Sunday, June 25, 2017

Workers, part 3

So, if you read the post from a few days ago, I had someone work like 2 days and then have a better opportunity come up, so they left to do that.  Cool for them.

Well, before that person had even started, I was telling another of my customers about how I was going to have this new person working here.  Their response?  To tell me about how their hours were severely cut at work to like 1-2 days, and they can clean ANYTIME I need, and they're free ALL THE TIME.

So, naturally, when the actual worker quit... I sent this person a text message, asking if she still wanted to work.  She said yes, asked what it paid, and I asked when she was available.  Oh, only the following day, of the entire week.  What happened to anytime?  Lol.  Anyway, so I asked what times she was available that next day, and she told me the times in the morning that she was free.  So I texted, asking, ok, did she want to plan to come then?

She never texted me back, actually not until the following evening, when I texted her, asking about when she planned to pick up a cage that I was holding for her... that she'd already put off picking up, for quite some time.  THEN she said, oh she can come Monday.  So... Wednesday... and then Monday?  So much for anytime (why even say it?).  I told her, well, I'll be out of town, but she could work later in the week... and she is supposed to get back to me with what times she's available for later in the week.  We shall see.

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

I realize this is the third day in a row I'm talking about these workers who are less-than-working-out.  I'm not doing this to complain, quite the opposite actually -- I just want you all to understand, when people are asking for pictures of chinchillas and asking to bring their chins in, and how come I haven't gotten their order out yet... it's not because I don't want to!  I'd love for someone to say, "hey, snap me some pics of this one chin..." and I go do it... but the main reason it's not so instantaneous is because there's only one of me -- taking the pics, making the toys, making the houses, answering the phone calls, handling the adoptions, doing the paperwork -- and so on and so forth.  And that's fine, I can do it just fine... but patience is very much appreciated, as one person can only do so much so fast!  As always, thanks for your patience :)

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Workers.. part 2

So, funny thing.  I believe I posted about this when it happened, so some of you may remember it...

I was stopped in the self-checkout at Walmart a while back, but someone who had chinchillas, and wanted to know about the rescue (I was wearing my rescue hoodie at the time).  So I told them what it was, and all that... and they said they'd like to volunteer, all the time, so I gave them my business card.

Fast forward quite a few months (cause I mean... I had my hoodie on), and I get a text message this past Sunday, and the person says they're the lady from the self checkout.  Ok, cool.

Says she still wants to volunteer (yay), and so I ask when.  She says, oh probably Monday, but she'll have to ask her mom to watch the kids.  So I tell her, ok, ask, and then let me know, either way.

There's a little bit of small talk about chins and she asks, if she falls in love with one, can she adopt one, and I told her about the adoption form and how that all works.  And so then she asked about the price range, so I told her what prices they are.

Never got a text back, about volunteering Monday or about anything of that sort... so... guess she's not coming?

Friday, June 23, 2017

Workers...

So... you all remember me posting the other day about how I had those two workers who didn't think to find a ride until the day of, like a half hour before they were supposed to be here?  Yeah, that was like strike 50 for them, so I was writing up an ad that I was gonna put on fb looking for some help.  You may recall me saying, the reason things are often behind here, is because I'm one person, and I can use help with a variety of things, almost all the time.  More hands get things done considerably quicker.

So... before I ever got a chance to post the ad, I got an email from someone looking for some summer work on the side.  Awesome, saves me all that effort.

So she says she wants to come see what it's like, and so I tell her, hey, come over in the morning, and if she likes it, she can start working.  So, she comes by, nice girl, works that day and the next day, and I'm literally sitting at my computer thinking, man, we've been getting a lot done, and thinking about what we'll continue doing in the future, cause she was also set to work two more days that week, and then we'd go from there on when she'd be coming by to work.

You can see where this is going, right?

I get an email from this girl, letting me know that she got an interview at an animal hospital.  Suppose it's worth mentioning, for purposes of this post, that she's going to vet school in the fall (kudos!), so that'd be right up her alley, and of course, an opportunity she can't pass up.  Therefore... she can't work here any longer.

Well, crud.

Don't get me wrong, it is a great opportunity for her, and assuming she gets the job, she should take it.  But... that leaves me back, square one, for having any help here.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

"Whatever Works for You"

So, this is another one of those things that actually can get quite humorous (albeit, sometimes frustrating), so I wanted to share it with you.

As many of you know, I'm home a lot, and if I don't have any other appointments and plan to be home all day, and someone wants to come see an animal, I will usually ask them what works for them, and plan my day accordingly.  The reason being... it does me no good to say, ok I'm going to go to the store at 6 pm, for no reason other than that's the time I feel like going... and then have the potential adopter want to come at 6 pm... and not be able to have them come... because I'm going to the grocery store.  It's typically better for me to ask when is convenient for them, they'd say 6 pm, and, knowing that, I would go to the store either before or after.

Well... that's how it works with most people anyway.  Scheduling some appointments requires a little more effort.  For example, I've had several conversations that go like this lately:

Me:  I'll be home all week, when works for you.
Them:  Nights and weekends.
Me:  Ok, which day would you prefer?
Them:  Whenever
Me:  Ok, how about Wednesday?
Them:  No, sorry, that won't work for me.
Me:  Ok, Thursday?
Them:  How about Tuesday, instead?
Me:  Ok, what time Tuesday night?
Them:  Well, on Tuesdays I'm only available in the morning.
Me:  Ok, what time would you prefer Tuesday?
Them:  Whenever in the morning is good for you
Me:  Ok, how about 10?
Them:  No, it needs to be earlier than that

Now... before you say this is an exaggerated example... this happens All. The. Time. with multiple people, and it honestly can drag on and on.  I get it -- they want to seem open... but really do have certain times that don't work... I get it.

We typically do find a time... though, sometimes (often) I think it would be easier if they'd just ask, like in the example above, "would I be able to come Tuesday at 8 am?"  You know?  It'd avoid all that other yapping.  But... maybe people like to yap?  I dunno, but it can definitely be humorous at times!

Monday, June 19, 2017

Will The Animal Still Be Here...

This is, by far, one of my favorite, most amusing, questions.  People constantly ask something along the lines of, well, they're not ready to adopt for another few months, will the chinchilla / rabbit / guinea pig / etc. still be here [insert some month, at least 2-3 months minimum into the future]?

The simple answer -- I have no clue!

I've had animals listed for 6 months with no interest... and then in the same day, I'll get three emails from serious adopters wanting to take the animal home.  Likewise, I've had animals with all sorts of interest.... first person falls through, all the others have fallen off the face of the earth by that point, and magically, then no one is interested, and the animal sits here for 6 months.  I've had months where there's four adoptions all month, and then weekends where I'll adopt out 15 animals in two days!  There's no real rhyme or reason to it.  I can tell you when the busier times typically are... but they vary, and this year, we didn't have our busy spring season, so even that just depends.  I mean, heck, my house could burn down tomorrow (heaven forbid), and then none of the animals will be available as of right then.  The thing is... there's no way to know!

