Editor’s Note: Baby Girl, the pygmy goat featured here, died Friday morning after struggling with some health issues. However, her owners, Barney and Becky Mincey, asked if we would go ahead and run the story we had written for publication in today’s Mount Airy News, which tells her story. That article appears here, as written prior to her death.
She may not be the pet one would normally expect to see riding in the front seat of a car, walking down Main Street, or with her own Facebook page, but Baby Girl thinks she is human — not a goat.
Born as the runt of triplet pygmy goats, Baby Girl has been a miracle survivor since she was young.
“We owned her mom,” said Barney Mincey, who with his wife, Becky, are Baby Girl’s “parents.” “(Baby Girl) was born April 4. She was a runt and about the size of a model horse. We had no idea if she’d make it.”
At 28 days old, Mincey and his wife found Baby Girl lying face down crying and her older sister, who was pregnant, was hitting her with her horns.
A trip to the veterinarian in Hillsville, Va., because the office in Mount Airy was booked up, found her systems shutting down. “They said for us not to get our hopes up,” said Becky.
When the Minceys talked to the vet later that night, they learned Baby Girl was doing much better. “We started bottle-feeding her, and she never knew she was a goat since,” said Becky.
“She thought Becky was her mama,” said Barney with a laugh. He told the story of a trip to Pilot Mountain, and when Becky left them to go to the restroom, Baby Girl cried “Mama, Mama.”
“I would go to feed the horses and tell her I’d be right back, and she’d say ‘no, no,’” he said.
Baby Girl, known on Facebook as BG Mincey, is house-potty trained just like a dog would be, and the Minceys taught her to mind her manners using a spray bottle of water. “A little boy at a rodeo who was 3 told us he was potty-trained, too, after we told his sister about Baby Girl being potty-trained,” said Barney.
She frequents Main Street in downtown Mount Airy, where she’s the center of attention, as well as the outdoor eating space at local restaurants like Arby’s, Mile High Burger in Hillsville, and Fancy Gap Deli near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“She likes the attention, and seeing the little kids smile,” said Becky of Baby Girl’s trips to town. But, Barney said, she doesn’t like being smothered with hugs, just being petted and looked at.
And it isn’t hard to spot Baby Girl as she is always dressed fashionably complete with bows on her horns that match her outfits.
“I heard one little boy tell his mom, ‘She’s the prettiest goat in the whole world,’” Becky said.
Baby Girl’s favorite snack is vanilla wafers, according to her “parents,” but she also likes potato chips, kettle corn and peanut butter cookies.
This has been a rough week for Baby Girl, though. She became sick at the beginning of the week, and the vets thought she had meningeal worms, which come from deer, since there were some in the yard of the beach house the Minceys stayed at during a recent trip to Emerald Isle. But after more research, Baby Girl ended up in surgery Tuesday because vets think her feed grain may have made her sick.
But while things were looking gloomy early on, the Minceys are happy to recall all the joy Baby Girl has brought into their lives.
“It is so much easier than taking care of a dog, ” said Becky of having a pet goat. “Pygmy goats are great pets. I never knew they were affectionate and have their own personalities, they are trainable and easier to clean up after.”
Barney said one of Baby Girl’s favorite places to visit is running up and down the wall at the intersection of North Main and Virginia streets near the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
“I’ve had lots of people ask if she swallows dynamite,” said Becky, referring to the episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” in which a billy goat named Jimmy apparently eats a stick of dynamite. “We said, ‘No, but she’s Jimmy’s great-great-great-great-granddaughter,’ and they’d say, ‘Really?’ And I’d say no, not really.”
On a recent trip to Emerald Isle, Baby Girl, wearing a life jacket, went boogie boarding and loved playing in the water, the Minceys said.
“She got noticed by the Emerald Isle NC Community Facebook page,” Becky said, noting there is a picture of Baby Girl on the site.
“She loves to socialize, and she has horn bows for all her matching outfits,” she said. “She’s all about being fashionable.”
In addition to outfits traditionally designed for dogs, Baby Girl wears children’s T-shirts — one reads “I love Mayberry,” and another says, “Don’t Mess with the Kid.”
“The paparazzi are always after her,” said Becky, adding that people are always wanting to have their picture taken with her and posting them on Facebook. “They take her pictures everywhere we go.”
Barney said Baby Girl’s fur is much softer than one would think, and Becky said that may be because she isn’t out in the elements like other goats are.
“She’s so affectionate. Her favorite position is snuggling with her nose in my neck like you are burping a baby,” Becky said.
One wouldn’t know the Minceys are new to the goat world. They got their first one, Elwood, a buck, in December 2011. Then they bought some females who were already pregnant, and that’s where Baby Girl came from.
“We are going to try to breed them once they’re big enough,” Barney said of the kids they’ve had.
They have six goats now, including Baby Girl, at Appy Daze Ranch in Lowgap, where they call home.
As for Baby Girl, who goes out and visits the other goats but always returns home with Becky and Barney, “she’s just such a sweet little thing,” said Becky.
Wendy Byerly Wood is the associate editor of The Mount Airy News. She can be reached at email@example.com or at 719-1923.