Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blue diamonds vs. violets vs. sapphires

So I've had a few people ask about this lately, since we have both colors in (and even had a sapphire wrap recently), so I thought I'd touch on this.

Blue diamonds are chinchillas that have both the sapphire and violet gene expressed.  Both genes are recessive genes, so to get a blue diamond, you need parents that carry both genes.  These could be a variety of different chinchillas, but regardless of which they are... each parent would need to be one of these:

blue diamond
sapphire, violet carrier
violet, sapphire carrer
standard grey, sapphire & violet carrier

This way, both the parents would have both the sapphire and violet genes to pass down to their offspring. 

However, just because they can pass along these genes, does not mean that they do.  Short of breeding a blue diamond to a blue diamond (which is not a good idea, genetically -- you will end up with weak furred, not good quality animals), you will never end up with 100% blue diamonds.

For example, let's say you breed a sapphire, violet carrier (mom) to a violet, sapphire carrier (dad).  In mom, the sapphire is actually expressed, so all babies will have to be sapphire carriers.  As for the violet that she is carrying, a carried gene will only produce babies that carry that gene, 50% of the time.  So just from her side, the babies look like this:

standard, sapphire carrier, violet carrier
standard, sapphire carrier

Now... as the carried genes are not expressed... it's anyone's guess as far as WHICH of those standards would be the ones carrying both sapphire and violet.  The only way would be to breed them down the line.

But hold on, we have dad's genetics too.  As dad is a violet, sapphire carrier, this means that his babies would look like this:

standard, violet carrier, sapphire carrier
standard, violet carrier

Of course, that's only one half of the puzzle, so when you put these chinchillas together, what you end up is this:

--blue diamonds (1/4 of babies -- as the chins that receive both sapphire & violet carrier genes from both parents will be blue diamonds)
--violet, sapphire carriers (1/4 of babies), as the chins that receive both sapphire & violet carrier genes from one parent, and violet carrier genes from the other parent will express the violet gene, but will only carry the sapphire
--sapphire, violet carriers (1/4 of babies), as the chins that receive both sapphire & violet genes from one parent, and sapphire carrier genes from the other parent, they will express the sapphire gene, but only carry the violet
--standard grey, sapphire & violet carrier (1/4 of babies), as some babies will receive only a sapphire gene from one parent and only a violet gene from the other

Now, this is all fine and dandy, but in reality... it may not be one in four babies that's really blue diamond.  Just as an example, I had a female litter the other day.  She is a standard grey, bred to a pink white male, which should produce 25% standard grey, 25% hetero beige, 25% mosaic, and 25% pink white.  She actually had four babies, so this works great for this example... she had three standard greys and one hetero beige.  Which, in the blue diamond example, would be like having three standard grey, sapphire & violet carriers, and a sapphire, violet carrier.  That's why blue diamonds are not cheap.

Color-wise, these colors are different.  Violets are more of a purplish-tinged grey, sort of like a dove grey.  Sapphires are more of a blue-grey, sort of like a light light grey.  Blue diamonds are almost a powdery blue color.

This is a violet:


This is a sapphire wrap (darker than usual sapphire because of the ebony gene that creates the wrap, but you can see the blue vs. purplish):


And this is a blue diamond:



Of course, they look different in person, and under perfect lighting... but often people say that it's hard for them to tell the difference in pictures.  Some of that does depend on monitor settings and how the photo looks in general, but to try to help, we took a pic of some side by side.



While these are not the greatest pictures ever, the blue diamond is on the left, and the violet is on the right.  Whether you knew which colors those were, most people can say that they can tell that the grey coloration on the two chins does have a different tone to it, and that's the difference in color.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Volunteers of All Types!

People occasionally ask what they'll do when they volunteer here.  I know I just blogged about this the other day, but this has come up again, sort of in a different way, so I wanted to make a quick post about it.

Some of what volunteers do here, depends on their skill set.  If you can handle more complicated things, you'll do more complicated things, like make the mixes for the jars, or help organize, or help with paperwork even.  If you're not so inclined, or would rather stick to more mindless activities (which there's usually more of), we always have stuff that needs washed / scrubbed, toy pieces sanded, and cages cleaned.  And for those of you with more technical skill sets...   

We had a volunteer here the other day, who seemed sort of like a jack of all trades.  I do a little of everything myself as far as fixing things, woodwork, etc... but "electrical" is not so much in my wheel house.  Usually Jim handles that stuff, but sometimes it really can't wait until he has time to make it by, and I hate to call an electrician for the minor stuff.  But anyway, this volunteer seemed like maybe they could swing it, so when I had a light socket go out -- right over the basement sink, which is the busiest area in the basement (and also the area where you cannot get away without having light, as that's where all the rescue stuff gets washed / sanitized), I asked this volunteer if they knew how to replace it.  And yes, I do have a general idea myself.  Unscrew it, switch wires to new light socket, and so on... but I've only seen it done, never done it myself.  

So, they said they could probably swing it, and if not, they had an electrician friend who could walk them through.  Cool.

So, here's a pic of them changing out light socket out.  



And yes, that is a cell phone hanging suspended (MacGyver-style) by two clothing hangers that are hanging from a water pipe, supplying the light (since of course we had the power off) to change the light socket.

And it works!  Yaya.

Also, while they were here, I informed them how our hot water heater mysteriously is missing this one cap that screws onto a threaded tube.  The cap would prevent it from dripping (not the overflow valve... this is different) and the dripping results in me constantly having to empty small buckets of water every few days.  I told her, someone suggested before that it's likely a 3/4" cap off (the missing piece), but I never think of it at the hardware store, so I told her, if she does, pick up the threaded cap and I'll reimburse.  Her just-about-immediate-response was... try using a pop bottle cap and see if that fits.

And look at this...


Joel and myself have talked about capping this off multiple times with various things (mainly, going and hunting down an official cap), and talked about picking up the threaded cap multiple times... but we never came up with something as simple as this!  Sometimes it just takes an outside mind to think of things like this.  Haha!  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Playtime At Young Ages

I feel like I can't stress this enough -- chinchillas should not have playtime before 6 months.  Even at 6 months, they need to start with 10 minutes per day, and slowly work up to 30 minutes per day, by the time they are a year old.

I actually have a handout that talks about this.  I hand it out to anyone adopting chins under 1 year old, and it's even on the website.  It's called Do's & Don'ts for Young Chins, and it's here -- http://www.nwichinchillas.com/do-s-don-ts-young-chins

Now, while it's available, of course, I can't make people read it or maybe a better way to put it, comprehend it.  I had a chin go home with someone the other day, and she emailed me this morning about some odd behavior.  Turns out, the chin was being let out for 2-3 hours of playtime a night... the first few nights, she ran around like a spaz, but then started slowing down, wanting to sleep more, having red ears... and so on.  So the owner emailed me.

Off the top of my head, I remember thinking it was a young chin, but I wasn't positive, so I looked up the birthdate of the one she adopted -- 4/15/17.  The chin is 6-7 months old.  So... as you readers should know just from what I've said in the last few paragraphs, 2-3 hours per day is much too much.

So I emailed her back, sent her the link to the info about playtime, and explained this all to her.