Sure, for some animals, I can tell people what I think.  For example, any white chinchilla, whether a baby or adult... unless it's a serious sprayer, has an attitude problem, or is a biter, it's highly adoptable.  When I post it, it won't likely be here all that long.  For other animals, not so much.  Beiges are harder to find homes for,.. unless they have the ear freckles (which most breeders hate... but pet people love... go figure)...but in general... they will be here longer.  Standard greys that aren't babies tend to stick around, unless they're super friendly.  Senior animals of any type tend to stick around.  But of course, there's exceptions to all of this.  I've had some whites that hang around.  I've had some seniors that fly out of here, because someone was waiting in the wings, watching the website, just biting at the bit, waiting for a senior to be posted.  So, I may be able to give you an idea... but in general, people asking about your average aged animal... it's anyone's guess.

In situations like this, I tell people, since we don't hold animals that long, maybe they should check back when they're closer to adopting, and pick out an animal then.  After all, if they want a young animal, and they're looking at a 2 month old now (June), but can't adopt until October....it's going to be 6 months by the time they adopt.  To me, that's still plenty young, but if they want a 2 month old... it would definitely have aged / gotten older in the meantime!

If it was me, I suppose I wouldn't even be looking at animals until I was more ready to bring them home, as if you do find the animal of your dreams... most breeders / rescues will not even consider hanging onto them until next week, much less a few months.  I can't tell you how many dog breeders there are that I've seen list, oh the puppy must be picked up by 9 weeks old, or else the new owner will incur a certain amount for boarding every week.  While I definitely understand the reasoning and concept behind this... that's reality.  If you can't get the animal now... I guess I just don't even understand why you are looking now!  Maybe to find places to get the animal, but I wouldn't be looking at specific animals, myself anyway.  Everyone's different.

I wonder, sometimes, if people think I'm trying to be difficult when I answer these people and tell them I don't know, and explain that adoption times vary, and sometimes the animals find their new homes quickly, and sometimes not... but I honestly don't mean it to be like that.  For me... I just don't know.  No one does.  I wish I could give a better answer... but I suppose, the best way to put it... if they are meant to have that specific animal.. it will still be here, when they are ready.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Planning Ahead of Time

I know this is hard for people.  Well, it must be for some people, anyway...

We had someone the other day, contact us and want to come on a specific date.  I confirmed that we were talking about this month (we'd been talking about this month vs. next month), and they said, yes, this month.  So, I ask, what time?  This was on a Friday.  Lets fast forward to the following Thursday... and I had not yet heard from this person.  Therefore... I had gone and listed the chinchilla, and had another nice family come forward to adopt it, and put down a deposit on it.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, not 12 hours after the second family had put down their deposit, I get an email from the first person, mentioning that it turned out, they had to work on the day we'd talked about, and they asked if they could come another day instead.  Sorry to say... but a little late.

This is where communication comes in handy.  Had this person said to me -- somewhere, between Friday and the following Thursday -- "hey, I know we talked about me coming over on that one day, but I might have to work... not sure at this point... so can I let you know later in the week, and we go from there?" -- this may have turned out significantly differently.  As the case was... I didn't hear from this person for just shy of a week... and to me, that signals disinterest.  In my experience, when people really want to adopt, they get back to you within a day or two.  Anything longer than that... and most likely, they will NOT be getting back to you.  Of course, the exceptions exist -- being out of town, so on and so forth -- but in general, this is true.

Another example -- I have had people miss appointments with no notification or anything to let me know they're not coming.  When I contact them, they'll get back to me, and inform me that their car broke down.  Now... before you say anything... the car didn't break down that morning.  If it did, I could sort of understand, they need to get it fixed, they are trying to arrange rides to wherever they really need to go (which may or may not include here)... I can see this getting lost in the shuffle.  However, it usually goes like this -- "Hey!  Sorry we missed the appointment, our car broke down a week ago."  Maybe I'm old school, but if I have no car, I look in my planner and see what all will be affected, and let those places know.  If I can't get to the doctor's office, I will cancel the appointment.  If I can't make a lunch date with a friend, I let the friend know.  Looking and planning ahead is a good thing, come on!

Possibly the best example (though... most likely an example of laziness + not planning ahead) -- I have two people who were doing some work here for the rescue, and I contacted them the one day, maybe 5 pm.  I asked them, could they come around 10:30 / 11 am, on the following morning (before you say, that's awfully short notice, these people did tell me they only needed 1 hour notice to come by... and between 5 pm and 10:30 am is just shy of 17 hours).  They said maybe they could come, they would let me know... when they responded at 10:30 pm.  I hate last minute stuff, so you may have guessed, my immediate response to this was (in my head, of course)... when are they going to let me know, when they're supposed to be here in the morning, and it's already later at night?  Well, let's ignore that for a second and fast forward to the following morning.  I get a message at 10 am, saying they can come... but they just asked someone for a ride, and they don't think they can find one (which begs the question... why tell me they can come... before they have found a way to get here?).  Long story short, they never did find a ride, and didn't come by.  But... the point for me is... they knew, since 5 pm the previous day, that they might want to come by and work.  So, naturally.... they wait until 10 am (mind you, when they're supposed to BE HERE at 10:30/11 am), to ask people for a ride, and they're surprised when they can't find a ride on such short notice!  Me, I would have been asking people the night before, and trying to get something lined up for the morning.  Cause that's how things work... you know you have to be somewhere, so you arrange, as early as possible, so you have the most time as you possibly can... to make arrangements.  I mean... common sense, no?

It can't be just me that plans ahead and finds these sort of things to be aggravating.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

"Whatever You Recommend"

Wanted to do a quick post about this... been getting an increase in both adoption forms that include the phrase "whatever you recommend" and people telling me they will use "whatever you recommend"... after telling me they read the care packet.

Maybe some people aren't aware -- I write all my care packets.  I do that intentionally, so that there's nothing in there that I don't agree with.  Therefore.... what's in the care packet... is what I recommend.

I wouldn't even mind if people put this for the question, "what food will you feed?" as they may not know which pellet the specific chinchilla is on.  But, no joke. people will use the "whatever you recommend" phrase for the food, dust, chew toys, hay, cage, cage shelves, should they have playtime, should the have treats, are they temperature sensitive??  No joke even.  Honestly... it makes me wonder if some of these people have even read the care packet (which, I do note, they all make sure to mark "yes" (they've read it) for that question)... because I would think they'd pick something.

In the past, I'd see one of these "whatever you recommend" and basically regurgitate what the care packet says.  Then I got to thinking about this... why am I doing this?  They said they read it... there are choices, and that's because there's not one *hallllllllelujah* food / dust / hay that's so perfect that no others compare to it... there's choices... because there's a variety of good options, and people will need to be able to pick for themselves, assuming they're not continuing to get the supplies here.

So, for the last few people, I've been nicely mentioning what's said above, about how the care packet was written by me and that's what I recommend, and they need to choose out of those options, and if they have questions, I am happy to help... but they need to choose.

