Category Archives: pets

Talking to strangers

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Oreo LOVES his hay!

The other day, my dad and I stopped by Tractor Supply to pick up some aspen shavings and chew toys for my chinchilla, Oreo. Many small pets use cedar shavings for their bedding, but cedar contains resins which can be toxic or irritating to chinchilla physiology. So aspen shavings are the best option when going with a hardwood bedding material.

They were having a sale on the size bag of aspen shavings I buy, so we picked up two. On our way to the cashier, this older man called our attention and wanted to know if we were buying the shavings for bedding. We said yes, and he said that what we really needed were cedar shavings.

Of course, we tried to explain that we had a chinchilla (which he’d never heard of, of course), and that chinchillas were allergic to cedar. They had to use aspen. But he kept insisting that cedar was the only way to go. That he whittled cedar as a hobby and had tons of cedar shavings he could “sell us.”

Ahhh. One of those.

I get annoyed when random strangers talk to me in the store. Most of the time it’s just a pithy comment about something, which is fine, but when they want to have a conversation… no. Just let me go about my business, please. I probably don’t even want to be in the store anyway, so I try to avoid eye contact and just smile and nod when someone says something to me. But to start a full conversation? Especially trying to sell me something? Oh hell, no.

I’m glad my dad was with me, because he shot the guy down really quick and we got out of there with the aspen shavings. If I’d been on my own I would have felt trapped, unable to think of anything to say to get out of the conversation quickly.

Sometimes I feel like I still have a lot of growing up to do.

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Tardy slip

To my employer:

Last night when I got home from work, I discovered, to my horror, that our kitchen had been invaded by tiny little ants. After following their trail into the dining room, I promptly freaked out, then set about cleaning off everything on the kitchen counters, washing the few unwashed dishes I had unwisely decided to put off doing until later, and hunting down the bug spray. It was in the laundry room, where I promptly stubbed my toe on the ironing board trying to get it down from the shelf.

I confess I went on an ant-killing rampage. I sprayed bug spray in every little nook and cranny around the stove I could find, then had a second freak-out session when I discovered the ants were coming into the kitchen from the dining room via the ceiling. Try aiming bug spray in the air and not get any in your eyes. It’s a challenge, let me assure you.

This is Dixie's "I know I did something wrong, but can you forgive me" look. Works every time.

I used the bug spray liberally. And by liberally, I mean I almost emptied the can. As we have a small dog and an even smaller chinchilla in residence, I opened the dining room windows to vent the pesticide fumes from the house. The dog hid in my parents’ bedroom. The chinchilla’s cage was dragged into the living room while the fumes aired out and the ants died in the fog.

The combination of the bug spray and me smashing every ant I saw seems to have deterred the pests from both the dining room and the kitchen — for now.

This morning, as I came downstairs to grab my things in order to go to work, I noticed that the dining room windows were still open, even though my father had told me he’d shut them before he left for the day. But, since it wouldn’t take more than a few seconds of my time to close, I did so. However, I failed to notice that my little dog had, shall we say, a small accident next to the dining room table. As I stepped back from shutting the window, I felt something go squish underneath my foot.

Cue the third freak-out in 12 hours. I pulled my shoe off and immediately ran to the laundry room sink. But dog poo, as you know, is not so easily cleaned off by running water. Paper towels were involved. As were Clorox wipes, an old scrub brush, an ice scraper and several toothpicks to clean out every little groove in my tennis shoe.

I agree that I could have just put on another pair of shoes, but if you’ve ever stepped in doggy-doo, you know that you should never let it dry on.

After cleaning off my shoe (now smelling lemony fresh!) I had to attend to the mess in the dining room. All I can say is, by that time, I was counting my blessings that we had replaced the carpet in the dining room several years ago with laminate flooring. Otherwise, the dog and I would have been in deeper doodie than we already were.

More paper towels, Clorox wipes and the ice scraper later, and the mess had finally been cleared up. A little Febreeze in the air, and all traces of the “accident” were gone.

Long story short, I apologize for being an hour late to work this morning. I hope you can understand my reasons.

Thank you,
Me

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Meet Oreo

Once upon a time, there was a little chinchilla named Oreo who was owned by people who didn’t really want to care for him. Then one day, he was brought home by a kind man who knew he and his family could give him a better home.

wildlife001

When he came to live with us, he spent most of his time curled up inside his little "mouse house."

He didn't like to come out much.

He didn't like to come out much.

But his new familiy bought him some cage toys and he started to emerge more often.

But his new familiy bought him some cage toys and he started to emerge more often.

and he really like his new perch!

and he really like his new perch!

But he was still sad because he didn't have enough room to play.

But he was still sad because he didn't have enough room to play.

But with his new family, he has bigger places to explore!

But with his new family, he has bigger places to explore!

And he gets good food every day.

And he gets good food every day.

And a bigger cage to play in!

And a bigger cage to play in!

He's still wary of people (especially when they've got big, scary cameras pointed at him).

