu and sent to UC Davis for a viral panel. We continued supportive therapy which lead to Kivu and Echo to getting better, Huck too, Yukon however was not. He would fall over, cross his front legs, had slow moving lips, didn’t do much, and just wasn’t himself. I hooked him up to IVF and gave him all I had through medical treatments and my heart. When he continued to not respond I went ahead and ran a CBC/Chem which showed that he was in renal failure. After reaching out to the 4th DVM who discussed with her colleagues that Yukon wouldn’t ever return to normal kidney function and if he survived would always need supportive care. I had to make that hard decision to let him rest forever. He was my goat and I was his chosen person. It was so hard to say good bye, so young, still had life behind his eyes. It crushed me and broke my heart, I felt defeated.
We chose to do a CBC and Chemistry on all 6 of my yearlings as a baseline/present values and discovered Huck, and Kivuli also had elevated renal values. Not nearly as high as Yukon’s we jumped into aggressive fluid therapy for Huck, and SQ fluids for Kivuli as her’s was as high. It’s not over yet as I write this, today is day 16 of fighting something I may never figure out. Huck and Kivu however are stable with a good prognosis thus far. By luck my two youngest, Kingsley and Rafiki have missed whatever this illness is so far, as well as two of my yearlings remaining un touched, being Pluto and Denali.
Viral Panel: Negative
In the big picture I lost a pack goat, maybe two if Huck’s lungs are in the condition that the DVM suspects, leaving just Pluto. Kingsley has yet to prove himself and Rafiki needs to get bigger to qualify. I’m grateful I have Yukon’s full sister incase I chose to breed, knowing of course that I’ll never get him back. Our goal of hiking the PCT isn’t gone but this is a major set back. This has lead us to be more motivated to follow through with our goal, in memory of Yukon and any others we may lose along the way.
We did get a few pictures before it got really bad.