Which I think is important, because they will need to choose if they go to the pet store and buy this stuff, and I'm not with them (though, I admit, I have gotten phone calls from people in the pet stores, asking if something's safe... perfectly fine!  but for most people, they'll have to decide for themselves).  I can understand not knowing what's best, or having questions.... but please, be an adult and make adult decisions.  Thanks!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Appropriate Pricing

I know, I know, you're all like... you constantly talk about this!  Yes, because people constantly amaze me, and this was one that is a little different that I don't think I've touched on...and it's more on the topic of what constitutes appropriate pricing.

Had someone the other day who wanted me to send them some pics of some chins.  One chin was a fur chewer, and the other had been beaten up by siblings, so he's got a tattered ear and some scarring on his body (noticeable by white hairs where there should be black).  So I send pictures, and they ask how much, and I tell them, either one is $200 (both dark ebonies).  Now, if you pay attention to pricing on my site, most babies of a certain color are the same price... the exception being if it's a chin I've shown or it has some other unusual characteristic.  But in general, you can expect, for baby chins:

Standard grey -- $135
Hetero beige -- $150
Medium ebony / medium tan -- $175
Dark tan / mosaic / pink white / dark ebony / homo beige / black velvet -- $200
Brown velvet -- $225
Violet / sapphire -- $250
Blue diamond -- $350-400
Curly / lockens & carriers --  $350-600

None of this should look surprising to anyone -- these are my standard prices for babies of those colors, and if you check out the website, you know that 99.5% of babies that I sell are in line with this pricing.

Anyway, back to the story.  So, this person sees the pics, and asks, "don't I think that's a lot for those chins?," (and I love this part!) "...especially since they're going to have problems later on."  Now, chins that fur chew and chins with slightly mangled ears and some scarring on their body are not going to have problems later on.  But that's a discussion for another day.

What I want to focus on today, was this person asking, "don't I think that's a lot for those chins?"

The answer... is "no."  If I thought that was too much... I would ask less.  I mean, right?   Logically, if I thought the chin was worth $100, then no, I'm not going to ask $200.  I don't have time to play games and hope that people pay more for the chins than they're worth, and negotiate down to a fair price.  Come on, I have all these chins to care for, the webstore to run, supplies to keep in stock, toys / houses to make.  No time for that sort of thing.  I ask what I feel is fair for the chins.

But here's the thing -- anyone selling anything is free to set whatever prices we'd like.  No one has to pay these prices.  If I wanted to price a standard grey chin at $50, I can.  Likewise, I can price it at $300, if I'd like.  Now, I'll sell considerably more at $50 than at $300, but it's my right to price it however I like, whether that price is $50, $300, or somewhere in between.

But if I do price it at $300... you'll likely look elsewhere...but often, not before telling me that you think it's too high.  But... let me ask you something...

Ever go to the store and see something you like, and would possibly purchase, and then see the price, and go, oh hell no?  I'm sure we all have.  If it's an item we think we'll find cheaper, I'm sure you go to another store to get it cheaper.  Little known fact -- I have corn snakes upstairs, and the smallest eats frozen/thawed pinkies.  I could get them at the pet store, where they're either $1.99 for one, or $4.99 for three... or I can to to the reptile expo in Illinois, and pick up a bag of 100 of them for $35.  Let's see, 35 cents per pinkie, versus $1.67 per pinkie at the pet store... I think I'll take the trip out to the reptile expo every now and then.  Wouldn't you?  Now, apply that to this chinchilla situation.  You wouldn't go to the pet store, and say, "don't you think $4.99 for 3 is a lot?  I can get 100 for $35 at the expo!"... no, you'd just not go to the pet store, and go to the expo instead.... at least, that's what I would do,

By all means, if you think my prices are too high, check out craigslist.  Check out some backyard breeder that won't give you a health guarantee or any food / munchies / care packet / handouts with your new furball.  You're free to shop around, no one has to get a chin from me.  But there are benefits to getting one from a breeder (see above), and the prices usually aren't all that bad.  Compare my chins to a pet store, where you don't even know how old the chin is, and it's typically standard grey, for $149.99 plus tax (in Indiana, that comes out to $160-ish after tax), and for that price, you could get a beige... add another $40 and you could get a mosaic / tan / pink white / dark ebony / black velvet!

I'm not saying my prices are super.  I think they're fine, personally.  It's just that they are what they are, and I feel like prices reflect something.  Find a chin for sale too cheap, and you wonder why it's that cheap.  Find a chin for sale for (what you consider) expensive, maybe there's a reason for it.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Changing Times May Mean Changing Days...

When scheduling appointments, if I have only one or two appointments per day, I may just ask the person, what time works for them.  Case in point, I had one person who was coming to pick up their chin that I was chin-sitting (yes, that's a thing), and I told them that I would let them know what time I would be home, so they wouldn't show up before I got here.  Logical.

So, that day came, and that morning, I texted them and told them, ok, I will be home by 3, and I asked them, what time, 3:30 or later, would work for them?

They said 3:30 would be fine.

So, 3 pm passes, and a little after 3, I get a text saying they'll be a little late.

3:30 passes.  4 pm passes.  So eventually I send them a text asking what time they're going to be here, because by my definition of "a little late" -- they should have already been here.

About 4:15, I get a text saying that they'll be here at 5, sorry for being late.

Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Now, I realize, I asked them, what time worked for them, 3:30 or later.  But here's the thing.  I had a 2 pm, and I (originally) had them at 3:30 pm.  I figured, I would go after the 3:30 appointment left, to go pick up a few things I needed.  By the time they'd texted me saying they wouldn't be here til 5, I could have gone, picked up the stuff, and come back, several times in fact.  But since I was waiting for them to get here... and then they said 5 pm at 4:15 (note: that not being enough time to go get the stuff), I was made to wait even longer.

While some part of me would have liked to be all bullheaded and have said, oh that won't work for me... I do realize it's just an inconvenience.  Today, it's not a big deal.  I'll still go pick up what I need, after they leave.  But... sometimes a time change like this really won't work for me.  I've had times (multiple occasions, actually)... where I'll ask someone what time they want to come, and they say 4 pm, and so then I tell someone else, "ok, I have someone coming at 4, so I'll be by your house at 6 pm."  Now... if that was the case today... we would have had to reschedule (the pickup, not my appointment elsewhere).  So, I just ask that you please be aware, that when we schedule your appointment, I am often scheduling other things around that appointment, so if you show up an hour and a half later than what I am expecting... you may affect the rest of my day as well, and depending on the day, you may cause your own appointment to need to be rescheduled.  So, if at all possible, please try to be considerate.  Thank you!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New Item: Organic Red Clover Blossoms

So, for today's new item, we have organic red clover blossoms.  What are they, you ask?  Well, these:


So, they're flowers and flower pieces (hence, blossoms), and they're treats for the chins.  Heck, they're even GOOD for the chins, as they can stimulate and boost their immune system!

We got these in, as we're having a difficult time finding globe flowers any longer, now that our original supplier no longer carries them... and our only other alternative is ordering them a few ounces at a time.  Well... they sell more than that, so these are possibly the replacement for the globe flowers (I do apologize to the globe flower lovers, but if anyone can find them by the pound, do let me know!).

