Save money, cuddle with a llama

Kristine Gill

My sister texted me a few weeks ago. She wrote that while reading the Baltimore Jewish Times, she came across an ad with information about llamas available for nursing home visits and educational demonstrations. As a somewhat astute individual, she immediately contacted me, asking for my input. As an extremely astute receiver of this news, I immediately recognized the ad as the perfect topic for a column.

But not this column. We’ll save llamas for some other time. What I really want to talk to you about today is that upcoming election. Boy is it going to be a doozy! Psych! Llamas are way more newsworthy.

The first thing I asked my sister was why she was reading the Jewish Times. I don’t recall receiving an answer from her, but I was confused because we’re Catholic and because I didn’t think my sister could read. The second thing I asked my sister was could she please send me a picture of the ad so I could confirm its existence. Once confirmed, I allowed myself to ponder the meaning behind the ad. I wanted to know who placed it, who designed it, who picked up the Baltimore Jewish Times and looked for area livestock available for these so-called “educational demonstrations.” But most importantly, I needed to know who responded to the ad and had scheduled a nursing home visit because somewhere, a group of senior citizens needed to be warned.

So I decided to make a few rash assumptions about the entire situation and to share them all with you in a way that suggests they’re factual. But really, we all know what I’m about to say is probably only 75 percent true and 25 percent complete llama waste.

According to Wikipedia, llamas are nice animals. They’re friendly and curious by nature. Wikipedia also says that if llamas grow too comfortable with humans they’ll start treating them as they would fellow llamas. Fellow llama behavioral codes include, kicking, spitting, and neck wrestling. I’m hoping the llamas available for educational demonstrations and nursing home visits have received proper human socialization meeting, but not exceeding the level of comfort at which spitting, kicking and, ultimately, death occurs.

Assuming these llamas are well-trained and don’t neck wrestle the elderly, I guess a nursing home visit might not be a bad idea. Visits in general, especially to places like nursing homes, are almost always welcome. I know when I’m 95 and hooked up to a few machines I’ll look forward to that time each month when my screaming great-grandkids come to pass on their toddler germs, or the local animal shelter brings in friend or two.

So, visits are nice and furry animals are pleasant, but how comforting would it be to see a handler walking a 6-foot-tall, 350-pound llama down the hall to your room where you lie in bed at the mercy of ten different IVs and monitors, and wonder how long this particular llama has been socializing with humans and if it regards the elderly as fellow llamas? I’m gonna take a stab here and go with “not very.”

But there is another aspect to these nursing home visitors that we’re neglecting and that is that llamas are very warm. And so, if the makers of this advertisement instead had intentions of warming the elderly as they lie in bed at the mercy of those IVs and monitors, well then my hat’s off to them. Llamas like people and they’re like walking, heated blankets, according to, so why not combine those two admirable characteristics for a good cause? I do essentially the same thing with my dog, Dublin, who happens to love me and is also very warm. I sleep with him at night to avoid high electric bills. Maybe the person who posted that ad in the Jewish Times would have received better feedback with a more direct headline to that article, something that really told the reader what it was they were advertising for. Something about lowering electric bills in nursing homes. I might have called in about that ad.

Kristine Gill is a junior newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her for information about warm animals at [email protected].