Monday, May 29, 2017

No Time for Chins, Getting Other Pets

This is one of my pet peeves.  I just got a text earlier tonight, from someone who has one of my chins.  Long story short, the text (in relevant part) reads:

"Hey, this is so-and-so, I got this one chin from you.  I can't take care of him any longer as I just got two new puppies and I don't have time for him anymore."

This happens ALL THE TIME.

Again, maybe someone can explain the logic of this to me, but I can't tell you how many people tell me that they got in a new puppy, and now don't have time for the chin.  Maybe its me, but... did you really think a puppy (much less two!) was going to free up your time?  Of course not!  Well, maybe some of the logic-challenged people might somehow think so... but... puppies TAKE your time, heck even adult dogs take time.  No wonder you don't have time for your pet, because you got two new ones!  What did you think was going to happen?

I love my dogs.  Anyone who knows me, knows that, but.... jeez... you knew getting a dog that it was going to involve time and work.  I wouldn't suggest getting rid of a dog if it didn't get along with the chin, IF the dog was there first.  But even with that, I know of a lady who had two chins from the rescue, then went out and got a rescue dog... the dog kept attacking the cage, knocking over the cage, trying to get at the chins.  So... she rehomed the chins!  She'd had them for YEARS, versus the dog for a few weeks.  I guess I just don't get it.  I would re-home the newest animal that is the "problem."  I feel like, the animal you already have, should come first over in priority over any new animal you try to bring home.  Course... if everyone felt that way, we wouldn't see old senior dogs surrendered to shelters, when people bring home puppies, and the two don't get along (and that happens way more than I'd like to think about).  I guess I just view it differently.

If the dog was there first and then the chin got brought home, and then the dog attacks the chin cage -- fine, return the chin.  Cater to the animal that was already there, already part of your family.  If the chin was there first, dog goes.  I suppose this probably isn't a popular viewpoint, as mentioned, I run into people wanting to surrender chins all the time that would disagree with this whole post... but it just irks the crap out of me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Weaning Babies & Selling Babies

So... if you read the last post, you know I was talking about people getting freshly weaned babies... and this post sort of stems from that same discussion.

The lady getting the baby from the other place specified, the babies were being weaned on the 10th, she was picking up the baby on the 11th.  Or something of the sort, the point is, it was the next day.

This just SCREAMS backyard breeder.

In case this isn't clear, let me explain why.  When most breeders wean their babies, they are put in (what we call) holding cages.  They stay there for some period of time (depends on the breeder), before they are able to go to their new home (or wherever they are going).  For me and my chins, that period of time is usually a week or so, but it could be more, it could be a month if they're not doing well.

Let me explain.  When that chin is separated from mom, it's entire world is turned upside down.  Yes, they've already been eating hay and pellets from way before 8 weeks old, but then their mom, their MOM, come on, is gone!  Probably their siblings are gone as well, and they're like hey, what happened?  So... sometimes they don't eat.  Sometimes they don't drink.  Sometimes they don't dust.  Sometimes they lose weight.  Sometimes they get loose poo.  On the flip side... sometimes they do great!  Sometimes they eat, drink, dust, gain weight, and have healthy poo!  But which way will they go?  It depends on the chin.

The point of hanging onto them for at least a few days, is to ensure that they maintain their weight, continue eating, and are generally healthy.  When I wean babies, I weigh them when I write up their cage card.  Then, a day or two later, I weigh them again.  If there is a weight loss, of course that's not a good sign.  For a freshly weaned kit, you want them to be gaining weight, or at the very least, maintaining (for the first few days, gaining will come with time).  You sure don't want them to be losing, which could be a sign of not eating or not drinking.  If they're not dusting, that can be a sign that they're uncomfortable with their new surroundings.  You don't want to further amp up that uncomfortability by immediately sending them off to a new home.

For my chins, I weigh them at weaning, then a few days later.  If you've been to the chin-room, you've noticed the colored stickers.  For chins that are set to find new homes, I wean and put a blue sticker on their cage card (if they're staying here, they won't have any colored dots).  When I weigh a few days later, if they have gained (and not like 1 gram, but a reasonable amount), I will put a green sticker over the blue sticker.  This means that they are doing well.  When I weigh again in a few more days, I will also check to see that their poos are well formed and that they are eating (food is going down in feeder, chin doesn't feel bony), and if all of this is going well and the chin has gained again, they get a plus (+) on their green sticker.  This is a further sign they are doing well and are ready to go to their new home.

If the chin is not gaining, they retain their blue sticker, and they will continue getting weighed and babied until they are gaining and doing well.  If the develop loose poo or any other issue, they will be given appropriate mediation / treatment.  If they are losing weight, everything will be done to try to reverse this and get them to gain.  But the point is, it's usually not like you separate them from mom and they're like yippee ready to go.  It's not at all uncommon for it to take a few days for them to start gaining weight.

So... can you see how someone who sells the day that the chins are separated from mom is a backyard breeder and only out for the money?  There's no way to know if they're doing well, the day after separation, except literally, "hey, the chin's alive!  Great sign!  Time to sell it!"  Those of us that actually care about the well-being of the chins... we don't sell them quite that young.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Question...

So, I know I said I'd post about the show, and I intend to... but I had a quick question, maybe someone can answer for me...

I get people all the time, specifying, they want a super sweet chin, loves to be held, does well with being handled and so on and so forth.  Then they specify a chin that's either on hold, or not available yet, or for some reason, one they cannot get.  I inform them of this, and they say, ok, no worries, which others would I recommend?

So I ask them to give me a few days so I can go through the chins, and they say, sure, no rush.

You can see where this is going, can't you?

In a few days, I've emailed them back with the chin-of-all-chins, best chin ever for their family, based on my personal opinion of chins with 14 years to back it up.  So what happens?  Oh, they found a breeder who's weaning a baby next week, and they're going to get that baby.

Let's back up a step.  I find it hard enough to judge personality of a 3-4 month old baby, because at that age they're still all bouncy bouncy bouncy, and even if they'll be a calm chin, they sure won't be at that age, so I always advise people that if they're getting a baby baby, to keep in mind that it's like getting an 8 week old puppy... it's going to be more active than not, and will calm down with age.

So.. I guess my question here... why, please explain why, all the yapping about, oh they want a nice calm chin and it has to be like this and this and this... so I go to try to find one... and then they decide on a chin that there's no way to know, at that age... if it's ANYTHING like what they wanted?  Shit, if they'd said they wanted a freshly weaned baby, I could have said hey, here's 12 of them and not wasted my time trying to find the right chin for them.

If someone could explain this, that'd be great.  Thanks.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Holds... again

I know, I know, you're all probably getting really sick of me talking about holds... but I tell you, some of these people are really trying my patience, and by the end of the year, we very well may have no holds without deposit, if this sort of thing continues.

Case in point.  Before the show last weekend (which I'll talk about in another post), I get an email from someone who's been talking with me about shipping them a chin, specifying which chin they'd like.  Naturally, it's the one chin that I was going to show, that I already had listed for sale.  Not a big deal, he was going to be for sale anyway, but kind of too bad, because I wanted to show him again.

Well anyway, we start talking about flights, and the person tells me, ok, this one flight is good.  So I mention to them, hey, I don't book flights until I at least have a deposit (but preferably have entire payment, so I don't have to chase anyone down for it, right before shipping, later), so I need them to pay for the chin and shipping.  No problem, she says the mom will call later that day.  This is Wednesday.

Thursday, I get a call from that geographic area, and I literally miss picking it up by a ring.  I call right back, no answer, so I leave a message.  I shoot a quick email to the girl and let her know that I did call the mom back and left a message.  She says the mom called back again but didn't get me, but will try again tomorrow.  My phone never rang or showed any missed calls.

Friday passes.

Saturday passes.  Well, hold up, late Saturday night I get an email about how the grandma went to the hospital so they've been busy.  Fine, I'm not a cold-hearted bitch, so while part of me wants to say, "and they couldn't take 5 minutes to call?" I understand.

Moving along.  Sunday night, I get a call from the mom, telling me about grandma, and how she needs to move money from the kid's account around, so the kid can pay for the chin with her own money.  Saying she will, for sure, have this done by Monday sometime, so if this has to delay shipping, that's fine.  As we already had flights figured out and all (which isn't just googling, mind you, I have to call up PetSafe and have a real-life-chat with one of their representatives, which usually is not quick), I asked her if she could put down a deposit, that way I could still book the flight (which was supposed to be for Wednesday mid-day).  Oh sure, she says, and she asks how much it'd be.  I told her $75, which actually is less than what I'd normally charge as a deposit, but I figured, you know, she'd get me that, I'd book the flight, and she'd pay the rest before Wednesday, when the daughter's money was moved over.  Right?  Well, she said she didn't have her wallet with her, so she would call me back in 10 minutes with her card info.

