Monday, August 31, 2009

A Long Way Down

Today I did a lot of work with Gizmo on going down his new slide. "Slide" is a trick he's known for a little while, but we ended up getting rid of the little slide he learned on, and replacing it with one that's about twice as tall and long.

The new distance kind of freaks him out, so I've pretty much been teaching him the "Go down your slide!" trick from scratch. At first I was having him go down it laying down to hopefully help, and I've been working on easing him into more of a sitting position.

He'll go down it all on his own without me physically guiding him, now, but only if I'm standing right there. If I take a step backwards away from the slide, he panics and jumps off the side of it. It kind of reminds me of when someone is trying to teach a little kid how to ride a bike; First you have to have one hand on them or the bike the whole time, and then they get a little more confident so that you don't have to be touching them, but they still need you to run along side them. Hopefully in the future, I'll be able to say "Gizmo! Go down your slide!" and he'll run and go sliding down it without me having to go stand right next to it to reassure him.

What's kind of funny is that sliding down it doesn't make him nervous when he's playing on his own. One of his favorite games is to take one of his balls to the top of the slide, throw it down the slide, and then go skidding down the slide after it to catch it. I think he just over-thinks it when treats are involved.

Picture Taken On: October 7, 2008

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Good Little Gremlin

Today, as I was taking Gizmo out of his play yard to give him his walk, the latch on the gate to his pen slid down and caught my necklace in it, basically attaching my neck to the door. I hadn't even gotten a hold of Gizmo yet when this happened, so he darted out the door in between my legs.

Crap, I thought, That's me chasing him around the yard for the next hour and a half.

But he didn't go anywhere. He sat down about three feet away, and watched quietly as I freed myself. Once I got loose, I sat down and patted my thigh, and the little guy pounced into my lap and rolled over for a belly rub. I praised him pretty lavishly, and when I took him inside he got a fresh hard-boiled egg. Never in a million years did I think he'd just sit there quietly when he could be running laps along the fence.

Picture Taken On: May 21, 2008

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Of foxes and chinchillas

Along with having Gizmo, we breed chinchillas too. Well, one time when Gizmo was still very little (I'd say maybe 12 weeks?) my mom gave Gizmo a peanut out of the chinchilla food mix, and he absolutely loved it. It got to the point that whenever you fed the chinchillas, he'd be sitting right there whining and begging and (if he could manage it) stealing mouthfuls of chinchilla food.

Thus was born the rule that you're not allowed to feed the fox peanuts out of the chinchilla bowls.

Problem is, nobody told the "Don't give the fox peanuts" rule to our one 'chilla, Eddie.

Now Gizmo will still sit outside the chinchilla cage and whine and beg, and Eddie hands him peanuts through the bars. It's the funniest thing to watch. Unfortunately, I haven't managed to get him on film yet.

(Oh, by the way, the little premature 'chilla is doing fine. He's started to climb the bars of his cage, and other than being tiny, is acting completely normal and healthy.)

(Picture Taken On: August 24, 2009)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Puddles. Filthy, Gross Puddles.

Tonight it was pouring down rain, so I ended up shortening Gizmo's walk a bit. He gets walked regardless of what the weather is, but I take a different, shorter route whenever the weather is icky.

Gizmo loves the rain, mud, puddles, all of it. He actually loves pretty much all water, so long as it might not accidentally clean him. So, when I take him out for a walk in the rain, I have to keep an eye out for filthy,gross puddles and steer him clear of them.

Well, tonight I missed one. I didn't see it until Gizmo was already in mid-cowabunga, and by then it was too late. He splashed down in the mud, and now we both could use a bath. He was grinning like an idiot the whole way home, like he was real proud of himself. Again, Gizmo's always taught me to take pleasure in the little things. Like completely drenching oneself in mud.

Sionnach and Maisey

Here's a story I came across on Sybil's Den not long ago, about their red fox Sionnach, and their border collie, Maisey. Foxes are generally not the first animal that comes to mind when someone thinks of "loyalty", but it's amazing how dedicated they can be when a member of their family is in need.

I often say that "When it comes to food, foxes have no friends." Little Sionnach just proved me wrong.

