The dog and I were out for a backroads ramble during a family visit in Georgia when we ran across the goat. 

I heard him before I saw him, though his cry was pitifully small for a big billy. I suppose he was tired: at some point he had stuck his head through the hog wire fence of his pasture, and couldn’t get it back.

This is an occupational hazard for goats hemmed in by hog wire: the 4-5 inch rectangles are large enough for a curious goat to push its head through, but too small to allow those splayed-out horns back inside.

I learned this as a boy when my father fenced in a mostly wooded lot behind our house and populated it with goats. Our billy goat (who was ingeniously named “Billy”) thought the grass in a neighboring pasture was much tastier than our fare. Many days, when I got off the school bus, I’d hear him bleating from the back of the pasture, and it was my job to go and rescue him. 

Working an ornery goat’s head back through the hog wire often entailed skinned knuckles, and I was glad when we finally turned Billy into barbeque. 

So, when the dog and I saw the goat, I couldn’t just let him stand there crying. We tramped through some poison oak to where the rambunctious billy stood pinned with his feet two or three rungs from the ground. I tied the dog to a signpost, then gingerly worked the goat’s horns back through the fence. 

Once free, he shook his head for a moment to get his bearings, then gamboled off to join the nannies, free at last.

All of us, at times, find ourselves in tight spots that could be physical, but are more often financial, emotional, relational, or spiritual. 

Those times remind us how much we need other people in our lives: a helping hand, a compassionate ear, or an encouraging word can often be the difference between staying stuck and moving forward. 

We get by with a little help from our friends. 


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