My human told me one day that fear means there’s something awesome on the other side. I, of course, would have set her straight right from the beginning if I could talk! After all, guinea pigs know best! If there’s fear, it probably means there’s a giant bird about to swoop down on you! But it’s clear humans have a funny interpretation of fear, so I just went along with it this time.
So, I’m pretty proud to say, I don’t get scared easily. Ceico may run for the hills at every little insignificant noise, but I like to be brave and watch out for my human. (Plus, Ceico doesn’t know this, but sometimes those noises involve food, and I like to get a head start!)
Now after hearing that, you may be a bit surprised at the next part of this story. As you might already know, breezing through new tricks like I already know them is kind of what I do! So it was a little odd when I hit a brick wall with a new (and otherwise quite ordinary) trick. My human was even more surprised, pondering why I was acting so odd with a new trick.
I guess describing this trick as “ordinary” wasn’t totally accurate, so I’ll fill in some background on it. This trick was going to be my very last trick to learn and include in my video submission to become a Champion trick guinea pig! Oddly enough, it was also the very last trick that my human’s previous guinea pig, Spartan, learned just before he passed away. My human always speaks very highly of Spartan, and says he learned this trick within just one short training session! I guess he one-upped me on this trick! There’s a video of Spartan below if you want to see my human’s first trick piggy (before I was even born, can you imagine!)
So what trick am I referring to exactly?
Well, the trick in question involved flipping up this colorful triangular shaped hoop thing and going through it. Sounds simple enough, right? But for whatever reason, it felt odd to me when I put my paws up, and it started to tip towards me. So what did I do?
I jumped off immediately and bolted. I know, I know, what a chicken. My human couldn’t believe my reaction and immediately tried to reassure me that the hoop was perfectly safe.
I didn’t believe her at first, though. As I said, humans have an awfully funny interpretation of fear, and I wasn’t taking any risks this time. She then brought Ceico in and showed me that even Ceico could do the silly trick without getting scared. But that was Ceico’s decision to be eaten by that funny looking cardboard monster, and as far as I was concerned, Ceico must have a funny interpretation of fear too!
I made it perfectly clear that just because Ceico was willing to run the risk of being eaten, didn’t mean I was going to! I was holding my ground on this one! No way was I going near that thing!
And I didn’t go near that thing ever again! Okay, fine, well, until the food came out again. Of course, my human knows I have no impulse control whatsoever when it comes to food (I know, I’m ashamed….. well, to be honest….. not really), so with the help of my favorite foods, she encouraged me to get close to the scary thing and check it out once more. She kept feeding me, so I didn’t really get the chance to run away again. (I mean, how can you run away when you are constantly offered more food???)
Plus, if even Ceico can do it, it can’t be that bad…
Before I knew it, I had my paws up on that thing and wanted to run away, but the food…. wasn’t moving anywhere, so I, unfortunately, had to stay. Once the food was gone, I found myself waiting patiently with my paws up on the hoop. I mean, it hadn’t eaten me yet, so why would it do something now, right? The human took the hoop away and told me we would work on it again later.
The next time I saw the hoop, I put my paws up more readily. After all, it didn’t move last time, so I assumed everything would be okay now, and keeping my paws on that thing would be a super easy way to get food.
But this time, after staying still for the first minute or so, the hoop started to tip ever so slowly towards me again! I looked at the human, wondering if she believed me now. See? It did try to eat me! She must have seen it, because her hand was even holding the hoop at the same time it tipped back ever so slightly. She didn’t seem concerned about her unpredictable tipping hoop, and instead offered me even more food and praised me for not totally losing it over the tipping hoop.
Eventually, I noticed a pattern start to emerge; every time the hoop tipped ever so slightly (but never all the way), the human would say “Good boy Acey!” in a happy voice and give me lots of food. I couldn’t help but start to look forward to when the hoop tipped backward.
The next time we practiced with the hoop thing, it started tipping even further back! This darn thing really has a mind of its own. But I did notice one not so subtle thing; the further the hoop tipped back, the more food I got!
To be honest, maybe this whole thing wasn’t as bad as I initially thought. All these scary things result in lots of food!
Eventually, I became more relaxed and even leaned back a little. When I did that, the hoop moved again! The human dished out a ton of food when that happened. I tried leaning back again, a little more intentionally this time, and the hoop moved ever so slightly again. And again, the human gave more food. This quickly became a game, where I tried to move the hoop and get more food as quickly as I possibly could.
This was getting kind of fun after all!
This game was getting quite predictable at this point, and not nearly as scary as before. Then, one time I accidentally leaned too far back, and the hoop tipped all the way over! My paws clumsily slipped off the hoop as it tipped, and I couldn’t help but feel kind of shocked that the hoop fell over like that!
I didn’t really have time to comprehend what I thought of the hoop rudely tipping over, because the human sounded so excited and happy at that moment, and gave me lots of food. I couldn’t help but purr like a motorboat and dig in!
After that, I started to experiment with how I got the hoop to tip over. The human still gave me food when I tipped it back a little bit, but the real jackpot came when I managed to tip it all the way over.
I started to really get the hang of it after a while and was soon proudly tipping it over every single time!
Shortly after that, I learned that I had to go through the hoop after I tipped it over. We also added some distance to the trick, where I had to run over to the hoop, flip it up, go through it, and run back to the human for my treats. It turned out to be a pretty awesome trick!
If you want to watch some of my progress, and the awesome results of the finished trick, check out the video below!
This trick actually turned out to be a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I guess difficult tricks really are worth working through sometimes, and the end result can be pretty cool!
Thanks for reading my latest trick training adventure, and good luck slaying your own unicorns, no matter what they may be.
Note from Ace’s human: I’m so proud of Ace’s progress with this trick. Despite being hesitant about a totally unexpected new trick, he conquered this trick to the very end, and by watching the finished product, you would never have guessed how difficult it was for him at the start.