The Paw Report, Episode 904 – Goat Yoga

[music playing]
Kelly: Sit back and relax, because on this edition of The Paw Report, we’re going to
do a little workout or at least watch one, and it’s extremely entertaining and rather
unique. Coming up, we’ll sit in on a goat yoga class,
and hear much more on some fun activities hosted by the Charleston Parks and Recreation
Department. So stay with us. [music playing] Katelyn: Fetchers Pet Supply on the north
side of the Charleston square. Serving the EIU community since 1991. Fetchers welcomes all pets on a leash. Is open seven days a week and offers made
in the USA food. Pets supplies for dogs, cats, reptiles, and
fish. Fetchers Pets Supply in Charleston. Rameen:
The Paw Report on WEIU is supported by Rural King, America’s farm and home store, livestock
feed, farm equipment, pet supplies and more. You can find your store and more information
regarding Rural King at Rob:
Dave’s Decorating Center is a proud supporter of the Paw Report on WEIU. Dave’s Decorating Center features the Mohawk
Smartstrand Silk Forever Clean carpet. Dave’s Decorating Center, authorized Mohawk
color center in Charleston. Kelly: Thanks for joining us and I’m telling
you we have an exciting Paw Report edition today. I’m your host, Kelly Goodwin, and I have two
special guests joining us today. We are joined by Megan Henness with the Charleston
Park and Rec Department, and we have Linda Ross, who is a physical therapist. Now you may say, wait a minute, what are you
doing an episode with a Park and Rec person and a physical therapist? Well, they’re going to tell you because the
Park and Rec Department in Charleston has started an exciting class this summer. That’s when we’re recording, and that’s what
we’re here to talk about today, goat yoga. So everybody laugh. That’s right. It’s a fun one. So Megan and Linda, thank you so much for
joining us. Megan: Yeah, thanks for having us. Linda: Thank you. Kelly: Again, goat yoga, so Linda, we’re going
to get to you, because you’re the expert. I’m going to start with Megan though first. You’re part of the Charleston Park and Rec
Department. You’ve got a big job on your plate this summer,
and all year long. Why don’t you tell us about you and your position
at the park? Megan: Yeah, my name is Megan Henness. I grew up in Windsor, Illinois, and I attended
Eastern Illinois University, graduating in 2015. I have to think about it for just a sec. And with that I studied recreation administration. I was fortunate enough to work in a park district
up north, and came back down to this area with my husband who works out at Sarah Bush. So we’re excited to be back in the area, and
I’ve had the pleasure of starting at the Charleston Parks and Rec Department with the City of
Charleston, which is really exciting, and just hit the ground running, and loving what
I do. I supervise day camp, afterschool club, TaeKwonDo,
an affiliate dog club, Thai, more classes with kids involved, preschool classes, all
that kind of stuff. And then, goat yoga. Kelly: What don’t you do is what I’m about
ready to ask. Megan: Yeah, a little bit of everything, managing,
swim lessons, all that kind of fun stuff. So it’s kind of fun to do something different
every day in my job. Kelly: So yeah, and as your job as Rec Director
at Charleston Parks, you have to come up with a lot of different activities, plan a lot
of different things, not just for kids but for the community. So is that a big part of your job? You have to be creative with a lot of things
and that’s kind of going to launch us into our main topic today. Megan: Yeah, yeah, for sure. So yeah, a lot of my job is being creative,
staying on trends with what’s going on in the area, and in the industry of Parks and
Rec, and kind of being on the fly, and thinking of what can I do that’s out of the box that’s
going to get people’s attention? Maybe that’s a mom/son date night, maybe that’s
a family dance, maybe that’s goat yoga, maybe it’s a trip that we take to Nashville, or
something like that? So just kind of thinking out of the box, and
always being creative, and staying on the trends is important. Kelly: Speaking of trends, in doing your research
on different activities that you could bring to the community, you came across goat yoga. I want to know how this idea began, what you
thought about it, how you approached city officials about, “Hey, let’s start a class
like this.” And then we can bring Linda into the discussion,
because she’s a very important part of this project. Megan: Yeah, it wouldn’t be possible for sure. Yeah, so goat yoga kind of … I mean, it’s
something that’s been going on and being done in multiple states all across the United States,
it’s a trend. I recently opened up a Park and Rec magazine
to find a goat yoga article, that it’s a top trending activity in Parks and Rec, which
is really cool. But how did I stumble upon it? So obviously you stay in trends. You think, “Okay, is that going to work in
