":) Being a leader, especially a leader of conscience, isn't always easy."
Yes, read that Rebels and let that sink in for just a minute. I had to. Dear friend and Rebel, Daisy sent that to me when I thanked her for her support about my letter to Ms. McGee a few days ago. And it was funny because I got it on a day I had also taken on another llama big wig, the day I had to have another MRI on my back.
The day had been a hellish day anyway. I must say that sometimes it is easier to just count on yourself than to have partial support. Tom had told me he'd take me to the appointment, which is great, but then he had to go back to work....and it was almost worse than if I'd just counted on my own strength the whole time, you know what I mean???? I had had to go and pick up my daughter sick from school and that threw a wrench into the morning....
But the big tests these days seem to be coming from my so called peers. And what I have realized is that they don't know I am their peer; and that is where things went all wrong. I'll give you a bit of background on the story, although it really isn't all that important to my point, but over a decade ago when I first got into llamas I mistakenly bought 2 llamas. At that time I didn't know that there were rescue llamas that needed homes. Llamas were on the downhill slide of the fad I guess....
One of those purchased llamas is the only one that has ever given us much trouble. He is the only llama that I have ever had to spend vet dollars on other than maintenance because I have tried to figure out what the hell is wrong with him. He has knocked each of my family members down, he has bitten me and all of these things are absolutely NOT normal llama behavior.
In the decade since owning this llama I have learned A LOT!!! I have also rescued more than twenty llamas; many of them I (little old me at 120 lbs soaking wet as my husband would say) have trained to pack from being not even halter broke. I have no formal training in llama handling besides what my wonderful mentor Bobra Goldsmith taught me before she died; which was a lot.
She taught me to simply expect good behavior from my animals; and that is a theory The Royal Ranch has always had. When I train a llama to pack it is simply an agreement between the llama and myself....I'm going to trust you and you're going to trust me. By the time I put the pack on them I have been building a working, trusting, loving relationship with the animal for as long as I can. I don't stand for bad behavior and I never will; that is just the way it is.
Speaking of hunting camps..
Take for instance our first hunt camp ever. We had been getting advice from everyone that animals are afraid of the smell of blood and that our llamas were going to freak out unless they had been trained to be around meat, etc. We had even been told to stuff their nostril with some sort of Mentholatum so that they wouldn't smell anything; to me this sounded like abuse.
So Tom and I headed up the mountain with our very untrained pack train of llamas to pick up a huge bull elk for a friend. We figured since it was a good friend of ours at least if the llamas freaked, no biggy. We got to the camp and we did what we usually do; we packed up that elk and we put it on the llamas....that was that. They were a bit jumpy at first but when they saw that we just expected them to behave like any old job, and we weren't going to take any crap from them, it was the end of their nervousness. They knew they could trust us. One of them even had to wear the antlers and the cape (which is the hyde) of the elk down the mountain! It was sort of weird to look forward (I of course am always in the caboose position with Tom in lead) and see a llama with antlers-ha!!!
But back to my point, I am no llama schmutz. I know what the hell I am doing when it comes to these animals. I am the Co-Colorado Coordinator (it's an awful big state) for the Southwest Llama Rescue, and not by mistake, I was voted in. If there is an aggressive male within a four state radius of me, chances are he is going to end up at my place for evaluation and rehab if he is capable.
So it really surprised me when I called the breeder of that fat, lazy llama and had to get into a battle of wits with him over the behavior of said llama and what to do about it. Now that my spine is not quite what is used to be, I'm not really sure I'm comfortable, or really need a spoiled, over de-sensitized llama in my yard when I have spent the last decade of my life to saving llamas that really need homes. As I mentioned this man, like Ms. McGee is in the llama world...you know, people that give a crap what other llama owners think of them.
He acted as if I was still some newbie, the same nobody that had walked into his yard 12 years ago looking at llamas for the first time and offered to come assess the llama for me. Well, no thanks. I've been assessing him and paying for him and having to watch out for my family's and visitor's safety from him for ten years now. I gave him a very clear assessment of the situation, and simply asked if they were in a position to take him back now that my back is in such bad shape and he poses a real danger to me with his pushy behavior.
Well, needless to say, the llama will be staying where he is at. The llama breeder got told exactly what I thought of his assessment. And I kept thinking "Really? Two people in one week? My name is going to be $*@! in the llama world" But I don't give a rat's patooty because that guy had it coming. (Well, I sort of did, I actually threw a baby fit when I got off the phone with him he had made me so mad, but it was just a natural reaction-ha!!!!)
And then I got that sweet quote from Daisy worth repeating again, "Being a leader, especially a leader of conscience, isn't always easy."; and it made me smile. Thursday, I got a call from a gal on my rescue group who asked if I had a few minutes; I gotta tell you after the week I'd had with llama folks I thought I was really in for it now. Actually she was calling to answer a question I had posted about; but more importantly she was calling to ask me if she could gift me a sweater that she had cherished for years because it had llamas on it.
She wanted me to have it because I have added such "vitality and personality" to the group. All I thought I did was respond to the emails and try to help out a few llamas when I could-who knew? It truly was a wonderful phone conversation; one of those where you really just enjoy getting to know the person at the other end of the line. This amazing lady owned llamas from 1978 to 2008, and here I thought I was all that-ha! But the point was, I know it sounds silly, but I felt like the chosen one, you know?
Then last night I answer the phone to the cutest little southern voice you can imagine and she is just thanking me up and down. And it took me a second to figure out what the heck I had done. Oh yeah, email again, I had sent a positive, reinforcing email to a newbie llama owner. Amazing how far positive reinforcement goes, eh? Whether it is with ourselves, our kids, our dogs, our llamas, whatever; I think in this post alone I have given you several examples!
These new folks have been SO kind to adopt some llamas from Nebraska; the issue is that they live in Texas. Which as you all know is having a drought and heat problem. The Colorado folks took in the Nebraska llamas temporarily until we could get them down south. Well, somehow these folks got to thinking that our talking about expenses to get those llamas down there meant they were a burden (we should have switched to a more private Yahoo board in hind sight to avoid hurt feelings maybe!) and I tried to clear that up, right quick. Anyone sticking their neck out to rescue one (and they are taking in 11!) of my wondrous creatures is no burden to me, that is for DAMN sure!
So my week had turned from on the attack to on the receiving end of so many blessings. I do believe strongly in everything I told those people I had to tell off, but I also truly believe even stronger what I told those people in loving manners. Originally when I first started this post a day or so ago, it was called "Being kicked while you're down...", and then these crazy events just kept happening and I could no longer call it that, could I?