Thursday we had a heck of a fright. We went on a walk with some of our camelids (Jim, Hankyo and Hyouki) and our friends MJ and Cathy- who brought her dog Jed. We were walking in the forest up by Colonial Knob in Porirua.
Everything was fine, we walked up the forest track for about half an hour with Cathy and Jed in the lead. The ‘paca and Jim did very well at crossing the various bridges and the like- they had done this all before.
When we turned around to head back down the problems occured. The ‘paca did not want a dog following. What we should have done is had Cathy lag well behind until we got down to the flatter, wider part of the trail further down. But we got stupid, and tried to change the marching order then and there. Tam and I were trying to get out of the way (I had Jim, Tam had Hankyo), and Cathy came by before we were fully in position. Jed lunged at Jim, and pulled cathy off her feet on the wet and slippery wet trail. The four of us went tumbling down the bank. Scrambling bodies, a frenzied dog, a frenzied Jim- not a good scene. I still was clinging to Jim’s lead, so Tam was shouting for me to “let him go.” I did so, and unfortunately Cathy also responded to the cry and let Jed go.
Jim took off down the trail, with Jed in pursuit. Jim crashed into MJ and Hyouki, MJ let Hyouki go, and Jim continued onwards, followed by the dog, then by Hyouki. Tam managed (barely) to keep Hankyo from breaking free and taking off in pursuit of his herd leader and best buddy.
I didn’t see any of this, as I was running down the trail at full speed, my mind full of all the possible horrible outcomes that included broken legs, mauled animals, squashed dogs, etc.
I had run about a kilometer down the trail when I head Jim alarm calling in the distance. Shortly thereafter Jed passed me, heading up the trail- back towards his Master Cathy. About 100 meters further along I found Jim, he was the in the rocky stream bottom, half way over a short waterfall trapped by some Supple Jack wrapped all up and around his hind quarters.
While Jim was extremely agitated, freaked out even, and alarm calling continuously, he was also completely obedient. Probably the best behaved he has ever been. Clearly he was looking to me for help in the situation. I got him untangled from the vines, and walked him out. By the time we got back to the parking lot he had stopped alarm calling, and was merely puffing. Not a surprise, Jim is a fat llama, and had just made a heck of a run.
Jim ran a kilometer or more down a steep trail and stream bed, through a forest, all covered with loose jagged rocks and slippery mud. He suffered a small cut on the top of one foot, and might had slightly pulled/twisted his left rear knee. That was it. A miracle. We all came out of the woods muddy, having had lots of scrapes and falls in that mad dash.
This is also where it was convenient having MJ on hand, since she is a vet and we could check Jim out immediately.
Anyway, it was a heck of a fright, both for us and the poor camelids. Thankfully Jed was really just excited, and not trying to bite, but we plan to have him and Cathy back up, perhaps this weekend, to do some formal “stock-proofing” training with him.