Thursday, November 30, 2017

Checks and Other Methods of Payment

Wanted to blog about this really quickly, talking about payment methods.  In general, for the average person here at the rescue, we DO NOT take checks.

Of course, there's always someone out there that heard, oh I took a check from so-and-so, so they think I'll take a check from them.  If I've known you for years and you've been coming here forever, I may take your check.  That's a very small number of people, and most of them I have their numbers saved in my phone.  I'm sorry if that's not you.  I love you all, but I don't want 250 new contacts every year.  The average person that adopts, I see them once (at adoption), and never again (at least, not in person... lots of people do keep in touch).  So, if they write a bad check, I'm out a good chunk of change, plus of course the chinchilla (or other animal), possibly cage, supplies, you get the idea.

There's plenty of other ways to pay!  It seems that very few people have cash anymore, but surprise, we prefer cash!  There's no fee associated with being paid adoption fees and supplies and all that in cash, and then I have change for the people who do pay cash.

We also do credit cards.  Unfortunately, we're unable to accept American Express or any type of gift cards (I know, I know, I have those rebate gift cards from my dog heartworm meds too), but your average credit card or debit card -- VISA, Mastercard, Discover... we can take those!  We get charged a 3% (ish) fee for every transaction, so if you charge $500 (which does happen... two baby chins & a cage), we lose $15 to fees.  Not a big deal, but our profit margins are low as it is, so hence, we prefer cash.

And, we can do paypal.  I'm happy to send out invoices, if people want, or people can just paypal to my email address.  If I send out an invoice or people buy items on the webstore, it charges a fee as well... I believe there's like a 30 cent transaction fee plus about 3% again.  Again, not the end of the world, but it does add up.  Last year, we had ~$800 in credit card fees and ~$330 in paypal fees.  For those of you doing the math, yes, that does mean we brought in a good chunk of change... but as we are usually pretty well hovering on the break-even line year round, that combined $1,130 would have been nice to have in the Fuzzy Fund bank account, rather than going towards fees.  Now, with paypal, it is possible for people to send us money through the "friends and family" option.  Technically, that's not for business transactions, so I don't ask people to do that, because I understand how it is.  When we're talking about paypal, I usually give out my paypal email and tell them they can send a payment (and if they send it friends & family, awesome, if not, no biggie), or I can send them an invoice.  Whichever is fine, that way no one gets all upset.

But anyway, these are your options!  I think between cash / card / paypal, that covers most ways people want to pay.  I have been asked about Chase Pay (I can't think of exactly what it's called... if you have it, you know what I'm talking about), but we don't bank with Chase, and their fees for banking are high, so I've never looked into it.  But other than that, there's options, so if you can't afford a chin in cash, you can pay with a card, or paypal money over from a bank account, or whatever works for you. :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

I'm always amazed at the new scams

Always.  Like every time a new one comes out, it's like... do people REALLY fall for this?

This was how today's went:

Their text: Crested geckos -- 10 months - 4 years -- M/F -- SALE!!  -- For sale  STILL  UP FOR SALE???  Plz let me know ASAP

now to start off with... a text starting like that is 99.999999999999999% of the time a scam, but just for shits and giggles...

My text:  they are available

Their text:  Sound good... Cash is my payment method and when are you going to be available?

My text: tomorrow and Friday most of the day... when are you thinking?  Which one are you interested in?

Their text:  Ok I will need to talk to you directly from my phone... Do you received 6 digit code now?

Clearly a scam, I'm not doing anything or any sort of phone call where I have to put in a code, but anyway...

My text:  I have family over right now, I can't talk at the moment

Their text:  Just send the code I will text you from my phone to make arrangements about the cash payment

My text:  For which gecko?

Their text:  10 months
Their text:  give me the code please

awfully pushy, no?

My text:  Before you do payment or anything, you need to fill out an adoption form.  I can send that in an email if you'd like or you can download it from the website

Their text:  do you get the 6 digit code?