"I know this isn't the dog forum, but I feel like I know you all better. My border collie, Maisey was hit by a car the other night/ early morning. She is a rescue who was terribly abused for her first two years and only kept outside. She's 5 now but still sometimes in summer she won't listen and won't come inside. We called for and looked for her for 3 hours the other night but we couldn't find her and she wouldn't come in. Nonetheless, my neighbors who have a dog door (and love her as much as I do), heard her come in their house at 2:30am (Carol said she looked at the clock when she heard the dog door). Then around 5 am, the husband told Maisey to go outside because she was making "a lot of noise" ... they had NO idea she was hurt.

Long story longer... in the morning my neighbor, Bill (said husband) called to me from across the horse pasture frantically saying that he didn't know where Maisey was and she was really hurt (when they really woke up, they saw the blood). He didn't realize this at 5 am and now, after seeing blood, etc, was frantic.

We found her, left front leg "skinned" to the bone and listless. Bill and Carol, my dear, dear, neighbors helped me get her into the truck and to the vet.

48 plus hours later she is home and trying to recouperate. She was very munched in the accident - liver and internal organs bruised plus the terrible leg injury. No broken bones but NO ligaments left whatsoever. She'll need her ankle fused at some point.

Maisey likes to be with the horse - lay near her and follow her around. She NEVER goes near the road (quite a ways) but my horse was able to graze next door and their big pasture goes all the way to the road. We think she followed the horse out there near the road and that's why she was hit.

I've been thinking, re-thinking and fretting about every decision I've made since that night (why didn't I try to look for her more, why didn't I make her stay inside, etc, etc.). What I really need is prayer for Maisey - or good thoughts or however your feelings tend towards. I feel like it's my fault to a large degree - however - I need to stay positive for her, I feel.

She ate this morning. Actually, Sion LOVES her and he pushed his bowl onto the floor this morning (we feed him on the table - he eats what he want sand then often pushes over his food dish). He usually doesn't care which dog eats the rest, but this morning he geckered at Wyatt who was trying to eat the scraps and Sion PUSHED THE BOWL TO MAISEY. I swear to this and may God strike me dead if I'm making this up!!!! It was the first time she'd eaten since late Tuesday.

SORRY for the rediculously long post. However it feels good to sort it all out in writing. GOOD NEWS is my vet and friend, Theo Schuff said to feed her some good, raw, red meat as it would be good for her blood and body. I bought some all natural ground beef and she ate it heartily tonight! Hooray for Maisey, but she is not out of the woods yet - I would appreciate and be thankful for all your prayers.

With much gratitude,

I just thought I'd share that. I hope you all keep Maisey in your thoughts and prayers, and wish her a speedy recovery.

A pic of Sion and Maisey (Sorry, this was the biggest I had).

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Improvised Breakfasts and Foxy Brown

This morning when I went to feed Gizmo his breakfast, I realized that I didn't have any "Gizmo Burgers" left in the fridge or freezer at all, so I had to improvise. He ended up getting a cup of cooked oatmeal, a hard-boiled egg, and a little bit of ham, all mixed in together. Definitely not his standard fare, but he seemed to like it well enough, and I didn't think that any of it would be strong enough to make him sick.

Tonight on our walk, we got to meet the neighbor's brand new Bernese Mountain Dog puppy, "Foxy Brown". She was super sweet, and calmed down really quickly for any dog, let alone a puppy. I was really impressed with her. Gizmo, on the other hand, was more interested in the garbage sack her mom was holding.

My brother was able to get some of it on film, but he ran out of memory pretty quickly. 

Monday, August 24, 2009

A New Toy!

Not a very busy day, but something of note did happen. I gave Gizmo a brand new ball today! It glows in the dark, and it's hollow so that treats can be put in it. He spent the better part of the afternoon carrying it around in his mouth and playing with it.

Now that I've given it to him, it'll probably be another week or so before I'm "allowed" to touch it again.

Unfortunately, due to a family birthday party that ran a little late, we had to skip his evening walk tonight, which led to a huge screaming fit when I went to put him to bed tonight. I'll make it up to him tomorrow, though.

Picture Taken On: August 24, 2009
(Gizmo and his brand new ball)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Worst Mommy EVER

Yikes. Today Gizmo ended up stuck in his crate longer than usual (to about 2 pm), as he had to wait for me to get home from work to let him out. He was in good spirits, though, so I don't think the extra wait bothered him too much.