Needless to say, that didn't happen, so Monday afternoon, I called her and left a message, reminding her that I did need to at least get down a deposit for this chin, and I let her know that I did have other people asking about it (which I really do).  And really, from the day the girl specified that she wanted the chin, until that day, would have already been about 7 days, so it was time for a deposit, anyway, if she wanted the chin held any longer.  And I mean, don't get me wrong, I was perfectly nice in the message just asking her to please call me back so we could get this all settled and flight scheduled and whatnot.

It is now Tuesday evening, more than 30 hours after that phone call, and I have not heard back.  No email from the girl either.  Typical.

So, not only did I not show the chin (in case not clear -- so as to not stress him out before a flight), now these people are being flaky about wanting to get it... all while wasting over a week making me think they want the chin.  Could something be going wrong with Grandma and they be busy and/or at the hospital?  Sure!  But could they also have common courtesy and let me know?  Well of course not!  And without any explanation, even a simple, "hey, sorry, busy with Grandma, get back to you soon!" (which honestly, took me all of 5 seconds to type out), I won't hold the chin any longer.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Read The Name of the Place You Are Calling

I don't even feel like this one should need to be said... if you are looking up a place to help you with something.  Whether it's a plumber or pest removal or home repair or anything... and you search, ok, "plumbing" in google... and you get results... please, please tell me, before you immediately click on the first phone number that pops up, you at least read the URL, or the name of the website that pops up, or the company, or something.

Some clearly don't,  In fact... a LOT clearly don't.

I get a LOT of calls asking if we got in someone's poodle / doberman / rottie / etc.  It's actually easier for me to just say, "sorry, no we didn't," than to explain, we are a chinchilla rescue, we don't take in dogs.  Because I swear, if I say that... next question becomes... "well... did anyone call about bringing in a poodle / doberman / rottie / etc."  I'm honestly starting to think that people don't care where they've gotten ahold of -- if their business-of-choice (usually, animal control) is not open or not helpful to them, they will call anyplace that even remotely deals with animals, to see if they can find help.  Which.... for a lost pet, that I can sort of understand...

... but then there's the people who just simply don't read.  I got a call today, it went to voicemail, and the message left basically states, "hey please call me back, my number is xxx-xxxx, I have squirrels in the attic."  Wait, what?  I even googled "squirrel northwest Indiana," just for shits and giggles, to see if my site or phone number somehow popped up.  I went through three pages of squirrel removal links, and mine isn't on there.  I realize, there's a zillion linked pages, but surely she didn't scroll to page 20 to find my number...  So.... how did she get my number for squirrel removal?  Not sure... but wherever my website / phone number / contact info is located, if this person had taken two seconds to click on the link and actually look at what she found... she would have realized... we don't do squirrel removal (or any critter removal, for that matter).

And in case you think these are isolated incidents... about half of the calls I get are for lost dogs, whether we adopt out dogs / cats, whether we can take in dogs / cats, someone being chased by a loose dog that they're sure is going to eat their kid, and then random stuff (like the squirrel removal).  This is all the time, and I can't help but think it's because people search for something, and even if my site / contact info does pop up in search results, they don't take two seconds to look at who they're calling, before they call.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Appointments

I know I've said this before, as I feel this is one of the things I go over and over and over about... but regardless of what I tell you about what day I will be available and whatnot... we STILL are open by appointment only.

I've had a lot of people lately, where they'll inquire about an animal, and so I'll ask, ok, did they want to make an appointment to come see the animal?  Yes, they do, so they ask what my availability is.  So I'll tell them, for example, I'm available all day Tuesday, Wednesday after 4, Thursday before 2 or after 6... and so on and so forth.

You can see where this is going, can't you?  So... they don't respond back, they just show up, Wednesday after 4, or Thursday before 2, or whatever.

Maybe I need to start wording this sort of thing differently, or something, because when I say, those are the available times (which is usually followed by, "what works best for you?"), I intend it to follow, something like... they respond with when works for them, I respond back confirming whether / not the time works for me, and we have an appointment set.  Not people just showing up.

I mean... do people really do this in other settings?  If they call the doctor's office, and the nurse responds that the doctor has Monday morning appointments open... do people just show up Monday morning?  I'm starting to think they do!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Shipping and discounts

Had someone today ask about shipping, so I told them about the shipping cost.  They came back with:

😨😨 200 dollars for shipping. Can I get lower price for each chinchilla? I may buy 2 female chinchilla if the price is good enough to me

Excuse me?  They're already asking about buying a baby grey chinchilla -- mind you, the LEAST expensive baby chin that we have, and then want a discount on top of that.  Uh, let me think about that... wait... NO.

I told this person, adults are cheaper, if they're looking for cheaper chins.  What is it with people thinking that $135 is too much for a baby chin?  Last week, someone left with a chin, cage, a few months worth of needed supplies... for less than $250.  They drove 3 hours to get here, because they said, by them... the chin -- ALONE -- was $250.

And I mentioned (which I know I have a blog about), the price for shipping is something like 90-95% COST.  It's not like shipping is $20, and I pocket the rest, so much goes for the flight, and then I have to make part of the crate and then still pay Jim for the use of the crate, and get to the airport, and so on and so forth... it costs damn near close to what I charge...

Plus, mind you.... the person who wanted the discount... they have a male and want to get females to breed.  Classic backyard breeder, wants the cheapest chins ever, so they can have babies and get rich off of them.  I know, I know, you've heard me go on and on about this, time and time again, but it doesn't change -- the only way to really make money off of chins is to cut corners.  If you really buy good, pedigreed chins that have been shown, and have placed well, and you breed those, and show the offspring, and feed them quality pellets and hay, and clean the cages once a week, and so on and so forth, and devote your precious free time to doing all of this... you never make money.  If you do absolutely awesome at show, and everyone wants to buy your chins, you might, and I mean might, break even.  But not this person, this person wants cheap, young chins, OH, and note, they'll buy TWO if I get them a good enough price.  Sorry, this isn't a garage sale.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Busy Busy Busy

So... as many of you know, I work for Jim and that takes me away from the house several days per week.  This week, for example... I left Sunday night to go to Jim's and came back on Tuesday late night.  Then, I was home Wednesday and Thursday, and left immediately after my dog class on Thursday to head to Texas with Jim.  It is currently about 6:30 pm on Sunday, and I just got home.

Now, I'm not mentioning this because I want you to feel sorry that I'm busy or what not, but I do want people to understand that I have more going on in my life than just sitting here and making houses, or toys, or whatever.  If I could devote 24/7 to that, sure, that'd be great, but there's also chins to care for, phone calls to return, and so on and so forth.

If I get a webstore order and I know I will be gone for a few days, I will often email and let that person know, hey, I'm leaving tomorrow and won't be back until a certain day, and I will even ask, is that ok with them, or would they rather have a refund, or...?  Because I want my customers to be happy and satisfied.

So I had one customer who ordered a custom item.  I hadn't even had a chance to cut the item, due to (not only) being gone for 5 days this week, but also because.... I have other orders ahead of that person's.  She had emailed me a bit after the order was submitted, asking about the status of it.  I responded, telling her what I said above, about how I'd be in Texas and how I could build it send it out right away when I got back (Monday, as in tomorrow), or if she'd rather have the refund, I could do that.  So the emailed ended, with me asking what she wanted to do.

I didn't hear back for a few days, so I re-sent that email.  Still nothing,  Fast forward to when I'm in Texas and I check my email to find out that I had a paypal dispute opened, for a non-received item.  In the dispute, it was mentioned that this person never heard back from me, and because of that, they opened the dispute.  I try to think positive, so in my response to her dispute, I posted about the same as what I said in the email... it wasn't that I wasn't getting back to her... heck, I could post screenshots of the email... but that I assumed she must not have been receiving them (sometimes me emails go to the junk folders for some people) because I hadn't heard back.  So I asked if she'd rather have the item or get the refund.  She wanted the refund, so I refunded the order.  That in itself is not a big deal. I acknowledge that we live in a world where everyone has Amazon Prime and can get their order in 2 days with free shipping -- and so many people think that applies to just about anything out there.  Not saying that this is necessarily what happened here, but I  understand that that's how some people are, and that's why I do my best to get my items sent out as quickly as possible.

One last thing -- when you do order from the webstore, please keep in mind that I do have other customers as well.  To be fair to all, I try to do the orders in the order in which they are received.  I may start on another order, if parts of the first order have to dry for 24 hours, or so, but if the orders are smaller and can all be put together in one sitting, then I go in order.  That way, no orders get priority over others (well, except food, I try to send out food ASAP) and no one feels like their order is being pushed to the back of the line.  That is all.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Hours

I'm sure I've said it before... but in case a few of you all missed it... we don't have set hours.

We do everything by appointment, and are happy to work around your schedule, but don't have hours.