Charleston, though? Are people going to want to sign up for that
class?” I got to talking with one of my coworkers
who’d just been on vacation, and she had started talking about goats. She’d been to a goat farm. She got some goat products, and she’s like,
“You should do goat yoga. Have you ever heard of goat yoga?” And she showed me a video and I was like,
“That looks really cool. Do you think … what do you think? Do you think we could do that?” And she’s like, “Yeah, you should try it.” And so I was like, “Okay.” So I started to think and I thought, “Oh,
who do I know that has goats? And where am I going to … how’s this going
to work?” And so I got connected with Rachel from Harvest
Moon Farms. She’s works for the PTA with the Carl Sandburg
School. And so I see her a lot since I’m in after
school club, and I learned that she had goats. And so you just kind of file that. You’re like, “Okay, this is a goat person.” And I’m like, “How am I going to find a yoga
person, that’s going to be willing to take this on? This is totally crazy. Who’s going to want to do this?” And I got connected through my husband through
Sarah Bush. Linda works out there as a physical therapist,
as well. And so it was able to kind of merge those
together. And it went to my director, Brian Jones and
I said, “Hey, what do you think about this?” And he’s like, “Maybe that might-
Kelly: Gives you the look like, “Oh, really Megan?” Megan: Yeah, and then he was like, “I think
this might be something. This could potentially be a cool thing.” And I was like, “Well, I hope people sign
up. What’s the harm in just putting it out there?” So next was finding a place, and I think Linda
and I both probably wanted … anyone that was involved wanted it to be a relaxing kind
of environment for the participants, and the goat, something natural, so it would work
for everyone in all experience levels. So we stumbled upon, obviously a perfect,
picturesque place, Lincoln Log Cabin. We found this nice little place that’s underneath
some shade, and kind of has some trees that are around. It kind of almost makes a pen, in a sense. And we set up our pen there, and do Lincoln
Log goat yoga with the Charleston Parks and Rec. So that’s kind of how it all came about. And I liked calling people and asking them
questions about it. I called anywhere … I called Chicago, somebody
in Chicago, just to learn about it, because it’s all about researching what the program
is about, and how you can best serve. Because, you think about goats with horns. What are you going to do with the goats with
a horn? And they’re … you try to … yeah, these
goats don’t have horns, but you would wrap them in pool noodles. So you have to think of all aspects. And what do you do about cleanups? And what do you do about goats if they jump
on you, and all those kinds of things? So you want to explore all avenues of a program,
whenever you’re thinking of starting something new. I also called a place in Texas, and that was
doing goat yoga, and just kind of asked them some questions. I wanted to make sure that we were setting
us up for success within the program, and making sure that it was a good fit for us. And so then we just kind of put it in the
guide and launched it, and put it on Facebook, and it just took off for us. Kelly: And away you went. Megan: Yeah, it just kind of worked. Kelly: Well you called Linda, and I’m sure
Linda picked up the phone and was like, “Huh?” Megan: Yeah, you get a few laughs sometimes. People were like, “What? Goat yoga?” Kelly: Linda, what did you think? You’re a yoga instructor. Linda: Well, I was primed for this opportunity,
because after talking to her husband at work, he mentioned that Megan was going to be doing
some goat yoga. And I said, well I would love to teach a goat
yoga class. And I was very pleased to have the opportunity
to be the goat yoga instructor. Kelly: You are so energized. I mean, what do you go through as an instructor
and I guess is it any differently when you throw the little four legged friends in the
arena with you? Linda: Well, it’s a very pleasant distraction
which can’t help bring a smile to everyone’s face. And yoga just in itself has so many benefits. I’ve been a physical therapist for over 20
years and became a certified yoga instructor two years ago, because it was just such a
natural shoe in for PT and yoga to go together. But there’s so many yoga benefits, like building
strength and flexibility, and improving your posture, improving your core strength, releasing
all those feel good hormones like dopamine and serotonin, building a positive body image. But then you throw the goats into the mix,
and you can’t help but be happy and energized, and in a good mood. If someone is feeling depressed or anxious,
a goat will definitely take that away. Kelly: On the day that we filmed and I had
