CYPRESS, Texas - There is a llama with a different personality every where you look on Figment Ranch in Cypress.
"They are so smart and so sensitive. They are just like potato chips, and you can't have one, you've got to have a bunch of them," said Ruby Herron, owner of the 20-acre ranch.
Herron and Robin Turell started out with just one llama named Domino, who started a domino effect, because they now have 60-70.
Herron and Turell bought their first llama at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo because they needed a tax write off for their land, but the animals quickly became their passion.
"What llamas can do is help make people happy," said Turell, who also owns the ranch and was a former special education teacher.
The pair helps others by using their animals for therapy. "I just believe that is the llamas personality, that they just can feel you, feel the person," said Turell. "They are special whether you are in a bad mood or sad. They just tend to be there for you."
"They are easy keep, low maintenance and inexpensive," said Herron, while two of her llamas kept a watchful eye on her.
The breeder said the llamas like to forage, and that makes up 90 percent of their diet, but she said she spoils her llamas by always having a pocketful of treats.
"We have some that will give kisses and we have some that will stand off like a cat and say 'you want what? nah,'" said Herron, trying to get one of the llamas to give Local 2's Owen Conflenti a kiss.
The International Llama Registry statistics account for more than 11,000 llamas in Texas. More than 162,000 llamas are used as show animals, to guard property and, more recently, as pets.
"We take them into the house and they love to watch TV, " said Herron, as they took one of the llamas inside and turned on Local 2.
Herron the llamas really run the house, and the rest are allowed to live there with them.
Sixteen of the llamas on Figment Ranch are babies, aged three to five months old. Two, currently on the ranch, are headed to the Houston Zoo when they get big enough, and then they will be show boys.
Sean Price is one of the llama's handler. He is also known as the llama whisperer.
"They are so smart. You can get them to do anything," said Price.
He showed us how the llamas go through an obstacle course at competitions, and then he let Owen Conflenti try the course with one of the llamas. They made it through with only knocking one pole down and no llama spit.
"You know spit happens, and if you get in the line of fire every once in a while, it just happens, but they normally don't just come up and spit at you," said Herron as our Local 2 crew took a step back.
One llama, Beamer, will be defending his title at the Alpaca Llama Show Association this fall in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Until then, he will be enjoying the good life as a pet on Figment Ranch.
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