Sebastian is a nine-year-old Nigerian Dwarf goat who was born in 2011. Sebastian and his companion, Arya were intended to be used for a backyard dairy operation but when the owner had to move and couldn’t take the two goats with her, she contacted Luvin Arms to provide them with a forever home. Sebastian and Arya have been with us here at Luvin Arms since November 1st of 2015. Along with them being one of the first duos at the sanctuary, they’re also our oldest goat residents out of our four goats even though they’re the smallest.
On an average day, you can find Sebastian and Arya snuggled up, playing, or exploring new things together. They have such a beautiful, loving, and playful friendship and relationship. When one of them is feeling nervous or scared, the other will be right there to provide love and support to the other. When one of them is cold, the other is right there to warm the other up. When one of them is feeling feisty and playful, the other will be right there to have some fun with. Even when one of them is annoyed with the other, they will let each other know. They pretty much do everything together, but they also allow each other to have their own space and time away from each other. They understand that in order to have a healthy and thriving relationship, they need to have a balance between togetherness and individuality. Their relationship is also a great demonstration to lighten up and to have fun with your partner and friends. They have been together for a long time and have a lot of wisdom to share with us.
Goats are extremely playful, curious, fun loving, and are incredible climbers. We recently had a goat playground built for our goat residents and they couldn’t be more curious and excited about it. When our residents are first introduced to new things, it can sometimes take them a while to feel comfortable before they really explore it. This was the case with our amazing goat playground. It wasn’t until the second or third week that it was up that our goat residents started to really explore and play on it. Today, you can find them hanging out on the tippy top, running up and down the ramps, and jumping on and off the swing. They even play king of the mountain, which is one of their favorite activities. On most days you can find Sebastian and Arya sharing a meal up at the top of the playground.
When Sebastian first arrived at Luvin Arms, he was four years old and was extremely shy, reserved, nervous, and was afraid to come near people. Not only was he afraid of other people, but he was also scared of Alfie, who was the other goat resident they were living with. It is very common for our residents to feel a little nervous, cautious, and timid when they first arrive at the sanctuary. Moving to a new home can be really scary, especially if they have been abused, neglected, or have experienced any kind of trauma. It usually takes everyone a little time to get comfortable with their new living space as well as their new surroundings. The time it takes our residents to feel safe, comfortable, and confident depends on the individual. Sebastian’s fear of people, loud noises, and Alfie was more than moving nervousness. Just like humans have different personalities with their own fears, anxieties, and challenges, so do animals. Some people are more shy than others, while others are more outgoing when they meet new people or try new things – and the same goes for animals. What is easy for one resident may be an extreme challenge for another and vice versa.
Sebastian was four years old when he came to Luvin Arms, and over the past five years, but especially over the past year he has really come out of his shell. Watching Sebastian grow and gain more confidence in himself has been such an amazing thing to see. I remember meeting Sebastian for the first time on a connect tour and noticing that he was very shy and didn’t really want to interact with anyone. In fact, if you tried to go up to him or move closer to him, he would nervously run away. His companion, Arya, has always been very social, and I thought that since she was social and outgoing that he would be, too. At the time, I didn’t realize or understand that animals too, can struggle with personal confidence. It’s easy to think that one day, they will overcome their shyness and just all of a sudden become confident. Although that does happen with some residents, this wasn’t the case for Sebastian. After our fourth goat resident, Xander arrived at the sanctuary in 2018, Sebastian was now the smallest out of the three male goats. The fact that he was the smallest out of the three didn’t help his confidence levels and he remained shy, nervous, and reserved.
It truly wasn’t until the end of last year/ the beginning of this year that he has stepped into himself and has gained a mind-blowing amount of confidence.
Our enrichment program has really helped him gain more confidence in himself and has really helped him blossom into the outgoing man he is today. Just like humans sometimes need outside assistance such as classes, tools, and resources in order to overcome fears, work through difficulties, and help step into themselves more, so do some of our residents. Our enrichment program does just that. Along with providing our residents with physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual stimulation, it also helps our residents feel more confident, connected, and in tune with themselves.
Sebastian started doing clicker play in May of this year with Hannah, who is one of our caregivers here at the sanctuary. Instead of starting off with target touching, Hannah wanted to work on gaining his trust and building a closer relationship between them. The first handful of sessions involved letting Sebastian come to her, letting her touch him, and having him stay still and calm. Once he felt comfortable with Hannah, they then moved on to target touching and figure eights through the cones. Today, Sebastian is currently working on “wait”, “up” on the stump, and “off” from the stump. He is also working on “In” the tire center and he’s learned red when it’s just red and yellow as options, but he’s still practicing choosing red when there’s more colors. Sebastian’s confidence levels skyrocketed within the first few months of doing clicker play and continue to go up as he steps more and more into himself.
Today, there is a noticeable difference between the shy and reserved Sebastian we once knew and the confident, outgoing Sebastian he is today. You can see it in the way he walks, the way he interacts and plays with Alfie and Xander, the way he comes up to you for love and affection, and the way he carries himself. He is truly glowing, and you can see it every time you look at him. Our residents are with us at the sanctuary for their whole lives, and throughout the years they will grow, change, and evolve just like humans do. Their likes and dislikes may change, their personalities may shift, and their wants and needs may also change. Along with providing them with the absolute best care and life possible, we also wholeheartedly support them on their own personal journeys of self-discovery and transformation, wherever that may lead.
“He could tell by the way animals walked that they were keeping time to some kind of music. Maybe it was the song in their own hearts that they walked to.”