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Communicating with Llamas

The ultimate point in including animals as part of our family is to interact with them as individuals. Watching llamas can be enjoyable, and can yield valuable information and hypotheses, but we desire more than a different species to act as goldfish-in-a-bowl. We desire to communicate.

We communicate with llamas on many different levels. We observe their body language and use it ourselves to some extent. They observe our body language, and in some cases, llamas can and do adopt facets of human body language. We listen to their sounds. They listen to ours and, with structured education to get them started, learn the meanings and memorize the sounds of a surprising number of words.

Less frequently, we use tactile communications ranging from blunt to subtle. Llamas, too, find tactile communication useful, though they must learn to keep their strength in check, and they must also learn to curb their fears and trust us in order to be able to accept and respond to subtle tactile cues.

These are all commonly used and accepted modes of communication between animals and humans. Our experience is that the more forms employed, the greater the accuracy and depth of communication possible.

If you are someone who:

  • strongly believes that animal communication may even be more limited than the foregoing description, or
  • has trouble reconciling that nonhumans might communicate

you definitely won't be able to digest what follows.

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Where were we? It bears repeating: in our experience, the more forms of communication employed, the greater the accuracy and depth of communication possible. That means at least investigating -- if not practicing and mastering -- additional communication modes will enhance our relationships with our llamas.

An additional and important mode of communication, less acceptable to the majority of humans, is telepathy. The problem with telepathic communication is that it is not considered "real." Those who have experienced it working for them know otherwise; we are among those who find that it works.

How do we know we're not just the victims of our own fantasies? People who try to fool themselves with theories and methods based on fantasy usually end up "running into a wall" at some point. Their methods stops "working," and attempts to solve the problems with the fantasy-based theories fail utterly -- if not simultaneously causing a backslide, or worse. We deal with these problems continually in our rehab work. The humans then often find it necessary to make excuses for the flawed results from their theories: "Well, I decided I don't really want that behavior anyway," "Oh, boys will be boys," and, "I don't believe it's right to expect that from llamas [or stud llamas] anyhow."

Funny thing -- since we stopped working with our animals using strictly "scientific" approaches and added telepathic communication to our repertoire, we've stopped running into walls. Yet we don't need to make excuses. And our show string has developed such an unparalleled reputation that some flabbergasted (and jealous?) folks have publicly stated that we must be cheating and have to be beating our animals in secret to account for their fine behavior and performance.

How DID this happen? Let's backtrack a bit. Gwen originally spent a lot of time talking to animals into her adult life, Dusty in particular. It "felt right." (And dancing around the truth -- even subconsciously -- when talking to an animal really feels "wrong.") Not something you can justify to other humans, to be sure. She wasn't really listening for responses, but on a few occasions, she received some. Not knowing the source and lacking the basis to support these messages by describing them in acceptable animal-human languages (body language in particular), she shelved them in her own mind, and certainly did not share them with others. How do you get someone to believe that your llama told you that he loves you? That he appreciates being talked through the obstacle courses? Now THAT sounds like a fantasy!

In an effort to help others better train their llamas, Gwen tried to quantify what she was doing in very precise language, conveyable to other humans. The results didn't work as well for Jim. They worked even less well for others. And the more Gwen tried to be "scientific," the more she gradually moved away from what had been working -- talking to animals, and making sincere efforts to put herself into their "shoes" from their perspective as an animal, not a human. The "scientific" approach also coincided with a period of time in which llama training and showing wasn't working as well, either -- nor was it as satisfying. In fact, it was becoming downright frustrating. A coincidence?

Through a series of accidental events, Gwen got shakily back on track. But she didn't consider telling Jim what she felt was going on until Sahalie complained, bitterly frustrated, "WHY won't he TALK to me???" (You have to know Sahalie to understand that when she wants to get something very important across, it's like a bullet through your skull -- no question about the source or the means.) Now, how does one go about telling one's spouse of ten years, "Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you -- I talk to animals, and you need to do it, too"? Ulp.

Fortunately, books and a timely lecture (at the 1993 LANA Conference) by Penelope Smith helped considerably. Books and a videotape by Beatrice Lydecker provided an alternate approach to the same goal. When the self-imposed taboos were gone and we could talk to each other about what we were doing, we not only found a new facet in our relationship with our llamas and other animals, but also found a few other llama people who used telepathic communication with animals. The results have ranged from rewarding to astounding.

Not everyone who uses telepathic communication with animals has an identical approach or results. Many, but not all, find it important to consider telepathic communication to be closely intertwined with their religious beliefs -- from traditional Christian to "new age." We are most interested in the commonalities, which is where the truth -- and the means to better our abilities -- is most likely to exist.

How do we do it? Gwen usually speaks aloud, but sometimes only concentrates on "thinking" her messages instead. Both of us make efforts to picture clearly in our minds what we want to convey. Some individual llamas respond so well to this that they breeze through obstacles they've never learned . . . and then fail utterly when presented with the same activities minus the telepathic support -- even after conventional training cues are added.

Lydecker and Smith both indicate that they receive "pictures" in return. We usually don't, although sometimes we do. Gwen instead may receive emotions or feelings that she can detect are not her own. She primarily receives concepts that can be translated into words, with some care. Neither of us are practiced enough to find any mode of reception available to us at will. Some animals are strong communicators; others aren't as easy to "connect" with explicitly. Most individuals who were used to us when we relied on our old, "scientifically-grounded" methods aren't as easy to communicate with telepathically. On the other hand, several of the rescued llamas we've had are quite easy to "talk" with. Perhaps prejudice about us (or lack thereof) on their part has something to do with it.

We sure don't pretend to be experts in telepathic communication -- just enthusiasts and amateur practitioners. When the chips are down and the stakes are high for a particular animal, we consult with a professional communicator for clarification and enlightenment. Many people first encounter the concept of telepathy through a professional communicator, either from a media interview or through a friend's recommendation, particularly in a crisis after all other methods have failed. We also don't agree with everything espoused by various communicators (their personal religious beliefs, for instance) nor do we accept everything a professional communicator presents to us at face value and without question (everybody can make mistakes, including professionals).

We also haven't abandoned other forms of communication -- far from it.

When a llama says "DON'T DO THAT" to another llama, s/he spews cud or body slams -- and similar language works best for the same message from human to llama. It is also important for a llama to understand some spoken commands because s/he will not always be handled by a human versed in telepathy or in species-specific language. In summary, telepathy is not the mode of choice for all messages. The best results come from using all of the valid tools at hand, not from arbitrarily deciding to use only some and not others.

Some long-time friends and acquaintances are probably going to be shocked -- and may well revise their assessment of our intelligence and sanity -- after stumbling on and reading this page. Although it is not socially productive for us to shout from rooftops that we talk with animals, it is also not useful or honest to deny that we do, particularly when discussing llama training techniques and our relationship with our animals. So, by definition, we agreed that this information is an integral part of our website. We also feel the risk that some humans may suddenly find us unacceptable company is outweighed by the probability that others may benefit from knowing there are other humans having similar experiences -- just as we benefited from the courage of Bea Lydecker's, Penelope Smith's, and others' decisions to make publicly available the information on their experiences concerning telepathic communication with animals.

More stories about our experiences communicating telepathically with our llamas

Visit a website about telepathic communication with animals

Some books about telepathic communication with animals

Return to Lost Creek Llamas home page