Friday, December 23, 2016

Time Zones & Appointments & Being Late

Quick blog post here... if I know you're in a different time zone, or even think it, I will bring this up when we are setting an appointment, to make sure that when we say 11 am, it is the SAME 11 am for both of us.

So, let's take today.  I had an appointment coming from Indy.  They are an hour ahead, so 10 am here is 11 am for them.  So, I went through the email an realized, I never mentioned the time zone, which means, they likely don't even realize there is a time zone different (you'd be amazed how many people are clueless that this portion of NWI is in a different time zone), so I would assume they'd come at 11 am, their time... which would be 10 am, my time. 

But in case they really did mean 11 am, my time... well... it's now 11:24 and they are not here.  So, even if they meant 11 my time... they're 24 minutes late already.  Now, maybe it's just me, but if I'm running late, I call, or text, or something.  I have somewhere (well, multiple somewhere's) to go today, and was planning on leaving as soon as this appointment left.  Well... are they coming?  I sent them an email at 11:15 and asked if they're still coming, but it's been 10 minutes, and so far, nothing. 

Going forward, when I set an appointment with someone, I am going to ask for a phone number, so, should something come up or they not show up, I have an immediate way to get ahold of them... versus email, where they may not check it for hours. 

So... here comes the conundrum... now what do I do?  I mean, should I wait for them?  They're going on 30 minutes late, and clearly don't have the common courtesy to let me know that they're running late.  This happens all the time.  People show up 45 minutes late, and think nothing of it. 

I used to have a few paragraph blurb that I would send to people when they set up an appointment, which included the address and house description, payment options, bring a carrier, time zones, and.... being on time.  At the time I had that, it basically just said that the person needed to call if they were going to be more than 15 minutes late, to notify us, but I think I may re-implement this, and it may NOW include, instead of just saying "call us"... NOW, it may say, "if you're more than 15 minutes late and you DON'T call, we have the option to pick up and leave, since we would think you are a no-show."  Worded better, of course.  But the issue here is.... are they running late, or are they not coming at all?  If running late, well, of course I want to wait for them, but if they're not coming at all, then time is wasted just sitting around waiting for them... to never show up.  It gets old.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Really? I mean, REALLY??

So, customers are killing me right now.  Stupid questions and idiotic things are always pretty common here, but lately... oh boy.

First thing.  I have up on the website that we can ship.  So, naturally... everyone asks, "is there a fee for that?"  Now, if you have a brain in your head, you may have figured out that, unlike a hammock or chew toy, these are live animals that you can't just throw in a priority mail box and mail out.  I'm sure some of you are sitting there scratching your heads, saying... why not??  Anyway, they fly out on the airlines, and that's not free by any means. 

So, naturally, I mention, ok, there's a cost for the flight, for the carrier, for the paperwork, my gas to get to and from the airport... runs $200-250 for 1-4 chins.  Mind you, these people are typically asking about shipping a $75 chin, so no, I can't eat the cost of $200 shipping to ship you a $75 chin. 

Which bring up, then someone will say, well, on chinchillas.com, they sometimes have free shipping.  Have you seen the chins on there?  They easily go for a few hundred, and by a few hundred, I mean $600-800, and quite a few go for THOUSANDS.  People often buy several at a time, so, even on the low end, say someone buys 3 chins at $500 each, that's $1500 for 3 chins... they can eat $200 in shipping.  Me?  Not so much.

Second thing.  People that can't do math and have no sense of logic.  I had one person email asking about the cost of adopting two chins.  As it was a male and a female, and the multi-chin discount only applies for same-sex pairs, the adoption fee was... the total of the two adoption fees.  Each chin was $200, so $400 total.  So, then she asks about shipping, and I told her, likely $200 for the two, for shipping.  So, she says, oh, $200 total?  As in, $200 for the two chins and shipping.  Cause, you know, if you buy one, it's full price, but buy two, and I'll only charge you for one, AND throw in free shipping (sarcasm).  Yeah ok.

Third thing.  People who think the policies / rules don't apply to them.  I hold chins for 14 days.  Let me repeat -- 14 DAYS.  THAT IS IT.  Don't like it?  Show me any place that will hold them for longer, and won't charge you for it.  When it's not the busy season, I may go a few extra days one way or another.  If the deposit is for 14 days, and you want to pick up in 16, it's not going to be the end of the world, most likely.  However... during the busy season, when just about every other chinchilla is on hold... it IS a big deal to hold that chin just a little bit longer.  So like today, someone emailed about this one chin, and we're emailing back and forth about it, and I ask her if she's wanting to set up an appointment to come see it.  She says, no, she wanted to pick it up after the holidays, and I tell her, ok, well, our deposit holds for 14 days, and I tell her how she can go about putting down the deposit, if that's what she wants to do.  So, her response is, "ok," and since it IS the busy time of the year, I sort of need to know if you want the chin or not, so I questioned, ok, did she want to put down the deposit?  So she tells me, she wants to pick up the first week of January.  I repeat, our holds are for 14 days, which is only until the 29th at this point, and I suggest that she email back around this time next week, because then we will be within the 14 days.  So, she says, well, she'll pay for the whole thing now, if I'll hold it, PLEASE.  Honey.  At least half the chins on hold here, right now, are fully paid for, and THEY are only getting 14 days to pick them up.  It's not like she's offering MORE money, she's just offering to pay in full... which, no offense to anyone, but doesn't make me any more likely to hold it.  I'm going to get $200 for the chin whether she pays it all now, or part now and part in January, so when she pays it really makes no difference as far as holding it. 

Now, let me explain a bit more WHY we only hold for 14 days, and I know I've gone on about this before, but let me reiterate quickly.  Say I have room for 10 chins here (I know, some of you are dying laughing, shut it! lol), and 5 of them are on hold for 14 days.  Well now, I only have 5 that are available.  Say two more get on hold, now I only have 3 available... and I can't get in any more, cause the other 7 are still here and on hold.  That means, rescue chins not able to come into the rescue, other chins not able to be brought in, sometimes I can't wean babies here and have to leave them with mom extra long because I don't have open cages... all because those chins are on hold.  It's not to be mean or unfair to anyone, but 14 days is more than enough for you to come pick up your chin.  To be perfectly honest, I'm not even sure why people WANT to pick out a chin that much in advance.  They're not ready to bring it home, and (talk to other breeders / rescues, you will find out this is the case) MOST places will NOT hold the animal for ANY length of time (much less 14 days), so these people are usually setting themselves up for disappointment, when the animal is gone before they're ready.  Like this person, she said she's moving.  So, why not move first and then, once settled in, then get the pet?  I just don't quite get it.  And what it comes down to, is that if I extend the 14 day hold for her, then to be fair to everyone else, they all should get extended holds as well.  EVEN IF they would never know that I extended the hold for someone, in my mind, it's not fair, so I don't care to do it.  But really... why is it so hard to say, ok, it's 14 day hold only, so I will wait until I only need the chin held 14 days?  Why should they get special treatment.

Ok, I'm done with my rant for the day.  Other than these few people, things are going well :D  Will post more about that another day...

Saturday, December 3, 2016

New Item -- hay cube holder!

So it's been a bit of time since I've had a new item to add to the store, but now we actually have something!  A hay cube holder!

So, it only looks little... it's actually 6" wide, 4.5" deep, and 8" high.  I had a customer that wanted a hay holder, so I made one, and it turned out halfway decent, so, it's going to be available now.  It has two bolts in the back, to attach it to the side of your cage. 




This was the original drawing for what I wanted it to look like... turned out halfway decent, eh?  


It will be $10 for the hay holder.  :D

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cost of Items and Adoption Fees

I've had a lot of people lately who have either missed sales, or wanted discounts, or whatever.  Let me share about a few of them for you.

One person saw my sale ad and asked about a chin.  I told them the price, said it was only going to be on sale for another few days (to make them aware, so they potentially had time to come adopt), and told them, after the sale, the chin would be regular price, and said what that price was.

So, naturally, sale ends, and they come to adopt and ask me if they can have it for a lesser price.  I said, sorry, no.  They did adopt for the regular price.

Now, before you say, what a bitch!  Think about this.  If the sale at Meijer ends Saturday, and you go there Sunday... is anything you say going to make that sale apply to you?  No.  It won't.

Even aside from sales themselves, I'm noticing a trend lately where people want to basically name their own price.  Apparently there should be Priceline for Chinchillas or something like that.  Anyway, people will literally text me and say, I know that chin is at this price, but would you take this?  Ok, here's the thing.  No one's asking me if I'll take less when they buy 3 chins, or when they buy a senior, or a chin with special needs.  These inquiries are all for tiny little babies that are just able to go home, that would have no problem finding homes.  Even better is when they want something specific -- hey, I should let them know when I have a curly female available, just weaned so they can get it as young as possible, oh and they'd like it for $150.  Thanks.  Um... no?