To make up for him having been confined in his night crate longer, I took him for an extra-long walk tonight. We saw some of the dogs that he's friends with (Ginger the Golden mix, and Snickers the Silky Terrier), and we played at the park for a good long while. We got home...

....Only to discover that I had forgotten to take food from the freezer the night before to thaw it out for his dinner. See, all of Gizmo's food is homemade from raw, fresh ingredients. Since preparing it all is kind of a hassle, I usually make a week or two's worth of food, and then freeze whatever I'm not going to use immediately to prevent spoilage.

I put my (hysterical) little fox in his crate, then filled the sink with hot water and set one of the baggies of food afloat to hopefully defrost it. You may not know this, but in the world of foxes, a late dinner is about the worst thing that could ever, theoretically, happen. Gizmo responded to this cardinal sin by screaming and shrieking and crying the whole time I was defrosting his food, wailing and letting the whole world know what a terrible, neglectful mommy he had, and how she was making him STARVE for a whole fifteen minutes while she got his food ready.

By all rights, I should be locked up.

Picture Taken On: November 3, 2008
(Gizmo testing out his pen when we first built it--don't worry, it wasn't shelter-less for more than a few hours)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Never Leave a Man (or Mom!) Behind!

Tonight on our walk, about, oh 2/3 the way through it my mom said that her legs were getting sore, and she'd like to turn back. I gave her a kiss on the cheek, and told her that me and Gizmo would see her when we got back home.

Gizmo wouldn't have it. When she turned back and we went to keep going, he put the brakes on full-force, and kept looking back at mom and calling to her. It's like he was saying "No! You're going the wrong way! Wait! Don't leave her behind!"

Finally, mom called back to me "I'm not getting out of this, am I?" I laughed and shook my head, and she ended up finishing the rest of the walk with us.

The look of concern on Gizmo's face was beyond adorable, though. He didn't want anyone to get left behind.

Picture Taken On: June 22, 2009
(Also pictured: Mischief the Cat and my right foot.)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gizmo's Expansion

Well, it's been a long two days, but it's been worth it!

We've spent a lot of the last two days working on adding a 75 square foot addition onto Gizmo's pen, as well as two Little Tykes playcubes, a big one and a small one. It took the better part of the day to get the whole thing up and ready to go, but the end result has been great.

: ) He seems to love it. Below, I've included a video of us taking him out to see it for the first time.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lots of Babies

Today has been a very busy day--where to begin?

I guess I'll start with the Gizmo related portion. He's the one you're here to read about, after all. This afternoon, I decided to alter the level of whats an "acceptable" bite while I'm roughhousing with him. Every now and then, when I'm playing with him, I become a bit more of a big baby. It's been a long while since Gizmo actually bit hard enough to hurt during play, but I've been gradually lowering my "pain tollerance" with him, working on getting his play-bites more and more gentle.

Every time I change the "pain threshhold", it always seems to worry my stepdad, who immediately assumes from my yips and yelps that Gizmo has suddenly decided to rip my arm off. Gizmo's bites haven't become any harder than they were the last time I played with him, it's just that I've decided to be a bit more sensitive, and it'll take him a little bit to realize that what used to be okay is now a bit too hard, and he needs to soften up his play-bites a bit.

He seemed to be getting the hang of it, so tonight on our walk we stopped to play in the park for a bit. I must have wrestled and roughhoused with him in the grass for ten, fifteen minutes. He was doing his best to play the part of "furry little demon", growling and pouncing and biting and showing his teeth and the works--you'd have thought he was eating me alive from the way he looked. The thing was, after the game was over, I didn't have a single mark on me. He also never nipped me too hard a single time while playing.

His "Stops" were also phenominal tonight; the training really seems to be working. (A "stop" is where in the middle of play-fighting with him, I raise my hand in the classic "Stop Sign" pose and tell him to "Stop!" in a calm but firm tone of voice. This is Gizmo's cue to break off his "attack" and sit there quietly while I pet his ears. After a few seconds of this, I then say "Okay!" to release him to pounce on me again.)

Unfortunately, Gizmo only has a limited amount of "Good as Gold", and he'd used it all up by the time we got back home. When I went to let him back into his night crate so that he could eat his dinner, he decided that I wasn't unhooking the leash holding him back fast enough, so he proceeded to screech like a banshee, and emptied one of his stink-glands on me. Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

In other news, we had a baby chinchilla born today! The good news is, it was a little baby female, which for some reason we don't seem to get many of. The bad news is, she was born premature. Lydia (the mom) seems to be taking pretty good care of her though, so we're hopeful she might pull through.