As a special intro to this herb, we've made up some nice one ounce jars of organic red clover blossoms.  They look like this:


For size reference, it's about as tall as a can of pop, but not quite as thick.  And stuffed to the brim with 1 ounce of organic red clover blossoms.  And it can be yours for only $3!

This treat has shown to been popular with our test audience (lots of chins that probably think I deprive them of treats), and yours may like it too!  Come try it out!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New-ish Product: Healthy Treat Mix XL

So... the next few days, I'm going to post about some new products that I will be adding onto the webstore upcoming here.

For today... we have the Healthy Treat Mix XL.

You may be familiar with the Healthy Treat Mix, which is a jar of 1+ ounce of each: rosehips, hawthorn berries, and pink rosebuds.  These are our top three herb / treat sellers, and they are popular for people to want to try, so we created the Healthy Treat Mix, which has over an ounce of each.

And it was a hit!  So much so that people wanted to order larger amounts.  While we do have larger amounts of all of these treats available, people wanted larger amounts... while still in the Healthy Treat Mix combo.  So, we'd have some people buying 2-3 Healthy Treat Mixes at once.

Which has led us to come up with the Healthy Treat Mix XL.  It looks like this:


This one is almost double the size!  While we can't quite fit in 6 ounces total, it's something like 5.90-5.95 ounces in these jars, so it's about double the size of the other one (the other one is 3-ish ounces).  Perfect for those of you that wanted more, but still wanted to just get one (now, larger) jar.

And it's $14, so it's actually a bit cheaper (as opposed to $15) than buying two of our smaller Healthy Treat Mix jars.  Enjoy, chinnies!

Monday, June 12, 2017

"I Will Adopt If..."

We hear from people of all sorts.  By no means do we only hear from the crazies, there are plenty of nice, normal, fantastic adopters out there.  But... there's also the interesting ones.

We've had people over the years, who have specified, they will adopt one of our chins, if we throw in a cage, a few months worth of supplies, and so on and so forth.  Maybe it's just me, but my immediate response is... really?  No.  I nicely inform them, if they want a chin with cage and supplies, they may check craiglist or something of the sort, or I let them know, I could even put a package together for them, of a chin, cage, etc... and they always come back with, oh, well, that's too much money, that's why they want me to throw in a huge cage and 6 months worth of supplies with their $75 chin, cause they only have $75.

Now... the money discussion will be saved for another time... but no.  Adoptions are not conditional.  We don't "do something for you" in order for you to adopt.

I've had such weird instances of this.  Awhile back, (and I know I blogged about this) we had the one person who wanted to adopt our guinea pigs... and totally would (!!)... if only we helped them list their kittens for sale.  What?  Sorry, no.  That's not how this works.  And for those wondering... even if we DID take in kittens, most shelters will not adopt out to someone who's currently surrendering an animal, for just about any reason.

But... the one I got the other day was just priceless, so I had to share with you.  I had a chin listed, a standard grey female for $75, and I received this email:

First off.... I really appreciate her telling me how much she will give me for my rescue animal!  How nice of her to inform me how much she will pay.  Going off this logic, I think I'll go to the Lexus dealership and tell them, I'll be happy to take on that one nice SUV for the $1 in change that I have in my pocket.  Think that'd work there?  No?  Well, it doesn't work here either!

And.... of course... we all know chins don't get shots and vaccines, and if that lady really thinks they do... then she clearly hasn't done any research, and doesn't need one as a pet.  AND... note, she'll ONLY adopt for a whopping $25, IF the chin has all the shots and vaccines.  So, basically, (let's pretend they need those for a second), she wants a completely vetted chin with all necessary everything (which costs money, of course)... for 1/3 of the asking price!  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha...... no.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Prey Animals

I've been getting asked a lot lately, about how people can get their chins to come around.  The best advice?  Give them time.

With as curious and cute as they are, it's easy to forget that they are prey animals.  At the end of the day, we're a lot bigger (and potentially, a lot scarier) than we realize.  Time (and bribing with treats, if the chins are old enough) really does work wonders.

Over time, the chins learn who cares for them.  They come to realize, hey, this person feeds me, and waters me, and gives me treats, and cleans my cage... and perhaps more importantly... they haven't eaten me yet... and they get used to us.  That's why you hear us, and other breeders / rescues, suggest that the new homes let their chins settle in.... so they have a chance to get used to what's around them, before more is thrown at them.

Case in point.  I purchased a breeder (well, several, but this one in particular) from a breeder who was selling out.  Put him in a pair with one of my nicest females.  Yeah... she beat the absolute crap out of him.  I noticed that she'd gone all ape-shit when he was about 5 minutes from dying.  He had all sorts of wounds on his nose and back of his neck, he was wheezing, he was bloody all over, his eyes were crusted shut and were tore up... you get the idea.  For about 2 months I had to pull him out of the cage everyday, twice a day.  He had to have his eyes opened up, and vetericyn put in them.  He wouldn't eat, so he got a few syringes of yogurt daily.  He got a water bowl in his cage, as it seemed to hurt him to lift his head, and so he wasn't drinking out of the bottle.  Now, mind you, this chin was already not crazy about me, before I had to burrito him every day and open his eyes and syringe feed him yogurt (which I don't recommend, this is an unusual situation).    He got to the point where if I even opened up the cage door, he would throw a hissy fit and start barking and kacking and making all sorts of unhappy noises at me.  Not my biggest fan.  Long story short, he's back to doing fine (though I'm hesitant to try another female).  The reason I mention this, though, is because now that he's able to eat on his own and I don't have to constantly pester him (and both eyes are open and clear, and everything's pretty much healed now), I've been trying to win him over.  I got in red clover flowers as a new herb the other day, and I gave him one from my hand.  He gets oats moreso than other chins (they were used in conjunction with the yogurt, before he'd officially switched back to pellets), and little treats and snacks and good pieces of hay and whatnot... because I know, with enough buttering up, he will come around, and eventually he'll see me as something other than the lady that burrito'd him for all that time to mess with his eyes and give him meds.  He may never think I'm the greatest, after all of that, but I know he'll dislike me less.

Long story short... there's no magic solution as far as getting a chin to like you, interact with you, or what have you.  It just takes time, and bribery (let's be honest, none of us are above treat bribery).


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Miscalculations

Had this happen to someone the other day, so I wanted to mention this really quick.

They'd paid for chins and shipping, and then decided to come pick up the chins.  They would have had their entire shipping refunded, but then they decided to go with an additional chinchilla.

So, I added up what they were getting, and subtracted that from what they'd already paid, and paypalled them a refund for the excess.

Later that day, I got an email asking about if they had been mistaken about the cost of some of the chins, because they thought the refund should have been $50 more than what I'd refunded them.  I told them I'd look into it, and when I did, they were correct, they were owed $50 more.

Now, this probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway -- I didn't intend to screw that up.  I was in a rush when the lady came to get her chins, and was already a little flustered, because that was the same day that I was going out of town and trying to get ready all chicken-with-head-cut-off-style, and I mistakenly wrote down the price of one of the chins wrong.

