Monday, January 26, 2009

When spit is a weapon

It appears that I have a new calling in life: I am an alpaca vet. There are several people in my county that have started alpaca breeding programs. However, when they started calling around about a vet, they kept meeting a NO. Except when they called me.

Due to a misspent youth where I wasn't allowed to have real farm animals, I spend part of my time showing llamas for a local person who raised them but didn't want to show themselves. So I'm pretty comfortable around llamas and alpacas in general. Also, in school we were about 45 min from a rather large alpaca farm and did all of their work, including a lot of crias (alpaca babies).

So, I am now the only person in a 50 mile radius that will touch an alpaca.

One of my alpaca people called me the other day: they had a female with eye problems. I should pause to explain here that alpaca people tend to be somewhere between small animal people and horse people regarding when they will call their vet (more on this phenomenon later). So I said I'd be out to look at her eye.

I get out there and walk up to the fence where the affected female is, a dark brown specimen with a dark brown cria at her heels. As I walk towards her the ears go back and the mouth starts working. I duck just in time- she hurls a spitwad at my face. This is what alpacas and llamas do to defend themselves. The hurl stinky ruman contents with deadly accuracy. I have to duck twice more before the owner corrals her and I can get close enough to examine her eye. The owner holds her face away from me as I stain her eye- sure enough, a corneal ulcer is present, a rather large one. As I continue working on the eye I dodge a continuing stream of backwash as she spits ahead of her in fury. "How dare you," she screams in a spitting frothy rage. "You TOUCHED ME." Or that's what she would be saying if alpacas could talk English. As I finished and explained to the owner that she would be treating this eye 3-4 times a day for the foreseeable future and I'd be back next week to re-stain the eye, we start walking to the car. As I drive away, I hear a giant SPLAT as she hits my side window dead on. She runs along side my car as I drive up the driveway, and I can hear her raucous taunt as I drive off, "Wait for round two, Doc!"


Xtine said...


excellent narration

Andrea said...

Alpacas are my ultimate favorite use for tube socks.

Evil Transport Lady said...

But, But, they are so CUTE!!


Anonymous said...

Very descriptive! I knew a man with a llama farm in New Mexico and they sure can be grumpy critters! Check out my blog:

Jo said...

I know only one camelid that I would trust or get close to without a splash guard.

And--count your blessings--*my* vet is considered the local expert in kangaroos. Apparently somebody here in TX is breeding them.

jamiegirl said...

I found my way into the graces of a neighborhood alpaca with the help of horse treats. They were made of hay and dried strawberries. She never spit at me, despite the warnings by the old gezzer who leased his pasture to her. She was hesitant at first, but eventually would look for me on my walks. I swear by the treats. She also like my Pug! Maybe bring along some treats to ward off the spitwads - so gross!!
You rock for treating her!