Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not By My Chinny-Chin...chilla?

This cute little fella, pictured at left, is a chinchilla.  Basically, a very large mouse with a squirrel's tail and the attributes of a superhero - chinchillas can run off walls, never touching the floor, they can move at lightning speeds, and they jump pretty fiercely, reaching some pretty surprising heights.  And I am putting all my efforts into not becoming attached to one.

We are chinchilla-sitting right now; my husband, my 12 year old and myself.  My college son's girlfriend has been away, so the job of chinchilla-sitting fell to him...which means now it has fallen to me.  And I love animals, and this animal presents a whole new world of excitement: chinchillas take dust baths!  (You buy dust at the pet store - no kidding - and they roll around in it!  Seriously!)  Chinchillas are soft!  (They used to make fur coats out of them.)  Chinchillas often like people, and bond with them!

So, I have been instructed to avoid this chinchilla's adoring gaze, ignore his soft fur, and turn away when he is jumping around appealingly, inviting me to observe his antics.  You would think it would be my 12 year old my husband is worried about - it's me, instead.  "Peanut has to go home soon," he said gently last night, as I was gazing into (our) chinchilla's little red eyes while I cleaning his cage.  "He has a real mommy.  We are just baby-sitting.  This is not a forever pet, just a visitor."  (Then he hands me my binky and my blanky and I toddle off to bed.  Come on; I'm a grown-up.  A grown-up that has to have a chinchilla or I'll just die!)

I know, I know.  You would think 2 dogs, a tortoise and a horse would be enough.  But...is there ever enough cute jumping softness in one's life, I ask?

P.S.  These cuties live a long time, so if his real mommy takes more trips or needs a sittter...Aunty is waiting!!

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