Kagen Stephenson is relieved her llama’s adventure on the lam came to a happy ending.
At the beginning of October, Stephenson picked up four rescue llamas from a friend in Canoe for her Willow Mist Farm on Cambie-Solsqua Road. Among the lot were three females, Marguerite and Snowflake and Brownie, and a male whose teeth extended beyond his lower jaw, temporarily earning him the name Snaggletooth.
The four llamas were at Willow Mist for 11 days, kept separate from Stephenson’s other animals as she removed burrs from their coats, got them halter broken and cleaned. Then Snaggletooth was scheduled to receive a visit from a veterinarian, who was to deal with the tooth problem. But the Snaggletooth had other plans. He jumped out of his pen and fled.
Stephenson was away the day this happened, and didn’t learn her llama was missing until 7 p.m., when she returned home to find a message on her answering machine: “Kagen, one of your llamas is running down Cambie-Solsqua Road.”
“Needless to say, at seven o’clock at night, the flashlight comes out and I go out,” said Stephenson. “I was sure it was Albion, my other male, because he’s a little bit of a Houdini. But it wasn’t him. I went and checked on these other ones… and sure enough, Snaggletooth was missing.”
Stephenson later asked her niece to post a notice of the missing llama on the Siccy Sell Facebook page, hoping someone might see Snaggletooth. Sure enough, reported sightings began to pop up and make their way back to Stephenson, leading her on a wild llama chase.
“He was sighted down at Simms corner, so people would put a posting of the llama and there was even a picture of him by this one fellow running by Bill’s place down the road here, heading back my way… and it was so frustrating,” said Stephenson. “I’d jump in the van and rush down there with my lead rope with my little bucket of grain. Vapourized llama, no sign of him anywhere.”
After another sighting at a trailer park, the trail went cold and stayed that way for about four days. A cougar was seen in the area and Stephenson’s concern was growing.
“I thought, ‘my goodness, the poor guy’, because he’s in an area he doesn’t know,” said Stephenson. “He’s from the mountain in Canoe. He’s never seen trains, he’s never seen vehicles, he’s totally out of his element and probably just terrified because all of this stuff is new to him.”
On a Saturday afternoon, 11 days after Snaggletooth’s disappearance, Stephenson received a phone call about a couple of men who had been fishing on a nearby riverbank. They had spotted the llama on a sandbank on the far side of the river. Stephenson said she and a visiting friend drove to the location and found the llama down a 20-foot bank and across the water on a sandbank. She managed scramble down and over to the llama, put a lead rope on him and bring him back up the bank.
“My friend said, ‘I can’t believe he made it up that bank. I never thought that animal would come up there,’” said Stephenson.
After another tricky climb over a railway bridge, Stephenson was able to lead the llama to the road for the walk home – her friend following close by in a mini van. During the journey it began to get dark, the llama tired and Stephenson worried the animal would sit down and go to sleep.
“Do you think he might get in the back of the mini van?,” Stephenson asked her friend. “My friend of mine looked at me like I was on some sort of medication or something. He shook his head, he said ‘no, I kind of doubt it.’ I said, ‘well, let’s just give it a try.’”
The llama put his head in the back of the van, Stephenson helped with its first foot, and then the llama hopped in the rest of the way. She closed the back door and the three were off.
“I thought, oh my goodness, if he kicks the back window of the van out I’m going to have a right mess,” said Stephenson. “My friend was driving really slowly. I said, ‘no, just drive! Just drive!’
“So anyway, we got him home and took him out and got him back in his little bed and fed and he seems like he’s staying home. He’s behaving himself at the moment. So I think after his 11 days on the lam… he’s quite happy to be back.”
There is some speculation it was word of the dentist visit that prompted Snaggletooth to hop the fence and run.
The llama has since had his dental visit and Stephenson already has another name in mind for him.
“My sister seems to think Sir Lancelot would be a lot more appropriate name for him.
So I think we will probably change it to Sir Lancelot,” said Stephenson, adding she is grateful to everyone who helped in the search.