Llamas show off personalities, friendly qualities

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

ROME TOWNSHIP — Mark was a friendly kind of guy.

He strutted around the livestock arena at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds, nuzzling up — quite literally— to all the folks who passed by.

It is this agreeable personality that endeared people to Mark and endears people in general to llamas, said Debbie Schellabarger, of Xenia, who was the judge for the annual Open Llama Show on Saturday at the Lawrence County Fair.

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She said llamas are ideal as both pets and farm animals because of their pleasant and even protective nature with both livestock and humans.

“Their personalities make it possible for people to have them around children and not feel uncomfortable,” she said.

She and her husband, Greg, own Spittin’ Creek llama and alpaca farm. “What convinced me about llamas was watching them around my children. I can’t think of a better family animal to raise than a llama.”

Schellabarger is not alone in her thinking. Ohio ranks third among states in the number of llamas kept as either pets or livestock (Colorado and Oregon outrank Ohio).

Those who own them swear by them. Larry Arthur and his wife, Amoret, of Franklin Furnace, brought their llamas, King Kong and Shadow to the llama show.

“They’re very gentle creatures and very inquisitive,” Amoret Arthur said.

“And they’re smart,” Larry Arthur said. “You can teach them to do anything. You train them to lead and in 20 minutes they know it for life. And they’re good with kids.”

And what does a winning llama look like?

Schellabarger said she looks for straightness in the back and legs and how the animal walks and holds itself — and she looks for personality.

“The icing on the cake is when they have a lot of presence,” she said.

Mark, are you listening?