the pleasure of coming out and capturing some pictures, there was a little kid there, not
kid kid, but a little kid, days old running around the pen, and the people were just smiling,
and laughing, and having a fabulous time. So as you said, it is soothing. I want for the both of you to take us to the
class, and share with us, start to finish how it goes, who is welcome, what you have
to bring. That the first yoga class that I had ever
attended, and obviously it was a little bit different, but for those out there watching,
thinking … and as you said, people were kind of like, “Do you think anybody would
take this class?” I can tell you, they do take this class because
at the class I attended it was packed with people. Megan: Yeah, for sure. So in order to register for any type of goat
yoga class, you want to sign up either online or in person with a Charleston Park and Rec
Office on 520 Jackson. It’s open from 9:00 to 5:00, Monday through
Friday. So you sign up, and then once you’re signed
up, you arrive at Lincoln Log Cabin for hopefully … as long as there’s no rain involved, you
arrive there at Lincoln Log Cabin for your goat yoga experience. and it’s really fun watching people roll up. Sometimes cars will get there super, super
early, because they’re waiting. They’re anxiously awaiting the goats. They like to watch the goats come into the
pen. Everyone kind of lines up and you check them
off the list, and they come in, and they’re just instantly filled with happiness. Kelly: They are. Megan: Yeah. It just releases. They’re like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to
touch one,” and like, “Oh they’re so cute.” And it’s just really fun to see that interaction
with people, and they’re kind of building that moment up for them. And then they come in and they kind of set
their beach towel down, or their mat. You don’t have to have a certified yoga mat
to do it. You can have a beach towel. You want to bring some water. Always bring your cell phone so you can take
pictures for Instagram, right? Kelly: That’s right. Megan: And so then they start the class. We allow a 15 minute greeting time is what
we call it, greeting with the goats, where you can take pictures, and pet them and get
your stuff all settled up, as people are filing in and getting all situated. And then we start the 45 minutes of instruction
with the yoga and the goats. And the class is just a real … it’s peaceful
even if you’re not participating. Kelly: It is. Megan: It is therapeutic just to be involved. We have some yoga helpers as I call them,
goat yoga helpers that walk around with cups of feed and animal crackers, which fun fact,
goats like to snack on animal crackers, who would’ve thought, right? So you mix it with a little bit of their feed,
and it makes for a nice trail mix for the goats, and have some cups out for people want
to feed them, and kind of get that closer experience. If they don’t want to do that, then that’s
fine. You’re not required to. These goats aren’t pygmy goats, which sometimes
if you Google I guess, or YouTube goat yoga, you would see a pygmy goat, which is like
a little goat that’s going to just hop all over you and kind of be a little rambunctious. These goats are friendly and loving and kind
of calming in a sense. So they kind of add to the element of where
we’re at and the whole yoga experience. We have helpers that go around and kind of
shoe the goats, because they are pack animals. So they do kind of like to hurt animals, I
guess. They do like to congregate in a corner of
the pen, sometimes. You do have to get them to move a little bit. So that’s kind of my role. And then my favorite part of the class is
when I pick up one of the tiniest goats, and some people really want a goat on their back. It’s something I learned. I was like, “What? You want a goat on your back?” And so Linda perfectly times the yoga poses,
and so that we can make that experience happen, and go around each person with the tiniest
goat, and I say, “Would you like a goat on your back?” And because usually 99% of people will be
like, “Yes, absolutely, please.” And then they’re having their friends take
their picture, and they’re cuddling with them, and sometimes a goat will give a little nibble
on a girl’s hair. And they’ll just chill there, like they were
like just meant to rest on backs. It’s pretty cute. Kelly: Did you two coordinate. I mean, did you get together and meet, and
maybe practice, or talk about the class prior to launching the first one, I guess so that
you could be familiar with- Linda: We did have one trial run. It was a cold, wet day. So we had a trial run at the Charleston Fairgrounds
under a covered building for a trial run. Kelly: How did that go? Linda: And it was a big success. Kelly: The classes have been a big success. Talk about how many people have been in the
class, and do you have everyone from the novice to the experienced that come out? And is there any age requirements to be a
