Remembering Joey

Joey enjoying the pasture

Joey enjoying pasture time at Farm Sanctuary.

This month we said goodbye to Joey, a goat who had called our New York Shelter home since 2007. If you ever visited the shelter, you probably remember Joey. He was usually one of the first members of his herd to approach guests, and he loved attention.

Joey joined the shelter family when he was just six months old. He was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn with a slaughter tag from Texas in his ear, likely having escaped from one of the city’s live markets. These storefront slaughterhouses are notorious for keeping animals in unsafe and terrifying conditions before slaughtering them onsite. Luckily, Joey escaped and found a home where he could be loved without reservation.

It took a while, however, for Joey to warm up to us. It’s likely that Joey witnessed the slaughter of other animals, perhaps even family members, before his escape. When he arrived at sanctuary, he was terrified of everyone. We had to place him  in a special pen with high walls, so he would not jump out. Even when he finally joined a herd of goats, he was so frightened that, on his first day, he scrambled over a fence and wedged himself behind a fuel tank. Thankfully, he was unharmed. It took about six months for Joey to finally realize that he was among friends and truly safe.

That realization transformed Joey. Eventually, he felt so at ease here that when he napped, he really checked out. He was notorious for snoring and groaning as he enjoyed a deep doze. Every time we welcomed a new shelter staffer, intern, or tour guide, we would inevitably get a worried call over the radio about a goat who was “down and making weird sounds.” It was just Joey at peak relaxation.

Joey goat

Joey, with his friendly, outgoing personality, was a special favorite of many Farm Sanctuary visitors.

When he was still young, Joey lived with a group of female goats and became utterly smitten with a doe named Cocoa Bean, who was several years his senior (staff joked that he was into older women). The two slept by each other’s sides every night. Even when this group was integrated with the sheep flock, which was also home to several goats closer to Joey’s age, Joey remained devoted to Cocoa Bean, staying by her side even as old age slowed her down.

In his prime, Joey was huge, one of the biggest goats on the shelter, but he was also gentle. When he first joined the sheep flock, the group was led by Dino, a much smaller goat. We’d placed Dino with the sheep because he was not quite strong enough to contend with the hardier goats in the main herd. Among goats, hierarchy is typically determined through contests of strength, and if Joey had wanted to oust Dino, he could have. But Joey never once made a move on the position, even when Dino was further weakened by geriatric health troubles. Only when Dino passed away did Joey take over the lead. Though he had never felt compelled to fight for leadership, Joey stepped into the role adeptly and became an excellent leader to the herd. When the sheep were on the move, you could count on finding Joey out in front.

From a youth spent snuggling with his sweetheart to maturity as head of the heard, Joey experienced the full arc of life at sanctuary before arriving to old age. As Joey aged, he developed a spinal cord condition that caused ataxia, and his hind limbs gave out when he attempted to rise or walk. The condition gradually worsened, and we even attempted to outfit him with a special cart/wheelchair designed for goats. He was no longer able to run at the front of the herd; he had to follow, ever so slowly, behind. Just as he had once supported Cocoa Bean when her pace slowed, Joey now received support from his friend Clarabell. She stayed by his side on the way to pasture in the morning and back to the barn at night, even though it meant a very long, slow journey each way.

Clarabell and Joey

Joey, front, with his devoted friend Clarabell.

Joey met his changing condition with equanimity, and through the help of the cart and other interventions, we were able to keep him comfortable and happy for over a year after his first symptoms emerged. Ultimately, however, Joey’s condition became more severe and spread to the brain, leaving him unable to rise and, on his last day, unaware of his surroundings. Recognizing that we could no longer provide a good quality of life for Joey, we made the difficult decision to say goodbye and helped him pass peacefully through euthanasia.

Remembering Joey, we think of those funny noises he made in his sleep. In a way, they were the sounds of sanctuary: total trust, utter peace, sweet surrender to the pleasure of being alive and safe. Joey loved his home, was good to his friends, and looked out for his herd. Life for him was straightforward, simple, and kind, and he too was all of those things. He will be deeply missed.

Joey goat

Joey on a brisk winter day at sanctuary.

35 thoughts on “Remembering Joey

    • What a wonderful tribute to Joey. He has a beautiful face. I am so happy that he was able to have a good life. Thank you Farm Sanctuary

    • Amen to that. Joey was a sweet soul. Thank you for the heartfelt tribute to a loving soul. It sounds like he was very special, and gentle. May he be reunited with Cocoa Bean in Heaven. God Bless both of them, and God rest their souls. Also may God Bless Clara Bell, for being such a dear sweet friend to Joey. May God Bless All of the animals, and all of the people who take care of them, and who help them forget their painful past. R.I.P. Joey.

  1. This was very beautiful and educational at the same time…Thanks to this blog about the life of a goat named Joey, I was able to open my heart and my mind even more about how animals of every kind, have personalities, history and the ability to show depth. Rest well goat-friend.

  2. I am so glad that Joey escaped and became a deeply loved and happy part of your family. What a gentle, sweet soul he was. Your words and loving descriptions touch my heart. Thank you for taking the time and being a sanctuary for this sweet boy and all his friends. He will be waiting at the Rainbow Bridge.

