Whatever floats your goat: Navy's mascots get pampered

Two goats walk into a dog-wash. This is no joke.

On Sunday morning, before Bark ‘N’ Bean in Annapolis officially opened for the day, Navy mascot Bill the Goat 37 looked at his twin brother, Bill 36, as if to say, “We goat this.”

This was the third annual washing of the goats— a ritual to prepare for their appearance at the Army-Navy matchup on Saturday— though each year Bill 36 and 37 are just as sheepishly nervous as the first.

After being herded into the lobby of the Bark ‘N’ Bean dogwash, Bill 36 let out what one might mistake for a spill of the store’s coffee beans. Owner Theresa Mutlu swept the mess up, telling the Naval Academy student handlers it was not a problem, a small price to pay to be part of the tradition, and to help beat Army.

Bill 37 is the dominant of the 3-year-old purebred white angora goat brothers, according to academy spokeswoman Jenny Erickson.

“If we can get 37 to go somewhere, 36 will usually follow,” Erickson said. “They always want to be in sight of each other.”

Watching his brother be shampooed and rinsed by midshipmen seniors David Portner and Rich Elmore, Bill 37 had an accident of his own.

“Oh oh, he’s going Navy!” announced the Bills’ handler (who is unnamed to protect the goats from Army thieves) as she mopped up the spill.

She and sophomore midshipman Jessica Urban calm Bill 37 down with whole peanuts and peppermint candy treats, while the midshipman who isn’t wrangling Bill 36 by the horns does the same.

“This is a lot for them. They’re prey animals, so they think everyone who is around wants to eat them at social events like this and games,” she explained.

Portner, who has been dubbed captain of Team Bill, says while wrangling the Bills for the yearly bath is difficult, the goats are great to work with. He, Elmore and Urban, take the Bills to every Navy football home game and escorted them to a children’s burn camp in September.

“Goats are like dogs. They have personalities. It’s a lot of fun to see how the interact with people. One likes kids, one doesn’t,” Portner said.

“It’s like the dirtiest dog you’ll ever pet,” Erickson added.

While the twin goats look virtually the same, Team Bill can tell them apart. Bill 37 has shorter horns and three ear notches, while 36 has longer horns and no ear notches.

After about an hour, the washing of the goats was a success. No blow-drying though. After the first year’s attempt resulted in a mess of shed goat-hair, Elmore says they’ll never try it again.

After saying Baaa-bye to Bark ‘N’ Bean, the Bills headed back to their top secret home, where they’ll get a little dirtier until Saturday’s game.

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