Had someone the other day, who asked if we were open on the one certain day.  I told her... I would likely be here, but she'd need to set an appointment.  I explained, reason being, we don't have hours because there's not that many "walk-ins."  People actually travel quite some distances to come here and adopt, and get supplies.  And honestly... half the people who could come here to purchase stuff... ship it. I guarantee you, probably 50% of packages I send out are to Indiana / Illinois, and a good amount of that 50% are going to addresses within an hour of here.  Which is fine, don't get me wrong, I'm happy to mail the stuff out.  However... if the people that close would rather ship... having hours would leave me sitting in the house, hours on end, waiting for people to show up.  Maybe people would, maybe people wouldn't... but honestly, I hate to restrict myself to sitting home for 8 hours a day.  Not necessarily because I go anywhere... because some weeks I don't go anywhere for days at a time... but because the second that I say, ok, I'm open on Tuesdays from 9-4... I will have a chin that needs to be rushed to the vet on Tuesday at 10, and with those hours... I shouldn't leave (and no, there's no one else here to take over)...and that's the sort of thing I worry about.  So.... the hours have never happened, with the exception of having vague hours on Black Friday.

I actually thought (stupidly, I suppose) that after I gave this person a short explanation, that she would understand and would set an appointment.  Nope, she just said she thought that since I had items for sale, that I would have set hours (even though I was out of the house, which she knew), and thanks anyway.

Which is fine, don't get me wrong.... but I can't please everyone.  It would never fail that if I had hours, and had a day off... that's the day everyone would want to come.  And days that I had hours, no one would be free those days.  Which is why I do appointments -- it's rare that I'm not here, and taking appointments, most days of the week, and I'm happy to work around your schedule.  But hours... probably not gonna happen anytime soon.  Sorry about that...

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Location, location, location

So... a quick post on the importance of location.  More importantly... looking up the location of the place you are trying to purchase something from.

I got an email the other day, saying this person wanted a baby chin, and asked if I had any available.  I told them, yes, quite a few, and asked what they were looking for.  They responded that they were not particular about sex or color, but they wanted one 3 months to 1 year old, and wanted to see pictures.  He specified where he lived, but I did not recognize the city, as being from a specific area / state (at least, not around here).

So, I responded back with pictures and a small amount of info on 8 chinchillas that fit what this person said they were looking for.  I told him, I didn't know where the city was, but that we were in Hammond, IN, and I was letting him know in case he wanted to plan out the trip.

The response back:

People... is it THAT hard to look up location?  Let me answer that for you... no.  All of my ads that are on external sites (read: not my website) specifically state: this chinchilla is located in Hammond, IN 46324.  On my website, on the first page that opens, it says, right near the top:

Welcome to NWI Chinchillas!  We are a small hobby breeder of chinchillas located in Northwest Indiana -- specifically, Hammond, Indiana.  

Again...it's right freaking there.  I try to make it easy for you all!  I'm not sure if people don't read, or what, but I tell you, if that guy had taken 2 minutes to look up where I am... he could have saved himself multiple emails, and myself sending pics and info of 8 chins...

So... in case you missed it, and to further wrap up: we are located in Hammond, IN.  Hammond is a suburb of Chicago, and it takes us about 30 minutes to get downtown from the house.  If you are far, far, away, please consider where we are located, as compared to where you are located... and if the drive is too far... we understand.  It's all good!  But please, look it up ahead of time.  Thank you!  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Emails / Time Spent

Just wanted to mention something really quick, since this comes up, now and then.  I get a lot, and I mean, A LOT of emails.

Yesterday, for example, I sat down in the morning, and spent three hours answering emails (just from the day before).

Here's what sometimes happens.  Let's say you emailed me at in the morning.  In the afternoon, let's say I check my email, and your email is one of the first in my inbox.  I read it, reply, and move on.  I usually go through all my emails (though sometimes I'll leave one for later if I need to snap a pic or something) and reply, before I'll look at new emails coming in.  So, if I email you back, and you see it, and immediately email me back... it may still be hours, as I get through everyone else's email, before I see your reply to my earlier email.

That doesn't mean I'm not responding to you, or ignoring you.  If you're asking about coming that same day, I may very well check to see if I've received a response.  Like the other day, I had someone wanting to drop off a guinea pig, and they knew it had to be between the time they got off work and 6:30 pm, and and so I kept watching my email and phone for confirmation that they really were coming by.  But in general... if it's your average email.... I'll go through them in order, before I get back to yours.

Even as I sit here... I replied to a few emails... now as I look.. I have new emails -- an adoption form, a question about one of our chins, a request that two be paired together and I let this person know how they do... and so on.  I actually had someone ask me, last week, was there any faster method of communication I could use other than email?  Mind you, I replied within an hour or two to his initial email and subsequent emails.  But... apparently not quick enough.

I guess the point is, I don't want anyone to think that I don't care about you all -- my customers, my adopters, chin-people, the small animal / small exotic community in general -- but sometimes I wish you could all be in my shoes for a day.  See what work really goes into all of this.  See how much time the emails really take, and how long feeding / watering takes, and making / mailing out orders, and so on.  I think some people would be surprised.  And it's not that I'm ignoring you, but there's only one me.  So, your patience is very much appreciated.  Thank you.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Boredom & Enrichment, part 2

Speaking of variety... we like to add enrichment to the chin's lives, when possible.

Many of our smaller cages have hay cube holders, which are basically a metal square tube that hay cubes can be put in the top, and slide down, sort of like a hopper feeder... but for hay cubes.  When we have volunteers, one of their never-ending tasks is to refill the hay cube holders.  The chins can't actually pull the cubes out of these holders, but can chew on them, while in the holder.  This reduces waste and reduces the chins peeing on the hay cubes and them getting thrown out with the dirty bedding (though, the cages without these holders do get hay cubes thrown in, regardless).

We also give toilet paper tubes.  My parents (thanks Mom and Dad!) save me their toilet paper and paper towel roll tubes, and these go to the chins.  The paper towel rolls get cut into three pieces, so even more use out of those.  For the chins under a year, we further cut them down the long side, to ensure no chins get stuck.  I usually save up the toilet paper tubes until I have enough to give every chin one, and then when volunteers come, they get to dole them out.  There is nothing cuter than the sound of 150 little mouths crunching and chewing on the toilet paper tubes.

Speaking of, if you ever wanted to help out / donate, but can't afford to... save toilet paper tubes for us.  If you bring them to us, it's free to help, and even if you ship them... you can flatten them down and mail them flat, and it won't cost you much at all.

Occasionally, if we really have a lot of help and are really caught up (ha! not lately... but once in like 10 blue moons), we'll do what we call "hay rolls."  A hay roll is a toilet paper tube stuffed with hay, so that the hay sticks out both ends.  So, again, we'll make up enough of these to give one to each chin and they get to eat, plus play, so double enrichment.  Double yay.

I've also seen people crumple up printer paper... like so...


...real simple for those kids that want to make chin toys...and give that to the chins.  It's light enough that they can carry it around, play with it, and chew it, and it won't hurt them.

Of course, they can also have playtime, or time where they interact with their people.

I've even heard of some people mixing in herbs with their chin's hay, to make what would be called a foraging mix.  The chins basically dig through the hay for the herbs.  Actually, we've even done this before with the toilet paper tubes... we've stuffed hay and herbs inside, and closed the ends (just folded them in).  The idea being, the chin can smell the hay and herbs, and the more they play and tug on the cardboard roll, the more they're going to get out, which will encourage them to keep going at it.

The point is, all of this adds some variety to a chin's life.  Their life is made up of eating, pooing (that's a big part, come on), sleeping, chewing, and taking dust baths... so we like to add a little bit of variety to the mix.  This stuff may seem minor, but it can be the little things that keep our furry family members amused and happy.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Boredom & Enrichment, part 1

We often have people comment on how nice our cages look with the wooden shelves and hammocks and other accessories.  Partially, of course, that's to make the chins (or whatever animal is in it) feel at home.  If they're here for quite some time, we don't want them to stress out, and we want them to feel as close to as if they were in someone's home, being cared for well.  But it's also for their mental stimulation and to reduce boredom.

Our larger cages have wheels.  Some have chin spins, others have flying saucers.  If there's room for a house, there's probably a house in the cage.  If there's only room for a hammock, then there's a hammock in the cage.  

One thing that's in every cage is a chew toy... at least one, usually multiple, bordering on overkill.  I'm personally always amazed when someone gets a large cage like a ferret nation or critter nation cage (which, for those that don't know, are 3' wide, 2' deep, and about 5' high) and put ONE chew toy in the entire cage.  I guess, to me, it's boring.  But more importantly, it's not stimulating.  

Part of the fun in decorating the large cages, in my opinion, is getting to put in different play things.  Different textures.  Take this cage for example:



This was a pic from years ago, but most of those items are still in there, and it looks pretty much the same, albeit a bit more chewed now.  There's the wood from the shelves, which is solid, and one texture.  There's the dowels which make up the bridge, which move when the chin runs on it.  There's the double hammock which is soft and fluffy.  There's a wood perch in the back right corner, which is another texture.  There's the fleece tube which surrounds the chins and makes them feel safe.  There's the hollowed-out-log in the top left, which is yet another texture and another hiding spot (for smaller chins).  Now, there's also a flying saucer in the spot where the house is, so the metal from that is yet another texture.  There's the fleece liner and fleece bed for the chins, also soft, but firmer soft, as they are against the metal pan.  For chew toys... there's plain wood, there's loofah, I even spot some antler on some of those chew toys.  Variety.

