Tablet Local

Loving llamas compete at Fort Worth Stock Show

Jubal nuzzled his owner’s neck, politely asking for a kiss, after he won grand champion in his class at the Southwestern Llama Show at the Fort Worth Stock Show on Thursday.

“He is a sweetheart. He loves kisses,” said Brennda Gilmore of Boyd, Jubal’s owner. “They are like dogs and cats; every one has a different personality. You know when to leave them alone, if they have a headache, or whatever is going on.”

Gilmore said Jubal, 5, knows when he is competing, because he isn’t just “plopping around – he struts.”

Jubal is a pet. He has, on occasion, come into the house. He will even sit quietly for a Skype call with Gilmore’s grandchildren, she said.

Llamas have been used as pack animals for centuries. Wally Juntilla, a llama owner at the event Thursday, uses his to carry supplies when he hikes.

“They are better than the horses and all the other stuff,” Juntilla said. “They are neat animals and have neat personalities.”

Their docile personalities make them good with children and llamas can be used as therapy animals.

In the show, which continues today, llamas jump over obstacles, carry packs and participate in “public relations,” offering comfort through tasks such as lowering their heads to someone in a wheelchair.

But their fierce protective instinct means the animals will protect a herd — any herd — from just about anything, said a competitor in Thursday’s show, Marcie Saska-Agnew.

Saska-Agnew of Sunset got her first llama to guard her horses against coyotes and other predators.

Her 6-month-old, Lone Ranger, took second place in his class at the stock show. Classes are based on age, type of wool and gender.

The number of llama entries at the stock show is down by about half this year, said Jim Doyle, llama show coordinator. There were 67 entries for 2014 compared to 127 in 2013 and 167 in 2012.

Doyle, who raises llamas in Krum in Denton County, blamed the economy and the rising cost of travel. Saska-Agnew said the show’s timing in the middle of the week limits the number of people who can enter, because kids have school and many adults can’t get off work.

Doyle said stock shows are still the best way to advertise livestock and make sales. Doyle, who travels around the southern United States for stock shows, said the people and the llamas make the experience worth it.

“They are a unique animal. They just respond to people,” he said.