I also had three little month-old cornsnakes arrive in the mail today, courtesy of South Mountain Reptiles. I got a male lavender het stripe, a female butter corn, and a female striped corn.

Of the three, though, the male is a real prize. He's got these gorgeous little cornflower-blue irises and ruby pupils. I can't wait to breed the little guy when he gets older--I've gotta find out if those eyes are hereditary.

Picture Taken On: October 7th, 2008
(Please forgive the messy hair, this was after I'd been roughhousing with him and the dog for a while.)

Monday, August 17, 2009


It's been a real scorcher today--I ended up cutting Gizmo's walk short 'cause the heat was getting to both of us. Gizmo was exceptionally cranky on his walk tonight. When I picked him up to cross the street to come home, he responded by making grumbling noises and raking his hindclaws across my shirt.

Problem is, I was wearing a rather thin shirt just because of how hot it was, and apparently I missed one of his toenails last time I trimmed them, because now my shirt has a dotted line of little holes in it from where he dragged the claw across it. That was one of my favorites, too. : (

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Better Than The Dog

Just got back from Gizmo's morning walk, and boy is it getting hot out. There's not a cloud in the sky, either, so I have a feeling that today is gonna be a real scorcher.

Something that we've trained Gizmo (and our dog, Cricket) to do is that when someone's coming our direction on the sidewalk, we step off to the side into the grass, and the fox and dog have to either sit or lay down. Cricket is a very big dog, so having her lay down makes her less intimidating.


Well, originally, I was having a really hard time getting Gizmo to lay down like he's supposed to. He would get so over-the-top excited to see someone new that it was all he could manage to hold still, let alone sit down. Finally, we got the idea of walking him and Cricket together, and having him learn from her example; after all, he's mimicked and learned from her multiple times in the past.

To make a long story short, it worked like a charm--whenever anyone approaches us on the sidewalk, Gizmo darts off to the side and lays down like a good boy. But as time has gone on, I've noticed that he's become much better about it than our dog is. She still has to be told (often repeatedly) to lay down, and half the time for my parents she just flat-out refuses to do it. Meanwhile, Gizmo hops off to the side and lays down every single time like clockwork.
Who says you can't train a fox?

Picture Taken On: June 22, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

This is a playcube.

One comment and a few e-mails later, I decided that I'd just answer this with a blog post.

This is a play-cube:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The End of the World As We Know It

At approximately 8:00 this morning, Gizmo was letting the whole neighborhood know that the world was coming to an end. Never have I heard such screaming and sobbing come from a fox who wasn't currently getting a bath!

You may recall that we got Gizmo a play cube on Sunday. To store it, I laid the panels of it flat against the fence near Gizmo's play-yard until we were ready to put it up.

Well, my mom happened across another play-cube on Craigslist that was the same size, but in colors that matched our house. She went out and purchased it as well, and we decided to give the first one that we bought to my cousin's kid, who's just the right age for a play cube.

This morning, my mom went to take the old play cube from it's place along the fence to load it into her van. Naturally, Gizmo went ballistic at the sight of someone STEALING his stuff. He wailed and howled and jabbered and climbed the bars, telling the world how he was being robbed of his precious play cube.

The thing is, it's never been in his pen. It's never even been set up. He hasn't played on or even come in physical contact with the cube, but you would have thought that she was taking away his oldest and most treasured possession.

Don't worry, though--we weren't taking anything away for good. After she had the old cube loaded up into the van, the panels for the new cube were leaned against the fence where the old panels had been. Gizmo was dead silent as the new panels were carried in, and had a perplexed look on his face.

Apparently the world wasn't coming to and end after all.

Picture Taken On: August 12, 2009
(You can see the old playcube panels in the background)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mud Bath

Ha, I need a bath.

There's a very nice old lady who lives on the corner that Gizmo just adores. Well, tonight on our walk, she was out tending to her garden, and Gizmo wanted to say "hi", so we went to chat with her for a little bit.

Well, I hadn't been talking to her very long before Gizmo got bored, so I sat down to play with him during the conversation. While I was talking to her, he was doing the "Rawr! I am a ferocious beasty!" thing and mouthing on my arm and making cute little grr noises. Every now and then I would take my other hand and just roll him off his feet for the heck of it. You could tell he was having a blast.