The reason I write this is to say this -- if you ever think something's not right, I hope you all feel that you can bring it up to me and tell me.   I'm not trying to screw anyone out of their money.  The prices are what they are, and if I wanted more, I'd just raise the prices.  This was just an honest mistake, and I'm glad that she brought it up, as I didn't even realize that I owed her more money.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Why Things Take So Long

So... I've had people ask, for example, on some of the items on the webstore, it says that items may take two weeks to ship (noticeably the houses and other larger wood items), and people have asked, why this is the case.

Well, I can give you a hint... it's not because I spend all my days writing blog posts (haha), but rather... because it is so rare for me to get help at the rescue.

Case in point.  Last week, Joel told me his cousin and the cousin's girlfriend were looking for work, and asked if I would try them out.  Sure!  I can always use help.  So, they come over and work for 3 hours, and they did just fine, so I told them, I'd be contacting them again.  Also worth mentioning, that day, I met a friend of these two, and also got that person's number because they also wanted the opportunity to work.

So there I am, thinking, great!  I'll actually have help!  Yeah...that was short-lived.

So, two days from then, I message the cousin and ask if they wanted to work on that day.  He said sure and asked what time, as he mentioned that he and the gf were out doing something right then.  I told him, the time didn't matter much, no rush, just when they were finished, come over.  He said ok.

Hours pass, until the point where I send a message asking if they still were wanting to come by that day.  Again, no response, so about an hour later, I send a message to the friend, asking if he wanted to work.  No response from him either.

Now... before you start thinking, ok these people have lives, what do you expect?... keep in mind that when they were here at the rescue, I specifically told them, along the lines of, even if they can't come, please message back and let me know, so I know if I'm expecting them or not.  They said sure, and of course, assured me that they would not be like the previous people who had just not showed up and not gotten back to me.

Yeah, about that...

So needless to say, I had no help.  All that day, I had left various tasks -- note, that I easily could have done -- for them, because I figured, ok, when they got there, they would work on those tasks, and I would work on the more difficult or harder to teach stuff, and them doing the simpler stuff would free up more time for me.  Well, fast forward to like 11 pm, and I still had none of that done, because stupid me, I kept thinking I'd get a text.

And while I acknowledge that something may have come up... I sent a reminder message, AND, keep in mind... I was expecting them.  I asked them to show up when they were done, and they said ok.  To me... this was acknowledging they'd show up... so I anticipated them showing up... which never did happen.  Maybe I'm old school, but if I told someone I'd show up and then wasn't able to show up, I would send them a short message saying, hey, something came up, can't come.  Takes a few seconds, and then I would have known not to be waiting on them.  So simple...and yet apparently, so difficult.

Ah well, those orders will have to wait for tomorrow, I guess....

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Patience is a Virtue...

...which no one possesses.

Case in point the other day.  Someone emails asking if the shipping on the webstore is correct, I guess the amount for shipping was more than the amount for the items.  Not unusual, that's why I refund the excess.

So I told her, no, probably not correct, but if she could wait a few days, I'd get back to her with correct shipping.  So I did.  She emails me back, and asks, what's the next step?

Mind you, I'm about a day behind on emails, so while I did SEE her email... it's not exactly the next in line to respond to.  I can only do so much, and I feel like people can wait a day (come on... it's not long to get a response) for me to get back to them.

Anyway, so I didn't respond immediately (shame shame, horrible person that I am), so then I got another email shortly after that basically said, with my name spelled wrong might I add (it's at the bottom of every email, how hard is it to copy?), that I NEED to get back to her and let her know what to do next and how soon can I ship the items?????

Honestly people, all emails like that make me want to do is say, if you're in that much of a rush, go elsewhere.  No joke.  I don't pretend to be able to churn out these items like a factory in China.  Am I sorry for that?  No!  For hand-made items, you have to be patient.... I'm only one person, and likely, your order is not my only one.    

But of course, I'm nice, so I responded by letting her know, nicely, that she is one of about 30 orders I'm working on right now (and I would have liked to have added, most likely #28-29, so NOT top of the list, people have been waiting a lot longer than her one day...), and I informed her that I am shipping out chins in a few hours, so that I have to do right this second, versus the orders which can wait a little bit usually.  I also informed her that the website does say (which she should have noticed, when adding the item to the cart) that it says on the houses, items may take 2 weeks to ship, and that is because I have to build the items and get them all ready and stuff.  All she asked for was a shipping quote... I don't honestly build everything, pack it, and all that, for a shipping quote, as quite a few people think that it's too much of a cost  (which is out of my control, but you know), so then I'd have wasted all that effort.  What I do do... is find a box that would be appropriate.  Weigh the box and weigh the items, add about another pound for packaging, and put that all, with dimensions, into the shipping calculator and get back to people.  If I don't have the exact item people want, then I will weigh something similar.

No offense to anyone, but a shipping quote doesn't move anyone to the top of the list to get their order done.  The only orders I try to get out absolutely first are the food orders, as I never know if people are running out of food, but the others get typically done in the order they are received, to be fair.

Anyway... what was almost comical about all of this... was that I realized that I hadn't sent another person an invoice either.... and I was going to do that, at the time when I saw the email from this lady.  In the time it took me to write out her email, I could have sent the invoice.  While I never would say this...I would have loved to have said... if you weren't so pesty, you'd already have it, since I wouldn't be wasting time writing back to you.  Which, sadly, is the truth.  If I have 10 minutes to work on something, and I know you need an invoice... but I see I have an email from you... I will check on that email, first, just to be sure there's no changes... well, probably after that email... your invoice will have to wait for another time... especially if I only have 10 minutes right then.

Time is precious.  There's never enough of it, and if you've ever been here volunteering, you know I'm constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off, going in 10 directions at once, since there's constantly so much to do.  And that's fine, but.. keep in mind, there's only so many hours in the day... try not to take away time with needless reminders (which it always is... emails that says the exact same thing as the email sent 2 hours prior), when one email will do.  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Playtime in Warm Weather

I know we've talked about air conditioning lately, and of course I've talked about playtime... so I wanted to have a little chat about playtime when it's warm out.

As we all know, chins should be kept at temperatures of 72 F or below.  

But what about playtime?  Well, that's a bit different.  Think about this for a second.  Let's say you're sitting around in a room, and you're comfortable, not cold but not hot, temperature wise.  Now, let's say that you decide to run around the room at full speed, bouncing off the walls.  Might you get warmer, and even venture to think that you might start thinking the room is a little too warm for this?  If you're not picturing this well, think of a gym.  You're not likely hot when you go in, but then you start working out, and start sweating.  All of a sudden, the room may not feel such a comfortable temperature anymore, even though the room temperature didn't change.

Same for the chins.  In the warmer months, they shouldn't be out for playtime, at all, if the house temp is over 70 degrees.  This is to prevent them from overheating and possibly getting heatstroke, which can be fatal.  They can (and do!) live just fine without playtime, so for their sake, no playtime over 70!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sponsor a Chin / Name a Chin -- Donations Post, Part 2

Ever want to donate a different amount than the $10 that's attached to both the sponsorship or name-a chin donations?  We have a regulation donation link on the webstore, here, but also on our donations page, near the top.  See here.  You can donate with either paypal or a debit / credit card, so there's options, and any amount is helpful!