My text:  Bye-bye scammer

Blocked their number. 

I looked this up, after blocking them.... if you'd like to read more than what I explain below, it is on the google voice help forum, here --!topic/voice/w3G384KPh7k

Anyway, the idea is that they are trying to set up a google voice account (or another similar account).  THEY need a verification code to do so.  When you get the verification code and give it to them, THEY are issued a Google Voice number, with your phone number as the forwarding number.  I suppose then you get a lot of spam phone calls... otherwise, I'm not sure exactly what benefit this would give them.  But anyway, I am playing no part.  Thankfully, there is a way to get out of this, if people have accidentally given over the code.  I suppose I deal with enough of these scams and fake people posing as potential adopters to be able to spot these things, but everyone may not have the same experience with 10-20 calls/texts a day from random numbers that I do.

Tis the season... to scam everyone.  Or something like that.  Be happy, come adopt a chinchilla. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

I am thankful for...

So, today being Thanksgiving, I wanted to post a quick post about things I am thankful for.

First, volunteers.  I have Aleks and Alex right now who have both been spending a good amount of time here, helping out at the rescue.  I also had an adopter, Jen, come by for supplies yesterday, and spend two hours volunteering.  Super thankful.  We've been getting a lot done.

Second, people who read.  Maybe this sounds simple, but I get about 10 emails a day, that somehow demonstrate that someone didn't read something I took the time to make sure was spelled out.  For example, I got an email from someone who can't find geckos in their area and the email basically said it'd be great if we shipped.  It says, both on the crested gecko page, and on all the ads I posted for the geckos, "sorry, we cannot ship these geckos."  I'm sorry for the person who won't be able to get one now (well, from me at least), but I can't help that they can't read.  Or choose not to, whichever.  But I am thankful for the people who DO read, as then I don't waste time responding to emails like this.

Third, I'm thankful for the people who research.  I run across waaaaaay too many people who tell me that their chins love cranberries and all sorts of not good things, but there are also a good amount of people who tell me how much their chins love their cheerios, rosehips, and other safe treats!  Also, the people who have safe cages, and feed safe foods, because they have researched and done their homework, without me having to pick apart their adoption form and explain why snickers bars aren't appropriate treats.

Fourth, I'm thankful for the people who adopt, and otherwise support the rescue through buying supplies and toys.  Without our adopters, we'd just be another hoarder (haha), and of course, without the sale of the other items, we couldn't afford to run the rescue.

And finally, I'm thankful for the people who donate.  We've had a good amount (well, more than our usual, which is next to nothing haha) of donations lately.  Several people donating bedding and food, some toys and such.  We had someone donate $1,000 (you read that right) back in October, which was awesome, as we had a slow few months and were low on rescue funds.  Even the little stuff is appreciated.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

Blue diamonds vs. violets vs. sapphires

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

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

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

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

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

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

standard, sapphire carrier, violet carrier
standard, sapphire carrier

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

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

standard, violet carrier, sapphire carrier
standard, violet carrier

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

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

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

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

This is a violet:

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

And this is a blue diamond:

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

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

Friday, November 17, 2017

Volunteers of All Types!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it works!  Yaya.

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

And look at this...

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Playtime At Young Ages

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Interesting People

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

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

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

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

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

Them:  Ok, I want him

Immediate thought... which one?

Me:  which one?

Them:  standard grey

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

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

Them:  Any way you could send pics?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reasonable, yes?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Volunteering -- boring? Never!

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

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

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

So, the master list looks something like this:

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

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

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

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

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

Our booth when we left on Friday evening

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Arriving on Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

All Animal Expo -- November 4th

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Scheduling Appointments Around Expos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That is all.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Updates -- Sprite

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

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

This is Sprite:

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Waiting List / Surrenders

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Loose Chins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 2, 2017


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

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

Check out the new fun patterns and designs here --> ... and of course, click the little "2" on the right hand side, to see page 2 

New beds for the furballs!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Color in Pics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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