The main thing with this is -- if you were running a marathon, you wouldn't go run 26 miles on your first day of training.  Even if you somehow physically could accomplish this on the first day of training, you would be so worn out and so weak afterwards, you could seriously hurt yourself.  That's how this is.  The chins start at smaller periods of time and work their way up, so they develop stamina.  Also, so they have time to grow, and as they get larger and have larger amounts of food in their stomachs, they can spend more time out.  What we want to avoid is having the chin basically use up all the nutrients they have in their bodies, running around.  If that happens, they can go low blood sugar, become lethargic, and possibly even die.  Sad to say, it happened to someone we know a few years back... which is one of the things that prompted me to write that handout.  Obviously, we want our chins and everyone's chins to live as long and as happy lives as they can, so living through baby-hood is always a good thing and a good step in the right direction.  So, I just wanted to put this out here to remind everyone how important it is to either not do playtime at all (which is fine.... chins do just fine without it), or work on gradually introducing playtime into the lives of our young furry fluffballs.  That is all. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interesting People

So, you know I've gotta have a post about some interesting people now and then, right?  Of course, we have our wonderful adopters, and then we have... less than wonderful people who find us as well. 

So the first one:  (colored sections are actual texts... regular black text is my comments)

Them:  I saw your ad about a male chinchilla.  Wondering if I would order him now how fast he would get here.

Order him... kind of odd working.  Assuming she means if he was shipped?

Me:  You mean like having him shipped there?  That depends on what flights are available to an airport near you and how soon we can find one that works for both of our schedules.  Usually they can be there within a week or so, sometimes less

Them:  Ok, I want him

Immediate thought... which one?

Me:  which one?

Them:  standard grey

You know, I don't even have to tell you my thoughts here...

Me:  Does he have a name?  Or what age is he?  Quite a few of the ones that I have listed are standard greys

Them:  Any way you could send pics?

Of which one?????? (starting to get aggravated)

Me:  I probably have 20 standard greys available.  Could you be a bit more specific as far as which one you're talking about?

Them:  I do not know I just need a male standard with red eyes about a year old

Me:  Standard greys don't have red eyes.  Maybe you're thinking of a hetero beige?

Them:  Could you send pics please I'm barely awake and don't know which post it was

First off... ALL, and I do mean ALL my ads have photos, even if it's just one photo.  So, undoubtedly, she wasn't even looking at my ad, but even so... which chin am I supposed to send pics of?  I don't own some magic unicorn-chinchilla-that's-standard-grey-with-red-eyes

Me:  I have probably 30 chins available in total, I need to know which one you want pictures of

Reasonable, yes?

Them:  Nevermind I need it sooner than a week thank you

Now... I can think of all sorts of reasons why she needs a chin ASAP, but none of them are good.  Either a chin died and she needs to replace ASAP before the kid notices, or someone's birthday is coming up and she needs the chin ASAP, or... anyway, no options sound good.  If you just want a nice pet for yourself, you don't need it, like yesterday.  You can wait.  So, no really sorry this one didn't pan out, as you can imagine.

Another person... and this one is short, I promise... sends me a message the other day, it literally says "I'm here for the free geckos."  Now, no one was at the house... thankfully.  But... pretty sure my geckos have adoption fees.  Oddball texts like that I will just ignore.

Last person that comes to mind, again short so this post doesn't go on forever... sends me a message and asks, "what chinchilla is $75?"  Now, as much as I'm happy to help people... at the same time, when I have oodles to do, emails and orders that I'm behind on, voicemails to return, cages to clean, etc etc.... I don't care so much to coddle and help people be lazier.  I responded that the ones that are $75 are the colored adults, and that I thought we only had one or two females right now that might be that price, and I linked them to our available chins page.  Since the sale is going on, you may notice that each chin listing at the top now has (at the end of the listing) ADOPT ME FOR $___.  So, you don't even need to scroll down to the actual listings with pictures and descriptions and all that, this is right at the top right now.  I guess it was too much work for them to look and see which few I was talking about, because I never did hear back.  Ah well.  Maybe they would have liked if I could have come over and fed it for them as well, haha! 

Of course, we had some great adoptions as well that went off without a hitch... but people like this keep everything interesting, that's for sure!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Volunteering -- boring? Never!

So, I suppose I'm not sure what people think volunteering here will be like, or even what expo set up is really like, so I wanted to share what we did on this past Friday as far as having a volunteer come over and get stuff done.

So, Aleks -- everyone say "hi Aleks!"

Aleks on Saturday with Sizzle, one of our resident corn snakes
 -- showed up around 10 am.  That's when we started packing.  I'd intended to start more the night before, but I'd only gotten as far as printing out the master list of the items we needed.  Which... that's sometimes how it goes, especially when there's a lot of emails to answer and phone calls, and whatnot.

So, the master list looks something like this:



Some stuff on there we don't take to ever expo, like there's some items that we only take if we're staying in a hotel.  But most of the stuff is things we need at the expo regardless, so usually I cross off what I know we don't need (whether that's because we're staying in a hotel, or because some expos provide things that others don't, etc, etc), and start packing the rest.  So, the toys all need to be tagged, so we usually do that at home.  For things like loofah, apple & oat cookies, and the baggies of herbs, those get price tags at the expos (as the stickers don't stick all that well), so I just make sure we have adequate amounts of each of those.  For this expo, since the past All Animal Expo at Wheaton cleared us out of rosehips, rosebuds, and hibiscus petals, I had Aleks work on getting those baggies ready while I grabbed some of the toys, loofah, and so on, and packed the box.

Then of course we grabbed the hammocks and the other supplies and got all those boxes, plus our trays, signs, banners, and everything else, upstairs.  

For my blazer, first thing that gets loaded are the two tables, then the cages (one on top of another), then the chairs in between those.  The boxes all get tetris'd in after that, sort of wherever they fit.  We do have a system, but I can't easily describe it here, just know that when packing, there is a definite order to what goes in next, to ensure that everything does fit. 

I remember telling Aleks that undoubtedly we'd have forgotten something, and halfway there, I realized, we did not have our small Christmas tree with the chin-ornaments.  No big deal, because we were coming home that night and would grab it that night.

So, we get to the expo, find out that we are the booth pretty close to being right across from the entrance, and begin bringing everything in.  I think both of us had to each make 2-3 trips, but we got it all in.  First thing to set up are the tables, because... the banner has to go up, and the only way for short-little-me to reach getting those hooks hooked is standing on one of the tables.  Safety first, eh?  Lol.  And I can barely reach it on the tables.  Anyway, so first thing is get the tables set up, get on the table and get the banner up, and then table cloths go on, cage pads go down, cages go down, animals go in their cages.  Hand sanitizer, donation box, business card holder w/ business cards, all also get set up.  Chinchillas at a Glance sheets go down.  That's all for the table on the right (usually).  Usually that can be done while the other table is being set up by someone else... for that table, the herbs are getting arranged on the trays, along with toys, loofah, goodie bags, and so on.  We also have our box of hammocks and some shelves and such.  Then, once everything is officially set up, we have little signs that say what bags are what, and their prices.  These go in front of the bags on the trays.  So then, lastly, we look at what's priced and what's not.  From experience... even though the tag says "natural loofah $1.75," if the bag of loofah doesn't have a "$1.75" tag on it, I will be asked, often over and over, how much the loofah is... so I leave the signs and price the individual items.  So, we look at those and price.  For this weekend, as I had help, I had Aleks count how many of which items needed prices, I wrote out the tags, and she stuck them to the baggies.  Same for the shelves, loofah, and so on.  So then, that was about it for the booth, so we took a pic and got ready to come back in the morning.

