News Comment #13: “The Llama as Therapist.”

In Stockdale, Texas a 300-pound llama strolls through the corridors of the local nursing home, lowering its heads to be petted by residents in wheelchairs and pausing patiently to take selfies.

Tic, a white male llama owned by Zoe Rutledge is one of 13 llamas owned by the Rutledge family. Tic and two other members his herd have passed the qualifying exam necessary to become registered therapy llamas. It’s a test that involves being touched by strangers and remaining impassive when people nearby start arguing.

Zoe and her family chose the animals they take to assisted living facilities, nursing and veterans’ homes, rehabilitation centers and walk-a-thons for groups like the Down Syndrome Association of South Texas.

I liked the creativity of this story but the organization is all wrong. It gave no background to the owner and the family, and the other facilities they go to. The important facts that piece the story together are all at the bottom when it should the top with the leads.


  1. I want a therapy llama! (as long as it doesn’t spit)

    The story, much like other NYT stories, tries to be comprehensive, which does lead to organization problems. This should be a simpler story focused on human interest.