The reason this is important is because it's a form of enrichment.  Especially for some chins that we get in, that have been kept in a glass aquarium their entire lives, it's neat to see them check out a hammock.  They're surprised when it moves, and aren't sure what to make of it.  Same with that bridge... it's solid... but it moves... they're not sure what to do... but they figure it out.

For practical purposes, these different textures also help develop callouses on their feet, which are necessary for life.  You don't want the entire cage too soft, or these won't develop.  

Same goes for the chew toys, we don't want them to be bored.  So, instead of them being all wood, we add in ones with pumice, or sometimes even loofah or other chin-safe munchies that we may have.  Since we have our wood shop, pine wood is often the go-to toy part for us, but we'll add on other fun stuff from time to time, as it's useful for the chins to have different textures to munch on.  Some like the softer wood, some prefer the harder.  Some won't touch pumice, some love the loofah.  Others just like the plain wood.  We like to provide a variety, so they can pick and choose, and not be stuck to one toy, which they may or may not like.

If you look back at the picture, you can actually spot 6 chew toys (or at least I can, but I know where they are).  There's also quite a few, so the chin doesn't have to be in the same area of the cage all the time to chew.  What if you put the chew toy in the front corner, but the chin doesn't like that corner?  Some chins are more shy than others, so we scatter them around the cage, for variety.  

Of course, they do chew on the shelves, bridges, and what not... that's why those items are wood as well... but the chew toys can add more variety.

Continued tomorrow... 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Supplies

Hi all.  Just wanted to do a real quick post today.

I had someone send me a message the other day, asking if they could come by for pellets and hay.  I told them, sure.  They got here, got a few pounds of each.  I can't remember now, exactly what it was they had said, when asking if they could come over, but I asked why they had thought maybe they couldn't come for supplies....  they said, they thought that to get supplies from me, they had to have adopted one of my animals.

Nope.

Anyone can come get supplies.  Most people who order online, I've never met.

Don't get me wrong, a good amount of the online orders that are flat rate Mazuri / Tradition are people who got chins and now don't want to make the drive back for food, so they ship it.  But... plenty of those people are ones that I don't know and have never met.  The grand majority of my orders for supplies, like houses or toys or whatever, I've never met.  Even the people who repeat order, I've never met most of them.

So the point is, anyone can order supplies online, and anyone can come by and purchase supplies.  We do everything by appointment, so you'll have to set an appointment (or call / text and ask if you can come at a certain time), but open to anyone.  :D

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kids Calling

I have nothing against kids.  I really don't.

But... my one pet peeve is when kids call.  Little kids.

I understand, some parents want their kids to be independent and to do things for themselves... but I find about nothing more testing of my patience than when a 5 year old calls me and I'm trying to explain chinchilla adoption to them, and they parrot everything to the parent, who is undoubtedly sitting next to them on the phone.  So then, mommy says "tell her this" and the kid parrots it back to me, and then my response gets parroted back to mom.  Same with appointment times.  Back and forth and back and forth and then it turns into chinese telephone (remember that game?), because sometimes what I said is not what gets parroted, and sometimes what mom says is not what the kid says back to me.  So there's room for misunderstanding, even.

I know I cannot be the only person who finds this to be aggravating.

If you bring your kids to the adoption, I'm perfectly happy to show them how to hold the animals, to answer their questions, and to listen to the stories they tell me about their 26 goldfish and 6 cats.  More than happy.

But please, do not have them call me on the phone and try to ask how adoptions work or set up an appointment, while you listen on the side and tell them what to say and how to respond.  If you wouldn't do that when scheduling a doctor's appointment, please don't do it here.  There's plenty of opportunities in life to teach your kid how to talk to someone on their phone (their friends or relatives comes to mind), but my patience just isn't up for it.... (not like I'm going to hang up on them, but I may ask that they put mommy on the phone).  I'd like more hours in the day, but until that's magically granted to me... I'd much rather talk to you (the parent).  Thank you.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

"Small Animals"

"Small animals."  What does that mean to you?

To me... it encompasses a variety of small animals.  For example, rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, chinchillas, prairie dogs, gerbils, hamsters... I could keep going, but you get the idea.

The reason I bring this up, is because I guess the term "small animals" is not as clear to everyone out there.  For me and my rescue friends (some of which call them "smalls," which I think is cute), we do not include cats or dogs in the encompassing term "small animals."

But some people do.

When people call me about dogs and cats (which happens ridiculously often), I used to tell people that we only take in small animals.  I now have revised this to sound something like -- we only take in small, caged animals, such as chinchillas and guinea pigs.

The reason being... I had someone the other day who I told we take in small animals, and they told me, well, cats are pretty small.  Sure... but not (in my mind) a small animal, and more importantly, no matter how small the cat -- we don't take in cats.

The best one ever, was maybe a year or so ago, when someone called wanting me to take in their pitbull.  I told them, small animals, and they said... "well... he's a small pitbull."  Uh-huh.

If you go to the pet store, they have a section for dogs, a section for cats, and a section for small animals.  Somehow... I imagine these people who tell me, "oh it's a small cat / pitbull," don't go to the "small animal" section of the pet store, when shopping for their cat or dog.  Just my thoughts.

But anyway, in case it's not clear to everyone -- let me help you out -- we take in small, caged animals.  Chinchillas primarily, but we have (and do) take in gerbils, guinea pigs, rabbits, prairie dogs, degus, rats, and many others.  We typically don't take in hamsters, unless someone we know can vouch that the hamster is not "fur with fangs" (my... endearing... term for most hamsters), as otherwise we'd be overrun with un-adoptable hamsters.  We have taken in gerbils and mice and those other tiny small animals, up to large rabbits, and prairie dogs.  So, a little bit of every size.  We do not, under any circumstances, take in ferrets, but we will be happy to refer you to Greater Chicago Ferret Association -- http://gcfa.com/ -- should you want one.  Ferrets are natural enemies of chinchillas, and tend to attack / kill them, and with our tendency to have escappee chins now and then... we will not risk it.  Only hervbivores and omnivores (rats & prairie dogs), fur the furry small animals.  We have taken in non-furry exotics in the past, and some of you may know that my current three corn snakes are rescue snakes.  While we cannot take in a 200 pound burmese python, we have had geckos, turtles, frogs / toads, and smaller snakes here at the rescue.  Also... I used to work in a pet store, and while not all pet stores care for their animals well, I did most of the caring for the furries and reptiles, so... in theory... we could take in quite a bit more animals, that I do know how to care for... some we've just never had the need to bring in.  So... there's quite the variety of animals that we can take in... just not cats and dogs.  Thanks for understanding.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Shelves... and sometimes, it's the little things...

So, I know I'd been talking about the reason why we've switched from custom shelves over to standard shelf sizes (maybe not on here, but to people who've asked), and what it basically boiled down to was this -- I could never have anything "in stock" because everything was custom.  Which is fine, of course, but that meant, 7 days a week, I was tending to be cutting wood, and just like everyone else... I don't like that feeling of sawdust down my back and in my bra.  Sorry, but at the end of the day... it's itchy.  Not a fan.

So, I switched to standard sized shelves.  There's still the circular perch, perch shelf, corner shelf, and then we go to 6", 10", 12", 18" and 23".  Plenty of options for the average person wanting to deck out their cage.  These shelves are made from 8" kiln dried pine.  I suppose if you want a custom shelf made out of wood OTHER than 8" pine, I've custom cut a few of those lately.  But in general... the above are the sizes I will have, and will continue to have, in the foreseeable future.  That's my shelf sizes, you get to pick where the bolts go.

That said... to have shelves like that, and for the purpose of them actually being "in stock" -- that means that I need somewhere to store them.

Let's rewind to a little bit ago.  I went to Walmart, and bought this beige sterilite chest of drawers type thing (specifically, Sterilite 4 Drawer Unit), which I used to replace my unsightly garbage bags full of packaging supplies (bubble wrap, air bubbles, packing paper, etc).  I purchased the beige one, as this was going in my wood shop, and sawdust is... oh yeah... beige-ish in color.  The other available color, being dark grey, would look dirty and dusty very quickly.

So, naturally, I get it home, and go onto walmart.com to find another walmart that has the beige one in stock.  The website tells me... no local walmarts have them in stock.  Great.

So, I looked on Sterilite's website... they did not have the beige one on their product listing, meaning... they were discontinued.  Well, crud.

I searched online for them, thinking SOMEPLACE had to have them, if Walmart sells them, surely someplace else does.  Oh sure... Amazon currently does (color is technically called "platinum," but it's beige in real life, come on) -- here -- from another seller -- for $374.99!!!  Holy crap.  Mind you, these things new at Walmart were like $59.99 + tax.  Also, mind you, last week Amazon had one or two for about $180... that was more reasonable, but still, way too much to pay for one.  I like it... but not THAT much.

