Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween from Nana the Border Collie & Friends!

Plot:  While Nana the Border Collie attempts to 'trick' her way into getting Halloween goodies from a hard-to-please individual, a sneaky Halloween rat uses tricks of his own to obtain seasonal treats.

STARRING:   Nana  as the trick-or-treater
                      Cash and Mortimer  as the Halloween rat

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Summer Update

It has been some time since my last update on The Gang and their latest adventures.  This year has been exceptionally busy for me with my various activities and raising the newer additions to the family.  Regardless, I had decided to set aside some time to provide you all with this long-overdue update on my animal family.

To begin, fans of my crew recently informed me of two fake instagram accounts (owned by the same person) which claim to be my animals' official sites.  This impersonator has been falsely claiming ownership of my animals and their photos/videos, and he/she has been claiming to be me.  I must ask that anyone who is able to report or flag their accounts for impersonation do so, since I myself am not on instagram (nor are my animals).  Please spread the word in the comments section of their photos/videos with a link to this blog post or my website's homepage (which also has a warning of this impostor).  I cannot thank you all enough for your support.

In other news...
As many are aware, I had adopted a Brazilian opossum named Shorty last summer, and he made his YouTube debut back in February of this year.  I brought him home as a tiny 10-week-old joey and he is currently a year old now.  Below are a few photos of Shorty:

Shorty is an anomaly for this independent and solitary species, being extremely cuddly, gregarious, and enjoys snuggling on my lap in the evenings.  I had captured footage of him sleeping on me whilst getting petted and compiled it into his debut video:

Back in autumn last year, I of course had brought home four baby boy rats (Cash, Mortimer, London, & Britain), which was covered in my previous blog post.  Shortly afterwards in November, I began raising Saoirse (pronounced SAIR-shuh), a female naked rat baby.  I have had her since her birth on the 27th of November and raised her by hand.  After six weeks of syringe-feeding, Saoirse blossomed into a beautiful nearly-hairless girl with a sassy personality and bursting at the seams with energy.

Saoirse at 3 weeks

In March, 2015, I had discovered a small mammary tumour in Shadow's left axilla, so I booked an appointment with her veterinarian to have the small lump surgically removed.  Unfortunately, Shadow's body reacted negatively to the anesthetic used during her surgery and she passed shortly after awakening.  It was an unexpected shock losing her and it has been tremendously painful, since she was otherwise robust and healthy and I had been expecting her to live at least another year or two.

Shadow, just prior to leaving the house for her surgery

I showed Shadow to the other rats after she passed.  Everyone took their time sniffing her and showing patent concern; Raven in particular stood over her while licking her ears and neck, then refused to leave her.  In the days that followed, Raven slipped into severe depression and became anorexic as well as completely uninterested in partaking in any activities with the other rats.  Her lack of vitality had me deeply concerned and distraught; however, my level of concern for her heightened when she began to lose weight due to her appetite loss.  Thus, my best friend (who also has pet rats) allowed me to temporarily "borrow" one of her girls to see if it might be the solution for cheering up Raven.  Bringing the little girl home remedied Raven's anorexia, although she still had little desire to play with the other rats or leave her bed.  That was when I decided to find another female rat for her.... and thus, Arrow joined the crew.

Arrow is a playful but reserved chocolate agouti rat.  I have found a number of parallels between her personality and Shadow's, coincidentally, although as a youngster she is much more rambunctious than Shadow was.  Saoirse and London adore her most and Arrow is scarcely seen without one or both of them close by her side.  As of late, Raven has been eating well and exercising more than she had been prior to Arrow's arrival, although sadly, she has still not been the same since Shadow's passing.  It truly breaks my heart.

Arrow wrestling at 5 1/2 weeks

There is one more big piece of news that I must share.  I was initially going to include it in this update, however I decided that it deserves its own blog post.  The newest member of the family will be formally introduced later on. :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Meet the Newest Additions!

Meet the four newest additions to the family!

I have compiled some footage of these four rascals who were welcomed into the family earlier this fall.