Our booth when we left on Friday evening

Our booth, after they told us we could have more room, Saturday

So then, we're almost ready to head back and I realize I need to get gas.  So, as we go to a gas station, I thought I saw a Dollar Tree sign, and told Aleks that we'd stop if it was, in fact, a Dollar Tree.  It wasn't, and when I looked up where one was, the closest was 15 minutes away, so not worth it.  The reason I had mentioned it, though, was because I needed items to make a raffle basket for the expo (rescues donate one) and much of what I had at the rescue was summer-related.  For example, I had barbecue / grilling stuff to make a picnic / grilling basket... but... it's like 30 degrees outside... so not quite appropriate.  So, we're on the way home, and we DO pass a Dollar General.. so we stop and go shopping.  Pick up some items for the rescue basket, plus of course a few oddball things, and then go to Hallmark to see if they have a specific ornament I was wanting to see (they didn't), and then head home.  Hey, I told you rescue help isn't boring right?  Who'd think you get to go to a fabulous dollar store and then even Hallmark when you're volunteering?  Awesome times, right?  Right??

Anyway, we come home, and I still need to feed and water the critters, so Aleks helps me with that and some other tasks, before I end up driving her home at around 9 pm.  Sometime before she left, another Alex that was supposed to volunteer with me earlier in the week (but had things come up), sent me a message asking if I could use help that night.  Of course!  So she came over, and she stayed at my house and continued to fill up the water for the critters while I drove Aleks home.  I got home, and we switched over to working on putting grommets and hanging hardware (comprised of split rings and snap hooks) in hammocks that we were going to take to the expo tomorrow.  I also made the donation basket.

Alex left at about 2 am, and I went to sleep sometime like 3-4... only to get up before 8, so we could leave about at 8, for the expo in the morning.  Fun times.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Arriving on Time

I sometimes feel like I need to write a blog entitled, lessons for life.... because some people really could use some tips.

Everyone shows up late.  It makes me wonder, do you all show up late to doctor's appointments?  Or to dinner with friends?  Or they don't show up AT ALL.  And naturally, whether late or no-show, they don't call, text, or anything, to let me know.

Which wouldn't be so frustrating except, of course, I'm sitting here waiting for them to arrive, and often I've gotten stuff ready for them, or made sure I was home by a specific time...  like today, I had to run out to Lansing earlier, but I knew I had a 5 pm appointment, so I made sure I was home in time for that.  And lookie here, it is after 5:30 and the person is not here.  Also, the person has not texted or called to reschedule or cancel their appointment. 

Honestly, if these people had called, even a few minutes before their appointment, and said, you know, I'm sorry, we can't make it.  Heck, even without the "I'm sorry" part.  Just hey, we can't make it... I wouldn't even be writing this.  But as it is -- and I feel like this is super sad to say -- I can't even begin to tell you how many people are between 15-30 minutes late, and seem to think nothing of it!  If I show up late somewhere, I apologize.  If I was stuck in traffic, I'll let the person know.  Heck, they probably already know that, because I would not have waited until I was late... I would have called / texted / contacted them ahead of time, to let them know that I was late. 

...and I suppose what irks me the most is that these people see nothing wrong with it... like they don't walk in and say, "sorry we're late."  They just walk in, as if they're strolling in, completely on time, they don't even mention the fact that their appointment was scheduled for 40 minutes prior. 

Maybe it's just me, but I was taught that it's common courtesy to let people know if you're going to be late (among other things).  Is that not taught anymore?  Because it seems people don't do that anymore... they show up whenever they please...

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

All Animal Expo -- November 4th

Wanted to make a quick post about the expo -- we had a great expo this past weekend, and hopefully the next few will be great as well.  We met some great people, found homes for 5 chinchillas, and stocked up some great people with supplies!

We have a lot of people coming up to the booth wanting to learn more and do their research before bringing home a new pet, which is a nice breath of fresh air!  A few people we talked to had mentioned getting one in the future, and so I passed out my card and directed them to the website with care info, with the thought they will check it out and be better educated by the time they come to adopt.

We had one guy come to the booth and buy one of his friends' chinchillas food, treats, and toys.  If only we had more!  It's funny, because sometimes we end up packing up a ridiculous amount of stuff, and then other times, like for this expo... our entire tray of rosehips / rosebuds / hibiscus sold out, as well as our entire stock of loofah, and much of our apple & oat cookies!  Plus of course we sold 10 pounds of chin chow, various toys, dust, a bale of shavings... good day all around.

And I think this is going well for not just us, but for everyone, because they're able to get the supplies at a reasonable cost, and it's somewhere they can go, set hours (like this expo is usually every other weekend from 10-3).  We had one lady that got a toy and two baggies of munchies, and I believe her total was $8.75 and she's like "that's cheap!"  Well, in comparison to the pet store, where each little baggie is $5+ and some are even more ridiculous... it is decent pricing.  And while we're not getting rich off selling this stuff, it allows pet people to have safe treats and chews, while still helping to care for all the critters.  So, win-win. 

We have two more expos that we're for-sure going to be at, in the upcoming weeks... St. Charles is the 11th and 12th at the Kane County Fairgrounds ($7 admission) and we're back at the All Animal Expo in Wheaton on the 19th ($5 admission).  And don't forget, if you want something brought to the expo, just let me know!  We had someone who messaged the other day, and so we brought him a house and 11 pounds of food, which he picked up (along with some other goodies) at the expo... like in that case, even if it's stuff we won't usually bring (like the houses, which sell like hotcakes... but not at the expos), if I know someone wants to buy it, I can totally bring it with, so just let me know.  Hope to see you at some of these!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Scheduling Appointments Around Expos

I wanted to explain something real quick, about setting appointments around the expos.  Useful info, and maybe people don't realize some of this.

When we have an expo, depending on how many days it is, sometimes set-up is before the expo or the day before, and take down is the night of, or the last night of (if it's a multi-day expo).  We rarely stay in the expo area... we used to more, but as gas is usually cheaper than motels (and I'd rather not repeat my bedbug experience more times by staying at super cheap places), so we tend to drive back and forth.

Well... most of these expos aren't super close.  Lake County is the closest, but can still be 30-40 minutes away.  Oak Lawn is the next closest, about 40 minutes.  St. Charles / Kane County and Windy City / Schaumburg are the next closest at 1.5 hours.  Libertyville is about the farthest current one, at just under 2 hours (that one we do stay at... but we also know people in the area). 

Notice travel times, based on distance.  St. Charles is coming up.  Each day is 10-5 pm, which means I have to leave no later than 8 am to get there, park a mile away, and walk to the expo center.  When I leave at 5 pm, I probably won't get home until 6:30, but more likely 7, as that will be rush hour traffic (which is still a thing on weekends, believe it or not).  And of course, let's not forget that that assumes I walked right out of the expo center at 5 pm, didn't talk to any vendors, didn't talk to the hosts, didn't have any last minute people wanting to see / pet / oooh-and-aahh at the chinchillas.  Add those in, and maybe I don't leave until 6, and get home even later.  Now, that's for Friday and Saturday.  For Sunday, figure in, I also have to take down the booth and get everything in the vehicle.  Figure that adds at least another hour, if not more (depends on the congestion getting in and out of the building multiple times with carts, and how close we can park), so we're not home until at least 8 pm. 

