Saturday, October 24, 2009

I'll Only Come Out for Cuddles

Recently, I've been a bit under the weather. The day before yesterday, when I went to let Gizmo out of his crate and take him out to his play-yard, I really was feeling lousy. I kneeled down and opened the door, and Gizmo sat in the back, just looking at me.

I tried to coax him out, but he just whined at me and wouldn't move. I even said the words "Ball" and "Cookie" and he still wouldn't budge.

Finally, I sat down indian-style, and the next thing I knew, he was in my lap, kissing my face all over. It took me a moment to figure it out. Seems he's realized that if I'm kneeling when I open the door, it means I'm just going to hook the leash onto him and go. If I'm sitting down, it means cuddles are involved.

And if I wasn't feeling well, there was no way I was going to get away with not being cuddled.

Picture Taken On: June 22, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gizmo the Fox Q and A

This summer, we left on vacation, and boarded Gizmo for the first time ever. He spent 10 days away from us at the vet's office.

As usual, having Gizmo in public quickly turned into a Q&A session. I realized that I'd never posted it before, so I figured I'd share:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Touchy Touchy

Gizmo's winter coat has started to come in, and it seems to be starting at his tail, and working it's way upwards. He's almost starting to look chubby, though I know it's just the fur.

I've also noticed that he's really starting to get touchy about his tail, and pitches a fit whenever I touch it now. I'm not entirely certain what's making it so sensitive, but it might have something to do with the winter coat. There doesn't seem to be any damage or physical cause for the sensitivity, so I'm not too worried about it, but it bears keeping an eye on it nonetheless.

Mom got a coupon to a local photo studio that specializes in animals; in about a week we're going to go in, talk to the lady, and see what sort of setup she's got. Who knows, if I like what I see, we might come out of it with some great shots of the kid.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lack of Updates? What do you mean lack of- . . . Oh.

Heh, sorry guys. If you've been wondering why updates are a little slim, it's not because I haven't been writing them. It's because I'm a moron.

Apparently, when I've finished writing, I keep hitting the "save as draft" button instead of the "put this where people can see it" button, because I've got a folder full of "drafts", and apparently a very sparse blog.

Instead of posting them all at once, I'm just gonna be posting them every few days until I'm all caught up.

So, without further ado, here's one from a while ago...

Today something interesting happened on Gizmo's walk. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but there was a kid sitting down on the sidewalk, with his dad hollering at him and his mom and brother waiting nearby. From what I could gather, it was some sort of "forced walk", and the kid wanted to go back home and was sitting down to pout, and the dad was mad because he was getting his pants dirty. I don't exactly know, and honestly I don't care, that's not what was interesting.

What was fascinating was how Gizmo responded to it. He started making little growly noises under his breath and pacing back and forth, and then began making faint little trilling sounds under his breath at the kid. It was obvious that he didn't like the fact that the little boy was getting yelled at, and he was trying to show his sympathy.

Picture Taken On: May 21, 2008

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Soccer Game

Today, Gizmo got to go to a soccer game. My mom took him to a local park, where one of the recreational children's leagues play. She wrapped him up in a blanket and carried him around to enjoy being out (he was leashed and harnessed, of course, but the blanket did a good job of hiding his tail, so they could see the game unbothered.)

She says that he was a very good boy at the game, but the whistles and cheering were a bit disconcerting for him. Honestly, if I'd never heard a whistle before, I'd probably find it disconcerting too.

Picture Taken On: August 24, 2009

Monday, October 5, 2009

Foxes on Trampolines

Not Gizmo-related, but too cute not to share.

Perhaps I should get him a trampoline to play on! :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Trick Files: Eyes On Me

Like conditioning to a clicker, "Eyes On Me" is more of a training tool than it is a trick in and of itself, but it can be incredibly useful. Foxes have the attention spans of gnats, so it's helpful to have a way to quickly redirect them to looking at you when they're starting to get a bit off-task.

Prerequisites: For this trick, I assume that your fox has already been conditioned to a training clicker.

I've heard people use a lot of different commands for this, everything from "Watch me!" to "Pay attention!" I prefer to use "Eyes on me!" because it's a phrase that is unlikely to come up in conversation. That way, every time you say "Eyes on me", it will be when you are trying to get your fox to look at you. Otherwise, every time you say "watch me" to someone else, your fox will look but get no treat, and the command will weaken over time.

Hold a treat out so that your fox can smell it, then slowly raise it so that it's at the level of your eyes, saying "Eyes on me". The instant your fox makes eye contact, click and reward. Rinse repeat multiple times a day with multiple treats per "session", making sure to only click when your fox makes eye contact.

After a few days of doing this, stop using the treat to "lead" them to your face. Just approach your fox and say "Eyes on me". If they look at your face at all, click and reward. Once they're consistently looking in the general direction of your face, start to only click and reward if they make eye contact.

Over the period of a few weeks, your fox should make eye contact whenever you say "Eyes on me".

Troubleshooting: If they immediately look for your hand instead of your face, it means they've misunderstood the concept. This is a pretty easy fix. Next time, hide your hands behind your back before saying "Eyes on me" again. If there's no hands to look at, the fox will generally look to your face in confusion as if to say "What do you want?". The instant it looks at you, click and reward.

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