I do have the multi-chin discount, and if you don't know what that is, that's where if you buy a second chin, you get $25 off the total, and $25 off for every additional chin.  So, get three chins, $50 off the total, four chins $75 off the total, and so on.  And yes, people really have gotten four chins before.  The sales tend to be better deals than this, but that's the point, that's why they're sales.  This is just a minor incentive for people to get their chin a buddy.

Short of the multi-chin discount, if there's not a sale, the adoption fee is the adoption fee.  Again, not trying to be a mean crab, but... go to the Humane Society.  Go to any rescue out there.  Their stated fee is the stated fee.  If you don't like it, do you argue with it?  Well, maybe some of you do, since you ask me about the lower fees.  There's a breed-specific rescue out there that charges $400 for their adult dogs.  I would consider adopting one of them... but not for $400.... so I move along.  Key words there.  If people are unhappy about the prices, I tell them, feel free to wait for a sale (though the specific chin may not be here, there are others)...but honestly, you usually get less with a pet store animal, no support for the life of the animal, and then you all call me up when that pet store animal is sick anyway (and of course, I'm happy to help). 

The point is... it's incredibly frustrating when (I would like to think) people wouldn't ask a store to get the sale price the day after the sale, or ask for a discount for no reason ("hey, I know the baloney is $3 a pound, but can I have it for $2 a pound?  Just because").  Because they won't change the price for you.  And I know I've said it before, and I will say it again -- this is not a garage sale.   

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Shipping Costs (for items)

So, someone emailed and asked today if I charge money for shipping items.  If you have ever tried to buy something from my webstore or emailed me asking about getting items shipped to you, you already know the answer to this -- yes. 

But let me share why, in the world where everything is free shipping...

So, most of the items I sell are hardly marked up.  I think the highest mark-up I have on anything is 30%, and that's the herb sampler and supplement jars.  Now, let me break that down for you.  I don't know exact prices of this stuff, because I figured it out awhile ago, so please bear with me.

For me to get $8.50 to charge you for this, that means the herbs themselves and the jars they go in, together, cost $6.50.  Great, you say, you're making $2 on the jar!  Hold on, back it up.  Whatever portion of that $6.50 the herbs are, that's not including the cost to ship them here, that's the literal cost of the herbs when I buy them.  Same with the jars, I have to go get them.  Every time I order herbs from one of the two places, shipping is $15-20.  How many jars and herb baggies does that make?  I don't exactly know, but not many.  Say one order of herbs makes 40 jars, just to make it easy, so it's 50 cents per jar, with shipping divided out.


Well, someone has to put these jars together, as in, mix the herbs up.  If it was just a handful of this, a handful of that, it'd be real quick, but I've actually taken the time to figure out how many ounces (or half ounce, or 1/4 ounce) of each herb I want in there, to have a nice mix where all the herbs are well represented, without having too much of anything and too little of everything else.  So, I have a little sheet which tells me, ok, I need an ounce of rosehips, and ounce of rosebuds.. and so on.  So, I get all the bags out, scoop out the required amounts, and mix.  Wait!  I know you're saying, why don't you make one huge batch!  Well, the thing is, some of these herbs are significantly heavier than others.  I can fit 8 ounces (that's a half pound) of rosehips in a quart sized baggie.  But for calendula, 3 ounces almost fills a gallon baggie.  It's a lot lighter.  So say I mixed up huge batches... the rosehips, being heavy, will sink to the bottom, while the calendula will sit on top, being super light.  So, one jar at a time, I mix.  I don't pay myself, so there's no actual cost in this, but there is time. 

Oh and the labels.  Each jar has a cute little label on top that says what the jar is, and has a little chinchilla picture.  A lot of them come in a package, so for ease of this, let's just say, between printer ink to print them and the label itself (which naturally, are Avery labels, since the super cheap ones don't stick worth a crap), it's 25 cents per label.

But hold on... that amount of herbs mixed, mentioned above, doesn't quite fill the jar.  If you've ever opened one of these jars, you know that I pack them down quite well and stuff quite a bit in there.  Well, the amount mentioned above will fill the jar, but I need to top it off.  So usually I make one more batch of the mix after I've made my jars and use that batch to top off the almost-completed jars.  I never figured this amount into the cost (I know, really, all of this should have been figured in, but...).  Anyway, I can top off about 5 jars with one mix.  So, $6.50 divided by 5 jars is $1.30 in additional herbs.

And that's it! 

So we then have:
-Herbs $6.50
-Shipping / gas $0.50
-Time to measure out herbs and mix up jar
-Label $0.25
-Additional herbs $1.30
-------------------
$8.55 cost + time

Well crud, I only charge $8.50 for the things!  The nice thing is, since they are herbs, they don't go bad and can pretty much indefinitely sit in those jars.  But see, the mark-up is from the price of what's literally going in. 

Same for the herbs that are in baggies -- I've never actually calculated what those baggies are costing me, per little herb bag sold.  And I know, you're out there saying, well, maybe you should.  Ok, grant me an extra few hours a day, and I gladly will.  LOL.

Anyway, for purposes of shipping, I'll pick a lighter item, say a toy.   The reason I didn't use a toy as the example is because there's much more labor involved, and I feel that's harder to price.  Anyway, let's say the toy is priced at $5, and it costs me $4.50 to make.  That $0.50 profit will not pay for shipping to you -- the lightest toy will still cost at least $3 to ship in a first class envelope.  So, hence, I charge shipping. 

The places that don't charge shipping or boast of this "free shipping" -- a lot of them are really making good money on their items.  I used to work at Meijer, and we could look up in the computer the price actually paid by the store for an item.  I have a diamond ring from Meijer that they sold at a price of $1100.  You know what they paid?  $110.  That is a 1000% markup!  People used to flock to the jewelry counter when they'd have 70% off jewelry sales... so that ring would be $330... heck the store was still making a 300% markup even with the 70% off sale! 

The point is, the free shipping sites are the same way.  My toys range from $4-8 unless you get some specialty holiday toy that's huge or something.  Some sites have toys that start at $15 and go up.  They can offer free shipping, because if that $15 toy costs $4.50 to make, just like my $5 toy, and costs $3 to ship, they're still making $7.50 on that toy.  And of course, you're not just buying the one toy, so of course with the combined profits from the multiple items, they can ship your entire order for free. 

The rest of us are happy with our $0.50, and have to charge for shipping.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

People on the phone...

Just wanted to make a quick post about this...

We get a lot of calls that start out like this, "Hi, are you an animal shelter?"  I always answer back that we are a chinchilla rescue.  So then they ask something along the lines of, "ok, so you take in animals?" to which I reply, "only small animals like chinchillas and guinea pigs, we don't take in dogs or cats." 

This happens about 3-5 times a day. 

Let me share with you the reason I think this happens so often -- people do not read.  We have gotten into such a busy lifestyle (and laziness, but I won't even go into that) that people search animal shelter, we pop up, and people completely ignore the fact that it says "Chinchilla Rescue" and call and expect me to take in their animals.

I had one person a few weeks ago, ask me to take in their pit bull.  I told her, we only take in small animals.  Her response?  You guessed it! -- "well, she's a small pit bull..."

Does it take that long, when you search for something, to look at what you're actually clicking on?  I understand, you may search dog rescue, and because I have pictures of my dogs up on the "about us" page, maybe my site pops up.  However... the whole "chinchilla rescue" thing, should put you on a little notice.  When I was looking to get Misty (my younger dog), I was searching for "sheltie puppy" in combination with Indiana or Illinois or whatever.  That said, I understand that when I do that, may still pop up the website of a Texas sheltie breeder.  And that's fine, because I have some common sense and before I immediately shoot them an email, I take the time to look on the site, see that it's Texas, and say, ok, nevermind, I will move on.  But... that must be too hard for some.

Also in the realm of "too hard," must be politeness and common courtesy.  For example, if I was to call a company and they weren't able to help me, I would say something along the lines of, "thank you anyway" and I would end the call with "bye," or something of the nature.  Just now (what prompted me to write this post actually), the phone rang.  I answered it, and the lady said, "what all animals are you selling?"  I told her, we have chinchillas for adoption.  *click*  That's it.  No "hi" or any sort of greeting, no nothing after I answered the question.  Clearly, that wasn't what she wanted to hear.  Maybe she wanted a guinea pig or whatever... but I guess I wasn't raised that you just hang up on someone if they can't help you. 

Granted, I get plenty of polite people as well, but sometimes, people amaze me...

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Hay and water bottles and everything else under the sun

So, it's been busy lately, between adoptions and expos and traveling and all that fun stuff, so I know I have a lot to update on.

