By John Spina
You’ve heard of service dogs, but how about service llamas?
For those with disabilities, regaining access to the trail systems surrounding Boulder is a life changer, but it takes a huge amount of work. With the help of a llama, however, those with disabilities can venture further, go faster and stay longer.
Tuesday afternoon Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks and Pack Animal Magazine held an event to try and raise awareness about the benefits of llamas as service animals in the backcountry. The Center for People with Disabilities — whose mission is to “provide resources, information and advocacy to assist people with disabilities in overcoming barriers to independent living” and has locations in Boulder, Longmont and Broomfield — also helped put on the event.
“It means a lot to, say the least,” said Vijay Viiswanathan, a community outreach specialist for Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, who was paralyzed in a repelling accident his freshman year at the University of Colorado. “I’ve always been an avid outdoors person and when I was paralyzed I thought that a lot of those activities weren’t going to be possible anymore. But Boulder is one of the places where folks are pushing the bounders of adaptive sports.”
With the help of llamas, those in wheelchairs can use hand cycles to access backcountry locations while using a llama to carry their wheelchair or any other additional weight. This allows them to climb aspects of 16 degrees or more, with the help of a power assists similar to an e-bike.
Read more on The Daily Camera.