A pygmy goat named Chauncey, described by his doting guardian Michael Patrick Welch as a “New Orleans icon”, has now been gone from this world for over six months … but will never be forgotten. In a moving feature for the UK Guardian earlier this week, Welch outlined the amazing life of his beloved companion, who set out for greener pastures on Feb. 20, 2015.
Chauncey was born on Rosedale Farms, New Orleans, in 2004. Shortly after his adoption by Welch and his wife Mizzy, Hurricane Katrina struck. He traversed the country in their car as they fled the destruction.
Welch said, “The whole month we remained locked out of New Orleans, Chauncey dictated our lives in Texas, where we found refuge. We ended up living for a month on a Houston goat farm after Chauncey urinated on my mother’s beloved mauve carpeting in Conroe, Texas, which led to an argument wherein she kicked us all out.”
On their return to New Orleans, the Welches became heavily involved in the music scene of their local area, the Ninth Ward. For years, Chauncey served as “the perfect mascot” for New Orleans’ annual NOizeFest, held in their backyard from 2002 until 2014.
As a result of his involvement in the festival, Chauncey met a number of leading lights in the music industry. Rapper Chuck D and his band played with him in the street after they had toured the Lower Ninth Ward. Punk rocker Jello Biafra stopped by the house “specifically because he’d heard the legend of Chauncey.” The writer Jonathan Ames had a soft spot for the goat while comedian Tony Clifton once “gleefully tussled with Chauncey for hours.”
He became a well-known figure in the area.
In 2007, Chauncey starred in music videos by The Morning 40 Federation and The White Bitch, and appeared in an episode of Pets 101 by television network Animal Planet. Chauncey’s segment in this episode ended with him leading a large group of his friends to the local jazz club, Vaughan’s Lounge, whose owners depended on him as a good-luck charm during New Orleans Saints game viewings. His story was also featured in publications such as the Times-Picayune.
After the birth of the Welches’ daughter Cleopatra in 2009, a young kelpie pup named Myschka joined the family … but soon became “overly familiar” with Chauncey, in Welch’s opinion! He said that she continually “exploited a weakness in the silver air conditioning tubes under our house and opened them up enough to interest Chauncey, who ate yards of the prickly installation. When they weren’t screwing up our house together, Myschka chased fat Chauncey around and around the yard, making him miserable.”
This photo shows the two friends in happier days.
The family then moved to a new home in Algiers, New Orleans, where Chauncey was very pleased to find himself “upgraded to a more than half-acre yard. … Mostly retired from society, Chauncey lived out his last days happier than we’d ever seen him.”
He is remembered fondly by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
Welch’s poignant last line in his tribute to Chauncey is: “Our family’s yard is bushier now, and the tangled ivy around our Algiers koi pond, once trimmed to the exact height of the goat who so changed our lives, had already begun growing back, filling in without fear of being consumed.”
All image source: The Guardian