Let's start with the hay.  I used to get hay from a family that farmed it out in Kouts, but when I first got the hay, it was mostly grass hay.  As time went on, they let the alfalfa take over their fields, and for chins, you don't want a hay high in alfalfa.  Some is fine, but we were getting to the point that at least half, if not more, of the bale was alfalfa... so that wasn't going to work.  So the one day, Jim came over here and we found a new guy for hay.  Let's call him Joe.  Joe was a farmer who had hay fields and could not imagine, for the life of him, why two people would want grass hay instead of the nice green alfalfa.  But, that's what we wanted, and to make it worth his while, rather than buying a few bales, I bought $100 worth of hay from him, and only took $20 of it the first time.  He would hold the rest until when I needed it next.  And he must have had a few hundred bales, so this shouldn't have been a problem.  Of course, I'm telling you about this now, so you may be able to imagine where this is going.... fast forward a few months, I'm on my last bale of hay and I need more hay.  So, I call Joe.  No answer, and his voicemail isn't set up, so I can't leave a message.  I call again, and he picks up, and I get about as far as saying who I am before the call cuts out.  Well, I call right back, and then upon thinking, he might still be on the phone saying "hello???," I wait a few minutes and try again... nothing.  This goes on for about a week, and I also messaged him through facebook (and we have talked on there before, so I KNOW he knows how to use it), I texted his cell phone, and I posted a message on his facebook wall.  Despite the fact that he has been active multiple multiple times and I must have called 40 different times over the course of a week, I have not received any calls back or anything.  Jim seems to think he sold the hay in a bit lot to someone else, and now doesn't have my hay to give me... but even if that is the case, I would appreciate if he would own up to it, as it's clear at this point that he's just ignoring me.... and I can't tell you how much that pisses me off.... and how much the rescue could have used that lost $80 for something else....

But, nothing can really be done if he doesn't respond to any of my contacting him, so... whatcha gonna do, but move on to other things.  Speaking of, it's the beginning of the month, so it's time to switch out water bottles.  We take all the bottles down, clean them, and replace them with fresh water and clean bottles.  Sounds easy enough, but there's well over 100 bottles, so obviously this isn't done all at once.  Well, I bought used bottles from someone a bit ago, and as I was washing bottles today, it occurred to me that I could grab those and use those, as those would be clean, right?  Right??  Wrong.  Sometimes I think I'm the only one anymore who sells stuff that is CLEAN.  If I sell a used cage, or used water bottle, or whatever, I have scrubbed it and gotten as much of the grime and gook off as possible.  Not these people!  The water bottles are grimy, the tubes have caked on gunk on them... needless to say, I will not be using them before scrubbing the hell out of them and letting the stoppers/tubes soak for awhile and then scrubbing the hell out of those as well.  I just don't get people!  And don't get me wrong, the water bottles weren't expensive, but they weren't THAT cheap either, that they should be this grimy... ugh.  Those water bottle are a different type than the ones I use normally, so I've just been washing my own today and using those, and I will wash the others when I have more time...

Last thing for now, because I have to go and get more stuff done.  You may have noticed that the website looks a bit different... The webhost for our site had different site builders available.  We were on the original site builder, and they were up to sitebuilder 3 for a different option for editing the website.  I put off and put off and put off some more... switching to the new one, because I knew it would be a headache.  Well, they finally sent out an email saying they were going to switch over all the sites sometime mid-October, though we could switch them sooner if desired... well... fall is a bad time for that, cause it's super busy, so I waited until one day I opened my site and it was switched over... and... yuk.  What a mess.  The entire website is now what is called "legacy paragraphs" which have to be edited through multiple steps, rather than just clicking where I want to change something and deleting and typing, like in a word document... so now, I have to go through each page, page by page, and re-do them and switch them over to the regular paragraphs so that if I ever want to edit the site in the future, I can do so without going through 10 steps on every page... and I tell ya, it is a pain.  Also, the nav bar at the top no longer has the option to be 3 rows, so we have drop down menus for everything.  I'm not a fan... but it is what it is.  And the available chins page isn't up to date at the moment, since everything is all over the place, and I'm trying to go page by page to fix all of this.  So please be patient, thank you..... 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Costs of Chinchilla Care

Ok, so I would like to share with you all the story of a chin that I heard over the phone, when someone called inquiring whether we'd take the chin into our rescue.  We actually referred her to a much closer rescue to her, but we may still get the chin, if that rescue is full.

So the lady tells me, the chinchilla keeps getting respiratory infections.  During these respiratory infections, the chin stops eating, and the lady has to get critical care and handfeed the chin.  During these respiratory infections, the chin drools.  The vet is the one diagnosing these as respiratory infections... now let's be honest, this sounds like classic malocclusion. 

The owner did say the chin has had the teeth filed once or twice, and that has helped immensely, and the chin bounces right back to eating after the filing.  But her main concerns were time and money.

Now, this lady said that she works 8-10 hours a day.  Raise your hand if you, also, work 8 hours a day.... I imagine that's a good chunk of the living population of humans.  Everyone has their own perspective for how long chin care "takes," but I always find it interesting when people tell me that they don't have time, but they actually have about as much time as everyone else, to devote to their pets.  But if she doesn't think that's enough time, especially considering the chin has been sick and has to go into the vet a few times since she's gotten the chin, all means, that's fine.

I guess the part that irks me is the money.  Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate putting malo chins through filing after filing after filing.  If people want to drop $10-15k on their chin over the course of the life, have the chins constantly under anesthetic every month, have to handfeed the chins... by all means.  To me, that's pretty much no quality of life for the chin.  However, when taking on any pet, I do believe that the owner should be willing to spend some amount of money on vet care for the animal.  Just because they didn't take in a dog or a cat doesn't mean, in my opinion, that they should be cost-free, if the animal were to get sick.  This lady, for example, told me that she has already spent $300-400 over the last 6 years on this chinchilla, and that the last vet bill was over $100.  Maybe it's just me, because I remember Shiloh's $2900 vet bill that we had a few years back (and again, I don't think people have to go quite that far with expenses, everyone has their limits, but...), but I feel like in the scheme of things, that's not all that much money.  It is, but it's not.  A vet bill being over $100 is pretty standard... I can rarely get out of ANY vet's office, even for something super simple, for under $200, so to me, over 6 years, $300-400 for a chin that's constantly sick is practically a steal!  Haha.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that she shouldn't release the chin to a rescue or anything of the sort.  It's perfectly fine if she's over her head and realizes it's too much to care for a sick chin, on top of her already busy life.  That's fine.  But the money part... that's really not that much to spend, to be honest. 

And, mind you, this is the same person that complained that it is 30 minutes to their vet's office (omg, much too far to drive), the cage cost them $80.  The fur on the chin is matted (likely due to the drooling) and she doesn't want to pay to have the matts removed by the vet....

Ugh. 

Here's the point of all of this.  When I get people here who are filling out our adoption paperwork, I routinely get people ask me -- "do I have to answer all the questions?"  Now, personally, I want to bang my head up against the wall, because it's really not that difficult -- here it is -- http://www.nwichinchillas.com//NWI%20Chinchilla%20Adoption%20Form%20-new.doc -- 2 pages.  Half of the first page asks where you live and info about your living situation.   So there's two questions on there about vet bills -- the one basically asks if the potential adopter understands that vet bills can be expensive, and the other asks if the potential adopter can afford possible vet bills.  Again, I will clarify, that I don't expect people to spend thousands on their chins, but I do expect them to at least take them to the vet and get some vet work done (and I give kudos to this lady for at least doing that).  The reason these questions are on there are because people seem to think, ok they'll get a chinchilla, and it'll be super cheap because it doesn't routinely need to go to the vet (which is true, routine visits aren't necessary).  But then, the second the chin gets sick, people immediately tend to go "omg, that's too much, let me find the nearest rescue."  Now, I'm not saying that's all people; some people do legitimately spend a lot of money on the health and well-being of their chins, but the ones I tend to run into, as a rescue, are the ones where they've spent some money, and that was more than they ever wanted to spend in the first place, and so the chin ends up in rescue.  Again, not saying people have to spend their life savings on a chin, but I would just like my own potential adopters to realize that if the chin ever does need to go to the vet, there will be a cost.  Not $20, but rather, more like the cost of taking a cat or dog to the vet.  If that's a problem for someone -- well, I was going to say, maybe a chinchilla is not the right pet for them, but actually, maybe no pet is right for them, as any pet, even as small as a hamster, could possibly even go to the vet and wrack up huge vet bills.  What it comes down to, is people need to think about these things before they go and get a pet.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Shelves and other changes

If you've paid much attention to our website lately, you may have noticed some changes.  For my toys, the muncher's delight toy went up to $4 and the fun chewies toy went up to $7.  If you've ever helped me make either of those toys, you know those are two of the most labor intensive toys I have.  While hay cubes aren't necessarily expensive, they take forever to drill (AND a good chunk of them split and then cannot be used for the toys), which means at least 1/3 of a 40 pound bag of hay cubes cannot be used for toys, and the rest that can takes forever and a day to drill.  The fun chewies toys have those small circular cutouts that are used (3 per toy)... they require a power sander, some patience, and a good grip to sand those.  The effort required for the toys has made the price raise, so that we're not making 10 cents per toy, without that including the effort required to make them.

The shelves have had an overhaul as well.  Remember how we had custom shelves of all lengths, and you'd hear me talking about getting boxes from online to fit them and all that...  well, that lasted a very short period of time, as I actually had in some good sized boxes to fit the larger shelves... and that worked great... except for everyone who wanted those larger shelves, also wanted like 3 houses, or a motorhome, or something else that wouldn't fit in the box, and they didn't want shipped separately.  Oy.  Well, the alternative was HUGE boxes, think 4' square, which cost a mortgage payment to ship cause they have to go balloon rate.  So, the idea of custom boxes for the custom shelves was scrapped.

