Life with llamas brings a lot of unexpected adventures into your life...
by Sandy Stillwell (Pearson Pond Webmaster)
Have you ever had one of those moments when you suddenly became aware of how some small inconsequential decision you have made, or so you though at the time, had a ripple effect that you never dreamed possible? I experienced one of those moments today while we were visiting a convalescent home with our llama, Charlie. . I stopped to think of all the decisions that were made that led up to me standing with this rather large hairy animal with an attentive audience of nursing home residents.
12 years ago Jerry and I made the decision to purchase 2 llamas because, at the time, it sounded like the logical thing to do. We needed some type of animal to help maintain our pasture area, so we did research to figure out which animal would be best for us. Maybe a couple cows ... nah, too dumb and stinky. How about a horse? Nope, forget that. They were way too big and scared me. Then there were always goats or sheep, but I had a mental picture of being butted when my back was turned and I had seen how much work a friend had, constantly cleaning manure out of his barn. That most definitely didn't appeal to me!
When we ran across an ad for some llamas, I wasn't even sure what they were. However, after some basic education, I learned that they are an intelligent pasture animal that was easy on the ground, weighed much less than a horse (so I wouldn't be injured if stepped on), and they used a communal dung pile, so the odds were that we would not be shoveling manure out of a barn. SOLD!!! That sounded easy, clean, neat with minimal time involved. WRONG!
Well, they were all those things and a whole lot more than what we bargained for. Next thing we knew we had 3 llamas, oops! now it was 5 ... oh wait! a few more came along and we had 7! We reached "our" magical number at 7. That was just enough for us to be able to give the quality attention and time to each individual llama.
Along with the llamas came a whole new circle of friends. Now mind you, this is from a woman's point of view. In case nobody noticed, we have our own unique approach to new adventures! When women get pregnant, they go out and find other pregnant women to help understand and share that experience. After our first human child is born, we develop friendships with other women who have children to help us figure out what to do with them. Women are actually hunters and gatherers. That is: we hunt down and gather instruction manuals in the form of other experienced women.
People keep asking us how we trained Charlie to become a therapy llama ... well, the flat out truth is we didn't, Charlie trained us. It is the same principle of having kids that play soccer, they need us to buy their outfits, pay their fees, drive them to practice and pick them up, and sit on the sidelines cheering. Our role in helping Charlie was learning that we needed to open the door to let him walk around the house so he could get used to walking on different floor textures, in and out of rooms, and get around in tight spaces. He needs us to keep track of his appointments, drive him to his destination, open doors and push buttons for the elevator. When we return home he needs us to be there to tell him "Job well done"!
As for reflecting, the spiraling effects of that first decision to get a "pasture ornament" ... from that single decision has come our involvement in 2 television programs, Animal Planet and Amazing Animals in Tokyo, Japan; writing columns for llama magazines, developing web sites about llamas, meeting wonderful people all over the country, seeing the happy faces of the elderly when they are visited by Charlie, and having strange conversations at every opportunity to share our passion. It has been one wonderful adventure, and if this is something you have thought about doing, go for it! And if you are already experiencing doing therapy work with your llamas, take a moment to think about that single decision that brought you here.
We welcome visitors by appointment , call or write
Jack and Tracy Pearson:
Pearson Pond Ranch & Llama Co.
242 Llama Lane (Charles Lane), #6017
Ellijay, GA 30540
Phone: (706) 276-3658
Fax: (706) 276-3680