Cambrian: Opinion

Alpacas in the bedroom? Husband’s suitcase might get packed

The columnist came across Blue, the alpaca, in Old Town Temecula as she and her husband were visiting their children and grandchildren.
The columnist came across Blue, the alpaca, in Old Town Temecula as she and her husband were visiting their children and grandchildren.

We all know that animal shelters are full of pets and farm animals needing owners. Living in the middle of nowhere, as we do in Cambria’s backcountry, we have room to bring them all home — dogs, cats, sheep, burros, horses, and anything else the shelters might need to place. In fact, we’d probably have room for a small herd of elephants, assuming the shelter ever found itself with abandoned elephants.

But this is where the “however” comes in. Suppose I decided, without giving it adequate thought, I’d like to adopt 10 children. The reality is, could I afford to feed and clothe them? Would I have time to do all their laundry? Could I afford to educate them? The answer is definitely, no — much as I might like to do this. Why this same logic doesn’t seem to translate to animals in my heart and mind is something even I don’t understand.

I love animals. They give me joy and help keep my blood pressure low. So, although we have room for tons of animals, so far we have only dogs and cats. Whenever I see any animals, wild or domesticated, I can immediately envision them sleeping on our bed with our dog Georgie and our cat Abby, like Blue, the alpaca. We recently saw Blue in Old Town Temecula when we were visiting our children and grandchildren. I immediately wanted to load him into the backseat of our truck and bring him home with us. Realistically, an alpaca probably wouldn’t be all that excited about sleeping in a bed with people, a dog, and a cat, but just the fact that I don’t find the concept at all troubling might be why my husband, John, always keeps a mostly empty suitcase under the loveseat in our bedroom. Yes, John. I’ve noticed.

Recently the news has reported that another wolfpack was spotted in northeastern California. The pictures of the cubs made my heart go pitty-pat. I could so see wolf cubs running around our ranch, being adorable. Never mind that, eventually, some of our neighbors’ small pets might start mysteriously disappearing when these babies grew up. So, cute or not, I have to go with “no” on the wolves.

Although we don’t travel as often as we’d like, we love to and try to take at least a couple of trips every year. Making sure we have someone on board to care for our dogs and cats hasn’t been much of a problem to date, but who knows what the future will bring. I’m not sure how many friends we have who would be willing to look after a couple of alpacas, burros, sheep, or elephants, in addition to the dogs and cats, for a single day, much less a couple of weeks. Right now, I can’t come up with a single name.

So, as much as I’d love to populate our ranch with all kinds of animals, I’m trying very hard to be practical and stick with just dogs and cats. Maybe someday, when we are too old to travel, we’ll consider adding a few pet farm animals to our very small menagerie. For the time being, large animals living outside — and/or sleeping with us — has to be only a dream. If we are ever lucky enough to acquire a couple of alpacas, for instance, I’ll have to keep a close eye on John’s suitcase to be sure he hasn’t started filling it with underwear and Levis.

Mountain Musings appears the second Thursday of each month and is special to The Cambrian. Email Marcia Rhoades at