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Shadow's story


Although Shadow is 46.5", he weighed a mere 235 pounds at intake. He was so weak he could hardly stand or walk, and the entire rear half of his coat had been rubbed off by a cohabiting young male who repeatedly raped him.


When he arrived here, Shadow's physical and emotional states were overwhelming. So overwhelming that we contacted a professional animal communicator rather than, as we usually do, work more slowly to obtain bits and pieces of communication ourselves:


(photo of Shadow one day after intake)

Shadow's original name was "Barney," but he never liked that name. A friend of his was named Shadow, and he's always thought that was a really neat name, and that he would like to have that name, too -- even if he is white.

Shadow had always lived on the same farm or ranch. There were many other animals there, and all of them were usually hungry. They weren't mistreated or hurt, but the people used to be loud and gruff when they came to feed the llamas: "Get outta the way! Go on, move!" Shadow didn't like the yelling. [He also indicated that his ears didn't feel right, and so we checked him for possible medical problems -- and ended up treating him for a mild ear infection.] There was also not enough space, and he often could only lie down in uncomfortable places. His legs hurt sometimes, and he thinks this is because there wasn't enough space to lie down. [We are guessing that lack of space and/or finances resulted in Shadow being dumped at the auction, where he didn't sell and thus was being held for slaughter (notwithstanding his increasingly poor condition due to the highly inadequate amount of feed provided there).]

Shadow likes it here because we are quiet and gentle. He wants very much to trust us, but has also been conditioned to be afraid for a very long time. This is very hard for him, and he sees the relationships we have with our llamas, particularly those that are very special to us, and he would like that, too, but at the same time, it is very frightening.

Shadow understands that he can't stay here, although he would like to, and asks that he have a home with quiet people. He also says that he likes to be around children. We would not consider him a child's llama at this time, however.

The communicator told us that Shadow is intelligent, malnourished (duh!) and that he also needs to have his confidence increased and made to feel worthwhile. He has often been referred to as "ugly" and this has damaged his self-image.

When we "pulled" him, Shadow was frightened of being caught and also fearful of being taken under roofs. He haltered and unhaltered well (although he was not comfortable about it), but had little or no concept of proper leading. He was also terribly needy -- if you've ever experienced this kind of person, you can understand how much energy Shadow demanded.

By late 1997, Shadow lead acceptably well under most circumstances, would stand in the pasture once he knew we were serious, allow himself to be touched all over, and pick up his feet both when tied and when off-lead if confined in a small area. Shadow had also become much more emotionally self-supporting.

By 1998, Shadow had not only achieved his target weight of 375 pounds, but in fact exceeded it by another 30 pounds that he certainly did not need! His ability to become fat, however, is a sign that he was fortunately not as severely damaged by his ordeal as he might have been. Now to keep those pounds under control!

Shadow was deathly frightened of the concept of a pack saddle (which he sees as a monster on his back), and because his physical condition did not improve enough after proper nutrition and care, we decided not to encourage him into further training. However, Shadow has been known to change his mind abruptly, and is not unlikely to decide to see pack saddles in a different light if the situation proves advantageous to him. He is physically capable of light-duty packing, such as light-load (20-30 lb) picnic hikes, trash cleanup outings, and showring pack classes.

(photo late summer 1997)

We knew that Shadow had received some bullying and abuse by other llamas, and have made an effort to keep him apart from llamas who bother him. We didn't realy know what kind of companion Shadow did prefer however. Then Shadow met Rocky in the summer of 1999 when we moved them both to a friend's place for dieting. Shadow really enjoyed Rocky's company and made it clear that he wanted very much to live with Rocky even after they returned. Well, that was until Shadow met Sydney, whereupon Shadow completely lost interest in hanging out with Rocky and instead followed Sydney everywhere. We soon realized (with a good deal of laughter) that what Shadow really wanted in a llama friend is someone who is brave enough to take him exploring and show him a good time!

Shadow interviewed a number of people (most of whom were not in the market for a llama at the time) and, based on the knowledge he gained from his experiences, he was able to let us know that he wanted a stable, confident person, perhaps male, who could commit to a long-term relationship with him as a companion. If not, he would prefer to live as a pasture llama with lots of space in the care of kind, gentle, quiet people.

Update: August, 2000

Shadow finally found a home worth trying out through Llama RescueNet's Special Needs Placement Program. He was castrated early enough that he is can live with females without attempting to breed them, so he was placed with Bella, a RescueNet female who is active and curious, but not at all aggressive as most rescue geldings (castrated well after sexual maturity) tend to be. Shadow's adoption was finalized in November.

Good luck, Shadow! You deserve a good, permanent home after all this time!

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