If you're looking to donate something other than money, all sorts of things are helpful.  For example, some useful items you may have around the house:

  • empty toilet paper rolls / paper towel rolls
  • paper towels
  • clorox clean-up
  • simple green
  • white printer paper 
  • white vinegar
  • small animal bedding
  • old towels / clothing (can be ripped! we will use for rags)
  • index cards (we use for cage cards)
  • sharpies
  • ziploc baggies (any size, but quart or gallon are most appreciated)
  • plastic grocery bags 
  • paper grocery bags
  • cages 
  • dish soap 
  • bottle brushes
  • sponges / scrubbies / similar items
  • clean mascara brushes (for cleaning our water bottle tubes)
  • fleece
  • wood toys or toy parts
  • bubble wrap / packing peanuts
  • carriers 
  • laundry detergent (for washing our liners)
  • your time (come volunteer!)
And more.  Anything donated is appreciated, and if we can't use it here for the rescues, we can sell it at one of our garage sales, with the money coming back to the rescue to care for the chins.

If I had to pick one item as the top thing I'd want people to donate, it would be wood toy pieces.  It doesn't even have to be anything expensive, I've seen this item at Walmart and some Tractor Supply stores.. it's usually under $3.  You could even buy a couple at that price!  The reason the wood chews are so appreciated is because if my chew toy supply is dwindling  (and let's be honest, when is that NOT the case?), I will NOT go out and buy chew toys, but rather, I will cut up wood and make chew toys.  So, by donating wood blocks or anything of that sort (could also be hanging toys, toss toys, whatever), you save me a lot of effort because I will use what you donated, and I will not have to take time away from anything else, to make (cut and sand, drill and re-sand) the chew toys for the rescue chins here.

Anything is always appreciated!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sponsor a Chin / Name a Chin -- Donations Post, Part 1

Hi all.  Not sure if I've posted about this or not before, and I'm not going to bother looking, cause even if I have, I can just remind everyone about this.

Some people have asked about sponsoring a chinchilla or helping to donate stuff for the chins, and so awhile back, I put up the Sponsor a Rescue Chinchilla for a Month option on the webstore.  Here.  Feel free to click on it and see the actual post, but to make it easy for you, it says:

Ever wanted to help out, but not sure how?  Help us feed and care for our rescue chinchillas by sponsoring one! 
The average chinchilla goes through 2-3 pounds of food, 2-3 pounds of hay, 1+ pounds dust, and at least a portion of a chew toy... every month!  We estimate that this costs at least $10 per chinchilla per month.  While some chinchillas are adopted quickly, others stay here for quite some time.  We've had quite a few, less-adoptable-chinchillas, that have stayed at the rescue well over a year!  Of course, we provide whatever they need while they are here with us, but due to people's desire to directly help the chins, we have added this listing.
Just for example -- in 2016, we adopted out over 200 chinchillas!  While this did bring in quite a bit in adoption fees, we spent just shy of $27,000 (a loss of $4,000 from what we brought in), to run the rescue.  The costs of a few pounds of food here, a few pounds of hay there, really does add up!  
But you can help!   For $10 a month, you can sponsor one of our rescue chinchillas.  You can choose one to sponsor, if one really grabs your heart, but you don't have to... there are always chinchillas to feed and care for that your sponsorship can be applied to!  Every little bit makes a difference!
For sponsoring a chinchilla, you will get a donation thank you card mailed to you, with a photo of the chinchilla that you are sponsoring.  You will also be emailed updates on that chinchilla, and we will let you know when it has been adopted.  Finally, your name will be added to our donations page, as well as added to the listing of the chinchilla on our website, so other people can see your generosity. 

So, there were people who wanted it added... and yet... no one's felt the need to sponsor a chin yet.  Come on people, I know you're out there!  Maybe you just haven't seen it yet....

I follow a prominent horse rescue on facebook, Hi Caliber Horse Rescue, and for them, they also have something sort of like this, but to go a step further, when people donate, donators are encouraged to suggest names for the horses, which mean something and can have a story behind them.  And then, they'll say, oh this horse is named Dean, after someone's son Dean who died of cancer.  So, in the thought that maybe chin people feel the same way, here we go:  NAME a Rescue Chinchilla

Want to name a chin?  We'll share your story and why the chin's named that, and you'll get updates and info on your named chin, until it leaves the rescue to go into it's new adoptive home.

Continued tomorrow...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Air Conditioning

So... I almost feel like I shouldn't have to post this, as I'd like to think that most people are aware that chins need air conditioning (AC), but it's come up a few times lately, so it's worth noting.

Chins need AC.  They need to be at temps, 72 F and below, at all times.  They can withstand hotter temps, sometimes... depending on the chin... but do you want to bank on the fact that your chin is one of the ones that can withstand the higher temps?  I'd rather not.

I had someone drop off a chin the other day, and I put him in a cage, and she asked, "why do his ears look like that?"  She was referring to being able to see the veins in his ears, more noticeably than normally.

This isn't my picture, but to illustrate:


That picture came from here, which is a page talking about heatstroke in chinchillas.

Now, this is my picture, and this is what ears on a beige chinchilla should look like:


When you see all those veins, like in the first pic... not a good sign.  The chin is too hot, and needs to calm down.  If I saw that... I wouldn't be taking pictures (the site linked has the picture for educational purposes, but I mean in general), I would be doing everything to cool down that chin and hope it survives.

Now, the chin brought in didn't look quite that bad, but I told the person, it was likely that he got hot in the box on the ride over.  She then mentioned that she didn't have AC in the car, but had the windows open.  Oh boy.

Now, while the windows open would keep the car from getting excessively stuffy, it doesn't actually cool the air, and I would venture that it was the lack of AC and the chin in the box for awhile that toastied up the chin.  This all said, he's fine.  But it was a moment where I thought, I should write about this, just in case.

I was also talking with someone who I'm shipping to, upcoming here, about temperature, and I asked them if they have AC in their cars.  Now... the people shipping generally are a tad bit better off, money wise, as they can afford to spend (well, maybe not can afford to,... but they are spending) $200+ on shipping, so of course this person had air (they had a porsche and an infiniti, come on! of course they had air).  But the point is... not everyone does.

If you don't have air in your house, you probably should not own a chin.  A window unit is cheap enough, and does just fine... but they DO need it.

For car rides... if you don't have air in your car, please make me aware of this before you come to pick up your chin.  We will schedule the time early morning or late night, so as to keep the outside temperatures as low as possible while the chin is in the car.  A midday car ride, on a hot day, can easily kill a chin.  We actually had two chins, years ago, Tic and Tac, who both died of heatstroke after being brought to the rescue, after being in a hot car with no AC for 3 hours.  It's not a joke, they really do need their AC, so if you don't have, please advise.  We'll work it out.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Fancy Boxes / Labels for Shipping Supplies vs. Take Home Boxes

If you've adopted anytime recently, and not brought a carrier with you, you may have noticed we have new Take Home boxes.  It's been awhile now, but if you adopted in the past (think like more than maybe 8 months ago), you may remember that we used medium priority mail boxes to send home our animals in.  Some may think that's not professional if they'd like, but it wasn't even our initial idea -- the place where we got our prairie dogs from, as well as Ryerson Chinchilla (for supplies, though), and many others, also use priority mail boxes instead of carriers, as carriers can run a pretty penny.