And then, even the custom shelves themselves have sort of gone by the wayside.  I used to think, oh how nice, I can make any size shelf anyone wants.  And that's great, in theory, but in reality, I schedule an appointment right before I'm set to leave to go somewhere, and they want custom shelves... I end up covered in sawdust and need a shower before I go... even though I was supposed to leave right then, not right then + shower.  Yes, I realize, the solution to that is to require knowing what the shelves are ahead of time, but as many of my people show up the same day they contact me... that's not all that practical either.  So, for the sake of my continued sanity, now we will have standard shelf sizes.

We will continue with our perch shelf, circular perch, and corner shelf, but will no longer have the small, medium, large, and x-large shelves, where the customer gets to pick the sizes they want.  We now will have 6" shelves, 10" shelves, 12" shelves, 18" shelves, and 23" shelves.  Larger custom shelves will be available to customers who are able to pick them up from the rescue in Hammond, IN. 

You may not have noticed these changes, partially because the host of our website has the webstore only marginally working right now.  Can't say I'm thrilled about that, because the less time the webstore works, the less you can all place orders, the less money the rescue can make.  And obviously, the rescue needs to sell items to make money.  But anyway, point being, since the webstore isn't working, I can't edit the items either.  So if you happen to view it, when the page is working, but before the website gets a chance to update itself, you may still see all the original shelves up and such.  The web host has said it should be officially fixed by tomorrow.  Hopefully... I'm not holding my breathe, but we shall see.... 

And then final change that you may have noticed is that in the Chinchilla Sales Policy, now our hold period (with deposit) has gone down to 14 days.  This has changed because of the fact that we had oh so many chinchillas here that would always be on hold, and we would be unable to actually wean our own babies or take in new ones, because we were holding so many for people.  What partially caused this change, as well, was that it occurred to me -- I chin-sit chinchillas and other animals, and I would not chin-sit an animal for 30 days for nothing.  Well, I suppose not for 2 weeks for nothing either, but 30 days with no additional gain would be excessive.  Other than that, we get a lot of people who want to adopt once they get back from vacation or whatnot... and so they would pick out a chin prior to vacation and then want to pick up a month later.  Which we were doing... but realistically, they could have just as easily picked out a chin when they got back.  And so, we're down to 14 days now...

And I believe, for the time being, that is all...

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Good with kids? dogs? other pets?

Someone came by the rescue the other day and told me that the reason they got their chinchilla elsewhere (they were here for supplies) was because they had seen another ad that had specified that the chinchilla was good with kids.  I've definitely seen that before, along with some variations, but I will not be including that in our ads anytime soon, and I would like to explain why.

So, the variations I've seen are...
--good with kids
--good with older kids
--good with dogs
--good with cats
--good with other pets

Here's the difficulty with saying that a chinchilla (whether in general, or a specific chinchilla) is good with any of those -- you could take the calmest, sweetest, chinchilla, and put it in front of a kid.  A calm kid, where mom is showing the kid how to gently pet it, chinchilla is fine.  What about a kid that's being unsupervised and sticking fingers in the cage?  Maybe the chinchilla reaches out to test nibble.  What about with kids that corner the chinchilla and scare it? 

Same goes for dogs, cats, other pets.  Some dogs and cats are harmless and wouldn't hurt a fly.  Heck, my 50 pound sheltie is afraid of my white doves.  For those sort of dogs and cats and other pets, maybe a chinchilla would be fine with them.  Maybe not.  But what about a dog with a high prey drive?  Or a cat with a high prey drive?  Or...?

See, notice, the difference isn't the chinchilla, it's the "other" that I'm talking about.  Chinchillas can react differently to different people, different animals, what have you.  I've seen chins that will sit nicely to be petted for one person, yet will bite another.  No real difference, but the first person can reach right over and pick up that chin, no harm to the person.  Does that mean the chin's good with people... or not?  Depends who you ask.

I think, in talking about whether chins are good with kids, a lot of that depends... on the kids.  How are the kids going to interact with the chins?  Are they going to be supervised?  Are they going to walk around with a death grip on the chinchilla, and then run to mom when the chinchilla finally has had enough and bites them?  Are they going to calmly hold the chinchilla and pet it and make sure it feels secure in being held, so that its not afraid?  The thing is, there's no way to know.  Even the calmest chinchilla out there can be startled by something, or someone, and act uncharacteristically.  They're creatures of habit, but that doesn't mean they can't change their behavior.

As far as the dogs, cats, other pets... I leave that one alone, because personally, I don't let my animals interact with the chinchillas.  My dogs can go right up to their cages, sniff them, play bow, whatsoever, but that's the extent of it.  My smaller dog would probably LOVE to play with one, including catching and eating one, if given the opportunity.  The thing is, at the end of the day, chinchillas are prey animals.  If they even SEE a dog or a cat or predator, they immediately think OMG.  Even if you don't notice the reaction, they can smell the other animal, and it can make them uncomfortable.  People ask me why I don't take ferrets in at the rescue.  My answer has always been a sort-of-meant-to-be-funny, well, if someone opened every cage right now, without ferrets, none of the other animals would eat each other.  Which is true, because everything I have at the rescue is a herbivore (or on occasion, omnivores like rats).  I have had little kids here open many cages (often, without parent correction, tsk tsk) and I wouldn't want a loose predator in a room with prey animals.  But see, that's exactly the point.  I won't take in ferrets because doing so would be introducing a predator into a prey animal area, and would stress out the prey animals.  So why do it? 

Everyone can make their own choice about whether to let their chins roam free with their dogs and cats.  They know their animals better than anyone, and that's their choice to make.  However... believe me, I've heard enough stories of that sort of thing going wrong... which is where the no-ferrets-thing comes in.  Not saying that your dog or cat intentionally stresses out your chins, but the chin no doubt sees that as a predator. 

So to say, the chin is good with dogs and cats... well... hold on, let's back up a moment.  If the chin was NOT good with dogs and cats, what would that mean?  The chin launches itself, ninja-style, at the cat or dog and bites it?  If that's the criteria we're using, then sure, most chins are "good" with dogs and cats.  But for me, I wouldn't let them all out together, so that sort of negates saying that oh, they all get along.

Just my input for the day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Oats

I know I haven't posted in forever, but unfortunately this is going to be a short post because I'm trying to get through emails.  But I emailed myself this pic so I'd remember to blog about it, so here goes.

Look at these oats:



I took this picture, because I purchased the oats on the left, and someone else brought us the oats on the right (brought in with their surrendered chins).  The oats on the right are NOT safe for chinchilla consumption.  Do you notice the difference?  The oats on the left are old fashioned oats, which means they take forever and a day to cook.  The oats on the right are what we call quick-cook oats, notice, it says "quick 1-minute" (cooking time) right on the box.  Those are not safe for chinchillas.  The reason is, since they cook so fast, they swell when they absorb liquid (which is what helps them cook so fast).  Unfortunately for chinchillas, when the ingest quick-cook oats, they swell in their stomach, which can lead to bloat and probably other problems as well.  I imagine possibly even impaction... though for sure bloat.  And let's be honest, the possibility of bloat should be enough to keep you away from the quick-cook oats and looking for the old fashioned oats. 

So remember, when you're looking to buy oats for your chins, remember to keep it simple, do things the old fashioned way :)

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Appointments

I know it can be hard for some people to keep appointments.  I've even, on occasion, had to contact people and say, hey, I can't make the appointment that we have scheduled, we need to reschedule.  But if that happens, I do my best to give as much notice as possible, so that no one is too badly inconvenienced.  But I'm honestly starting to think no one else has any common courtesy anymore.

Let's talk about the other day.  I had someone scheduled to show up, 11:30-12.  Had another person scheduled to show up, 1-2 pm.  I figured, between the two, I could run to the store real quick to get something.  I should apparently know better.

So at 10:15, the person who was supposed to come at 1-2 pm calls me up and asks how to get to my house from the Walmart in Gary off of 94.  I have no idea.  Honestly, no idea.  I ask them, do they have a gps?  Could they input the address?  No, they don't, so they can't.  These people were coming from at least 5 hours away (what they told me), so I guess they thought they were going to wing it, until they got close.  So they said, ok, they'd call me when they got to Hammond.  So I said ok.  Then they ask, "well, what city do you live in?"  "Hammond."  "No, but what city?"  "Yeah, Hammond."  "No, but is that like Chicago Heights?"  "No, it's Hammond."  I explained, Hammond is it's own city.  Like really, it's not a neighborhood or something, it's a city.  So they say they'll call when they get to Hammond.  Oh and I do tell them though, if they do get here soon, that they will have to wait, since they were scheduled for 1-2 pm and it was considerably earlier, and I had other appointments.  That was at 10:15.