So, I kept checking Walmarts.  I had friends checking walmarts, in their travels.  I figured, just like I found a walmart that had one, surely there was another walmart out there that had one of these beige ones, and inventory just wasn't quite correct, and there'd be another beige one out there.

Well, a month or two went by, hadn't found one, and I was starting to get to the point where I was telling myself, ok, if I absolutely have to, I will move the beige one in the garage and buy two of the dark grey ones for the shop.  It would irk me to have two different colored ones next to each other, so putting the beige elsewhere and getting the dark grey for the shop would have to work.

Then one day, I thought, I'll check craigslist.  Hallelujah!!!  I FOUND ONE!!!  It was an hour from home, and the main pic the guy had of the item (the pic that shows up first) was a pic of the box that the chest of drawers came in.  So I figured, the only reason this thing wasn't gone yet, was because people didn't realize what it was (see pic of box below), but further pictures showed... my beige cabinet!



It was NEW IN BOX for $40!!!  SCORE!!!

Lookie this!!!



... isn't it awesome?!??

Now, the left one has my packing supplies, and the right one has shelves in it.  Not many, but I plan to cut more so that when someone needs a shelf, it's just a matter of getting it out and putting the bolts in, rather than actually having to cut it.

Oh and this totally made my week.  I sent the-above-picture to several of my friends and they were like awesome! cause they'd heard me going on about how I was trying to find the stinking thing.  Sometimes, it's the little things...

Friday, April 28, 2017

Research

Some people really do research.  For once, I'm not complaining.

I had someone send me an email from Nevada the other day, asking about temperatures, telling me their house is routinely kept about 76ish in the summer, and asking about air conditioning and other ways to keep the chins cool.

I advised, unfortunately, air is the only real way to keep them cool.  Fans don't help because chins don't sweat.  Cooling slabs help a tad... about the same tad as if you were hot and stepped onto a cold tile floor... it feels cool... but does it really cool you down?  Questionable.  Told her, they really need to be 72 and below for temperature or they could get heatstroke and pass...

So I told her all of this, and she responded, letting me know, thank you for the info, they don't think they could manage to keep the house cool, but if they somehow get to that point in the future, then they may reconsider a chinchilla as a pet.  They said they were disappointed, but realized that would not be best for the chin, for them to have one.

Thank you.  Let me say it again, THANK YOU.

So many people do very little, or even no, research before getting an animal.  Chins included, of course, but any animal, really.  I'd rather people research (and yes, that can include contacting me or another rescue / breeder and asking questions, it doesn't have to be just googling), and from what they learn, decide whether or not the animal is a good pet for them.  Sadly, there's a lot of pets that are not in great homes, because people don't necessarily know that they are not providing an appropriate home for the pet. For example, let's say someone in Texas with no air conditioning.  They should not have a chin.  But...if they don't know that chins need A/C.... they're not intentionally harming the chin (well, suppose that's arguable, if they did research they'd know), they just don't know.  Do your research before getting any new pet.  Thanks.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Slow Time for Adoptions / Lots of Dropoffs

Cause it's April and some reason I have Deck the Halls stuck in my head, let's sing it!

Here we are with warmer weather
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Usually the chinchillas are spare-er
Fa la la la la, la la la la
This year is a different story
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Overstocked chin-inventory
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Lots of chins, no where to put them
Fa la la la la, la la la la
No one wanting to adopt them
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Where are all my great adopters?
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Maybe they are at the doctors?
Fa la la la la, la la la la

Come and help us with the critters
Fa la la la la, la la la la
We will give you tasty fritters
Fa la la la la, la la la la
We will love you, til forever
Fa la la la la, la la la la
You can help us with our endeavor
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

-------------------------------

In case you didn't get that... we're at all all-time low for adoptions, and an all-time high for surrenders.  I'm running out of places to put them!  Someone come adopt!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Need (Or Not) For Playtime

So, I wanted to bring this up, because a friend pointed out a facebook post where someone talked about letting their 6 week old (yes, you read that right, 6 week old) kit out for playtime.  Mind you, that baby is not yet separated from it's mother, and these people were giving the chin playtime.  No, no, and more no.  NOT a good idea.  It did not end well for that chin.

So I wanted to talk a little about playtime.

First off -- playtime is a human construct.  It is not necessary for a chin to lead a full, happy life, and yet... I get in SO many chins because people don't have time for them, can't let them out.  I won't even be cynical this time and suggest that people are using that as an excuse -- I believe that many people really have got the idea in their head that if they can't let their chins free-roam for 5 hours a day, they are the most horrible owner on the planet, and should surrender their chins to the rescue.  No joke.

That's not the case.

Chins are den-dwelling animals.  They come out to get food, and then pretty much run back in.

Don't get me wrong, playtime can be a positive experience for both the chin and owner, as long as the chin is not being chased to get the chin back in the cage, as this creates a predator-prey situation and can frighten the chin.

But... this is with some boundaries / rules.  Playtime should start no earlier than 6 months of age.  This is because, before that age, chins cannot well-regulate either their body temperature or their blood sugar levels.  Therefore, they can easily overheat AND / OR go low blood sugar during playtime.  Either one can result in death.  We now have a handout that goes home with all young chins that advises of this, and advises that even when playtime is started at 6 months of age, it is to be started for 10 minutes per day and worked up to 30 minutes per day by 1 year of age.  Not your four-hour-long-romps in the living room.  Even for a well-adjusted, adult chin, this can be too much exercise and can cause the chin to overheat and go low blood sugar.  But for sure... no 6 week old kits having playtime.

We actually had one person, awhile back, take home a chin... around 2 months old, young female... they immediately let her out for playtime.  Long story short, she went low blood sugar.  They took her to the vet, which tried to give her fluids and such, but said she seemed alright (because adrenaline will power a chin back up and get the lethargy gone for a bit), and sent her home.  She died that night.  This is real, folks, this stuff really does kill chins.

So, to wrap up.  No playtime until 6 months.  At 6 months, 10 minutes per day to start with, working up to 30 minutes a day at 1 year old.  No crazy multi-hour long playtimes... preferably at all, but if you must... when the chin is adult, and has been slowly adjusted to it.  For the sake of your chins.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

More Info Needed, Please!

Just wanted to write a quick post here... I get a lot of emails where I need more info.

For example... someone wants x, y, and z supplies, how much will shipping cost?  Well... to where?  Next door?  California?  If emailing about shipping, please let me know either a zip code or (even better!) full address that you want the order shipped to.

And then I got one the other day, this one was about the same lines, but chin-related.  Someone emailed and I asked about a chin that was still under evaluation, so I explained how that works, and I told this person, look at the list of chins that are in the "available" section.  So, they email back, and say that they find one they liked, and ask if I can tell them the price.  Sure can... but... which one?  Of course, I emailed back and asked which one... but before you send the email, think, could you maybe provide more information?  If this person had just said which chin they were interested in, could they have the price of that specific one, I could have just responded back with, sure, here's the price.  As it is, that'll be another 3 emails from that email (my email back to them asking which chin, their email telling me which chin, and my email telling them the price).

More information is always better *thumbs up*

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Deposits

I feel like... honest to God... half the potential adopters either don't read, or can't read, or something.  If you read this blog routinely, you know how much the whole deposit thing irks me.

Straight from the sales policy page, I will copy and paste:

Deposits are NON-REFUNDABLE.  This means that once you have put down a deposit, if you are unable to adopt or decide not to adopt for any reason, your deposit is forfeited (you will not get it back).  When you come to pick up your animal, you will pay the adoption fee, minus what you have already put down as a deposit.  

Deposits are NON-TRANSFERABLE.  This means that they apply ONLY to the animal for which you put the deposit on.  Should you arrive at the rescue and decide that you want a different animal, your deposit will not transfer over to the new animal, and you will pay the full adoption fee for that animal.  This is due to the fact that we have held the other animal for you, and prevented that animal from being adopted, which was the point of the deposit.

Got it?  Good.

So, why do I continue to get questions like... well, we want to pay for the chin in full... but if we don't like him, can we get another?  Can we transfer the deposit or get it back?

Read above -- NO.

Sorry, but NO.

The whole point of deposits is to hold the animal until you get here.  During that time that the animal is held, no one else is able to adopt it.  In effect, we tell people, "sorry, I know how much you want that animal, but you cannot adopt it."  Crushing people's adoption dreams for their perfect chin, I'm sure.  So, when you get here and then DO NOT adopt it, you do not get the deposit refunded, because, while you did not get the chin, the deposit did what it was supposed to -- hold the chin FOR YOU.  That is all.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Mailing A Deposit

I think a more appropriate title for this post would have been:  I am not stupid -- I see what you are doing.  But... that doesn't tell you what this blog post is about.  This blog post is about mailing deposits.

Now, I don't have many people who mail deposits, so this doesn't come into play often, but... due to recent events (which have happened more than once), I have added a sentence or two into our sales policy.  Our policy as far as deposits has always been that the hold starts the day the deposit is received.  My addition to the sales policy specifies that for mailed deposits -- for people to keep this in mind, and that any delay in mailing means that the chinchilla may be adopted before the deposit gets here.

