Sun City held a Fall Fair at the Sun Dial recreation center.  It was to raise money for the Sun City Fire Department, which is kept extremely busy here with the wide assortment of emergencies and ailments that can befall seniors in their twilight years.  The affair was packed.  Maybe it was the carnival games.  Maybe it was the Deejay and the nostalgic sound of 50’s and 60’s rock and roll.  Maybe it was the ½ pound hamburgers and ¼ pound hot dogs.  Maybe it was the $2 beer and $3 Bloody Mary’s.  But I’m putting my money on the runaway llamas.

In February two llamas, Kahkneeta and Laney, were brought to a nearby nursing home as therapy animals.  However, at some point during the “therapy” session, they both managed to break free and proceeded to lead the sheriff’s department on a low-speed 20 minute chase through the quiet streets of Sun City.  It created quite the media frenzy and endeared Kahkneeta and Laney to the hearts of the nation and possibly the world.

The llamas were on display, securely enclosed in a pen, at the entrance to the Fun Fair, and drew a continuous gawking crowd of curious, llama loving, photo-snapping seniors, including me and Bill.

Mom was napping when we left at 4:00 so I wrote her a note to let her know where we were and when we’d be back, then we jumped into Barney and drove the mile and a quarter to Sun Dial.  We figured we could see all there was to see in an hour or so and still be home to fix Mom’s dinner at 6:00.  And we were right.  When we wandered back into the house at 5:30, Mom was watching TV.

“Hi,” I said as I walked into the living room.  “Did you have a nice nap?”

“I guess I did, except I was asleep so I don’t know for sure,” she shrugged.  “So where did you two go?”

“Just like the note said,” I replied, pointing to the slip of paper resting on her lap.  “To the Sun City Fun Fair.”

“And where was it?”

“At Sun Dial.”

“Is that where I used to live?”

“No, Mom, it’s one of the rec centers here.  It’s only about a mile away so we drove the golf cart.”

“Oh, okay.  I wondered why the car was still here.  So, was it any good?”

“It was nice.  I won a couple of stuffed animals for Olivia and Morgan and a ton of people showed up so they’ll probably raise a lot of money for the fire department.  The llamas were pretty cute, too,” I added as I walked toward the hall.

“Llamas?  Why would there be llamas there?” she asked, scrunching up her forehead quizzically.

“As an attraction to get more people to come I suppose.  Especially after they tried to run away last February and got chased all over Sun City by the sheriff’s department.”

She paused for a moment and scratched the tip of her nose.  “Why would they run away?” she finally asked.

“I don’t know.  I guess to be free,” I answered.  “It must not be much fun living in a pen and being led around by a halter.”

“Well that’s just not right,” she exclaimed, sounding somewhat alarmed.

“Maybe not, but that’s the way it is.”

“But what were they even doing here in the first place?”

“Here?  In Sun City?”

“No, here in this country.  They live in some foreign place somewhere.  In the mountains, I think.”

“Yes, normally they do but these llamas live here, on someone’s ranch.”

“But what about their church?” she continued.


“Yes, in the mountains, where they live.”

I paused for a beat until my brain kicked into Mom-mode and the light bulb went off inside my head.  “Oh, you’re thinking of monks.  Like the Dali Llama.  These are pack animals.”  I pulled my phone out of my pocket and scrolled to one of the pictures I’d taken.  “See, they’re sort of like sheep with long necks and big brown eyes.

She craned her head forward, squinted at the screen for a moment, and then leaned back.  “That makes more sense,” she said, obviously relieved that it wasn’t a picture of a couple of Tibetan priests in shackles.  “But I don’t know why they couldn’t just bring goats or cows or horses instead.”

“Why, what’s wrong with llamas?”

“Well for one thing, the other regular animals probably don’t run away.  And B, they aren’t even American,” she concluded with a huff as she put aside my note and replaced it with the TV guide.

Kahkneeta laney

Kahkneeta and Laney


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