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A few weeks ago, we noticed a lump on Allis’ leg. At that time, she had recently been on a walk outdoors, where she met other goats whom she fought with, so we figured it the lump might just be a bruise from another goat’s horn. It didn’t take long before the lump grew sideways, and by the speed it was growing, I knew it was not a bruise but a living organism that had to be taken care within short. Aslan had one when he was a year old, which also grew at an alarming rate, and so I knew the drill.

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The operation was carried out the last Saturday, and here is a warning to anyone who might not want to be visually present during a goat operation in Niger (warts and all):

Head immediately to the last picture of this post, which holds a happy ending.

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I have watched Madougou operate before and he is the most superior vet I know. He holds a PhD and doesn’t even work in the field anymore, except to treat our animals. Together with Salisu, who works at the lab, they constitute the perfect team (unfortunately, Salisu was out of country this month).

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Having never held down a goat before, I put myself around Allis just as I would with a dog, so as to be able to release all pressure when not needed, and yet have a firm grip during those moments when it would really matter.

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Madougou did not waste any time but went right to shaving, cleaning, cutting, pulling out the intruder, cleaning some more, and then allowing Anette and myself to have a closer look.

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Here it is: the cause of Allis’ lump. Don’t ask me what it actually is, because I’m not good with these sort of details. Madougou told me its clinical name (in French) but I didn’t put it on memory. What I did retain from our conversation is that it’s a live organism, a parasite that came in through the digestion system (an egg in the hay) and then spread to the leg. Had it been left unattended, the parasite would have expanded and headed to other places of the body, eventually causing our little goat to die from malnutrition (as the parasites would take it all). It was obviously growing at an alarming rate and needed to be taken.

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Once the wound was cleaned out, Madougou stitched it up with two stitches. This was the only time that Allis cried, but the pain was over in a minute.

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As soon as it was stitched, the wound was covered with an antibiotic cooling spray which we call the Aluspray (as in aluminum-coated spray). We used to have a purple predecessor, but it burnt immensely, whereas the Aluspray covers and dries up immediately, thereby protects the wound against dirt and flies without causing any pain. I love it!

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By the time it was all over (about fifteen minutes after we started), Allis was exhausted and just lay there without saying a thing. A few more minutes, and she would have fallen asleep. Madougou gave her glowing reviews for being such a good girl throughout the whole ordeal. Having heard her mother bawl on vaccination day, I did not expect such calmness from a Nigerien goat, but the little black-coated princess of Ishtar’s Ark surprised us!

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After the operation, she got lots of cuddles and treats (kulikulis – local peanut balls that the Isthar’s Ark critters adore) and got to rejoin the rest of the goat flock. Her mother Esmeralda actually cried more than Allis during the ordeal, but as Madougou put it, Esmeralda seemed more concerned that Allis might be served something really good in her mother’s absence. Lol, and there I was thinking Esmeralda was afraid that her daughter was being slaughtered, but then again, our goats have no visuals of such things and only know humans as trustworthy tree-protecting individuals. Or almost.