Why did I specify this, you might ask?  Because people are turds and take advantage.

Case in point.  I had someone wanting to get a chin more towards May.  I told her, we don't hold that long, could she get the chin early?  She said sure, no problem, she would mail out a deposit.  We talked, and she specified she would pick up the chin pretty much day 14, because she wanted the chin as close to May as possible.  Fine.

Except that was 8 days ago, I had not yet received the deposit... and I just got an email yesterday, saying, oh it slipped her mind, she mailed it that day (7 days after when she said she would) instead.  

I'm not stupid.  I know what she's doing.  If she thinks I don't, she clearly underestimates me.  I completely realize she wanted the chin held longer, and I specified that the 14 days started the day the deposit was received, so she, OOPS! forgot to mail for an additional 7 days.  Bullshit.  Absolute bullshit.  

I suppose, this is my own fault, since I don't believe that I specified to her, that the hold didn't start until the deposit was received.  In the future, for mailed deposits, I will be sure to specify this.  Not stupid -- remember that.  I try to be nice, but I will NOT let you all walk all over me.

One more thing -- I'm not trying to single anyone out.  This happened recently, so that's the one I'm talking about... but honestly, it happens more often than not.  People who are supposed to send a paypal deposit take a week to get it sent. Oh, they thought they had more money in the account than they really do.  Now... I'm not saying that didn't really happen... but I've honestly heard though the grapevine, from friends of people (who don't know that I know the friend), that it's been intentional....and it doesn't surprise me.      

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shipping -- areas and costs

So... my website specifically says that we ship to the USA, and I know that, because I just looked at it, juuuust to be sure.  Just in case you haven't seen it, it says:

Yes, we can ship chinchillas to a major airport near you in the USA!  Contact for more info! 

See the word, "USA"?  Good!  You have normal eyesight, congrats.  I'm finding out a lot of people don't, as they email and ask if I can ship to Canada, or Europe, or some other country that, hint, is not in the USA.  People don't read.

The reason I cannot ship out of country is because that requires very specific licenses, which I do not have, and are not worth getting for the average person who doesn't plan to ship tens of thousands of dollars of chins every year.  For chinchillas.com, it's one thing.  For the average person, not so much.

Which brings us to... cost!  Shipping is not free.  Nowhere on my website, does it say, "we will ship chinchillas FOR FREE to an airport near you."  Now, I completely understand that nowadays, with Amazon and free shipping and all that, I can sort of vaguely see where people might think this... and then I take a step back, and say... no, wait, I can't.

Let me explain why.

...and I will start with an example.  The most common places that you see animals shipped would ve in the case of reptiles and frozen feeders.  Frozen feeders... as in, frozen pinkies / mice / etc, get shipped all the time.  Shipping is overnight, and typically runs around $40-50.  That's not regular mail, that's special overnight mail.  Shipping reptiles is similar.  They go overnight or next day mail, and tend to also run about $40-50.  Mind you, the reason these animals can even be shipped through the mail (and I use the term "mail" loosely) is because they can be packaged either in a sealed bag (frozen feeders) with cold packs in the box, or in deli-cups (reptiles), with heat / cold packs in the box, and can be mailed.  They're not going to run out of air overnight.  Chinchillas... not so much.  They need to be in an open-air, ventilated carrier, where they can breathe and not overheat.  Versus, a reptile box which can be stacked with all other, regular mail.

That said.... if it costs $40-50 to mail a reptile through the mail, what makes anyone think that chinchillas can ship, on the airlines (of all things) for free?  I'm honestly not quite sure.

Add in the fact that plastic bags and deli cups are cheap (comparatively, anyway), versus the airline requires special custom carriers that meet their long list of requirements... by the time you add in that cost, definitely not free.  Overnight boxes can be scheduled for pickup from your house, just like you can do a USPS package pickup.  Chins ship out of the airports.  I don't know of a breeder that lives right by the airport, and we're no exception... we're a good 60-90 minutes from O'Hare, depending on traffic and time of day.  This means, a round trip can easily be 3 hours, and that may be just driving time.  That does not necessarily include the time spent in the airport actually checking in the chins, the time spent before that, booking the flight, the time spent getting the carrier ready, and so on.

We've had a few people who have shipped 3-4 chins... but the average person ships one chin.  While that's perfectly fine, consider that if that chin has an adoption fee of $75 (and yes, we have shipped cheap chins before), and we spend $40-50 on a carrier, plus 4+ hours of our time (just on the day of shipping) -- no, shipping will not be free.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Shipping and deposits and all of that...

Ok, so what I think this whole post boils down to is this -- before you adopt an animal (any animal, not just a chinchilla), you really should think, and I mean, really think hard, about whether this animal is going to work for your life, with your other pets, as well as whether you can afford the cost, and any associated costs that may come with it.

Case in point.  I had a potential adopter pick out a chinchilla they liked on the website.  They asked about shipping.  I looked up shipping, and told them, yes, it was possible for them to ship to the airport they wanted.  They wanted to ship three weekends away from the current time, which is already longer than our deposits (14 days) allows chins to be held for, but since I was busy and would have had difficulty shipping on other days that worked for them, I thought, whatever.  They wanted to ship on a certain day, a Monday.

In the meantime, I told them, I would look up flights for that Monday when we got closer to the day (remember, three weeks away), and in the meantime, she put down a deposit to hold him.

So, fast forward to about half a week prior to that Monday.  I've looked up flights and I let her know what her options are.... she can't do it that day, but she says she can do it the following weekend.  Now, mind you, we've way overblown the deposit, but again, I figure, the chin will be going out soon, and shipping is more time-consuming on both ends than regular pickup, so no big deal.

So, I ask her, what times on the weekend work for her.  She says any times work for her.  Ok, that makes it easy on my end, because I can schedule around my appointments.  So I look up flights, and for both days, there's one in the morning, and another in the evening.  I would have difficulty making the evening flight, but the morning one is do-able, and she did say anytime, so I tell her about that flight.  She says that is perfect.

Here's where it starts getting fuzzy.

At that point, she's only paid a $50 deposit (which, I should note, is not actually half the adoption fee of the chin, but at the time, I figured, well, maybe that was all she had available at the time, and wanted to get the deposit down to hold the chin).  So I messaged her and told her, as soon as she paid the remainder, I would book the flight so we could ship the chin.  And I informed her that the remainder was $285.

She asked me to explain the $285.  So, I told her, the chin is $135, and shipping is $200, so we get $335, minus her $50 deposit, comes to $285.

So... then we have silence for two days.  This morning, I sent her a message nicely informing her that these flights do fill up, so the longer we wait to book the flight, the less chance we have of actually getting the chin on the flight.  Sidenote: I don't know if I've ever blogged about it, but we have had to reschedule when chins ship, due to having flights fill up between the time we check on flights and the time when the potential adopters pays for shipping, which sometimes is as little as 30 minutes.  I also informed her, I needed to know for my schedule as well, as I need to block out 3-4 hours of my time, minimum, to get to the airport and ship.

She gets back to me and says, she was thinking about it, and was thinking about what if this chin doesn't get along with her chin, and then she says she'd have to ship him back, because she doesn't have room for two large cages, so she's basically going to pass on the chin.

Which is fine, it's not like people don't back out now and then, but I feel like this could have been (more) preventable.  A few things that I guess just don't add up, and (I feel like) with more thinking, could have been prevented.

First, we have cost.  This person asked. towards the end, for the $285 cost to be explained to her.  Now, to me, I guess I view this as, this should not have been a surprise.  The chinchilla in question was a baby standard grey.  With the exception of one chin that I currently have for sale that got a decent placing at Nationals, every other standard grey baby chin goes for $135.  For the cost of shipping, I scrolled back in our messages to see if we talked about this, and we sure did -- her first message to me was asking about shipping, and my first message back to her specified, "shipping is $200 for 1-2 chins."  Again, to me, it would seem like $200 + $135 would equal $335, minus a $50 deposit would be $285.  But... maybe not to her.  How could this be fixed?  If she was unsure about the price of anything, she could have asked.  The price of shipping is still up there in our top few messages, so maybe she was unsure about the price of the chin.  Maybe she didn't look at the other listings for grey babies, and didn't know what it would cost.  In that case, however, I feel like it is the buyer's responsibility to ask.  Don't get me wrong, if I have a $600 chin, and someone emails about it, the first thing I will email back will be asking, they DO realize it's a $600 chin, right?  But for your average chin, where you're likely to be able to figure out the price because of context (I usually have 2-3 other standard babies for sale)... even with context... if you're unsure, ask.  This should not have been a surprise.