At 11:46 they call back... they took a wrong turn, they're in Chicago.  They want to know what time it was here, so I told them.  They said ok, they would be by soon.

So then time passes, and shortly after noon, my 11:30-12 person texts and says there's more traffic than they thought, they're going to show up around 12:30.  Which they did end up showing up around then, and I do appreciate them letting me know that they were running late and were kind enough to tell me.  So they were  a dropoff, so they come by, drop off their chin to the rescue, and leave... and it was then 12:51... and the other people were still not here.

So I got a call at 12:57 from those people, telling me they can't make it... that it's too far from where they live..  I looked up the area code on their phone... from where the live, they actually went about an hour PAST where I live if they went into the area of Chicago they said they were at... but without a GPS, not sure how they ever expected to find it (cause they also didn't mapquest it or anything).

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Orders

So, let's start with talking about orders.  I know I'm always talking about how many I have to do -- which I typically do -- which means I tend to work on them piecemeal.  If you're ordering a motorhome, it gets built in pieces.  I first start with the base and glue the back three pieces on.  Let those dry.  ONCE those are dry (the next day), the I move onto the next portion.  So if I'm waiting to hear from you about something regarding your order, it's usually no problem... except when all I'm waiting for is payment.

Let's talk about this one person.  She messages me with a list of items she wants to buy, and wants to know what shipping is.  Word to the wise, I need to know your zip code to calculate shipping.  People have told me everything from "I'm in Springfield" (Massachusetts?  Nevada?  I don't know...) to "I'm on the east coast (so... Florida?  New Hampshire?) to "I'm in the US."  Now all of those statements may very well be true, but USPS does not let me put in "east coast" when figuring out shipping, I need a zip code. 

So anyway, I email this lady back and just nicely say that I need a zip code, and she gets back to me that day with a zip code.  So a day passes, and I haven't emailed her back yet (see above regarding multiple orders) so she calls me up, asking if I'd figured out her order yet.  I tell her, no not yet, but I planned to work on it that day.  So I tell her, I will end up emailing her later if I need any more information or with her total, or whatever the case may be.  Well, she mentions that she thought her package might be able to go first class, and I suppose I should have thought of it then (but I ship SO few items first class, it's not top of my mind, like out of hundreds of packages a year, maybe 5 are first class... everything else is just too heavy)... I need a full address to determine first class shipping, and all I have is this lady's first name and her zip code.

So I email her and I mention that yes, I put all the stuff in the package and yes, she is correct, it can go first class...and because of that, I need her full address.  Three days pass, and I don't hear anything.  So I call her up, since I had her phone number from the first phone call.  I leave a detailed message about needing the full address and so on... she calls back 3 days later and asks what I need.  Clearly didn't listen to the message, or anything.  So I take down her full address, and she mentions that she wants to take an item off the order.  And then she asks how this is going to work once I determine shipping.  So I tell her, ok, I will figure out shipping, and I will email her with the total.  And I ask her if that's fine, since she hasn't been responding to my emails and she says yeah, perfectly fine.  So then I tell her, ok, if she wants to pay with paypal, I can email her an invoice, or if she wants to pay with a card, she can call me back and we can do that over the phone, and she says ok, she'll watch for the email.

So I take that item out that she no longer wants, input her complete address, determine shipping, and get that email out to her within the next hour or two.  That was the 23rd.  It is now the 28th, and I have yet to hear back from her.  I called her just a bit ago and left yet another message saying hey, this is what your total came out to, I sent you an email, still haven't heard back.

Mind you, this is an $11 order, mostly herbs which have very little profit, maybe $2 of that is profit... and I've been chasing down this lady with this order for like 2 weeks now.  It's not that I don't value the orders, but to me... this is ridiculous.  Either you want it or you don't.  Shipping came out to like $4, so the total (for a 9x11 envelope STUFFED with items) is $15... so it's not breaking the bank for anyone...but she apparently can't be bothered to get back to me... and frankly, I'm too busy to keep chasing people down like this.

And this isn't the first time.  I have an order completely packaged up... from I dunno even how long ago.  At least a year ago, I had someone tell me they wanted a custom tunnel and something else. I honestly don't even remember what the "something else" was now... cause they wanted it, they wanted it, they'd pay next week.  Well, next week turned into, after their court date next month, which turned into, after this the following week... I still have the box under my table downstairs.  I had been emailing this person periodically, saying hey, I need payment for this, cause I mean, she had me convinced she was going to pay so much that the package is literally SEALED and everything.  Every time I'd email her, she'd have her reason why she couldn't pay now, but she'd pay next week...and yet never did.  At this point, I need to cut open that package and sell those two items... but what I've learned from these experiences is that in the future, I need to give the people a set amount of time... say 7 days to pay from when I give them a shipping quote, and if they don't, their order gets taken apart / back on the shelf / whatever.  Cause that box under the table is LARGE and is taking up a lot of room, and I know that whatever is in it could have been sold awhile ago.  And the unfortunate thing, is that people like this are what delay everyone else's order... like because I'm taking the time to chase after these people, that's less time to devote to everyone else's order who IS serious and IS planning on paying... so a line needs to be drawn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Getting stuff done and funny contacts

So the last few days have been super productive... have gotten a lot of cages cleaned, a lot of stuff washed... very happy with that.  The one guy that was coming over to wash literally vanished into thin air, but one of my friends suggested that they could take the job over, and they're doing an awesome job of that (and everything else I need), so that's going well at the moment.

Over this current week, we're hopefully going to get a lot done, have a lot more toys in stock, a lot more of that sort of thing, since as you all know, I'm constantly having to make stuff since there's only one of me and 4000 people who want orders.  Which is awesome, don't get me wrong, but I would like to get orders out faster to my customers, and that's where this all comes in.

So today, I have a doctor's appointment in another hour or two, so I'm working on clean stuff in the meantime (as in, nothing that's going to cover me with sawdust), so this morning I've been going around and seeing what chins are here and taking pictures and writing notes about those chins so that I can list them on my website and on the other places that I use.  And in doing so, I ran across two messages from April 17th (oops!), that somehow I never received a notification for, on this one classified site.

Well, these people wanted a chin for their 2 year old.  Probably not messages I really care to entertain anyway, as I don't exactly see most 2 year olds holding a chin properly... usually they squeeze it... whether intentionally or not... and parents rarely correct... but I digress.  But anyway, this was mildly amusing, so I'm going to share it with you.  In one of these messages, the person tells me that their husband used to breed chins, so "we know what we need to do."  I'm assuming that means, they know how to care for chins.  Now, in no way am I saying that they do not know how to care for chins... however... just because they bred chins doesn't mean they do know how to care for them, either.  I have run into umpteen people who have told me they had a chin live to a ripe old age... of 5.  And they think that's awesome!  And those same people tell me, oh they did LOADS and LOADS of research.  And maybe they did, but they somehow missed the part where chins can live into their 20s.  Point is, just because someone's had chins, or raised chins, doesn't mean they've done it right, or that they know what they're doing.  Few years ago, I remember buying some "pedigreed" (and you'll see why I put that in quotes) chins from someone selling out (and I know some of my friends reading this will totally remember when this happened).  Now, for reference... here's what your average pedigree might look like (few examples):




Here's what the pedigree I got from this person looked like:



Notice the difference?  That pedigree is pretty much useless.  If that chin developed malo, for example, there's no way to track the parents.  Oh there's a dark ebony mom... well, what if that breeder had 5 dark ebony females?  Which one is it?  Is it one they bred?  Or from another breeder? If it's from another breeder, especially a large breeder, good luck knowing which one, out of thousands of chins born... it was.  Same with any of the chins on that pedigree.  Absolutely useless.  I believe, if I remember correctly, we didn't get the pedigrees until much later after we got the animals -- which were sold as pets (rather than used for breeding, which was the actual idea).  Maybe somewhere along the line, some of those chins actually were pedigreed, like an actual pedigree, but those ones we got weren't, and it wouldn't be reputable to breed them with no sort of information whatsoever on the parents. 

...and let me also mention something else... anyone could make up a pedigree like that pretty much on the spot.  It's not hard to come up with what two colors of chins created another color of chin as a baby.  Oh you have a beige baby?  Great!  Standard grey mother, beige father, and POOF! beige baby.  Look!  A pedigree!!!  And I've seen this, sadly, way more than I would like.  There was a girl (I think I called her the problem child, you may remember me writing about her) who contacted me about breeding her chins, and ALL her pedigrees looked like this.  And the sad part was, for her, it was even worse.  Like at least for the pedigree for that one chin above, it's not every color under the sun. The chin that the pedigree was for, was supposed to be a chocolate (it wasn't, but that's beside the point).  For a chocolate / dark tan, you would need beige, tan, and ebony.  So that pedigree at least vaguely makes sense...  For the problem child girl, her chin would be an ebony... and would have a violet in there... and a tan... and a beige... and a sapphire... but she'd tell me, oh the breeder was breeding for sapphires... so I'd ask, ok, why add in the ebony then?  Oh, because it will get rid of the red coloration in the chins and make it more blue.  *facepalm*  If you have any knowledge of chin genetics at all and how the colors and all that work, you know... and if you don't, let me tell you... that is such a crock of shit.  There's no way to breed the red coloration out of an animal... you just try to AVOID breeding animals that have red fur tips.  But you sure don't add ebonies to get rid of red.... 

