This is Chiou-chiou 球ちゃん, our pure-breed Chinchilla. In theory, he should be worth a lot of money. However, a minor defect with one of his ears, combined with the fact that he has been fixed, has made him worthless, except to us of course. His age is unknown, though he must be a couple of years past ten at least. Pamela acquired him a few years ago, and I married into him so to speak when I married his owner (BTW, our fourth anniversary was last Thursday). I've lived with cats most of my life, so I had no trouble accepting Chiou-chiou, and he took to me from the beginning as well (except for one time when he decided to relieve himself on my bed when Pamela brought him over for a visit while we were dating, but that's water under the bridge...so to speak). Since the birth of our daughter, I've assumed more responsibilities towards Chiou-chiou, such as feeding him, and cleaning out the litter box.
Chiou-chiou's been going through a period of difficulty recently. He's always had problems with his urinary tract, which necessitates restricting him to a special diet, and he had an especially difficult time when we were living in Yokkaichi, Japan (unlike yours truly, who wishes he could go back to Japan to live, but that's another story). Ever since he returned to Taiwan a year ago, he had been doing much better, but for the past few days he's been having a lot of troubles, going from uncontrollable urination to the inability to urinate and back to the first problem. It's causing a lot more work around the home, but I can't blame him for things beyond his control.
I really hope Amber will have Chiou-chiou around for a while. I'd like her to feel as comfortable around animals, especially cats, as I do. Hang in there, boy! がんばって！