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The Goats are Back!

Issaquah Highlands goats

The goats return to Issaquah Highlands at Vista Park from June 19-24. They will return to the community on July 10 to perform work at South Pond and the Magnolia/Marquette open space.

Don’t feed the goats.
Treat the working dogs like other service dogs – Get permission before approaching.
Treat electric fencing with respect – It’s shocking.

The Healing Hooves herd is returning to Issaquah Highlands in 2019. Border collie, Nessie, will be on hand to help with herding as they move from site to site. Gigi, the livestock guardian dog (LGD), will be undercover behind the electric netting, alert to any threats to “her” goats.

If you are new to the Highlands natural approach to vegetation management, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

First of all, don’t feed the goats. It is a violation of Issaquah Highlands rules to dump anything into the natural areas behind and between houses, but it can be downright dangerous for the goats. The same common ornamental plants that are toxic to humans are also bad for the goats. These include rhododendron, azaleas and foxglove. And besides, the goats have work to do, browsing on thistles, weeds, grasses and encroaching shrubs to reduce fire danger and maintain the natural areas. So – don’t feed the goats!

Second, remember to treat the working dogs, Nessie and Gigi, like any other service dogs. Only the shepherd can give you and the dog permission to approach each other. Also treat the electric netting defining the goats work area with respect. It has enough kick to get your attention. The goats have enough sense to avoid it; so should you, your children and your pets.

While you enjoy watching peacefully grazing goats on the slopes of the Highlands, you can imagine you are experiencing herds of ruminants on the African veldt (grasslands). Just like their wild counterparts, the Boer/Kiko cross goats are accustomed to heat or drizzles without shelter. Boer goats were imported to the U.S. from South Africa, and were bred to thrive on the open veldt. The Kiko breed came from New Zealand in the 1980s, descended from feral goats and selected for their hardiness and athleticism.

Livestock guardian dogs, or LGDs for short, are ancient breeds that have always lived in the same conditions as their herds or flocks, on duty 24/7. But if it gets really hot, you might see Gigi jump into the water trough to cool off, something no self-respecting goat would ever do!

We hope you enjoy having the goats in the Highlands, working to maintain the quality of your landscape with this natural alternative to noisy gas-powered weed eaters. If you have any questions, you can always ask the shepherd, Craig Madsen, in person near the big blue truck he calls home while on the road, or by phone/text at 509-990-7132.

The Healing Hooves goats are important members of the landscape maintenance crew, as well as entertaining visitors! They are our Living Green way to reduce weeds and fire danger in our open spaces.