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.
(Please forgive the messy hair, this was after I'd been roughhousing with him and the dog for a while.)