He's still wary of people (especially when they've got big, scary cameras pointed at him).

But he's slowly learning to interact with us and seems a lot happier in his new home.

But he's slowly learning to interact with us and seems a lot happier in his new home.

To be continued…

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Should have at least bought my dinner

Monday night, I had noticed my chinchilla, Oreo, vigorously doing something to his private parts-area with this mouth. I’d seen him try to mount the dog’s bed a couple of times over the weekend and figured perhaps he was just horny and, er… flexible.

However, just to be sure, when I got to work yesterday, I did some research, since I don’t know much about chinchillas (and frankly, hadn’t ever heard of one until Oreo came to us by accident). I discovered that male chinchillas don’t really perform self-, er… fellatio. But his actions could be a more serious problem, such as a hair ring that could be caught around the base of his little penis.

This, of course, freaked me out, because I tend to be a bit high-strung when it comes to animals in my care. But I read up on what to do and how to check, and last night….

I gave the chinchilla a hand job.

While my parents watched.

And he didn’t even buy me dinner first.

Joking aside, you have to have one person catch him (Dad) and hold him securely against his chest. Mom had to hold his feet because he was trying hard to escape. (I don’t blame him.) As for me, I had to lube up my fingers (I really am not making this up) and push his little penis sheath down to expose the organ itself. Fortunately, the Web site I checked had pictures as to what hair rings looked like and Oreo did not have one. Yay! Then I had to ease the sheath back over his little penis to protect it.

Poor little thing. The indignity of it all!

It didn’t occur to me later that with the new computers at work, they can check and see what you’re doing and where you go online. I wonder what they’ll think if they ever see that I spent my lunch break looking at pictures of a chinchilla penis.

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I fret too much, I think.

Caring for our new little furry friend, Oreo the chinchilla, is giving me fits. Not that he’s hard to care for, but that I’ll do something inadvertently to hurt him, since I know next to nothing about them. I wasn’t looking to own a chinchilla when Oreo came into our home, but we have him now, and I do think he’s better off with us than he was in his last environment.

Of course, I spend hours online on chinchilla sites, but on the Internet, how do you really know what information is good and what is not? I’m relying heavily on one site, www.chincare.com, because it does seem to have lots and lots of information with credible sources. I shall have to write to thank them for their hard work in compiling all the information, because otherwise, I’m afraid of what we might have accidentally done to poor little Oreo.

Even with all that information, I’m still paranoid. Last night, I was convinced Oreo had a hunchback, which can indicate severe malnutrition or worse. The malnutrition was believable. I know his previous owner didn’t feed him properly. But today, I’m thinking maybe I overreacted, after reading that chinchillas have a naturally occurring curve in their spine. I just don’t know. But he seems to be, as near as I can figure, healthy. He plays. He eats. He drinks. He poops (a lot!). He has had a couple of sticky poops (which is bad), but I think that may be because I’ve just started feeding him a little bit of alfalfa, plus he’s moved into a new cage, and change in diet/stress can cause sticky poops. And I’ve only seen maybe four or five sticky ones. The rest appear normal.

He’s not a social chin. He’s been neglected so long he doesn’t like or trust people. I’m hoping, in time, he’ll learn to trust me. I work with him every day. I have been able to coax him onto my arm and into my lap, but I cannot pick him up. He just will not allow that. I am a little envious when reading all these sites of chins who will play with their people, but I know Oreo can’t help it, and so I’ll just have to continue to do the best I can in hopes someday he’ll learn to play with me.

I am going to have to have the willpower to stop giving him raisins everyday! I’ve been giving him one raisin every night, but I know he should only get one 2-3 times a week. So tonight, he will not get one. Willpower! *game face*

I can’t wait to get home to my little guy. I want to scratch his chin. Tomorrow is cage-cleaning day. It’ll be the first time cleaning his new cage, so I’ll have to see how long it takes me so I’ll know how much time to set aside every week to get it done.

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Of chincillas and men

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I was recently granted full custody of the chinchilla we’d been caring for over summer break. Oreo is now mine!

School started this week and the teacher who owned him asked Dad to bring him back because the “kids were asking for him.”

Dad said fine, he’d bring him back, but that this year, she was going to clean the cage and take care of him. He also told her that if he ever caught Oreo without any food again (because she’d forget to feed him for days), he was calling the Humane Society on her.

She quickly decided she didn’t want him back after all. So he’s mine now.

First thing I did when I got the news was order him a bigger cage. The cage he’s in now is way too small for a chinchilla. I spent about $215 online yesterday ordering chinchilla stuff. Good thing I hadn’t used any of the money my parents had given me for the past two Christmases.

I can’t wait until the cage gets here! I think he’ll be much happier. It’s multi-leveled because chinchillas like to jump.

When he first came to live with us, you couldn’t get near him. Chinchillas are normally sociable, but he’d been neglected for so long he didn’t like people. It’s been two months, but now he’ll crawl up onto my hands and arms if he thinks I have a raisin. He likes raisins. 🙂

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