Cash and Mortimer are two feeder rats who joined the family in mid-September, 2014.  They were both minutes away from becoming a ball python's dinner at the time that I rescued them, and they have since settled in remarkably well with everyone here.  Cash has a friendly, sociable personality with an audacious streak, while Mortimer is more mellow and enjoys nestling in my arms or lap.

London and Britain are my two Norway rat hybrids.  I had never considered "agile" or "athletic" to be actual personality traits until I met these two.  They are both about as distant from your typical domestic rat as possible in nearly every respect, but particularly in their exceptional climbing and jumping abilities which are far superior to any fancy rat.  Both are very high maintenance and mischievous (although not destructive); in fact, I have not had an animal as energetic, animated, and impish as London and Britain since I lost Sebastian last year.  They have kept my hands quite full with their zany antics, but I wouldn't trade them for the world.

Britain hiding behind the litter box at 8 weeks old.

The four girls — Famous, Shadow, Raven, and Suki — were introduced to the boys after their neuters and accepted them immediately.  The two Norways seem to be especially fond of Suki (the only rat who can somewhat keep up with their inexhaustible energy), while Suki herself has taken a particular liking to Mortimer.  Everyone gets along splendidly as though they had all been raised together.

London (9 weeks) investigating Famous' flag prop

Famous (left) with Mortimer (right)

London on the curtain rod

These four will be making many appearances in future YouTube videos.  And for those of you who have been patiently waiting, there is a new Nana & Kaiser video currently in production that should be completed shortly.  I thank you all for your patience in the meantime.  More to come! :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Nana the Border Collie's Amazing Balancing Tricks

Nana the Border Collie performs a handful of her incredible balancing stunts.  All of Nana's training is done with positive reinforcement and clicker training.

I have included some old and new tricks in this compilation.  And yes, Nana got to eat all of the treats at the end (she loved them!).  Make sure to turn up your volume for this video.

Music:  "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

R.I.P. Paris

Paris Louise (July 1, 2011—March 7, 2014)
This photo was captured just prior to leaving
to the veterinary clinic.
Due to her continued health deterioration, I made the very difficult decision to put Paris to rest on the afternoon of March 7th. When living with an ill pet, you must always place the quality of the animal's life above your personal feelings/attachment for the animal. It becomes extremely difficult to let them go, or to even bear the thought of it. You have formed an unshakable bond with them and your love for them has no parallel. However if the animal is evidently suffering or if they lose their zest for life, it is only ethical to make the unselfish decision and grant the animal freedom of their illness and suffering. Though it crushes your heart to do so, this is the ultimate act of love.

After Paris declined further still in her health, I made this decision myself. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to do, though others who have had to arrive at this same decision I'm sure could relate. However, knowing that I was ending her suffering forever was assuaging.

On the evening of March 6th, I gave Paris her last bath. It was patent looking into her eyes that she found serenity in the activity. Unlike the other rats Paris was fond of baths and the feeling of the warm water trickling down her back, which would elicit contented bruxing. After towelling her, I prepared a dish comprising all of Paris' favourite foods: pasta, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, pears, mealworms, and her homemade mix. I cooked an egg on the stove for her since I knew this was her favourite food, without question. Normally I will only feed high-protein foods such as eggs in small amounts (too much protein in a rat's diet over time is quite harmful); however this time I let Paris indulge, allowing her to eat as much as she desired. It broke my heart watching her eat her last meal, and just knowing that it was my last night with her.

On the afternoon of the following day I brought Paris in to the veterinary clinic. I held her in my hands and stroked her soft ears as I watched her breathe her last. She was in a better place, at last liberated from her sickness.

Words cannot express how much this rat means to me, nor can they articulate the immense grief and sorrow that permeates my heart as a result of this loss. Paris has left behind a void within me that can be filled with nothing — like an intense hunger that is insatiable, or like a dryness in my mouth that no liquid can quench. There will never be another like her; Paris was one in a million. She possessed the kindest, most beautiful soul that reversed so many people's negative perception of these unfairly misunderstood rodents. My broken heart aches for even just one more day with her. One more moment to look into her sweet, soulful eyes as I stroke her face and caress her ears. One more time to listen to her bruxing contentedly in the palm of my hand while watching a movie. One more opportunity to speak softly to her.... to tell her once more that I love her, and that I always will.

