Photos from the Vault

Llamas at the beach? 2 pack animals spotted taking a stroll in the surf in Pismo Beach

Deenie Dotson, left, and sister Mary Ellen Bacile stroll with Vernet and Porcelana, who are in training for a llama jamboree in this October 1988 photo.
Deenie Dotson, left, and sister Mary Ellen Bacile stroll with Vernet and Porcelana, who are in training for a llama jamboree in this October 1988 photo. Telegram-Tribune

Summer is here, which means it’s time to pack your llama and head to the beach.

Two of the pack animals were spotted walking in the surf at Pismo Beach in the 1980s.

Jill Duman wrote this story, which ran in the Telegram-Tribune on Oct. 20, 1988.

Crazy Ladies like their llamas

Mary had a little llama. Fifteen of them to be exact. Mary is Mary Ellen Bacile. She and her sister Deenie Dodson own Crazy Ladies Llama Ranch, an Arroyo Grande breeding operation for the South American animal that seems to be finding a new niche in California.

According to Dotson, llamas are the new pet of the year. Although, she hastens to add, they’re not exactly house pets.

At 400 to 500 pounds, llamas aren’t lap dogs. But, she said, the llamas make great pack animals on backpacking trips. In fact, Dotson said, there are even treks available especially for llamas and their owners. The llamas do the backpacking and the owners walk alongside.

Dotson said she and her sister started their ranch almost six years ago from two breeder llamas they picked up in Riverside. Since then, llamas have grown in popularity, and there is now even a Central Coast Llama Association for llama owners from Santa Ynez to Paso Robles.

As llamas have become more popular, so have breeder shows that emphasize appearance and grooming just as cat and dog shows do.

But Dotson and Bacile are especially looking forward to the first annual International Llama Association Llama Jamboree, a light-hearted series of events planned for llamas and llama owners the weekend of Nov. 4 and 5 in Del Mar. Dotson said the events will include a flapjack-making contest, in which llamas tow a cookstove and then their owners quickly unload cooking utensils and whip up breakfast.

Dotson said she also expects seaside activities will be included, so she and Bacile spent the weekend acclimating llamas Vernet and Porcelana to Pismo Beach.

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