Next, we have the possibility of chins getting along (or not).  This person did ask, at the beginning, if I thought the chin I had would get along with another.  I told her, he hadn't shown me any signs (based on my caging situation) that he wouldn't get along with others.  Of course, as I've said before, there's no way to really know for sure without trying it out, as all chins are individuals, and even if one of my chins gets along with every other chin here... it may not get along with your chin.  At the time, this seemed fine, but at the end, she said this was why she was backing out.  How to fix this?  Before you even consider bringing another pet into your family, regardless of what type, think hard about what you will do if it doesn't work out.  Mind you, this was asked about in the beginning, so it did come up, I'm not saying that she didn't think about it (but maybe... not enough).  However, if we want to base her reasoning for backing out, solely on the possibility of her chins not getting along... then I feel like it might have been more useful to have thought harder about this, at the beginning... as nothing changed (as far as chins getting along) between four weeks ago and now.

And finally... time.  This is also something that could have been saved, had the potential adopter put more thought into all of this.  I conversed with the potential adopter over the course of the last month, looked up flights twice / called the airlines, got a shipping crate ready (stupidly), and so on and so forth.  Heck, she even wasted time for herself, considering her time is valuable too, and she had to fill out an adoption form and send the deposit and all of that.  Again, how to fix this?  Before you commit to anything... think hard about whether or not it is right for you.  That is all.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Donating vs. Trading In

I've had people come to the rescue who want to get a larger cage, and ask me, if they donate their original cage, will they get money off the larger cage?

Maybe this only aggravates me... not because they want money off... but because of the word "donation."  I view donations as things given freely, without anything given in return.  Right?  I mean, you don't donate food to the food pantry and think they're going to give you a free lunch, do you?

If you are looking for money off another item -- to me, it's a trade in.  You trade in your car, so the new car is cheaper.  If you donate your car... bye bye car, no money to you.

I realize this is all just differences in wording... but... so many people think they're doing so great by "donating," something... and then they go and tell their friends, oh they donated something, look how wonderful they are... well, if I gave you something for it, even money off... it wasn't a donation.  It was a trade-in.

Not saying this all to be mean, but this is just how I see it...

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Some parents... great, others... not so much.

This past weekend, we had our rescue rabbits out at Taltree for a educational event.  They had goats and baby chicks as well, for the families to see and interact with, while doing Easter-type crafts and getting their pics taken with the Easter bunny.

Anyway.. for the rescue rabbits.  We had them in large dog-type x-pens so that the kids could climb in and pet them.  Some kids were great.  Some... not so much.  We had parents putting their kids in the pens with the rabbits... and disappearing.  We saw just about everything out there.  Some parents would get in the pens with their kids, and ensure that the kids were being super gentle about petting the rabbits and weren't hurting them, and so on.  Some parents were very responsible and very careful with the buns...

...and then this one kid... she was maybe 5 or so, old enough to understand what we were telling her.  Her parents put her in one of the pens with two of our rabbits, and she started roughly petting (almost hitting) the rabbits.  The three of us (me and two volunteers) kept chorusing "gentle!"  So she did stop doing that... and moved onto, putting her hand behind the rabbits and roughly pushing them around the pen.  They started hopping away from her, and she started chasing them.  Then, she started trying to pick them up.  Mind you, these are 6-7 pound rabbits... a 5 year old will have a bit of difficulty actually supporting their entire weight... so needless to say, she dropped both of them, multiple times, from about 2 feet in the air.  Oh, and this whole time, we keep telling her, please don't pick up the rabbits.  Then, she starts jumping around... and my volunteers step in, and tell her to be careful, as I'm sitting there cringing cause she's totally gonna land on a rabbit.  Then, she throws herself to the ground (intentionally -- wrestler style), and almost lands on one of the rabbits.

The entire time this is going on, we're all standing there and telling her, please be careful / don't pick up the buns, be careful jumping / go out of the pen to jump around, BE CAREFUL, and so on and so forth.  The parents are talking to the child in a different language, so we don't quite know what they're saying, but if they were at all echoing what we were saying, she wasn't listening in the slightest.

Finally, one of the parents pulled her out of the pen.  Thank God.  And... wait for it... the mom went to the Taltree staff and COMPLAINED that our one rabbit water bottle was out of water.  Now... granted... it was empty.  But there was water in it, not 20 minutes prior.  The kids getting in and out of the pen were shaking the water bottle and causing it to drip, so we were aware it was getting low, but hadn't seen that it was fully out yet.

Now, don't get me wrong... in case we hadn't been aware, I do appreciate that someone took the time to alert someone (naturally, not us, the rescue, but the staff at the location we were at) that there was no water.  However, what irks me about this -- they had no f-ing problem with the kid hopping around, pushing our rabbits, dropping our rabbits, roughly petting / hitting our rabbits, chasing our rabbits, and so on... but out of water?!?!  End of world.  If her kid had LANDED on our of our rabbits, which she very well could have with her jumping around, it could EASILY have broken the rabbits back.  Oh, but THAT must be ok, but our lack of water, for 20 minutes?  Oh, totally inexcusable.  And I guarantee you, they would have taken no responsibility for that, at all, either... just like they didn't remove their kid from our pens, even after we kept advising to be gentle and such, for over an hour.  Ugh.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Consideration

Consideration -- some people have none.

Remember my post a bit ago about the people who wanted me to put them together a small supply order and they said they'd be there the next morning to get it, so I rushed to have it done... and then they never showed up the next day?  And then how we set an appointment for later in the week, and that day came and went, after I rushed home from dog class to meet them, and then they didn't show up then either, so I texted and they said they'd have money the next day and would text before they headed over... and then never did?

Yeah, those people.

So, Saturday, after we got home from the Taltree rabbit event, we're out picking up dinner (me and the two volunteers) and I get a text from the guy, asking if I'm home right then.  I tell him no, and he tells me that he needs to add food to his order.  We settle on 10 pounds, and he asks if he can come over right then.  Now, if you have ANY reading comprehension, you just read that I said... I'm not home.  So, I tell him no, and I specify that we are out at dinner and maybe we'll be home in about 40 minutes if he wants to come then.

So he asks if I will be home in the morning.  I tell him, we're leaving at 8:30 for the Taltree event, and he specifies that he will be in the area come 9 am.  So I tell him, I can leave the food on the porch and he can leave the money in the mailbox.  I specify how much his order is $37.75, and I tell him, since I won't be there, I can't give him change, so please make sure to bring exact or else the rest will be a donation.  He says no problem, he'll bring exact.

So I tell him, I will leave the food and supply order out and he will text when he picks it up, so it doesn't have to sit out all day.

So, Sunday happens and we leave the rabbit event, and we're about home... and I tell one of the volunteers, I bet he never picked up the order, as I never got a text from him.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, we arrive home, and the order is still out there.

So, we are taking stuff inside, putting away the playpens and everything, and my one volunteer comes in and says, hey that guy is here for the order.  And?  The order is on the porch.  Oh, he wants change.  Now... pardon me if my first response is to be like... wtf.  I TOLD the guy I would not be home, AT ALL, until late night Sunday (8 pm or later), and this was maybe 4 pm?  Hardly late night.  And he comes and picks up the order and wants change.  AFTER wasting my time and setting (and not showing up for) multiple appointments, and then adding to the order (which mind you, I had to RUSH and get those other 10 pounds to set out, because it was already late the night before), AND, after specifying, that if I was leaving the order on the porch, I wasn't going to be able to make change.  People have no consideration.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Items from the Pet Store & Adoption Forms

I hope, with this post, to maybe help people understand where I'm coming from for some items on the adoption form.  I'm not trying to be a pain or to make anyone's life harder, when I ask for more information... but some answers are vague, or are not detailed enough for me to know, ok, the chin will be going to a good home, and of course, I want to make sure of that.  This has been going on for some time, to various degrees (some people do this for every question, some put it for one, other adoption forms are awesome!), but moreso lately, I have had people filling out the adoption form like so:

Name what food you're going to feed:  food from the pet store
Name what bedding you're going to use:  bedding from the pet store
Name what toys to use:  toys from the pet store

In case you're not sure what's exactly wrong with those answers, let me inform you -- there's quite a few different types of chinchilla food, bedding, and toys at the pet store.  Some safe, some not.

For food -- if you can find Mazuri or Oxbow, great!  If you pick up Kaytee Max, Kaytee Fiesta, Charlie Chinchilla -- foods chock full of ingredients your chin should not eat -- you're going to shorten the life of your chin.

For bedding -- if you pick up pine or aspen bedding, great!  If you get cedar or carefresh -- with cedar, the phenols can damage the respiratory system of your chin.  With carefresh, the chin can eat it and get impacted.

For toys -- if you pick up an all-wood one that really is chin-safe, great!  If you pick up one with plastic, leather, himilayan salt rocks, or any of the other many things that aren't chin safe, you're endangering the life of your chin.

What it boils down to -- you may totally have the intention of picking up Mazuri, aspen bedding, and a completely wood toy.  But with those answers, I don't know that.  So, if you happen to answer the adoption form questions like this, I will be asking you to elaborate.  And I should note, I mean no offense by that, I just want to ensure that the chin is going to a knowledgeable home that plans to care for them in a way so that they will live as long as possible.

