KB began life as a normal, unhandled male
weanling. He was fascinated by humans, but according to the practices
of the day, was discouraged from interacting. After weaning,
he went to a new home with some enthusiastic new llama owners
(who, like many new owners at the time, went straight into making
more llamas despite inexperience). KB was cute, grey, and woolly,
so it was not surprising that he was kept intact for breeding.
When KB was bred at the rather immature age
of 18 months, his personality seemed to change -- he tried to
mount his handler the next day. Because KB's breeder told the
worried owners that some of his relatives had required rehab,
suddenly his threatening posture at feeding time took on a whole
new light. The owners did what was recommended to llamas that
threaten people, and in a short time, KB's behavior had deteriorated
badly. Soon he was on his way here for rehab.
Having been told that we would be dealing
with a known aggressive llama (and having worked with one very
aggressive half-brother), we immediately structured the situation
to put KB on the defensive. We didn't want him to get the upper
hand. However, within a week, it became apparent that what we
had been told bore little resemblance to what was actually going
on -- KB was one frightened llama who really had no desire to
KB also had hair-trigger emotions -- and no
big surprise to us why when we finally saw his pedigree. Usually
the emotion was fear, and once we knew what really bothered him,
we were able to work on his rehab without setting off the sort
of emotional reactions that would shut down his brain and any
chance for learning along with it. However, another complication
arose -- one of KB's owners died, and the other didn't want to
keep llamas anymore.
We placed KB for the estate with what appeared
to be a very suitable home, and gelded him at the new owner's
request. We provided the experienced owner with a full written
disclosure of KB's history and our recommendations for encouraging
continued good behavior. Several months later, we found that
KB had been quickly traded off to another party, without any
mention of his rehab (let alone any paperwork). It just so happened
that KB hated this individual, and his completely new repertoire
of bad behavior was about to earn him a ticket to a "horse
trader" style llama buyer who intended to palm KB, his dense
wool, and his defectively conformed body off on some unsuspecting
sucker as a pack llama.
KB had just become a candidate for rescue.
When Gwen picked KB up, she was regaled with
tale after nasty tale of deliberate spitting, screaming, and
more. KB, however, haltered easily for Gwen without any fuss,
and happily leapt into the stock rack on the truck. Back at home,
we turned KB out in the pasture, thinking he would be just fine.
But the next time Gwen had occasion to catch him, KB screamed
pitifully helpless screams, trembled and spat defensively. KB
was more than a rescue -- now he needed abuse rehab.
It took some time to uncover all of KB's new
fears. Most revolved around grooming -- KB had been subjected
to a useless fashionable "poodle cut," and other questionable
show grooming practices that we'd always suspected were very
painful for woolly llamas. However, with time as a healing partner,
KB recovered enough to be placed again -- this time under our
own contract and protective clauses.
KB and a female lama friend have now lived
with a first-time llama owner since 1994. KB had one incidence
of stress-spitting over food he feared would be removed, but
has otherwise been living a relaxing and uneventful life (except
for chasing loose dogs, which he enjoys). KB won't ever be expected
to go to shows, and his fine, dense wool is shorn and used for
handspinning instead of being teased and pulled: A happy ending
despite a very rocky start.
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Rescue and Rehabilitation
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