Monday, January 26, 2009


It was a lazy weekend day, and I was watching a movie with Dylan. Rhonda burst in: "Hal, two dogs have the llamas cornered!" I jumped into my shoes and grabbed a BB rifle to scare them away. I handed the BB rifle to Dylan, then unlocked a .22 rifle in case the BB rifle didn't work.

I thought about leaving Dylan in the house with Rhonda, but he's very protective of our animals, and besides, the day will come when he might have to deal with such a situation himself. We ran up to the barn and found the llamas huddled together. Looking across the brook to the far driveway, we could see the two dogs beating a retreat.

The llamas were agitated, and Felipe, the oldest, was actually trembling. We patrolled the area, Dylan gripping the BB gun with a fierce scowl on his face. No sign of the dogs.

We had trouble with predators during the first few years we lived here. Although we're only twenty-five minutes from town, we're in the foothills, living in nature. Raccoons have killed chickens, a pet turkey, and one of our cats. A black bear killed our two pygmy goats, and returned a few months later to attack one of our llamas. Mountain lions have been seen in our "neighborhood," and two or three times a week, we'll hear coyotes howling and yipping at night.

For the last few years, though, animal troubles have been few. More people have built houses, so there's more traffic, and I suppose the predators have made themselves more scarce. But with the visit by our dog intruders, I was reminded of something I learned soon after we brought our llamas home in '94: more llamas are killed in the United States by domestic dogs than any other animal.

I was relieved that I didn't have to shoot one or both of our canine intruders. I've never killed a dog, and I'll rather skip that experience.


Kelly said...

I can certainly relate to your fears! When we had our goats we experienced quite a few casualties from dog attacks (not to mention coyotes). Fortunately the cows have fared better, perhaps due in part to the donkeys in the pasture with them.

Hmmmm....too bad I can't ship you one of our donkeys!

So glad your llamas came out of this encounter unscathed.

Mary Paddock said...

Gads. We've lost a couple of cats to stray dogs. Outside of the loss of the cats (who are important members in our animal loving family), the worst part of it is that this not the dogs' fault. It's the irresponsible owners who either dump them or let them run loose.

I'm glad your llamas weren't harmed. People keep llamas with their sheep and goats here to protect them from coyotes and wild dogs. 'Come to think of it, some of them keep donkeys too. Maybe you should take Kelly up on her offer. :)

Debby said...

Jees, Hal. Black bears must be a different critter altogether on the west coast. We had one cranky one, but the others have been very peaceful beasts.

Cracks me up that Dylan was so fiercely ready to defend his own.

Hal Johnson said...

Kelly, the coyotes actually stay clear of our llamas, it seems. I never find any droppings within 100 feet of their cross-fenced area.

Mary, people do use llamas as herd protectors, and that's okay when the main concern lies with coyotes, but I think a donkey or a big dog is advisable when mountain lions are a problem.

Debby, "our" black bear, according to local Fish & Game folks, was a freak. Most black bears are big chickens, unlike grizzlies, and it's very unusual for one to go after livestock.

quid said...


We had to take BB guns to the armadilloes around here. Dug up our yard something fierce and put the fear of god into our little dog. (She was 13-14 and a westie...Mike would have given them holy hell.)

As for black bears they sure did like to go after food and showed no compunction if we tried to defend it in our Minnesota campgrounds. Maybe the cold made them meaner. Good story.


Algernon said...

Feel free to clear some of the dogs from our neighborhood.

Roland said...

Glad the dogs took off!

Bob said...

Interesting narrative. We have coyotes in our neighborhood. I have walked right by them before when I'm walking Ralph and they don't bother us. If I weren't with Ralph they would probably take him out.

Redlefty said...

I had to finish off our neighbor's cat last week when it was attacked by a pack of dogs. Hmm, guess I need to pull a Hal and so some story time.