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Geri came to us as a bit of a surprise. She was originally thought to be a he and was living at a pet store I stopped in to get some hay and treats for Elvis. She was named "Jerry" because she was so small and skinny next to Elvis, she looked a bit like a mouse. (Tom and Jerry ...) After finding out he was a she, we changed the spelling!

To my great dismay, the pet store had two chins. They were both hiding under a plastic igloo, scared out of their wits because the birds were screaming all day long and countless hands were reaching into their enclosure. I tried to lure the adult with a raisin but she wasn't interested, probably because they were mixed in with her food. So I lifted the igloo and discovered that there was a baby in there with her. The baby was maybe 5 or 6 weeks old and to my untrained eye, didn't look old enough to be sold, based on Elvis' size when I got him at 8 weeks of age.

I couldn't resist and went to pick the baby up. She was terrified and ran around the little aquarium-like enclosure, finally cowering in a corner. I gently scooped her up and got good a look at her fur. It looked like she hadn't ever been given a dust-bath.

Feeling my heart start to break, I looked in their cage and noticed the mixed food and the bowl of water, soiled with shavings and feces. I put the little gal back and immediately went and gave the first employee I found a piece of my mind and told them how they should be treated. She was nice about it and told me she would talk to the girl who normally took care of them.

Well, me being the weak soul that I am, I went back to check on them. The chinnies had been on my mind all week and I had to know. I discovered they'd had a bath but nothing else had changed. Because they had been lacking in dust baths for so long, their fur was still matted but looked much better than it did 10 days ago.

I picked the baby up in much the same way as I had before, gently scooping once she calmed down a bit and got used to my hand. I took her in the 'play' area, keeping her on my lap only, to check her out. Her teeth looked okay and her eyes were clear and bright. I checked every inch of her little body for bald spots or any indication of fur biting or fungus. As I was doing this, her little eyes looked up at me, so terrified. She jumped at every scream of the birds or any sudden noises. My heart ached for her being in that situation and I decided I couldn't leave her there.

I knew that I had a separate cage at home and would be able to quarantine the little gal, keeping her and any potential illness away from my precious Elvis. I also knew that I would make an appointment with the exotics vet at the Ohio State University Veterinary Hospital and get her thoroughly checked out. My heart made my mind up for me and I had to take her home.

Then came the negotiations. She was priced at $100 and I took her over to the manager and explained why I absolutely would NOT pay that much for her. I told her I wouldn't pay more than $70 and showed her the fur condition, the housing conditions, etc. She finally agreed and the little gal went home with me.

I took her home, wondering how my hunny was going to react, since we hadn't discussed it. He was skeptic and annoyed at first, but she won his heart in a matter of minutes, just as she had mine. I got her set up and gave her a dust bath, wondering if she'd even know what to do. Low and behold, she knew just what to do and made a worthy mess!! I put her back into the cage while we made a makeshift shelter and she didn't know how to react to actual space of her own. Once we put the shelter in, she squeezed herself in between it and the shelf and stayed there. It became one of her favorite spots!

I had to go to work so I reluctantly left, knowing she needed to adjust. Later when I got home, I spent probably 45 minutes getting her to trust my hand in her cage and not bark at it. She eventually allowed me to get her out so I could give her another bath and try to brush her fur. To my utter AMAZEMENT, she let me brush her and fell asleep in my lap for a good 40 minutes or so. (I could NOT imagine Elvis doing this, he's so hyper!)

Since then, we've bonded well and the vet gave Geri the all clear. Due to her unknown genetic history, we schedule yearly checkups to keep on top of any health issues she may have. She's learned to get over her skittishness and jumps out onto my shoulder when I open the door. It took me three months to work with her and gain her trust, but I'll never regret it. Even if she isn't 'pretty,' she's beautiful to me.


Sadly, Geri has been laid to rest as of December, 2005. I was always watchful for signs of malocclusion with her, being that she was from a pet store and I didn't know her genetic history. Several months prior, she'd developed a watery left eye and had started a very gradual weight loss. An oral exam showed nearly perfect teeth on the surface, but the radiographs told a different story. Her left side had a root that had overgrown and was causing the left eye to water and protrude a bit.

I knew I couldn't let her be in pain and root malocclusion isn't something that we can treat, so I made the very tough decision to let her go and spare her the inevitable pain of the disease. She is dearly missed.