Two-year old emotional support llama (in training) Kuzco is pet by birthday boy Eric Robinson. Kuzco spent the entire visiting time drinking water out of the bottle. He’ll drink from a bucket at home but will only drink from a water bottle when out on visits.MHN PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Kandace Dolph brought her llama, Kuzco, to Strathcona Island Park for kids who were attending the Medicine Hat Public School Division’s Hugs/My Place crafting event. The llama was a few minutes late and a crowd was eager for the first sighting.

Eric Robinson, who was celebrating his birthday, came down with his family to visit with Kuzco. Robinson recently had an accident that has curbed some of his birthday and summer plans, although he did admit his favourite activity so far has been playing Minecraft.

“We don’t know if I broke my foot or not,” explained Robinson. “But I was walking up the garage stairs, which is two steps. Since they are thin wooden ones, I bumped my foot on the top of the second step and had to go to hospital.”

Robinson will be getting additional x-rays this Friday to determine how long he needs to wear the air boot for. He’s doing well on the crutches but finds them annoying.

Summer hasn’t been all about being inside playing video games. Robinson, who will be going into Grade 6 in September, has also made money from his lemonade stand. He was excited about the new pedal bike he received for his birthday, although he is unable to ride it right now. Coming down to visit with the llama was part of his birthday surprises.

“They have some other surprises for me, I don’t know what yet,” concluded Robinson.

Dolph takes Kuzco – who is two years old and still growing – to birthday parties, senior homes, daycares, schools and walks the trails at Strathcona Park.

“It was something I started doing and it slowly escalated where people started asking if they could pet him. I noticed it made people really happy, so I started bringing him more,” explained Dolph.

Having always wanted a llama, Dolph noticed it made a huge difference to her own health when she brought Kuzco out with her.

“I’m hypoglycemic and when I get in big groups my blood sugar drops drastically. I started bringing him and I haven’t taken my meds in over four months.”

In training as an emotional support llama, Kuzco is nearly at the last step to be certified. Dolph has all the paperwork done but is still waiting on a doctor’s note.

“My doctor has been supervising and been documenting everything,” said Dolph. “We are just waiting now because he must have so many meetings with me before he can actually write the note.”

Kuzco is still quite small but will continue growing for several more years and will be six to seven feet tall as an adult, living as long as 20-30 years. Dolph also has a seven-year-old female alpaca at her place on Holsom Road. She charges a fee for bringing Kuzco for visits in the city, but there is no charge to head out to her place to visit with both animals.

“She’s (the alpaca) good with people, but she’s not used to them. He rides in the back of my van, she’s too big,” explained Dolph.

Dolph can be found on Facebook under Kandy’s Kritters. Message her to arrange a visit with her animals or for more information about booking Kuzco at your own event.

By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 27, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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