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Two days later, I went down to the males’ barn just as a fine rain stopped. Levi, Romeo, and Poco were dry; Shadow’s wool was wet. He had been out pacing the fence where he could see Posey. I took him for a walk, but he was too upset to pay me much attention, so I returned him to the barn.

Poco gave a questioning hum. He and the two large males stood up and surrounded Shadow and me. This time their body language said, “Oh, here you are again.”
When I took the halter off Shadow, he went running out to the part of the field where he could see Posey, but she didn’t happen to be in sight. Shadow gave another one of those sad, sad cries.

“Yea, sweetheart, it’s hard sometimes,” I said, and went back to the house with a heavy heart.

That Saturday it was sunny and I murmured to Kelly as we were waking up, “Honey, let’s take Shadow on an outing somewhere.”

As we walked past Posey, Shadow gave an inquiring little toot. He tried to go over to the fence, but accepted it when I didn’t let him. He quickly learned to load into our van. We drove to a school playground and strolled around the grassy field. Shadow watched girls playing basketball and dogs a block away. He took a bite of the grass.

“Oh, a jungle gym! Kelly, let me have him a moment,” I said.

“I doubt he’ll go into that,” Kelly said, looking at the large maze of pipes. Shadow followed me around it with no hesitation, but a plastic bag rustling in the wind caused him to kick up his heels.

On the way home, Shadow sat comfortably, as if he’d been going places for years. Kelly and I told him, and each other, how wonderful he was.

As spring came, I had less time for Shadow. We were taping for Llama Training with Bobra Goldsmith, and we did use him to demonstrate teaching a llama to load into a vehicle and sit down on command. The hikes season was approaching, and I was busy with preparations. Plus I was working part-time in town now, selling computers.

Then early in our third hikes season, we decided to quit at the end of the summer. We would sell Romeo. Kelly raised the question of Shadow.

“I don’t want to sell him,” I said, even though I was finding very little time to do things with him. “At least not unless the perfect situation just comes along.”

It did. A few weeks later, we ran into a family who had been to the ranch before. They had admired Shadow and now they asked us if he might be for sale.

I almost bit my tongue as I said, “He might.”

But my heart told me they would be good for him, and he for them. When they expressed interest in Romeo too, we agreed to sell both llamas to them.

The day they came over to get the llamas, I went down to the barn to say goodbye to Romeo and Shadow. Shadow hopped up as I came in. He stepped past Romeo, who remained seated, chewing his cud with a steady swish-swish. It did feel right to be saying goodbye to Romeo. We just didn’t need him, and he wasn’t getting enough attention. He was a really nice llama, and I was sorry I hadn’t had more time with him.

It was much harder to part with Shadow. I scratched his neck and gazed for the last time at his sweet face; he was so lovely to look at. By selling him, I was admitting that some dreams weren’t going to happen. This was a llama I was sure I wouldn’t sell. Maybe there was no such thing.

When the llamas’ new owners came, they were so delighted that I was gladdened by their joy. But as their truck and trailer disappeared down our driveway, there were tears in my eyes. Being a llama breeder sometimes meant learning to let go.

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