Monday, April 22, 2013

....and even more rats & other yappings.

Almost forgot, with the last post.  I had someone who was all set to come Sunday (today, er... I guess that's yesterday now), and I told them I already had a 1 pm appointment, so the earliest they could come was 2 pm.  So I dunno if it was just bad guess/bad luck or what, but from the email I received, I guess this person thought that I had someone coming for rats at 1 pm.  Which I did not, I had someone coming for hay and hay cubes.  But anyway, so the email I got from the person who was supposed to come said to let her know what I had left after my 1 pm came and picked out their animals, and then she'd decide if they were going to come or not.

Well, I emailed in the morning (Sunday morning) and told her that I still had three females left for her to pick her pair from, and that the appointment wasn't for rats.  Well... I have not heard back.  So I had thought I'd be minus another two rats by the end of Sunday (yesterday), and here I am with two still here, and two more coming in the morning.  Oh joy.

I didn't re-turn on the computer to say just that though.  This brought up what I think is an interestijng point -- picking out your pet.  I've had a lot of people lately that call me up and want (for example), a white, creme, and black guinea pig, abyssinian, with enough rosettes to make it show-quality for 4H, female, oh, and no more than four weeks old.  Gee, could they get any more specific?  It's the same for the chinchillas.  I was joking around a few weeks back when I had someone looking at pairs, and I asked them if they wanted anything specific.  Now, in my head, I (stupidly) asked the question thinking that they'd tell me if they preferred males over females, young over old, etc.  Like vague characterizations.  I want to say they said they really would like a pair of beige and black velvet chins.  Ok, let me put that onto my wish list...

Not that I wouldn't love to grant everyone's requests for their ideal pet.  But.... this is a rescue.  Just like you don't go to the humane society and ask for a purebred cream colored chihuahua that doesn't bark like a loon at strangers and is potty trained, I'm not sure why people hone in on the exact animal they want.  I was talking to a friend of a friend awhile back and she had someone ask her for a guinea pig that (I believe) was all black with four white feet, so they could name it Socks.  That was all.  Now, with that kind of requirement, they could end up with a Monty-Python-rabbit-o-death guinea pig... that is all black with four white feet.  You get my point?  I feel like, when people are looking for pets, they should think about the type of pet they want.  And by that, I don't necessarily mean the breed.  Sure, the species of animal they pick makes a difference, but even within species, there's a lot of variation.  I feel like sometimes, people are so focused on what it looks like that they'll pass over a very friendly animal just because they don't like the color, or something of the sort. 

In the rare times where the rescue is full of chinchillas and I have them coming out my ears, I have asked people, what are you looking for in a chinchilla.  And it's a tough question to answer, because often the younger ones are hyper, which people aren't super crazy about, but the calmer ones don't have as much personality, which people also aren't crazy about.  So you have to meet somewhere in the middle.  Personally, I'm ok with animals that have some aggressive/territorial issues, so long as I'm not becoming swiss cheese because of it.  Which brings me to another point -- animals at the rescue aren't always (in fact, aren't a LOT of the time) ideal pets.  They're just... not.  They're rescues.  Sometimes that's through no fault of their own -- their own moved and couldn't (or wouldn't) take the animal with, or the person got a second job and had no more time, or whatever.  It happens.  Those animals usually are ok.  No serious baggage, no serious trauma, no serious issues.  Then, we have the chins that come here eating snickers bars and drinking beer.  The former was one of the sweetest chins I've ever met, the latter, one of the most psychotic.  It's like with people -- what one person can tolerate will drive another to madness.  But the point is, the animals here aren't always babies that have had wonderful lives to start with, so they're not always ideal pets.  Should they still find loving homes?  Well sure.  With people who are open and understanding to what the animal has been through and what they can expect to get from a rescue.

