Life As An Alpaca


Taylor West, Staff Writer

How important are your pets? Many people hold their pets close, adopting them into the family circle as if they were a sibling of their own, while others pay more attention to their pets than the members of their family. Dogs populate over 50 percent of household pets, cats being the runner up and horses occupying the third. For junior Dustin Patchakos, dogs, cats, and horses are a bit too basic. On his family-owned farm of four acres, Dustin has an unusual set of pets. Seven alpacas rule the Patchakos household, each with their own unique character. On a toasty Sunday afternoon, I sat down with Dustin for a few questions about how life is on an alpaca farm.

Meet the alpacas:

Rosie, a female alpaca who is 3 years old and described as shy.

Joy, a female alpaca who is 4 years old and described as aggressive.

Buttercup, a female alpaca who is 3  years old and described as sweet.

Star, a female alpaca who is 4 years old and described as anti social.

Ellie, a female alpaca who is 2 years old and described as boy crazy.

Teddy, a male alpaca who is 3  years old and described as crazy.

Brady, a male alpaca who is 4  years old and described as dominant.

While seven alpacas are enough to deal with and take care of, Dustin’s family hasn’t strayed from basic animals. Along with their alpacas, the Patchakos family owns three dogs, two cats (which are the least favorite), and seven chinchillas. At one point he had 12 chinchillas, although he explains they die quick, but he tends to replace them just as quickly. “I think my mom loves them more than me,” Dustin says, responding to his mom’s thought on the second foreign pet in the household.

The mastermind behind having the idea of owning the animals happens to be Dustin’s mom. While his dad did have some input in the decision, it was very little compared to his mom. The attraction to alpacas, rather than regular animals, was due to the neighbors. Dustin says his mom was instantly compelled by the loud and exotic animals their neighbor had.

The initial upbringing of the first alpaca owned in Dustin’s house wasn’t particularly memorable. It mirrors the selection process of a dog or cat. His parents talked it through until they agreed that getting a pet alpaca was the right fit for them. Next, they attended an alpaca show to make sure they knew what owning one was all about. Finally, they found a good breeder and began shopping for the perfect first alpaca. When they brought the first one home back in 2013, Dustin says he remembers thinking it was odd, as anyone who didn’t own such an animal would, but the idea slowly grew on him. Alpacas come in herds, therefore it’s best to get them in packs. This is their reason behind owning seven of them.