Five years ago this month, my life changed forever when two scraggly, long legged, camelids arrived at their new forever home: Scooby Doo and Shaggy Too, as they are now called. My former boss at the Berkshire Humane Society, John Perreault, jokingly asked if anyone wanted to adopt a pair of llamas that were coming to the shelter as a result of an abuse and neglect case. I raised my hand and said “I will”, and then called my husband, Mark, to asked him for a barn for Christmas. After explaining who would be coming home for the holidays, he said “sure”. Then I called my friends at American Fence to come and put up an additional 6 ft. high stockade enclosure around the new barn to make sure the new llamas would be safe and secure. I also did some research on the care of llamas and made arrangements for Berkshire Ambulatory Veterinarian Services to come and give them a check-up and the necessary inoculations they would need. Dr. Maître told me a year after that first visit, that she was not sure they would make it because they were so underweight and riddled with parasites.
A couple of weeks later on a bright crisp day the two arrived at their new home. They were unaccustomed to grass under their feet, since they had come from a pen with nothing but mud. Scooby Doo started to kick up his heels and run around his new backyard. Shaggy started to munch on the Forsythia bushes, and kept on munching till they were totally gone about 2 years later.
It may have taken a while for Scooby & Shaggy to get accustom to being cared for by Mark and I, but it only took us a few days to fall madly in love with these gentle creatures. They are so ethereal and give us a profound sense of tranquility when you are near them. One of our favorite time is spending an evening on the deck watching the llamas pronging (a type of prancing) about and snacking on Cheerios.
When I tell people I have pet llamas, one of the first thing they usually ask is “do they spit”. I proudly tell them, that llamas are a social animal and will usually spit when they don’t have another llama around. Our boys are a bonded pair and while they may spit at each other over who gets the best spot in the barn or the choicest hay they do not spit at us. Well, maybe Shaggy does when he gets his shots.
We discovered after a couple of years of caring for our llamas, that they would be happier with a purpose so we adopted a flock of chickens to give them something to protect. I can attest that Llamas are excellent guard animals. We live in the middle of a wetland area surrounded by mink, coyote, fox and other predators and nothing has made it into the barnyard to attack any of our pets thanks to these two 450 lbs. big brown giants.
I would be remise if I did not mention that having two full grown llamas can have its down moments too. Like when they escaped their yard and galloped off down Route 20, twice! The “Escapees” needed a police escort and other helpful neighbors to get the rascals home safety. But I wouldn’t trade a minute of the adventures these lovely creatures have given me. We are truly blessed with a happy ending.
Till next time, watch for animal signs wherever you may roam.
Karen Karlberg resides in Becket MA with her menagerie of rescued barnyard & domestic animals and her husband Mark. She is actively involved in conservation efforts as a citizen scientist, town official, and an accomplished artisan and nature photographer www.kattailphoto.com