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P.E.I. family documenting life with dwarf goats

Poppet the goat takes an inquisitive look at the camera while her owner Devon Saila hands out some treats to the rest of her small herd.
Poppet the goat takes an inquisitive look at the camera while her owner Devon Saila hands out some treats to the rest of her small herd. - Colin MacLean

ST. CHRYSOSTOME, P.E.I. — Daisy greeted me as I walked into the Saila family’s St. Chrysostome home. She was wearing a blue dress with a bow clipped in her hair.

I’ve been wanting to write about Daisy and her family for a while now as I’m something of a fan following their exploits around P.E.I. on social media.

They’re goats, you see.

Nigerian dwarf goats who live in their owner’s house, are dressed in an array of clothes and regularly make leashed outings around Summerside where they visit with the locals.

Compelling stuff.

I caught up with Daisy’s owner, Devon Saila, to talk about her unconventional roommates.

Devon, her father Ron and I settled into their living room to chat. Daisy stood beside me the whole time, occasionally bleating softly and once leaning down to nibble gently on my pant leg.

Devon had a second goat, Poppet, on her lap as we spoke. Like Daisy, Poppet was wearing a dress, bow and even had a string of pearls around her neck.

At only four months old, Poppet was the size of a small-breed dog, while Daisy, at one-and-a-half, was about the size of a smallish golden retriever.

“As cute as this looks it’s a lot of work,” remarked Devon.

Originally from Ontario, Devon and her son had been spending their summers on P.E.I. for many years until moving here full time three years ago. Her retired parents, Ron and Lynne Saila, came with them.

“We were fed up with Ontario,” remarked Ron. They bought a home with land overlooking the Northumberland Strait. The main house is on Route 11, but there is also a small cottage located on their beachfront property.

During the summer, Devon, her son, dogs and the goats live at the cottage. The goats are more free-range there, happily finding interesting things to munch along the shore.

Devon has dubbed her little herd the Beach Goats, and she has social media pages documenting their antics and travels.

She had always wanted goats and when they moved to P.E.I. she saw her opportunity, so she contacted a breeder of Nigerian dwarfs in Nova Scotia.

Her herd has since grown to seven animals of the same breed. Most of them, especially the males, live in their pen and enclosure, but Daisy and Poppet spend much of their time in the house.

Daisy is housebroken and Poppet is small enough that she can use diapers. The clothes, which were made for dogs, help keep the diapers on.

Devon often takes Daisy to see local school classes or into the pet stores which usually allow dogs. It’s often fun to see people’s reactions, she said.

“A lot of times there’s a big double-take,” she laughed.

“It’s not like walking your dog through town, people are just so amazed and so happy to see them.”

They are surprisingly intelligent animals and each have big personalities. Given their dwarf size they are manageable as quasihouse pets, though they are still a lot of work and not something that would be for everyone, she said.

I asked her why she goes through the effort. She reached down a gave Poppet’s tiny head a little scratch. During our conversation, the baby goat had fallen asleep on her owner’s lap.

“It’s cuddles, it’s love — I love animals,” she said with a smile.

My interview with the Beach Goats lasted almost an hour before it was time to head back to the office.

I gave Daisy’s head a scratch before leaving and she gave my leg one last inquisitive sniff.

As I drove away, I thought about something Ron said during our chat.

“I think the biggest thing about the goats is that they cause happiness, bottom line.”

I smiled all the way back to Summerside.

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