For the All Animal Expo in Wheaton, while we could set-up the night before, we do set-up same-day, and actually, we'd do no better setting up the day before, as much of our setup is the live animals (which we wouldn't want to leave there overnight, even if we could).  So, setup opens about 8:30, and since it takes 1.5 hours to get there... that means we leave absolutely no later than about 7 am.

The reason I mention all of this is lately I've had a lot of people wanting to stop by before the expo.  Oh, it starts at 10?  They tell me they can show up at 9... though I would have already left an hour before that.  They mention, oh the expo ends at 5, cool, they'll see me at the rescue at 6, that should give me plenty of time.  Now, if they invent teleporting, cool, we can plan for that.  Until then, though, that doesn't take into account packing up and driving home, plus a few minutes to spare.  I try my best to not have any customers beat me to the house, so if I think I'll be home at 6:30, I'll set an appointment no earlier than 7.

Also, I've had a lot of people saying, for example, they'll try to make it here Saturday.  Well... I kind of need to know one way or the other if you're coming (in general, but especially for appointments scheduled around the expos).  Two reasons:

1) If I mentioned to you that I will be home by 6 on Saturday, and you tell me that you will come by, I will absolutely make sure I am home by 6, and I will send you a message or call you (or whatever) if I think I'm going to be late.  If I don't have anyone coming... maybe I'll stop and grab a bite to eat, maybe I just won't rush to pack up and I'll take my time, maybe I'll talk more to the other vendors, because I know I have nothing else going on. 

And 2) If you said you are going to come, we will set a time, so I know when to expect you, but also, so I know when to set other appointments.  It never fails, if I tell people I will be home after 6, and I tell three people that, they will all, and I mean all, show up at the exact same time.  That's why I set appointments, so that everyone has their own time, without someone else standing there waiting for their turn.  If I don't know if someone is coming, I can set appointments, but then, someone ends up waiting, and I try to avoid that if possible.

That is all.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Updates -- Sprite

Someone asked me the other day if I ever receive updates on how the chins are doing, or if I'd like to.  Well sure!  It's always nice to see pics and hear that the furballs are doing well!... or whatever the case may be. 

Sprite was a chinchilla we had at the rescue back in 2010.  I remember that she was adopted our from my parents' house in Munster in the fall of 2011.  Sprite had cataracts and we believed that she was almost fully blind, but she got around just fine.  She was an on-again, off-again fur chewer.  She as adopted out into a great family with another chinchilla, Spark. 

This is Sprite:

From left to right: Amber (grey), Moki (beige), Sprite (grey)






And here was Sprite and Spark, at their new home:



We got an update a few years ago that Spark had passed.  Earlier this week, we got another email that Sprite had passed.  She was 16 years old. 

While of course happy updates (on how wonderful the chins are doing) are always nice, in reality... sometimes I think back and I'll wonder what ever happened to a certain chinchilla.  In this case, I know she had a great life and lived to a ripe old age, spoiled as she should be, and I know what happened to her.  In other cases, I don't know... so, any updates are always appreciated.  RIP Sprite.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Waiting List / Surrenders

I love you all, I do.  I love all your chinchillas and other furry small animals (and non-furries), I do.  But I can't help you all, today.

I get at least 3-5 emails per week, AT LEAST, from people wanting to surrender chinchillas.  This year has been excessive in the amount of emails, and even for the people wanting to surrender, no one has one chinchilla anymore, no... our current person we're working on scheduling bringing in their chins has 6 adults and 3 youngsters.  So, it's no longer freeing up one cage, it's freeing up multiple, or having the room to bring in more cages to fit them all here at the rescue.

...and yet the emails keep coming.  Honestly, it's sad.  Either people don't have time, or the kid went to college, or got an apartment where they couldn't have the chinchilla... I mean, there's a million reasons why people can't keep them, and honestly, it doesn't even matter why, it's just that they can't keep them, and the chins need somewhere to go, and they contact us. 

Oh and we're not the only ones who are full.  Kristy at ABC Chins in Crystal Lake is out of town for a month and can't take in rescues until she's back.  Jacqui at Mid-Michigan Chinchillas is full and also has a waiting list for rescues to come in.  Most humane societies and other shelters are either full or are not taking in small animals, which is why we get the calls in the first place.  The local guinea pig rescue closed down, and refers all their inquiries (mostly surrenders... not so many adoptions) to us, so now we have umpteen guinea pigs here as well.  This isn't an isolated problem....

What is sort of an interesting phenomenon though is that the authors of many of these emails seem to understand that there are others wanting their chins to come in... but some emails take on the tone of, "well, I know there's others, and I know you have a waiting list, but here's why you should skip all of that and take in mine today."  Uh, no.  Sorry.  Don't get me wrong, if you got evicted and live in your vehicle with your chinchilla and give me a call, I will do my absolute best to get your chin in, or find you a place that can take it.  If you missed the story of Albert, one of our current rescue guinea pigs, he came into the rescue (and I even picked him up, *gasp* -- that's almost unheard of), when we were beyond full, because his human mom suffered a brain aneurysm and was in and out of the hospital on all sorts of meds, and effectively could not care for him at that time, and was about out of food / hay.  That was an emergency situation.  The average person who doesn't have time for their small pet... is not.  Honestly, they can wait a little bit. 

Even if I had unlimited room to put more cages and unlimited funds (ha!) to care for these furballs, the reality is that there's still only 24 hours in a day.  What's often interesting is that when I tell people about the waiting list, so many people mention, well, they can bring a cage.  To tell the truth... most people can bring a cage, so that doesn't really set anyone apart, and again, we come back to the space issue.  Even if we had unlimited room and really could take in all the chins at once, even if we forget the cost of doing so (feeding, watering, cleaning, etc), there's still only one of me and still only 24 hours in a day. 

I constantly have people texting me asking when their order will ship out, as it's been a few days, or a week, or whatever.  I understand, in the world where you can get your order in 2 days from Amazon Prime, everyone wants their items now -- I get it -- but the delay is due to caring for all the chinchillas, plus answering the phone, responding to emails, handling adoptions, working on the webstore orders, making product to sell, and so on and so forth.  Would I like to be caught up?  Sure!  That'd be awesome!  And sometimes I'm closer than other times, but the reality is, when I tell people, hey, we have a waiting list, I can add you to it, just let me know... it's not because I don't want to help.  It's because the more chinchillas that are here, the less individualized attention the rescues are going to get (which is where fosters come in, thanks to all of you who've stepped up so far!).  The more chinchillas that are here, the more that order production time is going to suffer.  The more chinchillas, the more email response time is going to lag.  No, I don't want to be behind on anything, but there's still only 24 hours in the day, and if I'm behind now (and that's without bringing in the 24 chinchillas and 2 guinea pigs on our waiting list), imagine how behind I'd be with those additional critters.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to upset anyone, I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, when telling someone, hey, I can't bring in your chinchilla right now.  I want what's best all around.  And sometimes, that means not bringing the animal in, right at this moment.  Thank you for understanding.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Loose Chins

So, loose chins are not one of those fairy tales... raise your hand if you've ever had your chin loose (accidentally!  not playtime) in your house.  *raises both hands high*  Ok, for us... we have enough of them, it's not uncommon for one to be out.

This year, we actually put up pieces of wood in our doorways that have to be stepped over (in the basement, where the chins are), so as to ensure the loose chins STAY in the rescue area, and not in the storage area, where they are notoriously hard to catch.

So, as is about par for the course, I was weighing chins the other day... none were loose... and one got away from me.  This same chin has gotten loose maybe 3-4 times now... crafty little bugger... and he is hard to catch.