We've had an unusual number of baby animals in 2013.  Several baby rabbits, a slew of baby rats, and even some baby guinea pigs.  But usually, what we get are the pets people get tired of.  If I had to pick the top reasons we get animals, they would be (in no particular order) -- people getting tired of their pet / losing interest, and people not having the time they thought they would.  Notice similarities here.  In both these situations, the pet likely was ignored or cared for, in a half-assed manner, before it ever came to the mind of "let me take the animal to the rescue."  While these pets have been left alone, often they are in unclean cages, barely have any food/water, and obviously aren't being given attention/socialization while they are sitting in that cage by themselves.  Few things to note:  people don't "grow tired" of pets when they're 6 months old.  Usually, it's more like 2-3 years old, by the time they make it here.  That means, the average animal at a rescue (any rescue) is older than most people want.  Chinchillas are sort of the exception here, because their long life span makes 2-3 years seem like nothing.  But for a rat, if we get in a 2 year rat, I would venture to say that it may very well be here til it naturally passes.  Why?  Because most people want to adopt a baby rat, and have it for 3 years, versus adopting one at 2 years that may live, at most, another 12 months.  It's understandable, sure.  For the animals like that, if they are able to be put up for adoption, they are offered more as sanctuary pets than as rescue animals.  The distinction isn't really noted except for in my head, but the main difference is going to be the policies in place and the adoption fee. 

For example.  We just adopted out Albie, an 8 year old dwarf rabbit.  He was adopted out for $10, with no health guarantee, as the lifespan of the average rabbit is 8-10 years, and he could keel over tomorrow with no wrongdoing on anyone's part.  These types of pets are offered up to the special homes that reach out to these types of animals.  Most people don't want to adopt a senior, but there are a few that do, that want the senior pet to live out its last days in a home where it will be loved.  While we don't have a ton of sanctuary animals, only a handful of the ones we have had have gone to actual homes.  The lady that adopted out Albie said that she liked adopting out seniors and spoiling them for the rest of their lives.  And I suppose, in thinking about it, that by doing so, she's actually helping more animals than the average person.  Think about it. If she adopts an 8 year old rabbit, and it lives 2 years and then passes, and then she adopts another 8 year old, and it also lives 2 years.... in 10 years she could have provided loving forever retirement homes for 5 rabbits.  Versus, someone buying a baby and providing a home for that one rabbit.

Now. don't get me wrong, I don't wish anyone to get pets with short lifespans and make themselves nuts over their pets dying every 2 years.  There is a reason that the animals I have with the shortest lifespans are guinea pigs, which can still live 5-7 years.  But there is something to be said about the people who can manage to take in the ones that need retirement homes and provide the animal with some last good days.

But back to what I was saying -- people wanting to cherry-pick their animals.  I think, if somehow there could be a memo sent out, saying that adult pets have set personalities, likes/dislikes, are generally a bit more mellow, and so on, I think that would be a start.  That, coupled with the fact that a good pet can come in all shapes and sizes, would help as well.  I've had a lot of people lately asking for fancy colored chins.  Someone asked if we ever get in violets.  Ah, no.  Whites and black velvets are about as "exotic" as we get in terms of chinchillas, and those don't come along very often.  I hear a lot of people saying, "well, I don't want a grey."  That's fine, but then, they will likely need to go to a breeder.  The average rescue chin is likely a pet store chin, which is, likely, you guessed it, grey.  So, that's what we tend to get in.  When people have other colors, often those people know the color is not super-common, so they sell the animal and try to get more money out of it rather than bring it to the rescue.  Which, that is their right, but because some people would do that sort of thing, we tend to get in grays.  In fact, many with a story that goes something like this -- "well, I had him up on craigslist for 6 months, but no one emailed, and we really need him gone...."

Good pets come in all shapes and sizes.  While Nytro (our 13 year old chin) isn't for sale, he would make a good chin for someone.  He's mellow, calm, and would be a good chin for a kid, because he's pretty relaxed.  However, the average person would pass him over because of his age.  But in reality, he'd make a great chin.  I think, if I could pick one thing for people to have when they come into the rescue, it'd be an open mind.  Maybe what they end up with won't be the "perfect animal" they had pictured in their head, but it'll be a good pet regardless.  For, though we can see if a chinchilla is grey or black or white, and we can place a higher demand (and a higher price tag) on one color over another, the chinchilla itself has no idea that any of this matters.  All he asks for, and any rescue asks for, is a good home.

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