Well, he got a bit over-excited, and dashed to the end of his leash, plowing into her recently-watered soil. Before I had a chance to react, the same (now covered in mud) Gizmo launched himself into my lap, and started licking my face all over.

Guess he thought I needed the mud-bath as much as he did.

Picture Taken On: January 16th, 2009

How to Get Your Fox to Take Treats Nicely.

What I did with Gizmo (and my dog) for curbing the "taking your fingers along with the treats" problem worked pretty well. You'll probably be bit more than a couple times doing it this way, but it'll save your fingers in the long run.

What you do is take a strong-smelling treat, and hold it with your fingers curled around it so that they can smell it, but not grab it. Hold your hand out towards the fox. Generally they'll lunge fangs-first; quickly pull your hand away and say "No! Be nice." Keep your voice calm, but firm. Offer your hand again; if they lunge or snap again, do the same thing as before. Rinse repeat.

Foxes are very fast, so you'll probably get your knuckles bit more than once while doing this--but no matter what, do NOT drop the treat; otherwise you'll just be reinforcing the biting behavior.

Eventually, when you hold your hand out, she won't lunge. She may sniff at it curiously, or she may just ignore it, or she may give you a baffled look. So long as it's not a lunge or a snap, immediately release the treat and praise her gently while she eats it.

Get another treat and offer it in the same way. If she lunges, pull your hand away and say "No! Be nice." again in the same firm tone. Basically repeat what you did above.

Continue until you have given her three treats, then take a break from it by playing a game she likes.

If you do this 3-to-5 times a day, and give her 3-to-5 treats a "session", and keep this up for a week straight, by the end of the week, she shouldn't be snapping at treats.

Once you start this training, though, it's very important that from then on out, you never, ever give her a treat if she snaps at you. "Only polite foxes get treats" should be a rule that is set in stone. If she bites you and gets the treat anyway later on, you'll be right back to square one again.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Today I did a few more training sessions with Gizmo, and during the first one I was honestly getting the impression that he was being contrairy on purpose. I know, I know, I'm probably over-anthropomorphizing him here, but it sure seemed like he was doing it intentionally. I said shake, he'd drop to his belly and crawl, I told him to lay down, he sat up and begged, I told him to crawl, he rolled over, etc.

I was nearing the frustration point, so I decided to put up the clicker and treats for a while, and brushed out his tail instead. It was kind of funny--he sat there and whined and cried growled and complained the entire time, but made no attempt to get up or leave. It's not like I was holding him to the ground and brushing it; any effort on his part and he could have easily scampered to the far end of the play yard. I guess sitting there and grumbling about it was more fun.

I went back inside for about an hour or so, and came back out later with treats and the clicker in my pocket again. This time, though, I didn't start giving commands right off the bat. I just sat there and hung out with him with treats in my pocket for a while. He could smell them, and they were driving him crazy. Pretty soon, Gizmo was doing every single trick he knew (and other assorted acrobatics), pawing at the pocket, whining at me, etc. to try and get me to cough up a treat.

This time, when I started giving commands, he did every trick perfectly, instantly, and right the first time. It really does all come down to motivation.

Picture Taken On: October 7th, 2008

How to Handle a Play-Biter

A common problem on the fox-boards that new fox owners mention is that their kits play too rough and bite too hard during play. This is a very common problem in canines of any sort (domestic dogs included), so I figured I'd make a posting on how we broke Gizmo of it.

We had a bigger job teaching Gizmo to play gently than most new pet owners do, for the same reasons that we had an easier time socializing him. Because he was bottle-fed and raised away from his littermates, they weren't there to do the preliminary teaching on how to play nice, so when we got him he didn't have any of the starting bite-inhibition that most new puppies had.

We had to start from scratch.

With Gizmo, I first tried bitter apple to discourage rough play. ...Only to discover that he loved the taste of it, and I might as well have been trying to discourage him with BBQ sauce. To even phase him a little bit, I had to squirt a bit of it directly in his mouth, which I really wasn't comfortable with doing.