part of this? Linda: Well, there’s room for 25 people in
each class, and so far each class has been sold out. Kelly: Oh my goodness. Linda: So the age requirement was 14 or above,
and anyone can come to the class. A lot of people that have been coming to the
classes have never done yoga before, but they were intrigued because of the goat yoga. So no experience is necessary. I walk them through a basic series of beginner/intermediate
yoga poses, which can be modified to their abilities. And with goat yoga, I try to do more poses
where we’re more earthbound and on the ground, so people can interact more with the goats. Because if you’re in tabletop, and bird dog,
and they can reach out and pet the little baby goat, and they just love that. And with goats, they really don’t have any
personal space, not like a dog where a dog needs to warm up to an owner. The goats are just curious and they will crawl
under you, around you, nibble, and they’re just a lovable animal that is just so curious
and friendly. And then the cute sounds that they make, you
can’t help but fall in love with their cute sounds. Kelly: You just seem to love it, and I can’t
imagine … probably some instructors might think that they might be a little bit of a
burden, as opposed to being something that’s warm and comforting. You love it. Linda: I love it. Kelly: I mean, you just are-
Linda: They’re a little distracting, but it’s a good distraction. Some people may just have to take a break
just to hold the little goat on their lap for a while before getting back in to join
us with the next pose. Kelly: Mm-hmm. Now you mentioned, Megan, the class that I
filmed, we did take it to the Coles County Fairgrounds. So sometimes you do take the class on the
road to some different locations, and that seem to work out really good too. Megan: Mm-hmm, yeah, and those situations
usually happen whenever weather is related to making the ground too soft, goats can get
… I learned through Rachel … she’s taught me a lot about goats from animal crackers,
to the fact that you don’t want their hooves to be really wet. They can get some kind of illness. I think they can get like an infection almost
on their hooves. There’s a specific name of it, but of course
I don’t know that off the top of my head, but they can kind of get something that would
cause some damage to them, and these are prized goats. These are goats that I think Rachel’s family
from Harvest Moon Farms, they take a lot of really good care of. They take pride in their goats. They show the goats, and they bottle feed
the goats, which I think adds an extra element of why they’re so friendly. So they just kind of love them like you would
your dog or your cat at home, for anybody else that has those types of pets at home. But yeah, we have been fortunate enough with
Rachel’s partnership with the Coles County Fairgrounds that we are able to move them
to another location that we can still … we aren’t disappointing anybody, which is … I
would hate to do that. So that we can move it inside a covered shelter,
and it works perfect because their show rings, so it’s the perfect size for the size of people
that we need in the class, and there’s gates already set up. It’s sometimes a little bit of an easier set
up when you take it to the fairgrounds. But we like both places and it’s really nice
to see that the community has embraced it and their support from Lincoln Log to the
Coles County Fairgrounds. That’s really important to any program’s success. Kelly: I’d like to hear from both of you,
given at the time that we’re recording our interview today, you’ve had two classes, correct,
two sessions? Linda: Correct, mm-hmm. Kelly: Memories, most memorable, things that
have made you laugh, whether it was with the participant, or a goat or just a memorable
story that when people ask you about this class, this is one thing that you’d like to
share. Linda, I’ll start with you. I know I put you on the spot, but …
Linda: The most memorable was our last session when a little five-day-old baby goat, Black
Betty, joined us. And she was still just getting her legs. So she was trying to keep up with the big
goats, but would go down on her haunches at some point, and was just stealing the show. Everybody had to hold black Betty, and everybody
wanted to be close to Black Betty. Kelly: To make them feel good. Megan? Megan: Yeah, I would definitely say that Black
Betty making her grand appearance, the last session, was definitely one to remember for
sure. But we’ve had some participants that have
come from a really long way to participate in our class, which I think is kind of cool. So on our upcoming session, I know that we
have … our upcoming session, we have somebody who’s coming … visiting family friends,
and then they’re just like, “I might as well do this while I’m in town.” And we’ve had somebody who was given a gift