Despite setting our live trap, he'd evaded me for a few days.  He's go for the treats and set the trap off, but NOT end up inside of it.  Now, tell me what happens after a few days loose?  Well, technically, the chins get more crafty and creative at getting away from you with every day.  But here's the thing... while there's always food and hay on the floor... there's not water.  So, they get THIRSTY.  Hehe.  (it's only funny because of the rest of the story, hold on)

So, I was filling water bottles the other day, and I noticed this little guy's head keep peeking out from under the cages.  It made me remember that the last time he was out, I had caught him because I had spilled a good amount of water, and snagged him while he was drinking at the puddle.  So, I noticed with every water bottle I'd fill, I'd look and he was somewhere under a cage staring at me.  So, I grabbed a filled water bottle and put it up to his face (cause while I couldn't get a hand close enough to grab him... a water bottle held on the end, still has my hand a good 8" away from him).  He started drinking!  Awesome... I backed up the water bottle a little bit so that he had to take a step out from under the cage to keep drinking... and he did.  And so on so forth... and I got him!!!  Had to share this with you, because maybe it will be beneficial for one of you, one of these days.

Now... usually what I do is hook up a water bottle to the live trap.  They can see the water bottle, but to drink from it, they go in the trap.  Hadn't had a chance to do that yet... but also useful for if you have a chin loose and are setting a trap and hoping to snag them. Happy chin-catching tip of the day! 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hammocks!

Did you notice, we have a ton of hammocks listed?  Let's give a big round of applause to Colette, as she helps us sew our hammocks up in Wisconsin!  She's been working on some new patterns... some of you may have seen the heart hammocks before... not sure if I ever had them up on the website, but we had them here and people bought them right up, so we've got some more of those ready to go.  Also working on fleece tubes, as people have been asking where to get them... still need to work on getting the "tube" itself, but one thing at a time...

There's actually a whopping TWO pages of hammocks on the webstore now... so lots of choices for you to pick from!  We still have some fall-ish themed ones, and got some winter ones in.  Also have a Star Wars hammock, a Lord of the Rings hammock, and more!  Lots of fun stuff! 

Check out the new fun patterns and designs here -->
http://www.nwichinchillas.com/apps/webstore/products/category/607821?page=1 ... and of course, click the little "2" on the right hand side, to see page 2 

New beds for the furballs!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Color in Pics

While I haven't had a chin that I've said this about lately... some of you may have seen some chins listed on my website, in the past, where I've had several pics, but have had a note basically saying, "see pic 1 for true color of the chin."  Sometimes... chin colors come out funky in the pics. 

Lighting has a lot to do with it.  Even the wall color has a lot to do with it.  When I went to take pics of my chin ornaments (story for another day), I noticed just how yellow-ish my walls are.  They are eggshell colored, don't get me wrong, they're NOT white... (well, they're paneling in the basement... I mean upstairs), but you really can see it on the pics.  Same with when you take pics of chins.

I take most of my chin pics with my iphone.  I do have a DSLR camera and occasionally will pull it out, but honestly, my iphone has more megapixels than the DSLR... which is kind of sad, as it isn't that old (and my iphone is a SE, so it's not new either).  But anyway... you can take good pics with a phone, it doesn't have to be some fancy camera.  No, I'm not going to get a perfectly still shot of a chin taking a dust bath, mid-roll, with my phone, but that's ok.  Relatively still shots come out pretty nice.

But I wanted to mention one quick thing, since I was thinking about how sometimes, I've had to adjust settings to get a chinchilla the color that it is, in "real life."  These next two pics were taken same day, within minutes of each other.




That is the same chin.  Whether you know what color it is or not, I imagine you can see the chin looks more brown in the top picture, and more blue / grey in the bottom.  The bottom pic is the more true-to-life picture (the chin is a sapphire wrap, by the way).  Notice, the fur on the chin also looks a lot better, a lot smoother, in the second pic.  No editing (come on... I don't have time even if I felt like it, lol!... and I have no idea how to use any of that software) or anything... but I wanted to show you these photos, so you could see how much different the same chinchilla can look depending on lighting and such.  Actually, the difference in the two pics is how high up I had the phone aimed (the top pic is slightly looking down on the chin, the bottom pic is more eye level)... in the one, it seemed to take a better color pic and the other, a worse color pic.  Usually I can see this when I'm taking the pics, and will adjust so I don't get the off-color pics, but sometimes (as in this case), I can't tell until I sit down at the computer and look at the pics. 

Same goes for the way the fur looks in the pics -- I probably take a good 10-50 pics of each animal (more when they won't sit still and I know I'm getting oodles of pics of just the tail), and whether due to blurry pics, only-tail pics, off-color pics, pics where I don't like how the fur looks, whatever the case may be, I usually get down to 5-6 good pics that I like.  I choose the clear pics that have most of the chin in them, or that show what I want.  Sometimes I'll use oddball pics if they show a certain marking that would be hard to get a photo of otherwise (like for example, taking a shot down from on top of the chin to photo the back), but in general... lots of pics, whittle down to the ones that are the best, that make the chin look as pretty and nice as possible.  I feel like it makes a difference. 

When I see craigslist posts and other sort of classified posts for chins (well heck, for any animal), sometimes I wonder if people just took the first pic they could get, and posted it.  It's blurry, it's far away, there's only half the chin in the photo... I don't say this all to rip on anyone, but I always think everyone has room for improvement (myself included!) and I feel like taking the time to take a good picture makes such a difference in finding the animal a home, and I felt like these two pics really helped explain what I was trying to, so, here's your photo-taking-tips for the day, haha. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Fosters Taking Pictures

So, sort of piggybacking off the last blog post, I wanted to talk a little bit about fosters taking pictures.

I suppose my example isn't going to actually be of a foster, per se, but bear with me here.

We had a chin come back to the rescue the other day, some of you may remember MJ, the adult beige female.  She wasn't gone for long... she was adopted as a companion for the person's other chinchilla, and that worked out at first, but as time went on, the original chin was more and more stressed out by MJ, even with MJ just being in the room... so the owner made the tough decision to bring her back. 

Anyway, the reason I mention this... I told her, if she had any insights on MJs personality or pics or anything she'd like to share, that I could use for rehoming, I'd love to see them, as often they can be so much more personal when someone else takes them (while I don't mind taking pictures... it's one of 1000 things on my to-do list, so time constraints make a difference in the awww-factor of the pictures).  So I wanted to share with you her pictures...












Now, I can't find my pics of MJ, so I don't have anything to use by comparison, but tell you don't look at those pics and go awwwww.  This is what I mean when I say that fosters can get more personal pics.  While I do think it's important to have pics that show the chin's color and full body and all that (which there are pics in here like that, I do realize that), I think it's also important to have the cutesy pics like the chin sleeping or sitting on someone's head or shoulder or whatnot.  To me, it makes the chin look more loved and more adoptable, to see those sleeping moments (for example) in the pics.  These type of pics are what I love to get from the fosters!  They don't have to be some magical photographical masterpieces, they just need to be nice clear shots of the chins.  That's all.  Anything to help them get adopted!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Busy weekend!

You may have heard, it was a busy weekend! 

We got several chins adopted out, 3 LARGE cages sold (more room!), and our senior pair of chins out at a foster home.  Yaaaay!!!