Rest in Peace, my sweet Paris Louise. You will forever remain in my heart and I cherish all of our memories together.

Paris at 6 weeks old, eating pasta.

Paris (1 year old) sporting her purple t-shirt.

Paris (2 years old), just before her lump removal surgery

Paris (2 years, 8 months)
This photo was captured just prior to leaving to the veterinary clinic on March 7.

Regarding YouTube, I shall need some time to grieve the loss of my beloved and irreplaceable friend before I can resume posting videos. I apologize for this hiatus, but I promise you all that there will be many new videos published soon. I have not forgotten you.

I would also like to thank every one of you immensely for your phenomenal support and solicitous words during emotionally difficult times such as these. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Epic Rat Tricks

Presenting.... "Awesome, Amazing Rat Tricks" Part 2!

Four of my five talented rats return performing their latest incredible tricks: Famous (Pink-Eyed Himalayan Top-Eared), Suki (Brown Agouti Berkshire Dumbo), Shadow (Black Mismarked Irish Top-Eared), and Raven (Black VariBerk Dumbo). All behaviours are taught with positive reinforcement and clicker training.

As you may notice, most of the tricks in this video are performed by Famous since the majority of the behaviours stem from retrieving, which is Famous' specialty. She is the most advanced retriever in my mischief, although Suki is following closely in her pawprints.

For those wondering where Paris is this time around, it has been on my list to provide you all with an update on her. Sadly, in her old age (2.5 years) Paris has been progressively going downhill despite my hardest of efforts. She recently has been showing a sudden distaste for her medicine she has been on, leaving me to search for new creative ways to feed it to her. Her weight had begun to drop after she lost interest in her rat blocks a few months ago (though she would devour the homemade mix I feed her), so I have been putting her food into the coffee grinder and mixing this powder with applesauce. She absolutely loves this new food and is slowly plumping up, thankfully. However it is now crucial that I monitor her teeth and trim them as needed, since eating her blocks had been the salient method by which she kept her teeth short. As well, Paris' activity level has dropped and she has been experiencing great difficulty with climbing and getting around; it is because of this that I have discontinued doing tricks with her (save for the occasional "spin" or "shake hands") since they have now become very physically challenging for her. Paris' welfare is of the utmost importance to me, so I have decided to just feature the four younger rats in this video. I love Paris beyond description and I cherish every moment that I still have with her. She is the best, sweetest rat anyone could ask for.

Paris Louise

Behind-the-Scenes of the "Tightrope" Trick

When I was teaching Famous and Raven to walk the tightrope, Shadow observed the two of them and wanted to give it a try for herself.  She walked partway across, balanced herself there for awhile as if contemplating what to do, then very carefully lowered herself onto her front legs and walked the rest of the way in this manner.  Despite my attempts at teaching her the correct way to walk on the rope, she continued crossing it in this peculiar way and I eventually gave up and started rewarded her for it.  As I filmed one of the clips of her performing the trick for this video, Suki watched her intently.  She climbed up to the tightrope after Shadow completed the trick and, to my surprise, tried to copy her by crossing the rope with three legs at an impressive speed (for those of you who don't know Suki, she has more energy than the Energizer bunny and must do everything ten times faster than she needs to).  While I have yet to put her version on cue like Shadow's, I decided to include the footage of her copying Shadow's very unique preference for crossing the tightrope.

I hope you all enjoy!  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Love My Crazy Animals! (Video)

Life with my seven, crazy animals: Nana the Border Collie, Kaiser the Bengal cat, and Suki, Shadow, Paris, Famous, and Raven, my five rats.  From performing tricks to going for walks at the park, this compilation of clips illustrates what my animals do best - having fun!  All of my animals are taught with positive reinforcement and clicker training.  I love them beyond measure.

I have put together this video for you all to enjoy in the meantime as I work on some of our upcoming videos.  I have big plans, so stay tuned!

Happy belated birthday, Sebastian (November 18).  Rest in Peace, my little shadow. ♥