The Real Time Canine II

After spending 2 years writing the Real Time Canine, the adventure continues with The Real Time Canine II. Read along as I look for just the right puppy to continue the experience. After false starts with Tim and Jed, I am currently training young Tam, and Spot, which are both off to a strong start. Please visit the RTC II to read about training sessions as they occur.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Security Detail

Head of Security
Until very recently I was extremely proud of the fact that I am as old as I am and could honestly boast that I knew absolutely nothing about llamas or donkeys...or mules for that matter. It's not easy to be around livestock for as many years as I have, and be able to make that claim. Quite an accomplishment, actually. As much as I would like to, I cannot include buffalo in my ignorance. I once had to load, then haul one. That's OK, nobody's perfect.

We will be receiving 800 head of sheep for the National Finals very soon, and unfortunately we had a breach in security the other day. Coyotes killed a practice sheep, and something had to be done. Enter Emma-Llama, sung liltingly as Emm-aaa-Llamm-aaa when I call her, which I do now twice daily, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Fist I had to retrieve her from her former post.

Bridget informed me that she had made arrangements for a Llama, and would I please pick her up. "A llama? But, I don't know anything about llamas. What if she won't load? What if she won't unload? Maybe you should send me with a huge syringe of acepromazine." That last sentence was spoken with much hope. Bridget just laughed and said there would be a guy there to help me. Great...a guy...I was reminded of a lesson I learned from Linda Greenlaw's great read; The Lobster Chronicles. "Volunteers are people who didn't understand the question."

Forrest clearly had the experience with llamas that I successfully avoided all these years. He spoke to her gently, and moved around her with calm detachment. I, on the other hand was jumpy, especially considering the huge dual talons that appear at the end of all 4 feet. She could kill me from any direction, and I've heard they spit when they're mad. "I'm your new best friend, Emma," I thought to myself. "At least until you're turned out," you great shaggy beast. She looks like something conjured by Dr. Seuss.

Forrest roped her, and she hated that. Then he snubbed her loosely to a post and haltered her. That seemed to calm her, and I began to relax. Wait a minute...she leads, then walked straight into the trailer. Go figure. I wondered briefly why anyone would halter-break a llama on purpose, and we were off! As an aside I'll note that she rode very nicely in the trailer and walked out purposefully, sniffing, head high, eyes wide under impossibly long lashes. Did Horton hear a Who?

In her incredibly disjointed fashion, she glided serenely down the alley towards her woolly charges. She looked at the sheep, made a nasally noise that I can almost emulate, some throaty clicking sounds that are lost to me, and then surprisingly plopped straight down to her neck in the ditch water. Apparently, it was bath time. Anyone for Green Eggs and Ham?

So, now I can add llama-wrangler to my resume, and I'm making a job of it. She goes out in the morning, and reluctantly comes in at night. On either end, I talk, I nasal, I cajole, I sing, I grain, and I try to get close and pet. Tricky that last, but at least I'm no longer fearful. She's quite gentle, actually, and we're beginning to "join up" as they say in the strange, but oddly popular land of horse whisperers. Oh the places we'll go!

Unless you are, or would like to become an unfriendly, you might want to think twice before calling me a llama whisperer. The finals will end at some point, I'll return to blissful camelid ignorance, I will lie, and I will vehemently deny that any of this ever happened.

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