Now the fun begins.  Late fall (read: now) is always busy... but of course, that hinges on actually having chins listed and pictures taken and all that.  As you may have seen on my personal facebook (many of you are my facebook friends), I somehow managed to shatter my laptop screen, and I'm now working on a new one.  Yay and ick at the same time... because while I was able to transfer everything over via HDMI cable (thanks Dahlene & Don for the tip!)... all my bookmarks and all that are still on there, and I'm going to literally have to plug the laptop back into the tv, write those down, and manually transfer.  Not a big deal, but I'm used to opening my bookmark folder entitled "classified sites," clicking "open all," and being done with it.  So, that's step 1.  That gets done first.

Then the listing of the chins comes.  That's what going to happen this week.  Ever wanted a chin?  I have oodles of them.  They have been moving and finding homes, but a lot of them are currently listed only on my website, and I need to get all the chins listed as many places as possible, to get the word out, to get them homes, so more of them can come in.  I have a few more fosters lined up... one's waiting for their chin to be off medication and then they're going to take in a foster, and someone else is coming in a few days to talk with me and see the chins and all that, and decide if they want to foster.  If you want to foster too, let me know!  All food / dust / hay / etc provided (you do have to come pick it up from the rescue), you just provide the care (pictures and info sent to me are super useful as well!).

Suppose I'll make another post regarding the fosters and pics and whatnot, so this one isn't super long.

But anyway... chins will be listed shortly, we will also have our usual November sale, so watch for that as well.  Geckos will be on sale as well.  We will have baby guinea pigs listed shortly (if interested, just let me know).  If anyone wants to give a retirement home to a quad of adult male rats, they're all like 2+ years, they're just chilling here, but could use a nice retirement home.  More posts to follow in the next few days... 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Size of Toys

Wanted to do a quick post and share something with you.  We've heard quite a few comments over the years about how our toys are good sized for the prices, and we do try to make them worth the cost, because I know how much it costs to care for a chinchilla (or 200)... but I'm not sure people even realize what size the toys are. 

On all the toy listings, it actually does say the size.  The anything goes and anything goes colored toys are 6", the muncher's delights are 7"... the anything goes plus and ring of pumice are 14" circles... and so on.  But sometimes I think those numbers aren't all that helpful.  I know when I'm making the toys, I always make the first one and then measure it, to make sure it's the right side, adjust up or down if needed, and then keep that one out as a guideline.  Of course, I'd rather the toy be on the large size, I don't want to gyp anyone!  But I'm even amazed sometimes when I make a toy and measure it and it's 2" bigger than it needs to be!  Guess I'm not that good at eyeballing measurements.

Anyway... lots of rambling to lead to a pic.  A happy chin-customer submitted this and said we could use it (it's also a second pic on our halloween toy in the webstore listing now), as it shows the size of the toy next to a young-adult chin.  He likes it! 


Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hays

Useful info for you today on hays... someone asked about this, and I figured this would be good info for all.  The person was asking about buying bales of hay, which any of you could potentially do, for your chins or other small pets.  They were asking about different types of hays and what might be in them. So, here goes. 

As far as the type of hay, you don't want any hay with clover, as in hays (as opposed to like, buying dried clover -- the type used for tea -- as a treat), the clover that would be in hay usually isn't dried out well (just because of the way hay, itself, is dried out) and without being cured properly, can cause stomach upset and runny poos. 

You also want to check what the hay is primarily made up of.  It'd be rare to have a mix that is literally 1/8 this, 1/8 that, and so on.  Most horse hays (which you want -- no cow hays!) are alfalfa based, as the horses can handle the richer, higher protein.... chinchillas cannot.  Runny squishy poos again.  They can have SOME alfalfa, but it can't be a bale of mostly alfalfa with some other stuff mixed in (which is typically what we have around here).  Organic hay (or not) doesn't really matter... I can't imagine it makes much of a difference in the actual hay... other than upping the price. 

If you can find bales that are primarily grass hay mixes (which alfalfa is not, just fyi), they'd tend to be timothy / orchard grass / rye / fescue / brome / meadow hay... that sort of thing... that would be fine to feed.  Ideally you want a hay that is primarily timothy with other hays mixed in, though any grass hay mix should be fine.

For the cuttings, 1st is super stalky, so a lot of chins won't be as fond of eating that... they pick through and find the softer pieces.  2nd is softer and more of a mix of leafy and stalky, that's what we feed (if at all possible).  Third cutting (at least here) isn't available unless we want to ship it in, as the growing season isn't that long, and most places need to irrigate the fields to get a 3rd cutting (also not really done around here).  It's super leafy (read: soft) and the chins LOVE it.  However... because it's so leafy, it practically does nothing to wear down the teeth.  Occasionally I'll buy like a 10 pound box of third cutting from small pet select and use it here and there as a treat, but I wouldn't use it as a primary hay, because it sort of defeats the purpose because it's so soft (though I can see why they like it!).

Also worth noting, you don't want to store bales of hay on the floor -- you need to store them "up" somehow... we put ours on two 2 x 4's (think like train tracks)... this allows the air to go around and under the bales, and keeps moisture from building up and spoiling the hay.  You don't want moldy / mildew-y hay, so no storage in plastic containers or garbage cans with the lid on.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Cleaning!

I've had people ask about various aspects of cleaning their chins' (or other small animals') cage, or food bowl, or so on... and I just wrote an email to someone the other day detailing some hints, so I wanted to share with all of you.

For most of my items (food bowls, water bottles, etc), I just use plain old dish soap and water.  If it fits in the sink, it gets washed with a regular old scrubbie and soap and water.  If it doesn't, it gets hosed outside with soap and water.

But what about when there's a film on something, or something that you want a little stronger cleaner for?  I use simple green.  If you don't know what that is, it's a non-bleach type general purpose cleaner that is non-toxic and biodegradable.  You can find it just about anywhere, but Walmart does sell it as well...


...and I use it for EVERYTHING.  If you've ever been around me when I'm cleaning, you'll notice I rarely use any type of bleach cleaner, and I can't stand the smell of lysol, it actually will make me gag.  Simple green has a clean, simple (non-overpowering) smell, and doesn't bother me the way these other cleaners do.  So, I use it for my kitchen counters, stove, tile floor spills, etc... multipurpose!  About the only thing I have a different cleaner for (in the upstairs) is my wood surfaces, and of course, for some things I do use a bleach cleaner.  But for the average things that need to be wiped own with a little more than soap or water, this is what I use.

For the caked on grime that seems to be in the favorite-peeing-corners of the cage, I also use white vinegar.  Take this pan for example...  It doesn't look all that bad, but you can see the white build up in the corners and somewhat on the bottom, and the entire lackluster look.


Then add water, splash in some white vinegar... let it sit for maybe 10-15 minutes.  I come back, scrub those problem areas, let it sit some more... then scrub some more and rinse.  Usually after the second scrubbing (unless you REALLY have some caked on gunk), it's good to go.  And here is the finished / cleaned pan...


Tell me that doesn't look practically brand new.  It shines!

Now, for a double dose of cleaning power, I use both all at once.  I always buy the economy size ($5.96 -- https://www.walmart.com/ip/Simple-Green-All-Purpose-Cleaner-Refill/22301217 -- 2 liters) or the gallon size ($12.99 -- https://www.walmart.com/ip/Simple-Green-All-Purpose-Cleaner-Concentrate-1-Gal/23569739 -- 1 gallon) and a cheap spray bottle.  I fill the spray bottle about 1/8 with the simple green concentrate, 1/8 with white vinegar, and the rest with water.  Shake it up a bit (but watch, it foams up!), and you're good to go!  Now, when you spray it on something, it cleans even better!

