|Amber looking deep into Bucky's eyes for worms|
Before she even began shearing, she told me she was going to check Bucky's eyes for eyeworms. She explained that they had become a problem with other llamas in the area and she would be able to treat them. I've lived a happy life never having heard of eyeworms and was very happy when, after careful inspection, Amber announced that Bucky was eyeworm free.
I thought that Amber was going to have to wrestle Bucky to the ground and then tie his feet in order to clip him (sort of like they do with sheep), but she didn't need to do anything that traumatic. She simply looped his lead rope around the bars of the pen and snapped it back on his halter, and that was all the restraint he needed for the entire session. She made a point of working slowly, but was firm in her expectation that he stand quietly. Her calm attitude flowed right into him and he quickly became desensitized to the electric clippers sweeping between his skin and his pelt. The clippers were large and made a strong buzzing sound -- the vibrations from them must have felt very strange. He struggled from time to time, but she soothed him and he was quickly brought back to a more relaxed state. She told me that most llamas are very smart and said that once he felt the cool air touch his skin where the fleece had been shorn off, he would probably be eager to have her continue. I believe that this is exactly what ended up happening.
There was something hypnotic and strangely satisfying about watching Bucky's fleece just peel away from his body as she sheared him. It must have felt wonderful to him as his body was liberated from all that matted wool.
After she was done clipping him, she decided that he was sensible enough that she was going to try to clip his toenails. My job was to stand near his head and cradle it in my arms to keep him from seeing too much of what Amber was doing and also to control his movement. I was a bit nervous about an explosion of kicking when she picked up his first front foot, but he accepted this with only a minor struggle. She was able to clip the nails of all four feet.
Here's Bucky before clipping.
After clipping, he looked like a much smaller Bucky! Amber usually doesn't clip the neck, but he was so matted that she decided that it would be best to strip him completely down (except for his lower legs, lower chest and tail). She warned me that his neck was going to look very skinny.
Yes, I'll admit that Bucky's neck, along with his whole new look is startling -- but I couldn't be more pleased that now I have my very own Dr. Seuss creature. I didn't even have to pay extra for that.