Diva came to us almost 2 years ago in the back of a rented cargo van with her daughter Galina. Galina was a little wary, but she always followed her mother, and so having them together helped Galina adjust to her new surroundings.
Although llamas are not known to be cuddlers, over time Diva and Galina learned to trust us, and it wasn’t long before they even accepted Troy’s determination to hug them.
We learned about llamas the same way we learned about chickens and then goats – learning by doing. We learned that llamas respond to coercion instead of exertion. We learned that when a llama has an apparent huge abscess in the side of its cheek, sometimes it’s just hanging on to a particularly tasty ball of grass (that one caused me days of concern). We learned that some llamas are not great guard animals and they will stand curiously watching a fox devour your chickens from 10 feet away. We learned that with patience, you can get even a skittish animal like a llama to trust you. And eventually Diva and Galina did.
When Diva went down late last week my first fear was meningeal worm. I called in the vet right away and He started her on an aggressive treatment for the parasite. She continued to eat and drink with vigour, she seemed bright and alert, she just wouldn’t stand up. I was hopeful that the combination of wormers and painkillers and anti-inflammatory shots would help. It’s hard for such a large animal to lie on its legs for so long, so we created a sling to raise her off the floor allowing us to massage and stretch her limbs.
On Sunday morning I fed the beasts and for the first time in days Diva showed signs of trying to get up. I was encouraged by her enthusiasm and went back to the house to modify my sling design. A couple of hours later I returned to the barn to raise Diva, but when I opened the door she was on her side, completely still. I sat with her and Galina for a while before giving the news to Troy.
Although Diva’s stay with us was short, she was here long enough to teach Galina to trust us and to teach us the ways of the llama. We will miss her calm and trusting gaze, her graceful movements, her gentle way. No matter how many animals you have, losing one is always hard – they are all a part of the family.
Safe travels in the llama afterworld, Diva. You will be missed.