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Originally, Shannon Joy trained Rojo to be a show llama for the 4-H program, of which he became a grand champion at the county and state levels. While at a fair one day, Shannon observed a five-year-old boy in a wheelchair light up at the sight of Rojo, which made her rethink what Rojo should be doing. 


As llamas go, Rojo was exceptionally calm, gentle, and very social, people were always drawn to him. It was then that they got the idea that he would make a wonderful therapy animal, so they entered him in the Dove Lewis Animal-Assisted Therapy Training program at age five. He has been described as Portland’s most famous therapy animal, with a career spanning over 12 years and over 1,000 visits to children in hospitals, nursing homes, rehab and memory care facilities, as well as special-needs schools. 


After passing away from old age at 17, his owners had his body preserved and donated to the wildlife safari room at the Washington School for the Blind.