for Mother’s Day, a goat yoga class. Kelly: Oh, that’s excellent. Megan: Yeah, and they came from two hours
away from down near St. Louis, which I thought, “Well that’s really awesome.” So she was really looking forward to the class. We’ve had an international student from India
who participated in our trial class who was like, “This is so cool.” They use goats in their culture in a different
way. So it was a different experience for him,
and I thought that was really neat. And just seeing … there was a couple, there’s
a young girl that came right on the edge of maybe 10 or 12 she came, and she was holding
a goat, and she was just peaceful, and calm as can be. And just seeing people’s smiles whether they
are 18 or 64, it’s for everybody, and having them all just be happy when they leave. No one’s left with a sour face. They’ve all been like, “This was so fun. I’m going to come again.” Kelly: I think Linda, that makes you happy,
too. Linda: It does. Kelly: I mean, as the instructor of the class
and kind of leading everyone, I’d have to say that what Megan just said, the smiles,
the happiness. I think you leave saying I had a successful
class when that happens. Linda: Absolutely. And I’m so looking forward to teaching more
goat yoga classes, and possibly in other communities. I just need to hook up with the goat owners
and I can make it happen. Kelly: Now, you’re talking about, because
of the popularity of this class, and everything that the two of you have done that this might
not be just a four class stint, that this is something that your boss, who was a little
leery at first thinking if this would happen, came back to you and said, “Are you going
to do more goat yogas this winter?” Is that true? Megan: Yeah, yeah. Kelly: And this may be something you continue. Megan: Yeah. It might be something if we could … it’s
all about lining up those right puzzle pieces, but for the wintertime, because you’d have
to bring the goats inside, so that adds a whole another element of planning, I guess
you could say. But yeah, we plan on continuing to bring this
to the community, for as many times as they want, as far as I’m concerned. You know, we could continue to run it every
summer and fall season, that would work. We have plans to run it next … in 2020. So hopefully that it will still have that
same good appeal to everybody as they register, and they’re excited for it. So we hope to continue with that. Kelly: Well, let’s give the Parks Department
another little plug, since this is a pet show. Megan: Yeah. Kelly: The Parks Department does some other
things to attract the pet lovers in all of us. Other things, other activities that the department
does that incorporates our four-legged friends? Megan: Yeah, I think everyone’s a little bit
happier when you have some four-legged friends involved, whether they’re big or small and
including adults to kids. They love them all, right? Kelly: That’s right. Megan: So everybody loves animals. So one new program that we started last April
around Easter time was our Dog Easter Egg Hunt, which was really cool. Kelly: Oh boy. Megan: So again, like all good ideas, they’re
usually stolen from somebody else, and then transported into your community for Parks
and Rec. So I’d heard about it from another agency
and thought, “Wow, this would be really fun. I wonder if we could do this right after the
kids?” And it took off. I mean there was over 50 dogs and owners registered
for the the Dog Easter Egg Hunt, which was really fun. And that was a difficult concept to explain
if you’ve never heard of it, right? Kelly: Mm-hmm, yeah. Megan: What does that even look like? Kelly: Yeah, how do you even do it? Megan: Yeah, so we had a lot of community
sponsors from Fetchers, to deBuhr’s feed and seed, Rural King, which was really awesome
that they helped us furnish treats inside of Easter eggs. So obviously it would be really cute if a
dog picked up in Easter egg and put it in a basket, but not … it didn’t always happen
that way. So a lot of it is the owners picking them
up, and putting them in the basket. But do two different weight classes, because
for dogs you don’t want a little Chihuahua next to a Great Dane, or something like that. So dividing them up into those two classes
and starting two different Easter egg hunts, and then having them go out to the field,
and pick up the Easter egg hunts. And then there was golden eggs that had little
prizes in them. Maybe it was an extra treat bag, or something
that was donated from the sponsor, maybe a Frisbee or a ball. So that was kind of cool. So that was something new, and it was just
the same kind of element with the goat yoga, people just left like, “This was so cool. Are you going to do this again?” Megan: So hopefully we’ll continue to bring
that to the community as well in 2020 for April. So yeah, we’re excited for that. And we also do … I supervise an affiliate
