Loc: western Oregon
Saturday was a bittersweet day. I parted with two of my four llamas, Jane and her three year old daughter Lucy went to live with a new family of humans, goats, dogs, chickens and one other female llama. It will be a wonderful long term home for them. They've been with all those animals and more, so they should all get along fine after introductions.
About 3 & 1/2 years ago I purchased Jane and Babe as experienced pack llamas from a family that were forced to relocate for a new job. It looked like a terrific situation for us both, they found a good home for their llamas and I got the second and third female pack llamas I wanted. Plus, Jane was pregnant with a cria from a well respected pack stud. She gave birth to Lucy a beautiful cream colored delight on August 29, 2009. Unfortunately I didn't get much use out of Jane for several years as she was nursing Lucy. We did a few trips with her, but did she did not perform well. I attributed her poor performance to being a new mom and she wasn't as well conditioned as the other packers. Since then I've decided it was something worse. Babe fit right in with my other girl and they have been rock solid for me.
We started Lucy on day hikes off the property the summer she turned two. By then she had learned to stand still for her saddle and panniers and how to walk into the trailer. Good start, very encouraging. She always did well on the hikes showing me that she was intelligent, curious and attentive to her surroundings although she wanted to go slow and check out every new thing. On every day hike she showed more confidence than the last. I beamed with pride and excitement, the little cria I had been handling since the day she was born was growing into a willing and capable packer. Finally, this spring Lucy was old enough to start training and conditioning as a full grown pack llama. That's as good as it was going to get.
Shortly into her first conditioning hike this spring, on a familiar trail, Lucy began to balk at going forward and became agitated. Then she began to breath heavily and make weird bugling noises. We turned around went back to the trailer. I was a bit alarmed, but she calmed down and acted normal within 5-10 minutes. It was a hot day and I hadn't sheared them yet so I thought that probably had something to with it. Two days later I took them out again much earlier in the morning on a shady trail. This time Lucy started having breathing difficulties almost immediately after we started, and her condition continued for about 15 minutes after we stopped walking. My vet examined her and treated her for allergies, but after several weeks we walked again and she was just as bad. I was able to get the vets at the Oregon State University Veterinary Hospital to see Lucy and they scoped her throat and determined she has a collapsing trachea, most likely a congenital condition. Lucy was not ever going to be a pack llama, but she would probably do okay just hanging in the pasture. I was devastated and it had an impact on the few trips I took this summer. This summer I kept an eye on her and you would not know anything was wrong, she ran and romped abound the pastures.
I put Jane back in the string this summer and because she was well conditioned with no baby to worry over I expected good things. Jane did pretty well on the first and second days, but then she would begin to balk, breath hard and eventually kush even on flat trail. Knowing what I know about Lucy I decided that Jane must have the same or similar condition to a lesser degree. Jane was never going to be a pack llama again either.
I pay rent for pasture so keeping non-pack llamas is not really an option. As much as I did not want to I placed an ad in Craigslist, with full disclosure of course, to find Lucy and Jane a new home, together. It took several weeks to weed out the spam, cons and poor choices, but I did find a nice couple that needed a companion for their one remaining female llama and host of other critters. Saturday Jane and Lucy left and I am still feeling really weird, remorseful. I get very attached to my animals. There is also a special place in my heart for the man that sold Jane to me and told me about her problems only after I asked specifically about her behavior. What kind of person would breed an animal suspected of being unhealthy and then sell that animal without full disclosure? Wait, I know.
My two remaining girls look for their pasture mates during the day, but at feeding time they don't miss them so much. Soon I'll start looking soon for that elusive third pack llama. Today I'm going mushroom hunting.
That's too bad. It is amazing they sold you an "experienced" pack animal that had a congenital problem preventing it from packing. If you want to go that route it sounds like you have a good case in small claims court. You might want to write a letter requesting reimbursement for some of your expenses.
Loc: western Oregon
It is a sad situation. Proving Jane's condition and proving that the previous owner knew would be very difficult. I'm not going there. Anyway, I'm not out a ton of money. I've moved on, looking forward, no regrets, headed for the silver lining... Writing that piece about my experience helped clear my head and emotions and I found enough chanterelles today to fill a large shoe box. It has been a good day.