CENTRAL SAANICH – Dana starts walking towards her llama stables before looking back at her dog. "C'mon Paco," she says. "Let's go see her!" 

This past winter, Dana and Paco were going to see Ebony, an aging llama who had been slowing down and keeping to herself. 

"She was old and a little arthritic," Dana says of Ebony. "I didn't think much of it."

Dana certainly never imagined what – or rather who – they'd find when they arrived to visit Ebony that day. "Suddenly we have this baby llama that stands up, " Dana recalls. "And it's like, what?!"

Although Dana says it's hard to tell when a llama is expecting, Ebony should have been too old to conceive. Also, the stable fences should have kept Ebony and the male llama Oreo separated.

But the past is not important when your present is staring up at you with big, brown eyes asking for help.

"I need to do everything I can to keep this baby llama alive," Dana recalls.

Ebony wasn't producing enough milk of her own, so Dana had to bottle-feed baby Poppy for six weeks, which posed a potential problem. "They bond and associate themselves with people," Dana says. "Not their llama family."

Now a few months later, Dana walks into the stables to demonstrate how Poppy greets people. "She usually runs over, probably for food," Dana says with a smile. "But I like to thinks it’s a llama kiss!"

Poppy "kissed" me too. Rather than pucker up, she stretched her long neck towards my face until her nose was next to my lips, and gently blew air. It felt unexpectedly lovely.

That’s not the only unexpected thing about Poppy. Instead of bonding inappropriately with people, the llama has become best friends with the dog. "Poppy and Paco love to play together!" Dana smiles. "I do think they have some crazy bond."

The furry friends seem to play their own unique version of tag. Poppy – with her long gangly legs – races towards Paco before bouncing over him. Then Paco – a mix of Chihuahua/dachshund/Jack Russell terrier – chases after her.

"She seems to love it and so does he," Dana laughs. "It's pretty fun to watch!"

And for 19-year-old Ebony, pretty much a relief. "Mom is in no position to romp with her daughter," Dana says with laugh. "I'm sure she's pretty happy to have Paco in there playing."