dog group, Charleston Area Dog Club. That’s under the Parks and Rec Department. So they have dog training classes that are
held at the … where the old Putt-N-Swing, I guess used to be, for some folks that know
where that is. Kelly: Mm-hmm, sure. Megan: They’re by the Charleston Rotary Pool,
right there, I think that’s off 18th Street. Kelly: Mm-hmm, it sure is. Megan: And so we have dog training classes
there. We have agility classes, puppy kindergarten,
Canine Good Citizen. They have some dog therapy training courses
if your dog was interested in … an owner was interested in doing that. We have those in the winter, and in the fall,
and in the summer. So they’re all season. They have different sessions so you can find
out more information on those online, or in our Park and Rec guidebook. We’ve also done some different animal things
with our summer camps, our Spring Break Camp, and also our afterschool clubs. So being partnered with a dog club has its
benefits from time to time. So we’ve often brought the therapy dogs in
to meet the kids, and teach them about dog safety, and caring for a pet, and things about
the summer that you should know about animals, so they can be good pet owners someday too. In addition to Spring Break Service Camp and
also day camp, we have a Service Week where the kids go out into the community, and we
teach them a little bit about volunteerism, and what that means. And it can be fun, and you can do stuff, but
you can also have a good time doing it, right? And so we take them to the Coles County Animal
Shelter, which is really fun, and they pet the cats. You have four of them go in each room with
the cats. There’s the teenagers, and then there’s the
adults. They don’t get to touch the kittens, which
there all thoroughly- Kelly: That’s what they want. Megan: … disappointed in that, but you can
look at them through the window and see them all the same. And they’re like, “Oh, I want to take one
home.” And so I always apologize to the parents that
day. “I’m really sorry for all that, Mommy, can
I have a kitty,” that they’re going to get. Kelly: That’s right, that’s right. Megan: But that’s good for the cats. It’s good for the kids that the cats get used
to being around kids, and they get that attention and that love because Coles County Animal
Shelter, sometimes it takes a lot of energy to give cats that are in a shelter all the
attention that they need, but it’s a small service that a kid can do. So, and then also the summer for day camp,
we took our children to the Paradise Horse Equestrian Therapy Center here in Charleston,
which was really eyeopening for me. I’d never been there before. I’d heard a lot of great things about it. But our day campers, it’s so magical, I guess
to watch a horse, such a large animal have a calming effect over such a tiny human. They would brush the ponies hair, and it was
just some of those kids that are kind of an anxious and rambunctious, they’re just totally
calm and chill, and they really enjoyed … everybody enjoyed riding the horses, and grooming them,
and learning about saddle care, and going on a hay ride. So all that stuff is all centered around animals
for us. So we like animals at the Charleston Parks
and Rec. Kelly: You do. You’ve made a huge investment to our four-legged
friends. Megan: Yeah, for sure, for sure. Kelly: Wonderful stuff that you’re doing for
the Charleston Park and Rec Department. Your plate is full, but it’s very appreciated,
I know. Megan: Yeah, well thank you, I appreciate
that. Kelly: Well we appreciate the both of you
being on The Paw Report today to talk about, well I guess we could say it was the goat
report today, and sharing all about the goat yoga class at the Charleston Park and Rec
Department. So Megan and Linda, thank you for being our
special guest today. We look forward to more classes in the future
and fun stuff going on at Charleston Park and Rec. Megan: Yeah. Thank you so much for having us. Linda: Thank you. Kelly: You are welcome, and thank you for
joining us for this episode of the Paw Report. Until next time, I’m your host, Kelly Goodwin. Rob:
Dave’s Decorating Center is a proud supporter of the Paw Report on WEIU. Dave’s Decorating Center features the Mohawk
Smartstrand Silk Forever Clean carpet. Dave’s Decorating Center, authorized Mohawk
color center in Charleston. Rameen:
The Paw Report on WEIU is supported by Rural King, America’s farm and home store, livestock
feed, farm equipment, pet supplies and more. You can find your store and more information
regarding Rural King at Katelyn: Fetchers Pet Supply on the north
side of the Charleston square. Serving the EIU community since 1991. Fetchers welcomes all pets on a leash. Is open seven days a week and offers made
in the USA food. Pets supplies for dogs, cats, reptiles, and
fish. Fetchers Pets Supply in Charleston. Rameen: Additional support for The Paw Report
on WEIU, is brought to you by viewers like you. Thank you. [music playing]