Oh, and just for easy access, since we're talking about it:

Our care packet (talks about safe food, treats, toys, etc) -- http://www.nwichinchillas.com/chinchillacareinfo.htm

Our list of safe pet store products -- http://www.nwichinchillas.com/safe-pet-store-products

...and of course, I'm always happy to help if anyone ever needs help picking out what's safe.  I've been called by people who are standing in the pet store, more times than I can count, asking me to remind them which bedding / food / etc they should get.  Always happy to help.  :)

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Rush Orders

I know, I know, we just talked about food orders that need to be rushed, but there's also a trend with other orders needing to be rushed as well.

Let me start by saying -- I get out orders as quickly as I can.  I really do.  For the items that are typically made-to-order... the houses, hay holders, etc... it says on the webstore that they may take two weeks to ship.  Ideally, I try to get them out, long before that.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but I sure try.  I don't like when I order something and I'm waiting... and waiting... and waiting some more... and then I get the order 3 months later.  I've even had to bug some sellers in the past, when I was originally ordering fleece liners, and pester them, over and over, for them to do my order and ship it.  That's not how life should be -- I feel like you should be able to place an order (whether here or elsewhere) and it should be put together and arrive on your doorstep in a reasonable amount of time.

That said... I get people all the time who email and basically say something to the tune of -- Hey, just wanted to let you know I ordered these items, and I was hoping you could get the order done absolutely ASAP because [insert reason] and so I really need it as soon as possible, and the earlier you could get it done, the better.  Please email me at your absolute earliest convenience with shipping cost.

Now, let's take a real life example.  I had someone email, let's say Monday.  Basically got that (above) email from them.  One of the items in their order was a house -- which I'd already had made, and mentally ear-marked for another order.  However, the other order was more complex, so I was still building the items and wasn't able to ship it out for a few more days.  So when I got the email from the person wanting their order rush rush, I said to myself, ok, I'll make another house for that other order.  So I took the house (from the order it should have gone for) and packed it up with the rush order.  I was busy for the next day or two, but on day 3 from when the order was placed, I emailed the person and told them, hey, I have your order ready to ship, shipping is this amount, total is this amount.  And I asked how they wanted to pay.  So they told me paypal (which is used in 90% of payments), and so I sent them an invoice.  It was still early in the day, I figured, well maybe they'll pay the invoice and I can ship it out that night, with another package that was going out.  Didn't get payment that night, and in the morning, I got an email saying that they'd pay in a few days, because they were waiting on something.

I hope this frustrates at least some of you, as much as it does me.  I rush everything, try to do the order quickly and for that order, I was going to be done with the orders for that day (cause as I'm sure you can imagine, if I work on orders all day, then cleaning / feeding / whatever, something else doesn't get done, so I divide my time), but I thought, no, she says she wants it quickly, so I'll keep working on orders.  And then... oh she'll pay in a few days.  So... it's only a rush, if she gets her money before the order is ready.  So now, I have a 2.5' box sitting around... nowhere good to put it... and it won't ship out for a few more days.

Please, please... if you want that order "rushed," have the money ready.  Cause this really gets aggravating....

Friday, April 7, 2017

Food Orders & Running Out of Food

So, I've been getting a lot of people... well, since always I suppose, who order something, or email me with an order, and specify, hey they need it right away.

This is especially true with food orders, where I guess some people are unable to determine that they need more chin chow until all their bags are empty.

Which, maybe you say, ok they don't realize it... let me back up a minute and ask -- would you completely run out of food in your house before you'd go buy more?  I mean to the point of not having anything to eat, no snacks, nothing to make a meal.  Maybe some people would... but I go shopping for more groceries before that.  Maybe I'm the odd one out... but I doubt people would let their pantries dwindle down to nothing before going shopping, and I personally think we should apply this to our pets' food supply as well.

When I only fed and sold Mazuri, the second I had two bags left (I usually buy 8-10 at a time, 200-250 pounds), that's when I would mentally tell myself, ok I need to get more.  If, for some reason I hadn't gone to get food and I had literally OPENED the last 25 pound bag... I would pretty much drop everything and go that day.  With the Tradition... Jim will deliver 500 pounds from Ohio every so often, and if I absolutely need more and he can't deliver, there's a local place that will order it for me and will have it within a week.  Not like I want to wait a week, but because I'm prepared... I usually have MannaPro Pro (rabbit food) on hand, which chins can eat, so if for some reason I actually ran out... I do have a backup.  But so with Tradition, if I go below four un-opened bags (200 pounds), I start to mentally panic, because I do have a few people who buy a whole 50 pound bag, and even one person whose family buys four at a time for her herd.  So, I like to make sure I have plenty, to keep it in stock for the people who buy it.  Oh, and for us.  Did I mention, we go through a 50 pound bag of Tradition in 2-3 days?  Yeah, so that's about 500 pounds a month, just to feed our own animals.

The point is -- notice, how with either of these foods, once it gets below a certain point, I make it a point to get more, one way or another.  The people who I'm talking about with food orders, while I love all my customers to death, paypal money for a food order and then email me that the pellets that are in the bowl are all they have.  When I send out flat rate food orders (which most of them are), they're 11 pounds.  That's two 5-pound bags, and a 1 pound bag.  Even that one pound bag would last one chin about two weeks.  Surely it wouldn't be that hard for someone to say, ok, when they open the last bag (whichever one they choose), that's when they'll order?  Cause it's more to be... when they use up the last bag, and the bag is empty and they're like, well shit.  And that's when they order.

Which, hey, you can all order whenever you want.... but on my side of this... it's tiring when every single food order is a rush, because someone couldn't be bothered to keep an eye on food supply.  Some weeks, I'm out of town for three days.  When ECBC Nationals rolled around, I was out of town for 5 days and had other people watching my dogs, feeding the chins, and so on.  It's not that I can't get your order ready that day, cause if I have the food, I will do my best, and I will try to get it out in the morning.  It's that sometimes, someone orders food... and I'm on my way out of town, and will be gone for 3 days.  When I get back, I can do it, but that means... the pet will be out of food for 4 days, by the time you figure that the package goes out next day, if I get it ready the absolute night I get back.  This is why it's best not to delay.  Yes, the chins can live on hay.  No, it won't hurt them.  But... a little more diligence would prevent this from even being an issue!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

"Are You Open Today?"

I know I've been talking about appointments lately, but I keep getting phone calls that have the same sort of idea to them.... and I don't quite get it.  Maybe someone can enlighten me.

Someone will call, and ask, "are you open today?" or "what's your hours today?"

My response is -- we do everything by appointment (since we are not like a retail store in a strip mall or whatever)... and I tell them, they CAN come that day, but they would just need to make an appointment.

Every single one of them responds, "ok," and hangs up.

I don't have hours, because some weeks I have no customers, like AT ALL, all week, and other days, I have appointments from 10 am until 9 pm.  For the not-steady flow of business, it's not practical to have hours. 

But I guess what I don't get... what is so hard about setting up an appointment?  I'm not saying it has to be like a freaking doctors appointment (and these people don't seem to think so either, as at least half show up late), but the second I say the word "appointment," op, nope, sorry, they vanish.  I get that it's more convenient to show up whenever, during a set frame of hours... but... I guess setting an appointment doesn't seem that difficult to me?  Anyone care to explain?

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Patience

Ah, so a blog about patience.  I know, I know, I have none, but we're not talking about me (though I have gotten better over the years).

We're talking about potential adopters.

Now, I'm sure you all know -- I do my absolute best to get back to you all, as soon as I possibly can.  Sometimes, I can answer an email that day, even that hour... sometimes it might take me a day or two, especially depending on what you ask.  And don't get me wrong, I do understand that cases exist, where you send me an email... and you're driving through the area later that day... so you absolutely have to get a hold of me right away, or else you're going to pass the area.  It happens.  But that's not what I'm talking about...

I'm talking about...  case in point... the other day, I got an email at 4:39 pm.  I had customers until about 7, left the house right after the customers (actually, I should have been at my parents' house for dinner at 7, but I didn't shoo away the customer), came home at about 11 pm.  11:21 -- I get a facebook message on the NWI Chins page, from the same person as the email (they just repeated what was said in the email).

Now, I understand that they want to know, do I have a chin that matches what they want.  But... patience people.  That was what, 7 hours?  I understand to some people, especially if you're sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for something, that may feel like eternity.... but I wasn't home for 95% of the time between when the email was sent and when the message was sent.... and the time I was home, I had customers (with the exception of the 20ish minutes between when I got home and when I got the message).

Now... I'm not saying, if you think for some reason, that I didn't get your message, don't message again.  By all means, please do!  I've had some people email, and specify, hey, this is the second time they're emailing me... I never got the first email, so good thing they sent again!  But... if you do send an email or message or whatever, please know that I do try my best to get back to you as quick as possible... but give me a little bit.  Chances are, if I haven't gotten back to your email, you're in good company with other people who are waiting for my responses as well.  But I promise I'm doing my best to have a quick turnaround!