Sunday, January 14, 2018

Reading

Now... they teach kids how to read in grade school, well, probably before that.  But apparently the skill is forgotten along the way, because ALL my gecko ads specify, "we can't ship."

So... what do almost ALL my emails about geckos ask?  "Can you ship?"

I even had one today, this was good -- can I ship the geckos to another country?  NO. 

I actually emailed that guy back and said, nicely, I'm not even able to ship them within the country, much less out of country, sorry, best of luck finding one by you!

But I mean... it freaking SAYS, if anyone would READ, "These geckos are located in Hammond, Indiana (46324).  Sorry, but we are unable to ship these geckos."

I might as well have written it in Chinese for how well people read it!  I mean jeez. 

I even had someone from Brazil ask about me shipping them a gecko the other week.  Even if I could... can you IMAGINE what that would cost?  Oh, $40 for the gecko, $1000 for shipping.  I mean... is it just me, or are people not being realistic?  And forgetting how to read?  It's a useful skill, people, pick it back up.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Sometimes I Just Don't Get People

This is one of those case-in-point times when I should have had a deposit.  I'm down to two adoptable female rats, and I had this one person who was (according to them) super interested.

Our conversation went something like this:

Dec. 28 (Thursday):

They ask me to send pics of the remaining females, as one of their ratties passed that day.  I tell them, I'll send pics later that day, and they thank me, saying they want to get two buddies for their remaining rat, before she gets too sad.  They then ask, am I free that weekend?  I tell them my availability, and send them a few pics and a video of the available females.  They say they want one of each color, and I ask when they're wanting to come by.  They say they can come a certain time, but I already have an appointment then, so I ask about a slightly later time.  They ask where I'm located and tell me where they're located.  So they text later in the wee hours of the morning, and I don't see it until the following day.

Dec. 29 (Friday):

We set the appointment for 1 pm Sunday and I give them my address and house description.  They ask what the adoption fee is, I tell them.  They say that that sounds good. 

Dec. 30 (Saturday):

Get a text, they can't make it at the time we scheduled for the following day, as they have to work until later.  I ask if they want to come after work, they say that's fine.  We agree that they'll text me when they get off from work and then they can head over.  They say they'll see me tomorrow and send a cute pic of the rat all cuddled up in her bed.

Dec. 31 (Sunday):

This was the day I must have eaten something bad or something, because I was not feeling well and stayed in bed all day.  So I texted this person, asking if we could reschedule, and they asked when was a good day.  I suggested that I would text them the following day, and we could set something up.  They said that was good

Jan. 1 (Monday):

I get a text from them, asking when would be a good day for them to come.  I list my schedule for the entire week, starting with later that day, figuring that since they're antsy, they're going to want to come right away.  They tell me that Saturday after 6 would be good for them, and they ask me to save them two girls (at this point, I still had four).  So, we confirm which colors they want and set the appointment for 6:30 on Saturday.  I tell them, if anything comes up, let me know.  They respond, telling me that they're not working and have nothing planned, so they will be there.

Jan. 2 (Tuesday):

I get a text asking if they could come the following day around 5 pm.  I text back, saying that'd be fine... but I don't hear back and it's starting to get later in the late evening, so I text back again, asking if they are officially wanting to come the next day around 5, and I let them know, I just need to know, so I can plan other appointments and plan the rest of that day.  I get a text back, they tell me they'll just come Saturday.

Jan. 4 (Thursday):

They text me, asking, "still looking good for Saturday?"  I tell them yes, I have the remaining two girls here for them.  They say that's good, they'll see me Saturday.

Jan. 6 (Saturday):

They ask for my address, I give it to them (for the second time).  They say they'll see me at 6.  We'd had the appointment intentionally scheduled for 6:30, as I'm usually walking in the door at 6, so I tell them as much, and ask they try to show up closer to 6:30.  They say no problem, and ask what the adoption fee is, again.  I tell them.  They ask if they need to bring a box, I tell them I have cardboard pet carriers.  They say that sounds good.