Ever go to Petsmart?  They sell those cardboard pet carriers for $9.99.  Yikes.  See here 

Hardly cost effective to buy those in any quantity.  Granted, those are a big bigger than what we need, but at $10 a piece?  Not happening.

So, in the effort to keep costs down for the adopter, most places look for cheaper alternatives.  Hence, priority mail boxes come to mind, which are free.  Sure, they're not supposed to be used for that, but come on, despite the post office being in debt, so they say... postage keeps going up.  Do we believe that they're really broke?  Not really.  So, they could manage to have a few boxes disappear.  Anyway, this isn't a post about that (though, shipping costs are getting a bit ridiculous).

Back to the carriers.  So, last year, at the Kane County Pet Show, I believe, we had another rescue donate to us, some cardboard pet carriers.  Off the top of my head, I can't remember what rescue (but if you're from that rescue and reading this, thanks!!), but they gave us three boxes of them.  They said they'd ordered them for cats, and they were too small (and they would be).

So.... free carriers!

So, we started using them.  By the time we got to the third box, I was finding them mighty useful, and I didn't have to poke air holes in them and look all ghetto with the priority mail boxes, and I didn't have to tape them shut.  Win win.  So I went to look to see where I could find them and how much they would cost to continue to purchase.  First I found them on Amazon, and I bought a case off of there.  I figured, if they came from another supplier, it would be on the invoice, and maybe I'd be able to get them a little bit cheaper, buying them in bulk.

So I got the box, and lookie that, they were what I was looking for.  Something around $2-3 per carrier, which isn't horrible.

In case you haven't seen them, this is them:


They're big enough for a single adult chin, and I've even squeezed two weaning size chins in there.  Decent sized for what I need them for.

So after I got them from Amazon, the invoice said they came from MedVet.  So I went on their website.  Cheaper from there, but still close to $2ish per carrier, once shipping was figured in... if I was ordering a box or so at a time.  But... they have their website set up, it's something like (without looking it up), up to $100 of product is $10 to ship, up to $300 is $5 to ship, over $300 is free shipping.  So... to maximize what I was going to spend on shipping and boxes and get the best possible deal, I spent juuuust over $100, which is 8 cases of 12 (so 96 carriers), so I paid $5 shipping for 8 cases.  While these do fold flat... I had a box sized like it could fit a human-sized coffin show up on my doorstep a few days later.  I'm sure the neighbors were wondering what I'd ordered now.

Anyway, so that gave me a lot of carriers, and I would put shavings and a little hay in the carriers for the people to take home.  So, then I thought, what would make them even more professional looking would be a sticker.  So, I went to stickermule.com and ordered stickers, and got those.  Sticker only goes on one side, but good enough...  looks like this:

Great pic, I know, that one got stepped on... but I already  had this pic on my phone, and you get the idea.

With the sticker (which I ordered 200 of, so I'll be re-ordering carriers before stickers run out), these boxes run me right around $1.75ish per carrier.  Not bad, considering the chins are $50-600, so I can spend a few extra bucks on the carriers to send them home in (though for super long trips, I still suggest people bring their own, better ventilated and chew-proof carrier).

In case anyone wants the link, these are the carriers -- here

The reason I bring this all up is not just to tell you about our move from being el-cheapo on the carriers to actually having something nice, but because of a conversation I had with someone the other day about boxes used to ship out supplies.  For shipping out supplies, I could practically be a hoarder when it comes to saving boxes.  I have all shapes and sizes and I will try to find the size that best works for your package, so you don't end up paying more for shipping than needed.  However... that means someone gets the Mr. Coffee box:

Packages waiting for pickup in the AM

With the exception being that flat rate priority mail box of pellets, the other two boxes (other than Mr. Coffee) are used as well.  The small one is a Barkbox (and says so, in large print, on the long side) and the other one came from when I ordered something for the rescue.  So they're not as "perfect" as they look in the pic.

The conversation the other day, centered around the fact that, well, I now have these fancy carriers for the chins to go home in, the Take Home boxes, so why am I using second-rate boxes for shipping supplies?  Mainly to save you money, but... wait, no, all to save you money.  If you all want me to start going to office depot and paying $2-3 per box that I use, just so your wooden shelves and rosehips can arrive at your door in an un-blemished, unmarked box that's never been used before, by all means, let me know and I'll go pick up one for your order.

But for most people (probably just about everyone, as no one's ever actually complained yet), you want to save money, especially on shipping and handling.  I know I've wrote about the cost of items before, and this is another time when it's important.  Those herb samplers and supplements that cost $8.50?  I have a blog post on here, where I detailed out costs, and they cost me over $8.50, based on calculations, to make.  The toys?  If they've gone up, it's because I've realized, hey, $5 doesn't really pay for the hour it takes me to make two of them, especially when talking about the loofah toys, where I have to ship the loofah here, cut it up with the saw, dye it, let it dry, then cut and sand the wood pieces, drill and re-sand the wood pieces, cut the wire, and assemble this all and add a hanging clip.  Worth $5?  Not for me to make them, to be honest....more like $7 covers all the time, effort, and materials.  Same with the herbs.  If it's $1.50, I may be paying $1.25 for that amount of that herb, and let's not forget, I have to ship it here, bag it (those ziploc bags cost too!), and label it (and, with anything that I don't make, I have to pay for it, out of pocket, before I ever sell it... that adds up!).  The point behind all this is that there's not a lot of money to be made on an order.  Most items don't have even $1 of markup on them, and the cheaper items have very little, so while the rescue makes something... it's not $20 of profit on a $25 order, maybe more like $5 of profit on a $25 order.

So, if I was to buy boxes, which tend to run $2-3 depending on size, for every order... I have nowhere to absorb that cost, as I can't take it off of the profit of the order, or I'll be making negative money on some orders!  Therefore, I would have to add it to the cost of shipping.  If you've ordered, well, ever, then you know the shopping cart's a bit fun to deal with when it comes to calculating the shipping costs.  For example, I have an order going out in the morning... the cart calculated shipping for her at $61.50, and actual shipping came out to $11.22.  That will be upped to $12 to cover the cost of tape and other packing materials, and she will receive a refund of $49.50.  If I was buying the box, the box for her items would be likely a $3 box, so shipping would go up to $15, and she'd get a refund of $46.50.  Maybe not a big deal to some, she may look at it as, "hey, big refund!" either way, as many companies charge exorbitant shipping and don't refund a penny when shipping really is cheap, but for me,.... I question if it's worth the extra $3, just to have a pretty box.  As it is... she's getting the Mr. Coffee box, and getting $3 more back in her refund.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Carefresh

Wanted to quickly post about carefresh bedding, since a lot of people have been putting it down on their adoption forms lately.

