09 August 2006

Llama Trauma

Our Big Vacation, Day One

We drove up a long road, that turned into a dirt track somewhere near Lagunitas, Marin. It just kept going up and up. The directions were things like look for the unpainted barn, do not turn left or the neighbor will call the sheriff, keep going past the picnic table. We made it, to the end of the dirt road, to the former cabin of German actor Klaus Kinski.

That's what the ad on the vacation rental website called it. We took a chance. It was gorgeous. A little wood cabin at the end of the road, way up in the mountains, a wall of windows. It was all handhewn, a little 70's famous actory but completely beautiful. Big loft with a hickory bed, wood floors and a massive stone fireplace. Cathedral woodbeam ceilings and skylights, tucked onto the edge of a ridge. The only thing was the feral llama.

The owner had asked me if my dogs would be ok with the wild llama that had taken up residence near the cabin. I wasn't sure. Ruby and Pop are fine with horses and sheep but I didn't know about llamas. They barked at Jim Basic's once behind a fence. Timmy isn't really good around farm animals in general. I figured a llama, it's in the woods, it will probably stay away, we'lll just see how it goes.

The cabin was heaven for dogs. 20 acres of ridgetop woods, with many hundreds of acres of nothing beyond it, up on a windy ridge overlooking all of marin. Way up in the top of the forest. Within an hour, the llama found the dogs. I had seen it when we got there, and fed it a carrot. I guess that made it feel safe enough to approach the dogs, and up it came, to the path the dogs were out on, right by the cabin.

Wrong llama. Timmy went beserk on it. He got the rest of the team going. All of a sudden I had a barking dog pack chasing a chestnut colored llama thru the woods.

Pop was the first I could call off. She came running back, I grabbed her and gave her to Gary. Timmy was going nuts and he had Ruby in a tizzy. Ruby I don't worry about, she has good horse sense and wouldn't get under feet. Not so with Timmy. I could see him just running up under it. At first I had run after them, yelling at Timmy. Realizing that was going to get us nowhere, I just stayed quiet and tried to walk out to the llama and 2 frenzied dogs, talking quietly to the llama. Damn llama tried to charge me. I got behind a tree, remembering what the vet that rides with me had said about the razor sharp teeth and ramming llamas she used to treat. So i grabbled a branch and flung it at timmy, hoping to knock him out of the game. Good luck. He all of a sudden got that llama going down the dirt track, towards the woods.

And bam. it happened. he got kicked. I just saw the rest of our vacation flash before my eyes being spent at a Marin emergency vet. It didn't fling him, but rolled him off the road into some brush. Ruby took off after the llama, which was the least of my worries. I collected a dazed but standing Timmy out of the bushes, and carried him up to the cabin. I whistled from the house, and ruby came back, now that the frenzy master was off the chase.

Bad dogs. Timmy was shaking but somehow ok. Covered with burrs. I think llama kicks are up there with pony-not neccessarily lethal or at least orthopedic surgeon quality for dogs.

Llama showed up later on but kept her distance from the house. Wouldn't eat from my hand the next day. She had beautiful long eyelashes, a camel face and long soft auburn hair. And a weird little tail with a shaved looking butt.

After that, timmy stayed on a leash when we would walk around the property. I know the other 2 will call off of llamas now, but not so timmy. He's a little frail now too, and i just pictured him chasing a squirrel off into the woods and not being able to get back up a steep bank so he is staying tied to me the rest of our vacation.

Vacation Day 2

All I did was read books, take the dogs out walking on the property and adjoining properties thru the woods and eat. For like 24 hours. The property was on 20 acres, on a ridge. So we could just walk up and down the dirt track from gate to gate, across the ridge. Over and over. It was actually heaven. You could see out to the Nicasio side of Marin on one side of the ridge, and to the Mt. Tam side on the other.

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