About the only things I use bleach type cleaners like chlorox clean up on, are if I actually need to completely sterilize something.  I do this for the metal J-feeders and the metal dust boxes on my holding cage.  This is done every time they are washed, to ensure that these items are sterilized for the new chins.  The feeders and dusters are washed normally and set aside.  Then they are lined up in the sink and sprayed down with chlorox clean up.  They sit for 15 minutes with the bleach solution on them, and then after that time, they get rinsed off well, and set off to the side to dry. 

Hope this helps some of you!

"Blank" Adoption Forms

Well, they're not blank, but they might as well be.  If I'm talking about you, I really don't apologize, because you put in absolutely no effort.  I don't know if they're meant to be a joke or if they're really from people who couldn't take 5 minutes to research, but I got this one form this morning (one of many, over the past several years), and I mean... well, let me copy and paste some of the relevant parts:

Are you aware that veterinary costs for exotics / chinchillas is usually costly? : No
What type / brand of hay do you plan to feed? : Unsure
What brand of pellets do you plan to feed? : Unsure
What type of dust do you plan to use? : Unsure
What type of bedding do you plan to use? : Unsure
Name some safe chew toys or safe items to chew on: : We will plan a trip to the pet store 
What type of cage do you have? : None, yet
How large is the cage (dimensions)? : N/A
What type of shelving does the cage have? : N/A
Have you read our Chinchilla Care Packet (on the website, the Chinchilla Care Info page)? : not yet
How many times a week should treats be given? : unsure

Now.... while I acknowledge that I always tell people, I'm happy to help, I no longer will regurgitate the entire care packet in an email for you.  It is online on the website, you are welcome to read it, or I can even email it to you... and adoption policies say that it should be read.  If someone used to send an email with questions on, "what do they eat?" "What type of cage is best?" "Is plastic ok?" "Should I feed veggies?" "What is the dust for?" "what pellets are best?" "What temperatures should they be kept in?  Do they need heat lamps?" -- I actually used to answer all the questions, EVEN THOUGH that person had stated they read the care packet, and even though every single question they asked was thoroughly covered in the care packet (ok, maybe not the heat lamps part... but when you read, "keep them under 74 degrees," it should be self-explanatory).  Anyway... I used to regurgitate the care packet, and then I realized... especially considering about half of the people who contact me never adopt anyway (which is pretty typical of rescue adoptions, not just here, but in most rescues I talk with), it's not worth the time it takes to re-write all the answers out in an email... when I wrote the care packet.  So now, I refer those people to the care packet, and since they already said they read it, suggest that maybe they missed that section (or, well, the entire thing) and should check it out, and let me know if they have any other questions.  If it was one question, I will answer it... but it's usually regurgitating half+ the care packet.  So, there's that issue, of time and effort.

There's also the issue of... well, think about it.  Those specific questions -- what food are you going to feed?  What hay?  What dust?  What type of cage do you have?  How big is it and what type of shelving?  How often should treats be given?  What bedding will you use?  Those are the ULTIMATE questions.  I sure HOPE everyone can fill out the top of the form which is name and address, but THESE questions are the ones that ACTUALLY let me know if these people have ANY IDEA how to care for a chinchilla.  There's a big difference between Kaytee Fiesta and Oxbow.  There's a big difference between treats 1x week and treats 10x day.  There's a big difference between a 10g aquarium and a 2x2x4 cage.  There's a big difference between pine bedding and cedar bedding.  These questions are IMPORTANT. 

So I'm sorry if I seem upset when I get adoption forms like this, but honestly, sometimes I think I shouldn't even email these people back, but that I should rather just assume, with the lack of effort they've already shown me, that I should just deny the adoption.  However, I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt (though WHY anyone would fill out an adoption form that is, in effect, blank, makes NO sense to me), so I email them back, suggest reading the care packet (which this one didn't) and ask that they get back to me with their answers.  Now... let me share with you... 90% chance I will never hear back, so it won't make a difference.  But... I am not here to be your mother.  You want a pet, and all the information is out there for you, ON MY OWN WEBSITE NO LESS (if you can't find it there, when you're looking at chinchillas there... don't even tell me you didn't know where to look), I don't feel bad asking you to re-read the care packet (or read it for the first time, in this case). 

Heck, I've even thought about taking down the care packet before (I won't, but listen to my reasoning...), because it might as well be a cheat sheet -- people may know nothing and go question by question, search for the answer in the care packet, and fill in the blank.  They may actually learn nothing, other than how to search for relevant terms.... and still not know how to care for a chinchilla at the end of the day.... so to not have it up there, and ask people to fill out the adoption form, I'd see what they actually know.  But, I leave it there because I want the correct care info out there and maybe someone will learn.  But I will not babysit.  Make an effort, people. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Facebook Page

Sometimes you guys all make me laugh.  On the facebook page, people continually suggest that I add hours for the rescue... which as you all know, is by appointment only, so that's why I never do.  I feel like they should add an option, such as... "by appointment," but as there isn't such an option, I will not have hours, so no one shows up, and then is disappointed if I'm not here.

Well, anyway, I get notifications when people suggest changes to the facebook page, and I had a few people who had wanted the price range changed from "$$" to "$."  It actually shows, like "3 people suggested this change."  I thought, what the hell, the toys and that sort of stuff is cheap (and price depends on what item you're looking at... even at walmart, the pack of gum is cheap, the oversized barbecue grill is not), so I changed it.

Wake up today, now a few people want it changed from "$" to "$$."  

Sounds about right.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Foster Locations!

So... I bet if I went back and re-read my post about fosters, it probably says something about, you don't have to be super close to foster a chinchilla...

... because I got this message:

If we are in Texas will you still send us chinchillas to foster

Hahahaha, no.  Can always use more fosters, but they need to be reasonably close, to ensure the people can get their supplies and that potential adopters can actually get to them.  Most people looking at the NWI Chins website aren't in Texas, so they might be fostering for a loooooong time.

So, just to clarify... maybe 3-4 hours max (and even that might be a little far) for the distance foster homes can be away from the rescue.  That is all for today.  Have a nice night! 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Deposits -- Why They Exist

So, I want to share a little story with you, about the usefulness of deposits.

Someone called awhile back, and we set an appointment for a few weeks out.  They'd talked about possibly wanting to adopt this one chin, but then when I asked if they wanted to put down a deposit (and informed them, of course, about needing to be 100% sure before they put down the deposit), they said no they weren't that sure, they'd take their chances.

Fast forward to about 4 days before their scheduled appointment -- the chin they were asking about gets adopted by someone else.  The following morning, I receive an adoption form from the phone call person, and in the section where it asks, which chin are they interested in, they put down the chin we talked about.

I don't want them to arrive at the appointment and not be aware that the chinchilla is no longer here, so I send them a quick email, to let them know that their application looks good, and more importantly, that that specific chinchilla is no longer here, though that we do have other similar ones that they might be interested in.

The email I got back started with, "I really thought we would be bringing home [chinchilla] tomorrow." 