Anyway, moving along... the second message from these people stated -- "He has raised and bred purple sapphires with vet papers" -- now, let's assume you're a pet person, don't breed, don't know much about genetics.  Tell me, what color is sapphire?  Ok, I imagine we can all answer at once -- BLUE.  So if he bred purple sapphires... those were either some really off-color sapphires, or he had blue diamonds and she has no idea what she's talking about.  But since blue diamonds are more of a new thing... I'd imagine the first...

Vet papers?  How many of you can say you've taken a chin to the vet, and it's clearly sick, and one of two things -- either (1) the vet has NO IDEA what's wrong with the chin, or, possibly even better, (2) the vet can't tell the chin's sick, or (3) the vet gives some random off the wall explanation for why the chin is the way it is, such as "the chin is homesick" (and yes, I've heard it happen -- "stressed" would be a better way of putting it, I think "homesick" is giving that chin a little too much mental credit).  But for sake of argument, let's say you have a smart vet, and they actually can tell you, and be correct in telling you, ok, your chin is healthy.  Does that mean that genetically, it's fine?  Doesn't carry malo or any other illness?  No, unfortunately, they can't tell you that.  These aren't dogs, we can't do genetic testing on them.  So, even if your vet has said, ok, the chin is healthy... that doesn't mean, ok, go ahead and breed it, because you just don't know what that chin might be carrying.  And that's why pedigrees are so important, because that way if something comes up, we can trace it back.  But a vet paper saying, oh the chin is healthy... really doesn't mean much.

This is one of those things where I get that this person was trying to let me know that they've had chins before and they know what they're doing... but they really proved that they probably really don't know what they're doing, at least as far as the breeding with vet papers and purple sapphires...  I feel like this is an interesting case of... if you really don't know what you're talking about... best to leave it simple.  If they had just said, oh they bred chins, and left it at that, I wouldn't be writing this blog post (well, maybe a much shorter one).  And don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I know everything either... but I know what color sapphire is...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Oak Lawn Expo Day #1

So today went well.  Didn't have much in terms of sales at the expo, a hammock and some treats, but we did talk to a lot of great people, some of who seemed interested in adopting, so fingers crossed for that...

As usual, Summer garnered a lot of attention, and she got a lot of pets for her efforts.

We did our presentation on chinchillas -- well, I presented, Tom (of West Burb Weiners) held Hercules while I presented, and we actually had quite a few people sitting around and listening to me talk about chinchillas and how they knew if that was the right pet for them...

We also had two chin adoptions today at the expo -- everything done in advance except, of course, picking up the chins.  So, those went well, and Max and Fritz, and a young violet male both went home.  Yay for them in their new homes.  So since Max and Fritz's cage is now open, I went to email people on my waiting list to bring in their chins.  First person for me to email was someone who had gotten two chins from me, and who had emailed saying they were more work than they had originally thought.  So I emailed them saying I had room for the chins, and almost immediately got an email back saying, oh they decided to keep them.  Alright, then, moving along.

So I emailed the next person on my list, and so now we're currently working on arranging when they can bring their chins by.

So then, wanted to give a shoutout to Tim P., who was our volunteer at the expo today.  Thanks to Tim for coming by and helping us out!  

And then on Sunday, we had Kristy come out and help us at the expo, thanks Kristy!  


Deliveries

So... I've delivered a fair number of chins over the past year, and some people think the delivery fee is fine, others are horrified.  So let me explain..

While there's a few people that want local delivery, most people want delivery cause they're umpteen hours away.  That's the idea, they don't want to spend an entire day between driving here and driving back home... and I get it.  But that doesn't mean delivery is going to be $20...

So take this one person today, for example.  They asked me, do they have to come here to pick up a chin, or do we deliver?  So I told em, we deliver for a fee.  So she gave me the address and I looked it up... about 3-4 hours away... $139 delivery fee.  They said, too much.  They asked, ok, what if they met met a bit closer, maybe a half hour away from their home, would that make it cheaper?  Well sure, but not by much.  Figured it out, it would bring down delivery to $110.  They said, still too much, the chin's only $175.

So I told em, if they want it cheaper, the cheaper option is for them to drive the 6 hour roundtrip and come pick up the chin.  Then it's their gas, their time spent getting the chin.

Because here's the thing.  I'm not trying to be an ass, and I'm not trying to get oodles of money out of people.  But it's at least, absolute minimum, a 6 hour roundtrip.  Which will more likely turn into an 8 hour roundtrip with traffic, construction, and so on.... so an entire day wasted making all of $175 on a chin.  As most of you know, I'm typically behind on orders, behind on getting back to emails, and so on and so forth.  The last thing I need is to spend 6+ hours away from home when I have oodles of things to do, and make just about nothing for it.  By the time I take the actual amount made with delivery, subtract out what it will cost me in gas, I'm usually not even making minimum wage per hour.  And don't get me wrong, good homes are nice to find, but I could be at home sending out packages.  I could be doing umpteen other things... rather than driving a chin to someone.  So I'd rather not do the long deliveries ANYWAY, but if I do, I don't really care for when the people want to argue over the price.

So anyway, this person says, ok, how bout $300 for chin and delivery to the house.  Sorry, no.  Again, not trying to be a butt, however... I've learned, I need to stick up for myself and not be a doormat.  People want something, this isn't a garage sale, it isn't up for debate, the amount is what the amount is.

And in reality, the amount to their door was only $314 (which the person asked about), and

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Emails... and more emails...

So, I know I need to get more on the ball as far as posting this sort of stuff.... and I will... but let me explain why that sometimes doesn't happen.

I got up at 9 am today, and fed and watered all the chins.  That took me til a little after 10:15ish, and in the middle there, I had my blazer picked up for detailing... which, never fails, I will be packing it for an expo tomorrow... I will do my BEST to keep it clean!!

Anyway, so after I fed and watered the critters, I took out a few of them, snapped some pics and dictated notes on them to my phone. 

Even if I don't respond to all my emails right away, I typically do look through them, so I see if I need to snap pics for someone, or what the case may be... so I did, and I noticed someone had asked to see pics of a pair of boys here, and mentioned they were also looking at chins from another breeder.  Well if that didn't light the fire under my butt, nothing would (don't want to lose chins to the competition), so I snapped pics of those chins and a few others that people were asking about in email, and went upstairs.  Emailed that specific guy back, saying ok, I will send the pics directly from my phone in another email.  He likes the chins (yay!), and we emailed back and forth a few times, emails crossing multiple times, until the moment he decided to be the smart one and called me up.  So we talked for awhile, he's going to come to the expo this weekend and pick up the pair of chins.  Yay. 

So then since that, I've been working on other emails.  I had someone else that wanted a literal baby rescue, and since I picked up the chins from another rescue in Pennsylvania -- a mom and three babies -- for once I do have literal baby rescues... so I told her, and she wanted the adoption form and all that, so I sent those over.  I completely spaced on checking if any of the babies are girls (I just didn't check sexes at all... they have some time to go before weaning, so at this point it really doesn't matter), but I need to check on that and get back to her, because she would like a female.

Then someone else emailed, saying they will be at the expo this weekend and would like to meet me and the chins, and were asking if a certain chin was still available (it is), and so I mentioned to them that I could bring it to the expo if they wanted, and so on and so forth...

So then I went to another email asking about pairing up chins and explained, no way to know if they'll get along without trying it (you all know the story, you've heard me rant about it a million times)...

Then I realized that I sold a large cage the other day, and had not yet ordered another one, so I went online and did that.

Then someone wants to stop by this weekend to pick up some food, so I emailed them back so we can arrange what day and what time works best for all of us...

And between people responding to emails that I sent, and then me responding to those, and so on and so forth... it is now 2:39 pm, I've been working on emails since 10:15ish, over 4 hours... and just NOW have I finally responded to all of them.  I am now going to start working on listing chins...

... but this is just an example of why sometimes things get behind. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

Flake Week

I officially dub the last week-ish amount of time, Flake Week.

Now I know, I've said I need to stop writing so much about things that go bad, but this takes the cake.  These several people brought it all on....

It all starts last week when I had to deliver a chinchilla to Muncie on late notice.  I didn't think I'd be able to get back in time for one of my appointments, so I contacted them and moved their appointment to later in the day.  So that was fine with them, no problem, but sometime during the day, they texted me to say that they couldn't make that appointment either.  Which was fine, so we were working to reschedule, and couldn't find a day / time that was working for both of us.  This person just needed to drop off a deposit, so I told them, put it in an envelope, drop it off anytime in the mailbox.  They said that would work great, so I expected that when I got back from my last trip out of town, it would be there. 

Well that was clearly a stupid expectation, and the beginning of Flake Week. 

