It’s been about a year since we adopted Gary and let me start off by saying that time has really flown. Since we don’t actually know how old Gary is or when his birthday is we’ve chosen to celebrate Gary’s birthday on his “gotchya day.”
The first year with Gary has had such a large learning curve. While not everything has been easy and it has involved a lot of googling and asking vets questions, we’re so grateful to have him in our home.
Gary, similar to Twitch, sparked a deeper love for animals with me, especially when it comes to small mammals. As I said in a previous post of mine, I didn’t actually even know what Chinchillas were before accepting to take Gary into our home. It’s quite embarrassing for someone who worked in a pet store, but I don’t think Chinchillas ever came up during my time working there.
Although Gary doesn’t interact with Beau and Kalista very frequently, other than the occasional time where one of them visits his cage, he has done a lot of bonding with us. I won’t pretend that he’s closer to us then the cats are since I still find it fairly difficult to emotionally bond with him, but I will say that the connection has been growing at a rapid speed, especially more recently.
I think my mental block primarily stems from Gary being unable to express his feelings towards us unless we are around. Unlike our cats, Gary doesn’t have the freedom to come to visit us whenever he wants and he’s limited to how much time he gets with us based on how often we visit his cage.
We have moved his cage around my partner’s office a few times over the year to see if there’s a better location that allows him to keep a better eye out to see if Gary seems lonely or if he needs something. I still feel a bit guilty about not being able to have Gary stay in my office, but even as we continue to try making our apartment safer and secure, my office remains one of the least insulated as well as the easiest room for the cats to break in to. The latter of these problems has been happening more frequently and at this point, it’s actually rare that I don’t find the cats chilling in my office as soon as I wake up.
That all being said, we’re still taking steps to try to help improve Gary’s life. We’ve been making sure to give him a good amount of attention a few times a day, let him out of the cage every so often so he can stretch his legs and we’re still working on saving money for a larger/taller cage.
We’ve also been making sure that at least once a week we let the cats interact with Gary, while we’re holding him, although today I actually let him hop around Beau on the couch. Funny enough, Beau is terrified of Gary when I’m not holding him and jumped off the couch as soon as he saw Gary move. I guess even though Beau was a vicious hunter in the wild, he’s softened up and has gotten so cozy not having predators around.
Although the goal isn’t to have Gary hop around the house freely, since that’s extremely unsafe, it is a goal that the cats fully understand that Gary is part of the family and not food. In more recent months the cats have stopped pawing at Gary altogether and neither of them have tried to take a bite of him (which was fairly common for Beau… since he’s always hungry.)
All-in-all, I will say that taking care of Gary is fairly simple. Minus the sneezing that scared us a while back and the most recent ulcer situation, Gary has never had any health problems.
He’s doing really great for such an old guy (since we at least know that he is over 11 years old) and we think he’s going to have many more years with us! I do have a couple of goals for us to accomplish this year with him:
1. I want to build a jumping obstacle course for him in a room that’s fully Chinchilla safe
2. I want to train Gary to do at least one trick, even if it’s just coming to us when we call his name
That being said, I am excited to begin working on these tasks this summer since I’m off teaching and can fully focus on the pets and Pets Overload again.
This year I hope to make lots of new memories with Gary and find ways to help me feel more emotionally attached to him. I want to make sure that Gary enjoys spending time with us and is aware that we love him and care for him, especially as he gets older.
That being said, Gary started squeaking for me while holding him a few weeks ago, so I think we’re well on our way, but who knows how much more affectionate he will become!
I am extremely grateful that Gary has been opening up to us being his new parents faster than many Chinchillas do (as it can take even up to a few years before a Chinchilla lets you hold them) and I’m well aware that we can’t rush it!
Happy Gotchya day Gary, and happy “birthday” little guy. We love you and can’t wait to spend more time with you.