This is one of those difficult situations -- some people, heck, a LOT of people, NEVER get back to me.  They say, oh they're interested in a chin, they'll call right back!  Never hear from them again.  And often, in the meantime, I've passed up an adoption for that chinchilla, and then, when the person doesn't call back... the chinchilla is still here, un-adopted.  While I don't want to be mean about it and not hold a chinchilla for someone, unfortunately, sometimes the chinchillas being on hold means that they miss out on a good home (when their adoption falls through).  This is why we have the deposits.  For holding chinchillas more than a few days, we ask for a half-down deposit, and this holds the chin for 14 days, during which it needs to be picked up.  Now, deposits are non-transferable and non-refundable, because it is holding that specific chin for someone, and prevents anyone else from adopting it.  So, while I can understand why people might sometimes hesitate to put down a deposit if they're not 100% sure they want to take that specific chin home, I also sometimes have to remind myself that I cannot do anything about it, when someone decides to not put down a deposit, and then the chin ends up adopted by someone else.  That is their decision to put down a deposit, or not.  Just like choosing to wait for a Halloween item to be clearanced towards the end of the month at Walmart... you can wait, and eventually it will go clearance... but if it sells before that, they won't get more in, and you'll miss your chance at buying it. 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Importance of Communication

So, this happened and I wanted to share it with you, because it is a perfect example of why communication is such a good, useful thing.

One of my usual customers, who stops by every few months for toys, treats, etc, texted me with a list of the stuff they wanted, a few weeks in advance.  We have agreed that this is the best way to go about this, as otherwise, they come here and pretty much clear me out (which is fine... but not so good for the next appointments).  So, we agreed on the pickup day, and that day came sooner than I hoped, and the night before, I was downstairs until 2 am, working on their last few toys (cause honestly, we are talking... 6 of this one, 8 of this one... and so on).  Finally got them done.

I had another person coming for an order a little earlier than them, and I decided to wait on getting the remainder of their stuff ready, since it was already 2 am, and I figured I would get up early in the morning and work on it then. 

Morning comes (well, later morning), and I get up and continue to work on the order for the first person.  I'm not done by the time they get there, but no biggie, we intro their chin to one of ours while I complete the order.  Everything gets done, and they leave with their new chin buddy and supplies.

Meanwhile... the other person, with the huge order that I stayed up until 2 am working on... as of an hour after the time the were supposed to arrive, had not texted / called / emailed / anything, to let me know that they were or were not coming.  I even texted them about 15 minutes after their scheduled appointment, to ask if they were still coming.... nothing.

I don't know if they forgot, or if something came up.  But let's just say, for sake of argument, that something came up and they need to reschedule (which is the most common).... if they had told me, I would not have stayed up all night working on their toys, as I could have done that, well, anytime!  During the day, I mean.  Just asking for a little consideration, because I lost sleep (and if you know me, you know how much I love my sleep) to get this order done... and the person isn't here to get it.  If they'd just said, hey they could pick it up next week (said this, the night before), yeah I would have had most of it done, but I could have slowly finished the rest and not rushed, and for sure, not stayed up late at night.  But with no communication... well, here we are. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Emails!

Some of you have noticed that I'm actually responding to your emails a bit quicker now!  Let me tell you why...

So, if you didn't know, I have a law degree and a license to practice law in Indiana (and here I am, raising and rescuing chinchillas...), but I still keep up the law license, just in case.  So, that requires going to these boring-as-hell educational seminars several times a year, called CLE's (continuing legal education).

I go to the recorded replays of the sessions out in Valpo.  Normally, this would cost a few hundred per session, but my dad knows someone who knows someone, so we get to "moderate" these sessions... which involves all of switching dvd's (sometimes), but mainly just signing people in.  And if the power goes out or something weird happens, we get to call tech support... but get the session for free. 

How does this relate to my chinchilla emails, you might be asking yourself?

If you've ever had the joy of sitting through one of these CLE's, you'd know that even in the LIVE ones (as in, with a live speaker in front of you), people bring work, or books, or something else to do.  I'm not sure I'd be that bold for a live session, but mind you, I go to the recorded sessions that are just replays... so I bring my computer, log onto the university's wifi, and get to work. 

So, last Friday, I spent a whopping 6 hours of CLE time... answering emails.  Yes, they really do get that far behind.  Partially, because there really is that many of them.  I get a whopping ridiculous amount of junk mail... but I also probably get at least 20-30 emails, per day, that are legit emails that need an answer.  And it's rarely a few word answer, or a short email... I have one that could easily span 2 pages (if printed out) about when they can come, and what their schedule is like, and this and that... and I will read that and respond to that... Well, that email, alone, may take 30-45 minutes to respond to, especially if there's a lot of questions for me in there (as opposed to just info for me to use to answer back to).... and at least half the emails per day are like that. 

Occasionally I'll get an email asking where someone is on the waiting list, and that's pretty quick to answer, because I can look at the list and then email them back.  Simple enough.  Sometimes the emails require more work before I can email back -- for example, I posted about foster homes the other day and two people have since emailed wanting to foster (yay!), but before I emailed them back, I wanted to have my foster contract ready, as I haven't updated it in ages.  So, I saw those emails, and went to work on the foster contract... an hour later, I still haven't answered the emails, but the foster contract is where I'd like it to be.

So, all this said... after spending 6 hours on emails, I now only have maybe 20 in my inbox, which is reasonable for me.... so now just to keep up with it!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Court-Ordered Community Service

Some of you may have known that we had a court-ordered kid here for community service a few weeks ago.  Nice kid, he was an accomplice to something that went on, and he was here for... 4 (?) days.  We got a lot done while he was here.  He washed things, cleaned cages, made toys, and so on.  Very nice kid.

So then we got another one.  Someone called and said they had until the end of the month to get 25 hours done.  This was... on the 21st.  I told them, based on my schedule, they'd need to start on Monday (25th) and work most days from then until Saturday (as Sunday begins October).  Told the kid, he would have to work 4-5 hours a day, to get the 25 hours in.  He said ok, and so we agreed that he would show up on Monday, after school, so, 3:30. 

He shows up, works pretty well actually, does things pretty fast, nice kid.   I asked him what time his parents were coming to get him, and he said he didn't know, but that his mom would text him when she was coming to get him.  It seemed like he wasn't there for very long when he told me that his mom was here for him... it was 6 pm, so he'd been here 2.5 hours.  I asked him if he could come back tomorrow (more to reiterate than anything, since he had to be here all days to get enough hours in) and he said yes.  I asked if he wanted me to keep his paperwork (there's papers that I have to fill out, and he would turn in at the end) and give it back at the end, and he said yes.  So we said our see-you-tomorrow's, and he left.

Fast forward to Tuesday.  3:30 came and went.  I thought maybe he was running late, but the entire night passed and he never did show up.

Now, in all fairness, it may not have anything to do with him, specifically.  It could be that he couldn't get a ride, or the car broke down, or mom's sick, or whatever... but I never did hear from him again.  If nothing else, I partially expected to hear from him again because he did work the 2.5 hours, and I would have signed off that he did work those hours... but so far I haven't heard anything from the kid.

In case you're wondering why I didn't call him -- when he initially called, he said he was calling from a parent's office phone, and that he'd give me another contact number for him when I saw him.  Well... I never did get that number, and I didn't save the work number (and I get such a ridiculous number of calls per day, that there's no way to go back in time and find that number).  

Well... I imagine he won't be getting his hours in, during the required time.

Though, in case you didn't know, if your teen needs community service hours for their court-ordered community service, they can do them at the rescue.  We've also had adults that need community service hours do them here, so if you don't want to go volunteer at a nursing home or whatever, this is an option for you!