THE RESCUERS by Lillian Beck
The first week in June the phone rang and it was Tracy Pearson asking , "Did Dave and I feel as if we could take on a small group of ten llamas which desperately needed help?’’ My answer was, "No, that didn’t sound like a good idea - ten more llamas." Then she asked if I thought the University of Georgia could use them. To me that did not sound good either. I mentioned that if four or five farms only took one or two, they would all find a good home and it would not be such a large task for one ranch to take on . I did not really want to take any of them ,but I told her to tell me more about them, and I might know some people who could.
Every once in awhile, I will look over my old "Banner" magazines and in one of them is an add showing Oscar De La Renta with cameo photos of his cria .One of those cameos has always attracted me , and I used to wish that we had the opportunity to buy this particular llama. Her name was Paloma Picasso, and I had even asked Tracy, several years ago, if she still owned her, but she didn’t. Paloma’s face was like a siren song and I always thought if I ever saw her for sale somewhere--- well, the next thing I heard was Tracy saying one of the llamas is called Paloma Picasso. You can guess the rest . I heard my voice say , " I’ll take Paloma." Then it was ," Well, we had better take two, so she won’t be alone." Paloma had a daughter, Isabella, who would be coming to our ranch as well.
Tracy then went off and began calling more people--while I went off to ask Dave, "What do you think?" He was all for it and we decided "OK, Let’s do it."
By the end of the day four more ranches were willing to take llamas - Ron and Pam Shinnick, Tonya Chastain, Carol Johansen, and Bill and Susan Johns. The very next day Susan traveled to pick out the llama that she would like to have. After arriving at the farm where the llamas were, she called me quite distressed with the news that they were all in pretty bad shape. "The llama you want," she told me," She is in the worst shape of all and that I might want to reconsider.
We decided to go ahead, since we had made the commitment. Sooner than we had planned the pick up day arrived. Dave drove for over four hours to meet Ron and Tonya at the farm and they all began rounding up their llamas and put them in the three separate trailers. The remainder would be picked up on the following day.
Dave called me before he left and said our two girls were in desperate shape, and Paloma looked very ill. He wasn’t even sure that she would make it though the long hot ride home.
A little over four hours later Dave arrived home , and my first look at them was a shock. I saw two frightened llamas lying in the back of the trailer. Paloma was the smaller of the two. She had no weight and was skin and bones, and a lot of matted wool. There was a big infected sore on the bridge of her nose, and she had a serious eye infection. Her daughter, Isabella, looked OK, just matted ,dirty wool, and very thin. They both needed their CDT’s, which I had prepared,, ready to give them right away.
First, Paloma was given 5cc of Naxcel with interesting results. About one cc came right back out. There was no tissue to hold the fluid, and I had to place my finger over the injection so the rest wouldn’t come back out. Seeing that, I decided not to give her the CDT, because I honestly didn’t know where to put it. On closer examination you could see her backbone stood out like a ridge, and all her ribs could be seen. When you touched her face the eye sockets were deep hollows.
Surprisingly, neither one of the two had gone to the bathroom in the trailer for the whole 4 1/2 hour ride. When they did get out to walk around, Paloma was the shock. When she finally went, she had gross diarrhea with blood and liquid .We knew we were in trouble now. Her daughter’s stool was normal.
It was very hot that day, and we decided to just cool them off with water from a hose and then walk them around a little so they could see where they were and get adjusted to the change. What a picture we four were. Every few minutes each llama would stop and give our faces a kiss, as if to say thank you.
We had prepared a separate area for them with fans running, and their own water and hay. Until we knew what problems we had taken on, they were separated from the other llamas. Each evening when it was cooler, we would take them out on leads into a bigger field and walk them for an hour.
When we placed them in their room that first evening they were fed and wormed. But, Paloma was the big question mark. What should we do with her? I thought she had some type of enteritis. Well, it was pretty certain that her colon was inflamed, and she needed an antibiotic.
In March our veterinarian had sent us a letter saying he no longer was doing large animals so we were really on our own. Finally a radical approach was decided on. I decided to go for broke--- since Paloma might not even be around tomorrow. A book I had read said you could tube Kaopectate, but it also mentioned Kaopectate was really not that successful sometimes. I knew from my nursing experience that rice was a good natural food which could slow down the peristalsis in the colon and help with diarrhea. So I cooked up rice and mixed a cup of that in her food . What a first meal. She had llama pellets, a cup of rice and a cup of safe guard pellets. All of this she ate like crazy. Then for their water, a third of a bag of Terramycin soluble powder was mixed up in a bucket of water. This is for pigs, chickens, sheep and cattle. P.S. it looks terrible, but they will drink this if it is the only water available. This is the recommended way to use it as prescribed on the bag.
The first morning we were happy to see both were still alive and hungry. Paloma had more rice and grain mix, but soon caught on to the fact that her daughter didn’t have to eat rice. So she wouldn’t eat her breakfast. We were ready for this and added a little rice to her daughter’s food, and after that she eat all her meals. This same morning we body clipped them because it was so hot and removed all their old matted hair.
By day three Paloma’s liquid diarrhea had stopped and was becoming more like stool. At the end of the week both their stools were tested , and they were negative for worms . I sent a first day stool sample to the University of Georgia , and it came back negative, and they were unable to tell what was causing Palma’s diarrhea. But by the time the results came back she had normal llama pellets.
Paloma was kept on one pound of rice with her regular feed in the AM and PM and only allowed to drink Terramycin water. By the eighth day she was acting a lot better. Her eye infection was gone, and the wound on her nose had healed. We decided to let both of them out with the rest of the girls, after giving them a much needed bath.
The family who owned these helpless animals, for some reason, became unable to care for them or uninterested. They had started out with four very good healthy, strong animals. A good investment had been spent on them. Why it had come to this I don’t know, and it wasn’t any of my business. Pearson Pond Ranch had over the last couple of years, come to their aid with the care of shots, wormings, and body clippings and this farm again reached back out to them for help, saying it was too much . Help us find homes. We are unable to give the care that is needed. These animals were in terrible shape; the farm should have done more sooner, but at least they knew enough to do something.
It is now the middle of August and Paloma Picasso and her daughter Isabella are in great shape. It was a challenge to take Paloma in and cure her, but the reward of seeing her healthy and running in the field is well worth it. We would do it all over again. If anyone finds themselves in a situation where they can not care for a llama anymore or needs help, we would always be glad to help. We would be willing to help place an animal or care for it until a good home could be found.
As I am writing this, the "Llama Journal" has arrived for the summer of 1999. In it there is an excellent article written by Dr. Wayne Coussens on this very subject. He expresses a strong need for a "llama rescue" effort. This is an issue, that we as responsible llama owners have to face, and I hope, as Wayne does , that we can put together a task force that can meet these future needs.
to the SHOW!! and wins!!! What a story...........................
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