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!  

Monday, October 2, 2017

Volunteers!

Have you been one of the people who've volunteered lately?  If you have, thanks!  We appreciate it!  

I wanted to share a few of the things our volunteers have done lately, as often people think that it's just cleaning cages and cleaning more cages.  They have done:

  • cleaning cages (well, you know)
  • feeding the critters
  • haying the critters
  • watering the critters
  • filling and refilling our water filter
  • weighing the critters
  • dyeing loofah for toys
  • sanding wood blocks for toys
  • drilling and re-sanding wood blocks for toys
  • assembling toys
  • cleaning / organizing wood shop
  • helping pack up orders
  • washing food bowls / water bottles
Does this sound like fun to you?  Well, ok, maybe even if it doesn't, this is stuff that is done, some daily, some weekly, to keep the rescue running!  Want to help?  Let us know!  

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Chinchilla-Shaped CuddleBuddies & Heart / Flower Hammocks

So, only like one person has seen these so far, and I totally don't have a picture (sorry), but we will soon have some chinchilla-shaped cuddlebuddies available!  Our hammock person has been working on sewing these out of some of our scrap fabric, so watch out for these!

We are also working on more of the heart-shaped-hammocks.  Maybe you didn't see them, but they were super popular and sold super quick.... not sure if they ever made the website, they may have all sold in person at the rescue and at the expos.  But they will be back soon.  My hammock person sends me pics, and so I want to share some of them with you.



And the flowers hammocks...




...so watch the webstore, as these will eventually be coming around!