So I messaged that person, explaining that I need a deposit, like, yesterday, because I've already held the chin for over 7 days and have other people inquiring... and their relative was supposed to come  few hours ago to drop it off.  They never showed, so I texted the person and said, hey, are they still coming, cause I need to leave (which they knew).  They said they hadn't heard from the person all day, so they guessed I could take the chin off hold.  I told them, if they happened to get here anytime soon, and I still had the chin, they could put him back on hold...

Moving along.  I posted a picture of the sapphire wrap chin that we have here with a shredded wheat square and a caption on facebook.  In case you haven't seen it,

"Why haven't I gone home yet?? Is it my ear?? Mom, people don't like my ear...."
--sapphire wrap male
 
So naturally, people started messaging asking about him and potentially wanting to adopt.  Wait!  Don't celebrate just yet.  So we set the first appointment for the following day.  She said, in the event she wasn't going to be able to make it, she would message me.  And she did, and we rescheduled for Wednesday night.  Come Wednesday night, she was supposed to come at 5 pm... 5:15 rolls around, I have not heard from her, I have not seen her, nothing.  So I message her on facebook, and she says, oh she's not feeling well.....oh but she still really wants him!!!  Which, again, would be fine... except... was she ever going to tell me about her not feeling well and not coming??  Apparently not.  So I told her the same thing I told the other person, we only hold for 7 days without a deposit (and this person was also coming to put down a deposit), so she needed to get here by the time I left on Friday (today) to get a deposit down or he wouldn't stay on hold for her.  So she says, ok, she can come before work on Friday.  Awesome.  So we plan for 8:30 am Friday... and it's over an hour later and she has not showed up...

Moving along... we had another person scheduled to come by to pick up a chin.  Didn't show up for the first appointment, so I texted them.  Oh something came up, so we rescheduled.  

And let me pause here for a second to say that if you actually DO contact me, PREFERABLY BEFORE your appointment, to tell me you can't come, I am very happy to reschedule your appointment and you'll just about never end up in the blog (but hey, if you want the fame...).  It's only because these people leave me waiting and hanging that they are ending up here...

...back to the story, so we have rescheduled with this person, and they don't show up for the next appointment.  So I text them and they forgot, so they want to come by the following day.  So we reschedule for the following day, let's say 2 pm, and I text them at 2:15ish.  They text back maybe 2:45, they are coming... just running late... I think 2 hours later they showed up. 

Then we have the facebook nut.  Nut saw the picture of the sapphire wrap (and pictures of multiple other chins), commented on all of them, sent me umpteen messages, and I woke up to a full inbox of everything.  Which is fine, so I start responding to comments and I see that this person has messaged the rescue page, so I message back.  And as I'm typing the messages, I can see that this person is online, because I can't type the answers quick enough, they keep sending more questions.  Which again, is fine, but apparently I'm not getting it done quick enough for them, because before I can hit send (and at this point, I have quite the book written cause they've asked all sorts of things), they call me.  So then I can't get them off the phone for 2 hours, but we had a good conversation and I really thought they were going to adopt.  They had picked out one of the males here and decided they wanted a pair, so I told them I would look and see what other males I had that I thought would pair with that one, and send them a list, so they could pick and say, ok, try these two together.  I go downstairs, and before I can even think to look at other males, I get a message that says, oh they found a really sweet male chin by them that they just can't pass up, but they still want to get mine, as long as they get along.  And so they ask, what's the chance of them getting along?

Well, really, and I'm sure I've said this a million times over now... there's no way to know until you try.  Even if my chin is the calmest chin ever and LOVES other chins, and your chin is ALSO the calmest chin ever and LOVES other chins, they may HATE each other.  I didn't word it quite like that, but I did tell this person basically the gist of that.  And, this person had been asking about me delivering the chin to them, 4+ hours away, so then the topic turned to me bringing the chin there and it not working out.

Oh no.  Oh hell no.  Not happening.

I told them, the only way I deliver (or meet, or whatever), is when the adoption is a sure thing.  As in, there's no "let's see if they pair," or "let's see if I like the chin..."  Personally, I don't care if someone wants me to bring 3 chins with me, as long as they're picking one and taking one home, but there has to be an adoption, or I'm not driving.  And before you say it, no, it makes no difference that I charge for delivery, because a 4+ hour delivery, let's say, is 250 miles one way.  That's 500 miles round trip, and 8+ hours of driving.  By the time I factor in the cost of gas, and just the literal time it takes me to get there and back, plus the fact that I pretty much need to have no appointments all day and make sure I make it home for any I do have... I'm usually not making minimum wage for my time spent.  And personally, I'd rather be sitting home, listing chins on the website and working on orders (believe me, the rescue benefits more from those than from 90% of my deliveries).  I'm not going all that way, finding out a pairing doesn't work, and turning around and going home with minimum wage earnings for my time.  Especially since most days that I deliver, I've had to turn down appointments for those days since I won't be home.  So I told this person that, and they said, oh well they'll really have to think about this.  Yeah.

What I don't get is, if you had been talking to this person, you would fully think, 100%, that they were going to adopt the chin from me, plus the buddy chin.  And then all of a sudden they find a chin by them?  I guess I don't get why they would even be LOOKING for chins by them.  Or if they decided, ok, they didn't want to get one from here, or whatever, why not just say so?  I guess I'm the type, I'd rather just say, you know what, I changed my mind... as opposed to this sort of thing...

Moving onto the second-to-last one... had someone text me last night, asking if I was the chinchilla breeder in Indiana.  Said yeah, and they said they were looking to get a pair of chins.  So I asked, male / female, young / old?  And they said, they wanted males, and they wanted to spend less than $175 for the pair.  Ok, so adults.  So I told them that and I said I'm sure I had some nice adults they could get for $175 or less for the pair.  So then they ask about my used cages, and want pictures and prices so I send those.  So then they ask, how long are the adults going to live?  Well, it depends on how old they are when they're adopted.  If they're 4 years old, hopefully a long time, if they're 13 years old, maybe not so long.  But really, it's hard to say.  Chins can die at 4 years old and other chins can live to be 25... so hard to say.  So then they text and say, oh you know what? they're going to look at a pet store by them, but they're still probably going to get a chin from me, because they doubt they'll end up with two from the pet store. 

And that was about when my head exploded.

First off... a pet store chin at any chain pet store tends to be $129.99 and up.  $129.99 with Indiana tax is right about $140... leaving all of $35 for that second chin?  Um... ok.  Not going to get a chin from me for that amount, even my inexpensive seniors are $50-75.  And if they want to SAVE money, the pet store isn't the place for that.  So then they text me, they got a chin, and a cage, and they're not sure if the cage is good or not, so they want opinions on that... and they again make the comment about wanting the buddy for the chin.  And I tell them, like I told the last one, there is honestly no way to know if the chins will get together without trying them, but I can't guarantee that any two chins will get along.  They said, oh, hmmm good point.  Well, they still may be contacting me sometime! (so they say).

And the last one, possibly the most aggravating, because I know these people personally and I expected more of them.  You all may remember those nametags that we started doing awhile back... I had a volunteer doing them.  So the first one was in Sharpie, and looked good, and they said they could woodburn too, so I was like awesome, we'll add that on.  So, a few days after I added on the nametags, which I will note, was February 28th, I had an order for 2 of them, and the person wanted them woodburned.  So it was several days before the person came by, so I thought, oh plenty of time.  Stupid stupid stupid.  So they went to turn on their woodburner and said, oh it doesn't work.  Ok, so I asked if they had plans to get another, or what was the case with that, and they said, yeah, they were going to get another one that night.  They said they would bring the completed nametags by, in time for my appointment, at 1 pm.  1 pm came, 1 pm went... never saw them.  Texted and they said, oh they got a wood burner, but they couldn't find a plug in one (seriously?  Menards and Home Depot both have 3 different options for plug-in-wood-burners and those were the first two places I looked) so they bought one that uses a little butane tank, and couldn't find one.  Um... every gas station has those little butane tanks.  Anyway, rather than take the time to go anywhere and find the tank, they said they ordered it online.  Apparently from Africa, as 3 weeks later, they still didn't have the stinking thing.   But that entire time, they had the wood, and were not informing me of anything... so it wouldn't be until I messaged them that they'd say, oh they hadn't gotten the tank in yet.  Fine.

So finally I said, ok, would it be better if I just went out and bought a plug in one for them to use?  They said, yeah, that's be great, that way they could just come over when I needed one done and do it on the spot.  Great!..or so I thought.  So I went and got one (and these things are like $10, so I don't know what the big deal is) and found a plug-in one no problem, and this person came over.  Part way through the first one, they mysteriously had to leave.  So they took the wood with them, and the wood burner... and it took two weeks of me pestering them before they finally got the pieces back to me...and they looked crappy.  Now personally, if I was making something for someone and it turned out this bad, I would have messaged and said, hey, I don't think these are as good as what I did before with Sharpie, what would you like me to do?  But they didn't say anything like that, just dropped off these considerably less nice and less professional looking nametags.  So I show the nametags to the prospective buyers... who agreed and said basically the same thing... the pictures (original ones with Sharpie... the example pictures), looked way nicer, much more professional, they didn't want to pay for the ones that were woodburned as they didn't think they looked nice.  Great. 