  3. This is for Joey we’ve never meet but reading about you make me feel I have, in life it’s not so much how you start It’s. The road you travel And how it end ‘ if it end with being with people who love you and help you Throw , it that what important
    And them being there for you in the end holding you as you go to the next part of Your life this would got a little darker and the rainbow bridge just get brighter color

  4. Thank you for posting a touching story that reach million hearts, we all felt sad for the lost, but happy for Joey who had been so lucky to be rescued for the taste of love that farm sanctuary has given him during his life journey.
    Thank you president Gene Baur as well as the staffs have done a mazing work to heal Joey’s terrified experience before he came to farm sanctuary. Thanks for educating inhumane societies across the world with Joey’s story and bring hope to this brutal world to heal those whose were broken hearts and souls due to animal exploitation.

  5. How blessed Joey was to be adopted and healed at the Sanctuary. What a gift to give, to no longer need to fear, to be loved and safe, and with friends of all kinds. And how sad to say goodbye to one so special. I am sure that Joey gave back in many ways. Thank you for what you do….love, safety, kindness, healing. We are all God’s creatures and you shall surely be rewarded.

  6. I wish I could have met Joey. What a wonderful life he had at The Sanctuary. Thank you for loving him. He surely knew how lucky he was. His spirit lives on. RIP JOEY

  7. Thank you so very much for sharing Joey’s story. We also rescued a goat who was injured and confiscated and by a high-kill animal shelter near Los Angeles. Her name is Priscilla and she lives a wonderful life now. She had befriended Sophia a farm pig there in the enclosure next to her who we rescued, and we could not leave Priscilla behind, but had to wait a few months until the confiscation went through legally.
    While I was crying about Joey and his horrendous beginning and his bravery, one of our unadoptable special needs small dogs ran up to comfort me. Spencer is a small minpin/boston terrier gang member dog who bites people if he does not know them, he is so fearful, but he has become happier over the years.
    Happy Holidays,
    Pamela VanCortlandt
    PS We will be visiting your Acton location again soon to enjoy the cows and pigs.

  8. Death is not the end, but only the beginning. As the Maker created this world, us and the animals, Joey is now with the Maker. Those who loved him will see him again, for eternity. Do not be sad for Joey. The sadness is for us who have lost a loving animal.

  9. The story of Joey the goat is so very touching. Thank you for caring for these animal friends and giving them the care and peace they surely deserve. While reading and reflecting on the number of wonderful qualities Joey possessed, makes me wish more and more that humans could be much more like their animal counterparts.

  10. I have often thought of rescuing a goat or 2 and hope to soon. I have 2 elderly hens that would have gone to auction and my 5 cats and 3 horses. But OH I do love the sweet personalities on the goats and sheep. All animals deserve a gentle and kind hand. Thank you Farm Sanctuary for your efforts and the inspiration your organization is.

  11. All animals deserve such a life as Joey and all the animals have at Farm Sanctuary. Thank you for all you do!!! I always have a wish to be able to have an sanctuary like yours…..I want to save all the animals. They are dealt such a horrible hand in life with the way people treat and disrespect them. I believe they are not here for any human purpose except friendship. They all deserve to live in peace and with only love and compassion towards them. Animals are wonderful beings and the human race in general is very inferior to them. I love animals more than anything and I say a lot how I would rather live in a world full of animals only. Thank you again!

  12. All I have to do, if I feel the world is growing cold, is to go onto an animal protection site such as yours, and see the words and feelings of your wonderful community of people across the world, who are dedicated to the rescue and support of the innocents among us, the precious animals who can only survive and prosper with our help.
    My heart and blessings go out to all of you, you are a group of God’s angels, and I give thanks for you, for your help with Joey the goat, and for your help with all the innocents that you continue to protect. God bless you.

  13. I don’t understand how these storefront slaughterhouses can exist in the New York City area. Is’t there a law preventing this? And if not, N.Y. Legislatures should put a stop to this barbaric situation. So sad to know this is going on in the boroughs.

  14. thank you for offering Joey and others a compassionate and nurturing life in your shelters. i am touched by all you do and am proud to be a supporter.

  15. Thank you so much for taking such good care of Joey and making his life worth living. RIP sweet Joey!

  16. Look into his eyes. They are the eyes of a seer. The eyes of a very wise old man. I’m glad God put your organization in his path. How many lives he has enriched with his presence. God Bless.

  17. What a wonderful life Joey had after he was rescued by Farm Sanctuary. It makes me feel so grateful to the people who have been chosen, I think by God, to take care of his creatures. Thank you for all you do.
    Susan Rose

  18. I am grateful that Joey knew love, Thank you Farm Sanctuary for Joey’s beautiful story.

  19. Visited this summer. Special place. Joey is over the Rainbow Bridge playing with all the special animals!

  20. Thank you, Farm Sanctuary, for allowing Joey to be all he was meant to be. Rest peacefully, Joey. You will be missed.

  21. What a beautiful memoriam of Joey. I am so thankful and grateful for what you all do at Farm Sanctuary and Joey’s life epitomizes that. RIP Joey.