What seemed to work pretty well with him was yelping like a wounded litter-mate. Whenever he would bite down hard enough to cause pain, I'd let out a high-pitched yipe like I had been terribly wounded. On the first two or three nips, I let out a shrill yelp. After that, I would "scruff" him (grab him gently but firmly by the loose skin on the back of his neck), look him in the eye, and give him a short, sharp growl. Usually that would stop the too-rough play right there.

Scruffing isn't painful for them, and it's very similar to what a vixen in the skulk would do to correct a kit that's playing too rough. The goal here, both from the yelping and the scruffing, is to play to their natural social instincts.

If scruffing doesn't work, then I'd get up, walk off, and completely ignore him for five minutes. And ask any Gizmo, being ignored is the worst thing ever.

Something else we did when Gizmo was little was to used a sturdy oven-mitt to wrestle with him with. We'd "fight" with him with the mitt on, and then suddenly pull the mitt away and hide it behind our back with a firm but gentle "Stop.", and go to pet his ears with the other hand.

If he stopped being an "attack fox" and let us rub his ears, we said "Okay!" and the mitt came back and he got to fight with it some more. If he ignored the "Stop" command and went after the hand with no mitt, the game immediately ended, and I walked off and ignored him for a good five minutes.

He learned very quickly that to keep playing, he had to stop roughhousing when we told him to (I've always been impressed at how quickly he grasps things like this--much faster than any dog I've known.) Plus, the oven mitt gave him a very clear signal that "this is an okay thing for you to nom on when we play"--a shrill yelp whenever he happened to bite above it got him to focus his "attacks" only on the glove.

It was nice because with such a clear, visual signal that it was time to rough-house, we didn't have to worry about him spontaneously pouncing on and trying to nom on new people. We eventually phased out using the glove, but to start with it was a godsend. Not only was it a good learning tool for him, it helped up our confidence about our ability to handle him.

He's gotten pretty good about it, but I won't lie and say that this was 100% effective--if we're playing without the oven mitt, he still sometimes gets over-excited and nips too hard, but generally a yelp of pain from me is enough to get him minding his manners again.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bath Day!

Gizmo got his bath today, with all the screaming and hysterics that that usually entails. You'd think after it being a weekly occurrence since he was eight weeks old, he'd have gotten used to it by now. Still, it's totally worth it. His coat is absolutely gorgeous right after a bath, and it helps to remove some of the foxy smell.

After his walk today, I was playing with him in the front yard, and mom ran inside to get something. She came out with a rather long rope, and we looped the handle part of his leash around it. I held one end of the rope, and my mom held the other, and we took turns calling him back and forth. It was nice; it gave him a lot more freedom to run than he normally gets on leash.

Picture Taken On: June 22, 2009
Guest appearance by Mischief the Cat.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sorry There Was No Post Last Night....

I rant into some internet-troubles.

Last night's walk was pretty uneventful, except for when we ended up stopping and talking to a very nice lady with four little kids. It was so sweet; Gizmo ended up sprawled out on his side, with all of them petting his head and body and feet and tail. He was just wagging his tail wildly, and doing the doggy-grin where his tongue hangs out. Little guy looked like he was in heaven!

Today, the new family for one of our baby chinchillas (we breed them) came over to see their new pet, and to spend the afternoon swimmming in our pool. Gizmo was friendly and social, and spent most of the day watching everyone play and swim from the comfort of on top of his slide.

At one point, I put on a suit and tried to coax him into the water (our pool has steps), just to see what he would do. He came close, sank one foot into the wetness, then screamed and threw himself hard into reverse, ran to the back door, and started pawing to be let in.

Well, turns out that when he went backwards that hard,he pulled one of his front legs out of it's place in the harness, so he was wearing the whole thing wonky. It took a while for me to get him calmed down enough to fix it.

Guess someone's told him that I drown foxes in the pool. I bet it was one of our cats.

Picture Taken On: June 22, 2008

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Screaming Explained

Last night we had one heck of a thunderstorm. Rattled the windows, knocked out the power for a while, the thunder kept waking me up. I'm thinking that this might explain Gizmo's little tantrum last night; he hates thunderstorms, and it wouldn't surprise me if he could sense it coming. That, along with it being his "bed time", was frustrating enough to make him have a little melt-down. Anyway, after such a noisy storm, all the critters were tense and twitchy this morning.