Carefresh, just as a quick reminder for those that are unsure, is a recycled paper bedding sold at most major pet retailers, which is touted as being "the best" at keeping down odor and mess.  Super absorbent stuff.  It's recycled paper, so it has no smell or anything like that, so the people who don't like the smell of pine, often love this stuff.  This stuff:


Carefresh is safe bedding for your small animal, IF (and that's a big IF) they don't eat / ingest it.

If the chin (or any small animal really) decides the carefresh is tasty little popcorn kernels and decides to start chowing down, the same absorbency that causes carefresh to absorb their pee so well and keep the smell down so well.... causes it to swell.  That's fine in a chin cage, but in their intestines, that can cause a blockage, also known as an impaction.

If the chin / small animal gets impacted, they typically stop eating, as the food particles start backing up in their body.  So,.. they feel full and the food can't move out of their stomach (if they're backed up enough).  Vets prescribe motility  meds like reglan and cisapride (for upper and lower digestive tract, though don't ask me which is which) to keep the digestive tract  moving, and suggest stomach massages, playtime, anything to help try to re-start the digestive system, because if it sits long enough, then you deal with stasis, which is another problem.  But let's avoid that for a second, let's just assume we just have a blockage due to carefresh or plastic or something else.  You will be force-feeding the chin critical care and the motility meds for weeks / months, dealing with the tiniest of poos that may make their way out, hoping to re-start everything... and if you do, great.  In reality... most chins / small animals will die of an impaction, possibly without even discovering what it is.

The manufacturers of carefresh know that this is a problem.  Know how I know?  Because they let you know, right on the bag:


In case that's not coming up as being super readable on your screen, the relevant part reads:

"...there is a potential risk of impaction if your pet ingests a sufficient amount of bedding.  Observe your pet and seek veterinary care if you suspect impaction of the GI tract."

So... if you put down carefresh as your bedding-of-choice on your adoption form, I will mention this (cliff notes version, anyway), and will highly suggest you either be super diligent of your chin's behavior and eating habits while using it.... or not use it at all.

While I have never had an issue with carefresh, that's because... I almost never use it.  You knew that was coming, didn't you?  I only use it in cages where the pan is several inches below the chins / critters and the chins /critters cannot reach the bedding.  I have two cages like this -- the pagoda-type cage I have right at the entrance, which is typically used for chins that I am chin-sitting, and the prairie dog cage.  I will also use it for guinea pigs, which I don't find tend to eat the bedding and don't feel the need to taste-test everything put in front of them.  Oh and would you care to know why I use it at all, knowing what I do?  Because people donate it!  I want to say that carefresh is the bedding that is brought in most often with chinchilla surrenders to the rescue.  For the sake of not just throwing away something that people spent their hard-earned money to buy, I use it for the few cages which I can, which are safe to use it in... but for most cages, it's not safe, in my opinion.  I've usually got a pretty good stockpile of it, since I can't use it for most cages that I have here.  But... some people choose to use it, and for those, I just want them to be aware that there may be potential risks with that.  Hence, this post.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Ryersons Show Last Weekend

So, I know I promised a post about the show, and some people asked me where we stay and what goes on with all of that, so I wanted to finally get around to that.

We left Friday morning, and because of traffic, drive times, and whatnot, arrived in Jenera, Ohio around 6-7 pm.  For some shows, we stay at a hotel.  When that's the case, the first thing we do is go to the show hall, drop off the chins, and then go eat dinner and back to the hotel for the night.

This show and some of the Ohio shows are a bit different.  We're one of the lucky ones (and I work for Jim, so I suppose I get this luxury all the time), where we're friends of other breeders, and are able to stay with Jim for the shows.  He can put up about 14 or so people in his house for the local shows, and often the house is quite filled with breeders!  So for this show, we went to the ranch, dropped off the chins in the barn.  Hay'd and watered the chins and went up to the house.  There was only one other breeder there at the time (people kept arriving until about 2 am), so right then, we all helped with various stuff that needed to be done around the house, in preparation of everyone else arriving.

Eventually, other people started arriving.  We'd all go down to the barn to have them put their chins there, and then back to the house.  They'd already ordered a pizza by the time I got there, so we had some pizza.  Jim has a popcorn machine, so we went down to his Man Cave, had popcorn and played pool the rest of the night.

In the morning was the show.  The show was at Ryersons, which is 72 miles from Jim's place.  I only know that because he's mentioned it so many times.  So, we all drive there.  First thing is to go up to the show table and get numbers for the animals.  All the animals have a numbered tag on their cages, which also has more info on it (some of which the judge can see, some they can't), about age, sex, birthdate, which animal it is, and so on.

So you get those cards, fill those out, put those on the cage, and grooming begins.  For chinchilla grooming combs, apparently there's everything from a size 8 (large spaces between the tines) to a 00 (tiny spaces between the tines), but what I have is a 3, 2, and 1.  So I start with the 3, then once that goes through the fur easily, move to a 2, and then a 1.  Once those have all gone through the chin, you take the smallest comb (in my case, a 1) and press it against the fur, but just on the top, to remove the dead fur that's sitting there.  Sort of how you'd brush a dog or cat.  That helps remove more of the dead fur.  Then, the tail gets trimmed.  There's various ways people do it, but the main thing is that the fur sticking far off the tail is trimmed off (with scizzors, nothing fancy), so as to remove any discoloration on the chins from that tail fur touching the (dirty) shavings.  Once that's trimmed off, out come the lint rollers.  I used to use one, now I've come to use several, as it is mighty difficult to remove a sheet from a lint roller while also holding onto a squirming chin.  The chins get a few rolls with each of the lint rollers, until they're coming off reasonably clean,  Then, the chin needs to be fluffed back out, so you take one hand and hold the tail, the other hand holds the ear.  You put the front feet of the chin on the ground and you wiggle.  No joke.  It almost looks like a wet dog shaking, and it helps fluff up the fur back on the chin, and then the chin goes in the show cage.

So, I groomed 9 of my 11, and then classification had already begun, so I figured I would just not groom the last two, so I just trimmed the tails, did the final touch with the 1 comb, lint-rolled the chins, and wiggled the chins, and in they went.

Show started, we took home a Phase Champion with one of our standards, a 1B with another standard, then a 1st with another standard, and then some 2nds and 3rds for some younger animals.  Not too bad.

During the show, when a chin places a certain way, they get a colored sticker on their cage.  Blue is first place, red is second, and so on.  At the end of the show, the show table compiles whatever ribbons everyone has gotten, and that's when everyone picks them up.

We also hadn't yet paid for showing the chins and lunch, so we did that after the show as well.  It's usually $4-5 per chin to show, and $5 for lunch at most of the smaller, non-catered shows.

So after the show, since we were at Ryersons, everyone wants to get supplies, myself included, so I picked up some water bottles (the infamous Ryerson water bottles that I sell), along with some extra water bottle parts, springs, rivets (for the collars) and whatnot.  Everyone else picked up their supplies as well, and most people who'd been at Jim's the night before, came back, and again we repeat the pizza, playing pool. and generally having a good time... and then we all left in the morning.

More questions?  Let me know, I'll write more about it.