 Mind you, this entire time that I'd been waiting had been back and forth, are they done yet?  No, but soon!  Ok, several days  later, now?  No, not yet!  Soon though!!  Several weeks later... done?  Sorry, no, working on them though!!   Which I find SUPER aggravating.

So I texted the volunteer back and asked, hey, was there a problem with the woodburner, or what was going on, and said what had happened with the customers?  They said the wood burner didn't burn all the wood right and that made it look bad (or something), and the Sharpie was much easier.  Well, one of the customer had said that they wouldn't mind theirs in Sharpie instead, so I asked, if the customers want them with Sharpie, would this person mind doing them?  They said no problem.

So now, the "no problem to the Sharpie'd ones" message was at least a week ago, if not longer.  Since then, I've been texting trying to get them to pick up the new pieces of wood for the new nametags.  The other day, they said they were going to stop by after work.  They didn't.  So I texted the following day asking if it'd be easier if I left them outside on the porch.  No response.  So I texted this morning asking if they got that text... they said, yeah, that'd be easier. 

Needless to say, I'm in the marker for a new nametag volunteer.  I have some people who've mentioned they may be able to do it, so I'll see what comes of that, because I can't let my reputation and my rescue / business go down because these people can't get their act together and work on the nametags (which, mind you, they offered to do... I'm not forcing anyone to do anything)....which is only making me look bad in the long run...

And I believe that's it and concludes this week of flake week.  ONLY because I am leaving to go to a chin show in Pennsylvania... otherwise, this week might continue...


I should note... despite the fact we've had this ridiculously many of these in such a short period of time... usually we have great adopters, and usually without these long lists of frustrations.  Among these flaky adopters, we had several that called, showed up, filled out adoption forms, and went home with chins.  So far this year, we've already rehomed at least 70 chinchillas (probably more, but you know me, being up-to-date on paperwork is not my strong point).  So these few people are the exception... just the very loud, notable exception right now...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Webstore & Shipping & Hibiscus

So, you may or may not have noticed, but the webstore is back open!  Yay!  With some added items -- now, you can get your hidey house or chin-vehicle in a color!  You can also get a name-tag for your cage! 

Colored example (chinny-mobile)



Name-tag example



And the name-tags could also attach to the cage with a bolt through that piece of wood (and washers and a wingnut), if someone would prefer that way.  They can also be wood-burned.  And some options for style designs:



And another note about the webstore:  shipping went up.  Yeah, I know, I know.  Hey, complain to the post office, I wouldn't raise it if they didn't raise it...   Most stuff didn't go up much.  I think I raised shipping prices on toys like $0.50, on loofah $0.25... and so on.  The stuff in medium flat rate boxes went up $1 to cover the shipping increase.  Not much, but it adds up.  However, as always, anything over the actual cost of shipping, plus ~ $0.75 handling, gets refunded.  So when the shopping cart shows up $30 shipping and you're like holy cow, no way... probably isn't really that high (unless you're on the east or west coast), and whatever overage will be refunded.

And lastly, hibiscus.  We used to carry hibiscus c/s (cut and sifted) because that was all I could get my hands on, but I was never a fan of it because it was basically like purple sand.  Little little LITTLE pieces.  Well now, we can get the hibiscus petals (dried, of course), so those are now available, at the same price.  And I've switched over the pictures on the listings (on the webstore and supplies for sale page) to show the new stuff.  Which looks like this (1 oz pictured):


Saturday, February 27, 2016

All Aboard? No?

This is one of those things I will never understand.  People asking about chins and wanting everything basically done for them... and then saying, oh well not everyone's on board with this, sorry.

So this one lady contacted me, asking if I had any chins of a specific color that doesn't sell well.  I said no, and I don't get them often, and I told her, if she for sure wanted one, and would put down a deposit on one just based off pics (which I could send from Jim's), I would get one.  She sort of hemmed and hawed and said, well, if you get one, let them know.

So, I didn't have one for a few weeks, and I told her, check the website, maybe they'd find something else they'd like.  So she said, oh they have, but the son really likes this one color in females.  Which is fine, no big deal.  Again, she says, if you get one in, let us know.

So I get one in, and I think about these people, so I find their email, and email them saying I got in this female, color you wanted, this age, yadda yadda, were you interested?  Because you know, it's been a few weeks, they may no longer be.

The email back says basically, well, not everyone's on board with the chin, the significant other still isn't feeling it, but definitely send pics.  So I did, and told them, if everyone gets on board, just let me know.

But... I don't get it.  Why would you even go looking for a chin (or any pet for that matter) if the family's not all on board?  I mean, let's be honest.  ANY rescue you do this to will find you aggravating.  You waste their time, wanting pics, wanting to know, did you get it in?  Oh you did!!  Wait!!  We're not quite sure we want to adopt it.  Thanks though!!! 

I just don't get it.  WAIT until you're ready. 

Now, I don't mean, ok, next month you're moving and once you're settled in you're going to get a chin.  By all means, email early, we can have time to go through the whole thing.  But at least then everyone's on board with all of it and just waiting until the timing is right.  But if you're not sure... or someone's not sure... on behalf of rescues everywhere that have enough to deal with, without entertaining people like this, wait until everyone's positive they want to adopt.  Thank you.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Rabbits and Oddball Questions

So, I have one rabbit listed right now -- BunnyLove.  Before I go on, let me copy and paste the relevant part of her ad:

 This girl originally came from a hoarding situation, we were told in Kentucky, and was taken in by another rescue.  She was fostered out, but unfortunately, her foster home was unable to care for her after some time, so she came to our rescue…and now she is available for adoption.

Unfortunately, we do not know how old BunnyLove is.  She’s definitely an adult, but past that, no one knows.  We’re also not sure exactly what type of rabbit she is.  We believe that she is a lop x lionhead mix, possibly with something else in there, but not positive as far as what.  She is a larger rabbit, at least 5-7 pounds, so the lop part would need to be a larger lop, if she is a lop x lionhead mix.  

She is cage aggressive.  She’s not the rabbit for you if you have little kids that want to help clean the cage.  We use a litter scoop to scoop her litter pan, and she will take her front paws and swat at it.  She will also lunge for you from across the cage while you’re cleaning it.  She has nipped, once, while doing this, so we advise that she not go to a home with little kids.  Ideally, the solution is to take her out when cleaning her cage.  

Other than the cage aggressiveness, she is fine.  If you reach through the bars to pet her, especially on her forehead, she will just sit there and enjoy the pets.  When out of the cage, she is fine as well… she just does not like people reaching into her space.

She is litterbox trained, for the most part (few spare poos here and there), which does make cage cleaning easy.  It’s scooping up the loose poos which is when we notice the cage aggressiveness.  She will come with her litterbox, although it’s nothing special.  But she does use it.

She will need a larger rabbit cage or an x-pen, as she is a large rabbit.  Keep this in mind.  If you need a rabbit cage, we do have some larger ones for sale.

She loves her carrots and leafy greens (though is not a fan of spinach), and is happy to munch on them as well as her pellets.  She is eating MannaPro Pro Rabbit and will come with 4 pounds to start you off with, as well as a printed out version of our Rabbit Care Packet.

We don’t know if she gets along with other rabbits.

As far as we know, she is not spayed.

... I got a call yesterday asking about the rabbit.  Said she wanted to know how old she was.  Now, look back up at the ad.  Do I mention how old she is?  Oh yes!  Right at the top!  Well, actually, we mention that we don't know how old she is, but regardless, it's in there.

The lady then says, oh, well how big is she?  Honest to God.  Also in the ad.

This is followed up by the lady telling me that she wants to get the rabbit as a rabbit for her little kid.  Pardon me for not being a fan of rabbits being Easter presents, but let's put that aside for a moment -- did she not read the freaking ad?????  It specifically says, we don't recommend a household with kids.  So then she asks, oh, why not?  I actually said something to the tune of, she must not have read the ad, because I said, as it says in the ad, she's cage aggressive, not for little kids.  So the lady says, oh well then I wouldn't want her with my boy.  No shit, sherlock, that's why we don't recommend her for a household with kids, cause kids aren't careful (in general) and the rabbit is cage aggressive and has lunged and nipped before.

So she then tells me, well she's going to continue her search.  She could have avoided this phone call entirely if she had just READ the ad.  Must be DIFFICULT FOR SOME PEOPLE.  Jeez.

So then I got a call today from Minnesota asking if this was a rescue or a shelter or what.  So I told them, this is a chinchilla & small animal shelter.  So the guy says oh, he's looking for a shelter, for himself, a human shelter.  Sorry, not one of those.  So he asks, am I sure we can't take him in?  Sorry, not that type of shelter.  Oh, well do I know of any?  Sorry, unfortunately I don't.  Actually, I don't know of any shelters locally, much less in Minnesota.  I'm not making fun, don't get me wrong, this is just an example of the oddball calls that I get all the time...