Gizmo sleeps in the house in a very large dog crate, the kind meant for "giant" breeds. It gives him plenty of room to move around at night, but it also gives us a way to keep him safe indoors at night, and prevent him from creative acts of destruction while we're asleep. We've even built a shelf into it so that he can sleep a little bit up off the ground if he wants to.

Well, this morning, I went in to let Gizmo out of his night crate, and he gave me his usual big smiles and wagging tail, the "I'm so cute open the door and let me out to play!" look. I got his leash, kneel down and went to open the door, only to have him start screaming as loud as he could and digging at the door.

At that point I got up, turned around, and left the room; I'll let him out, but not when he's behaving badly. Ducking out of sight, I waited on the other side of the doorway. He screamed one or two more times, then went quiet. I waited about another ten seconds, then turned and went back in to let him out. This time he didn't scream; just plowed into my lap and started kissing my face all over.

I've learned that Gizmo is a lot easier to deal with if you can figure out why he's doing what he's doing, and act accordingly. In this case, he was screaming because I wasn't getting the door open fast enough, so I simply left the room. He's a pretty bright kid, and the conclusion "I better not scream or she'l leave instead of letting me out" wasn't a hard one for him to come to.

I've had a request to post more pictures of the kid, so I'm going to start adding a picture or video of him to the end of every post! Here's today's picture:

Picture Taken On: October 7th, 2008.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Kids, Raw Food, and Pointless Screaming

Well, our walk tonight was a long one, and went rather well. Near the beginning of it, we ran into a couple who was playing with their toddler in their driveway. The mom asked if Gizmo was a fox, and we stopped to talk to them for a while.

The little girl was fearless, and watching her and Gizmo was so cute. She kept on trying to "sneak up" on him and grab his tail, and he just grinned and tollerated it. She also kept picking up dried, dead leaves and offering them to him, and he would reach out and very gently take them from her, then set them down in the grass in front of him.

Gizmo loves kids, and it's a lot of fun to watch him play with them. When it was time for us to go, he kept on trying to drag us back over to their yard; he wasn't done yet.

We also passed the house with the lady who called the nice Sheriff on us the other night for having the nerve to walk down the sidewalk. Her dog ran to the door and started barking at us loudly, and she came to the door, gave us a big grin, and waved.

We declined to wave back at her.

Near the end of our walk, we ran into Teddy, Gabe, and their mom. Teddy is a golden-doodle, and Gabe's an eight-year-old. We talked with her for a long while about raw diets and home-made pet food. I recommended a few books for her to check out.

After we got home, I fed Gizmo his dinner and put him to bed in his crate, thinking I wouldn't be seeing him 'til morning...

....Only to hear him screaming bloody murder about half an hour later. I went downstairs to see what the problem was, and found my mom sitting on the couch and holding Gizmo, who was gekkering** and shrieking his little lungs out.

The little guy was REALLY upset, and trying to let the whole world know. It took quite a while to get him calmed back down, and mom says she has no idea what made him so angry. She just got him out of his crate to play a little more before bedtime, and he just had a meltdown.

**For those of you who have never had a fox, "gekkering" refers to a fairly specific noise they make when they are upset. YouTube has a nice video example of it handy, courtesy of thedeffox

The two foxes in the video are red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). They are a special color morph known as "marble". Gizmo's father was a marble fox.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


We had a pretty eventful walk this evening, and met a few new people. On the first cul-de-sac, there was a girl doing cartwheels and various other gymnastic things in her front yard--she was pretty good at it, at least to my amateur eye.

Gizmo was psyched. It was so funny. He kept making his "Arf?" noise, looking at me, looking back at her, and wagging his tail wildly. It's like he was going "Whoa! Wow! Did you see that? Wow! Hey! She just did it again! Wow!"

After we had passed the park, a car actually pulled over to ask if he was a fox, and to ask questions about him. This used to happen a ton when he was little, but it doesn't happen very often now. The low purr of the engine was scaring him, so he climbed me and stuck his nose down the neck of my shirt like he always does when he's scared.

We stopped to play in the park on the way back home, and we ran into Kibby, the little cairn terrier that Gizmo has made friends with. She's cream-colored with black ears, and is absolutely adorable.

Tomorrow I'm going to work more with him on his tricks; it's been a while since I really focused on training with him, and he's starting to get a bit "fuzzy" on the tricks he knows. Might as well polish them up, and work on a few new ones if he seems to be in the mood for it.