Richard Kirschman, llama

Today's wonderful post comes via Richard Kirschman of Point Reyes, 
      Richard modestly wishes to be known only as a llama llover.


Here's a story I wrote that you might enjoy. It's about our llama  

I've never been on the receiving end of an animal's resentment before,  
and I can assure you it's quite disconcerting. I hesitate to attribute  
human emotions to animals, but there seems no other way to explain our  
llama's change in attitude directly following a recent incident.

Quentin is a 17 year-old gelding who has been with me and my wife,  
Doris, since he was 2. Originally, we bought him to protect our small  
herd of sheep and goats. Except for a short period of confinement  
following a mountain lion attack many years ago, all our animals have  
enjoyed unrestricted access to our acreage of forest and lush  
meadowland. We liked to think of them living free in a huge salad.

A few years ago, we stopped breeding sheep and goats, and eventually  
all our animals died of old age. Not counting the deer that regularly  
graze alongside Quentin, our llama was now all alone. Every morning we  
found him somewhere on the property and gave him his daily medicine  
hidden in a banana, along with other treats. In the evening he found  
us for his ration of alfalfa pellets. Overall, things seemed fine. But  
two veterinarians and Quentin's breeder counseled against keeping a  
herd animal alone. "It's cruel," they all agreed. "He needs companions."

And so we bought two adorable 4-week-old lambs for Quentin. We knew  
that he was fond of young animals, as evidenced by an old photograph  
of him with one of our goats, Juanita. As a kid, she used to ride on  
Quentin's back and he would carry her under oak trees so she could  
reach the leaves. A pair of baby lambs seemed a perfect idea.

Not to Quentin.

No sooner did our llama hear the plaintive baaing of the two barely  
weaned lambs than he bolted for the open gate to our property,  
something he has never done before. If Doris hadn't reached the gate  
and closed it in time, Quentin would have been passing traffic on the  
highway and speeding toward the national park.

 From that moment on, he wouldn't look at us or eat from our hands. He  
ignored our calls, backed away from his beloved back scratches and  
slept in the woods, far away from his usual bed near the house. When  
we tried to approach him, he bared his teeth, flared his nostrils and  
made a mournful, pitiful cry of distress. In Quentin's eyes, my wife  
and I had become chopped liver.

We could only guess that bringing other animals into the family had so  
upset him, he had no desire to associate with those who had betrayed  
him. It felt like anger. Not the spitting and kicking kind of physical  
anger, but the emotional kind.

After 48 hours, we returned the lambs to their likely destiny as lamb  
chops and began the slow process of regaining Quentin's trust and  
confidence. Time - in this case eight days - heals even llama pain.