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Monday, April 14, 2014

Just J. Lo: Ordinary States of Being Among Alpaca

Just J. Lo: Ordinary States of Being Among Alpaca

Just J. Lo: Ordinary States of Being Among Alpaca

By Carla M Paton

As alpacas go, J. Lo (no relation) is an embarrassment; her round pin head is too small, her neck too short, and her spindly legs stick out like toothpicks from her Twinkie-shaped body. Her white spotted fleece has no crimp; it only puffs out like she stuck her tongue in an electric socket or perhaps was too long under the dryer at the beauty salon. She is the poster child of a bad hair day. She is also the only huacaya among blue-ribboned suris (huacaya and suris are the two breeds of domesticated alpaca, suris being the rarer of the two.) Given that she is not optimal for breeding stock, we brought her home thinking she might make a good "therapy animal" and yet the other morning, she jumped up with all four feet off the ground and charged at me in attack. I would have been alarmed if not for my bewildered amusement.

It almost does not seem possible (or sane) but within a few months, we have gone from owning zero alpacas to sixteen. We had been studying the alpaca breeding business for a few years, and had planned on purchasing a few eventually, but it did seem like once we made our decision to "go for it" and made our first purchase, everything came together to create and allow our fledgling business a rather stellar starter herd of which we never dreamed possible in such a short time. We had done our research and went to top local breeders and mentors, but many things occurred that were not in our control. We did and do feel a resonance around this endeavor and with the people whom we work.

Being in the technical field has enabled me to see the sharp contrast between mind and matter and to have firsthand experience with science as myth and religion. Perhaps this is also why I am so drawn to the land and animals. Starting each morning shoveling puppy, goat, horse, and alpaca poop keeps all in perspective. Further, I believe animals are one of the last groups to garner any status as conscious beings; being viewed as more matter than mind; they reveal a lacuna in a systems and wholeness interconnected attitude in our daily interactions with animals.

Animals are not just for individual therapy and healing but can also provide cultural healing in our alienated and cut-off-from-nature world. C. G. Jung talked about alienation from the natural world -- here is a means for healing -- just being with animals and not using them. Being with animals insists we stay in the moment, experience emotion more intensely, and they can challenge our thinking. If we slow down and pay attention, animals have much to teach us about ourselves and our world.

Copyright Carla M Paton, 2014

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