Monday, January 7, 2013

Cages, more cages, idiots, and "failure to thrive"

So, I get up, and I've got a voicemail from the person wanting to swap out their cage.  Cause, you know, I could forget about them.  Anyway, so I'm going to go downstairs and count bolts, and someone suggested that I call Menards and ask them where my order is.  After all, it was supposed to be in on the 31st (checked my order form) and I still hadn't gotten a call.  So, I'm listening through their "dial one for hardware, two for...." system, and of course, there's no "dial 25 for custom orders," so I press the number to speak to a manager.  Cause, you know, the team members didn't know what they were doing placing my order, so I'm going to speak to someone who knows something.  Lol.  So I get a manager, and I explain (nicely) that I placed an order, haven't received a call, and that the people taking the order didn't seem sure they were doing it right (I said it as nice as possible, I swear!), so I wanted to check on the order.  So she asks for my order number, and tells me where I can find it, and checks and it turns out they have my order, they just never called.  Alrighty then. 

So, I go back upstairs to get dressed (presentable-like, to go out in public) and I get yet another call from those people wanting to know if I had gotten their first phone call and voicemail.  The 7 years of customer service training have to push back my desire to strangle this woman (for anyone who hasn't caught on, you only need to ask once... if you call 5 times in the hour, and don't get me any of those times, that results in me NOT wanting to call you, rather than me returning your call right away), but I reign my issues in, and I nicely tell her that I am going to soon be on my way to get my order and pick up some wood, and I will give her a call when the cage is ready.

So, before I can leave the house, someone else calls and wants one of the new cages with shelves.  Cause, you know, my website says the store is closed but people can pick up cages.  Oops.  Wording problem.  That should have said, USED cages.  As in -- cages that already have shelving, so I don't have to do more work.  Well, at the point she called, I didn't have my bolts, so I told her I would call her back when I had them.  Will call her tomorrow.

So, I went and got the bolts and the wood, come home, build the cage and they come and pick it up.  Wonderful.

As for the special order --- hanger bolts are like 2 for $1-ish (depending on size) at Home Depot.  4 for $1-ish (again, depending on size) at Menards.  You want 1000 of them?  Exponentially cheaper.  But only Mendards will do it for you, and only if you know exactly what size and length you want.  So, if you're like me, and would be running to the store every week for hanger bolts (which they would often be out of, since you cleared them out), check out Menards' special orders.  1000 lasted me about a year and two months this time.  That's pretty good, considering I hate dealing with special orders as problems are not uncommon.

And in all fairness, I have yet to OPEN the box they gave me, so it's still very possible that they got the order wrong (I ended up having enough bolts and wingnuts to do the cage without opening the order).  And unfortunately, I realized I should have ordered my washers at the same time, as I probably only have enough of those for another month or two.  Oy.

So, failure to thrive.  In all reality, this could affect all animals, but the only ones I will be referring to are chinchillas.  In chinchillas, chinchillas with "failure to thrive," basically fail to develop as they should.  They're born and they seem fine, maybe small, but fine.  They grow somewhat, but typically slower than their counterparts.  At weaning time, they're often too small to wean, but if it's a male, you have to wean regardless.  They may continue to gain some, but eventually, whatever is wrong with them, whatever is causing them to fail to thrive, ends up killing them.  We had a kit like this here.  One of our three kits from Chunk (who is going to be up for a pet home, but we'll get back to that), a mosaic male, was always small.  He was from a litter of three.  He was not the runt, but his weight gain was all over the place.  By several weeks into his life, even the runt had a more steady pattern of growth than he did.  At 8-9 weeks, he still wasn't even 175 grams, but at that age, they can get females pregnant, so he was pulled and put with one of our male chinchillas, Winx.  He consistently dug through the food, and then didn't want to eat it when it wasn't in the bowl, so I put in extra hay, as sometimes the kits will eat the hay moreso than the pellets.  He kinda sat around the 175 range and then started gaining, slowly, again.  I listed him up for sale, and he was put on hold.  I weighed him a few days ago, and he'd dropped a few grams.  Not a ton, but enough that when his to-be-home emailed me and asked when he would be ready to go (as I'd told them two weeks, and I believe it had been two weeks), I told them that I couldn't let him leave yet, as his failure to gain weight, at this far along in his age, could signify that there was a problem.  It never fails that I send and email like that, and then today, I went down to check on the chins, and he had passed.  I just finished typing out an email to his to-be home, apologizing (though, in reality, with failure to thrive kits, there's nothing that can be done to save them, it's like they have terminal cancer -- it's going to get them eventually), and asking if they wanted to be added to the waiting list for when we have another mosaic male.  We will see what she says.

I have been asked about why I list kits when I do, and why I don't offer them for sale earlier.  There is a breeder who I consistently see listing day old kits, basically saying look, I have a mosaic male, born today, he's $xx if you want him!  While there is nothing wrong with that, I will be never be caught dead doing that.  I list kits at 175 grams.  At that weight, they are able to survive on their own, should they need to, or should something happen to their mother.  They can be offered a dry formula, they are eating at least somewhat on their own at that point, and they can definitely live and thrive on their own.  Prior to 175 grams... they can live, but it takes a lot of handfeeding, and even with that, it's just not a good bet.  I'm not saying they can't live.  I have handfed kits from 30 grams until they reached 250ish grams, and they all lived and (as far as I know) are still living in their new homes.  However, I would never offer one for sale until it was at 175 grams, as I would not be comfortable listing kits that I do not feel are past the danger zone.  Granted, 175 is not some magic number, they can still die after that weight.  Kits are fragile, just as human babies are.  However, 175 is my "turning point," where I will list the kits.  So, for the people on my waiting list, if I have a baby born that matches what someone wants, I email them at 175 grams (typically 4-6 weeks, depending).  If I don't have a match on my waiting list, they are put on the website at 175 grams.  Before this instance, I had never had a kit listed on the website and die, and I do believe that's as a result of picking a weight and sticking with it.  I have had kits die here, we had several die this year (as all breeders do, the chin mortality rate is ~ 20%), but all of them were under 175 grams, so none of them had been listed for sale.  I, personally, would be curious to know how many babies (that the other breeder offers for sale) die before they are picked up.  Maybe not a lot, I don't know, but I would prefer to never have to tell someone that their baby died.  I think listing them on day one is just asking for having to tell someone that their baby died.  That's just my 2 cents.

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