Dalai the llama came to us in 2016. He was just a year old. A family south of town raised llamas on their farm. The male llamas are very territorial and will kill another male. Since they had a dominate male they needed to find a home for this young feller. The Trails was still young and we were adding animals,so my husband and son went with me to trailer him. We thought it would be a simple task, but it was crazy. He did not respond to feed at all. Llamas are very agile and can maneuver amazingly. We would just about get him to the trailer and we would just zoom right past us. We finally built a runway and were able to get him confined to a specific area. When we got him to the entrance of the trailer, he tried to go under it. My husband just got ahold of him and pushed him on in. It was crazy.
My husband named him Dalai after a buddhist priest well known for peace named Dalai Llama. Dalai seems to be a girl name, so it just totally confuses me when I make reference to him. It is the first animal that my husband named, so we let it stick.
Dalai stayed in a pen for about 6 weeks while we let him get used to us as we fed and would talk to him. After that, we let him out in the paddock so that he could move more freely. I wanted to get a hold of him and halter him. I’ve never had a llama before, so I was not sure how he would react and I was very nervous. He would put his head into a feed cup and let you pet him on the cheek while he was eating, but that was the closest that he would let you get.
I didn’t have time to work with him every day, so we turned him into the Trail area. He stayed there for about six months. At that time, he had gathered hundreds of cockleburs in his hair. I had to do something……. I tried pulling the burrs out, but he just went crazy. I had to gentle him down more and gain his trust before we could do anymore. We got him in to a small pen and I cornered him and grabbed a hold of his neck. I still wasn’t sure what he would do. He got away from me and started circling the pen again. We had a small building in the pen for shelter. He finally went into the shelter. It was not very tall, so I was able to get ahold of him without him rearing up. If he didn’t rear then he couldn’t strike me with his feet. I didn’t know what llama’s do……… Once I had the halter on him, I led him out into the open pen. He reared and tried to run from me, but he did not strike at me.
Llama’s are known to be watch dogs and to kill predators with the strike of their feet. With this knowledge, I knew that he could hurt me.
However, he did not. With the halter on, he would stand still while I removed one burr after the other until they were all removed.
We released him into the paddock and from time to time, I would hatler him and pet him down. Summer came and he looked sooooo hot that we felt he needed a haircut. soooo…..once again, I cornered him, haltered him and myself and a friend began to cut his hair. He got totally bored with us, so he decided to sit down. It was so cute. While he was a lot cooler, he looked terrible! We did not have enough money to buy shears, so it would have to do for the time!!!!
Llama’s are known for spitting. While Dalai used this skill frequently on the other animals when it was feeding time, he never has used it on me. I have, however, got caught in the fire of it. One time my husband was at the Trails and I wanted to show him how Dalai spits, so I was standing by the cow as I fed. I didn’t move fast enough and he got me right in the face. IT WAS THE WORST SMELLING STUFF! I smelt it for days in my nose!!!!!!
In 2017, we had to get Dalai gelded. I do not understand anything about animal behavior, but he would chase the cow, the pigs, and even the miniature horses around biting on thing and jumping on top of them. He even chased the cow to the point that she jumped the fence. One time, Dalai jumped on the cow and she got her head under him and threw him several yards. There is never a dull moment!!!!!
When we took Dalai to the vet, we just ran him into the trailer. While I can halter him, he still doesn’t lead. Once at the vet, it took pulling and pushing to get him to the place that the doctor would do the surgery. Once the sedative had taken effect, he lay quietly. It was so sad to see him lying there. Sometimes, the things that help us the most, are the hardest!!!!! It didn’t take long and we were on our way home. We kept Dalai penned for several days to keep an eye his condition. He faired well and completed another chapter of his story.
Another of Dalai’s interesting stories was when a sheep shearer came to shear the sheep. After our trimming of Dalai’s hair looked so bad, we decided to let a professional shear him this time. I wondered how the loud noise of the shearers would affect him. Having worked with him before, I felt more confident in haltering and holding him. The noise of the shears really freaked him out, so I had to hold him against the fence. The shearer had never sheared a llama before so it was an experience for everyone. Upon finishing, it did not look much better than our job, but it was done and he would be cool for the summer.
We continue working with Dalai to lead and are hopeful to get him trained so he can go to events with us. It’s all part of his new life at New Life Trails.