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

Probably needless to say, I would not be writing this... had they shown up.  After ALL OF THIS, they were a no-call, no-show.  Oh, and I should mention, I texted them about an hour after they should have shown up, asking if they were still coming.  No text back.  About a half hour after that, I sent another text, thinking that maybe if they'd deleted the texts, they wouldn't know who I was, so in the second text, I specified, you know, this is Ashley with NWI Chinchilla Rescue, we're the ones with the rats up for adoption, I was holding two females for them for their 6:30 appointment.....  no response whatsoever to any of these texts.

Sure, something could have come up.  Sure.  They also could have taken 2 seconds to text me and let me know... or maybe even the next day or the following -- nope! 

This is why I now have the policy where I won't hold animals without a deposit.  I was trying to be nice, again.  Stupid stupid, apparently, because this is a perfect example of how I get all walked over.  I had several people who emailed, during the time I was holding the rats for this person, that I told, sorry, I already had people who were going to adopt.  I even had one person who had messaged when I still had four available, and I told her, I'd let her know if any of the appointments fell through.  Well, I messaged after this one person fell through... they still haven't even gone into messenger to look at the message.  So tell me, what's the purpose of being nice?  These rats could have potentially already been in someone's home, being loved on, but no...because I was trying to be a nice person and hold them for someone -- someone who didn't even have the common courtesy to tell me they weren't coming after all that long conversation, mind you -- they're still here.  So tell me again, what good did it do for me to be nice?

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Shipping and Other Costs

For the fourth time TODAY, I have had someone ask me, why is shipping so expensive?

The simple answer:  because the airlines charge a lot.

The more complicated answer: 

(1) price of flight
(2) price of carrier that is constantly scrutinized by the airlines upon arrival, which I actually get a discount on, because I help make the carriers
(3) price of my time for doing paperwork / driving, which is at least somewhat valuable (if only to me)
       (3a) buyer contact me, wanting to ship
       (3b) I explain shipping
       (3c) buyer asks further questions
       (3d) I answer questions, and link you to my shipping info page
       (3e) buyer asks more questions, undoubtedly all of which are covered on the shipping info page
       (3f) I answer further questions
       (3g) buyer agrees to pay for shipping
       (3h) I call airline, get possible flights
       (3i)  I contact buyer, list flights
       (3j)  buyer contacts back, lets me know what flight is good
       (3k) I contact airline, flight is booked, now that too much time is passed
                ------repeat 3h through 3k until appropriate flight is found and booked-------
       (3l)  I get carrier and all necessary paperwork ready the night before (2-ish hours)
       (3m) I get chin and carrier ready to go in the morning
       (3n) I drive to airport (1-1.5 hours)
       (3o) I sign my life away at the airport, so buyer's chin can ship
       (3p) I drive home
       (3q) I email / text buyer how the crate opens
       (3r) I email buyer all paperwork that needs to be completed

I know I've broken down costs in one of these blogs before, so I won't do it again, but I want to say it literally worked out to me possibly making like $20-30 on shipping.  Which is fine, and I'm not complaining, but look at all the time that goes in... so you can imagine why I might get frustrated when people start complaining about the cost, the grand majority of which I can do nothing about.  If the carrier is over weight... like if I'm shipping one chin and chin+carrier is OVER the 10 pound limit (extra, ah, "fluffy" chin), I have to pay an additional like $50 to ship for the next weight class... so then I'm at -$30 to ship a chin (when charging $200).  It's not me setting the price, it's just more or less recouping what I have to pay to get the chin to you.

Same with shipping on supply orders.  Usually I refund a good chunk of change when people pay too much in shipping -- but I can't control that one water bottle might cost $10 to mail to California.  I don't set those rates, I just pack up the box, weigh it and put the weight and measurements in, and print out the label.  The post office sets the rates, and oh by the way, they're going up again super soon.  Buy now, before they go up.

I will repeat.  I don't set the rates.  If they're too rich for you, that's perfectly fine...but I can't do anything to lower them.  Sorry.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Viewpoints

So, I was told the other day that someone saw, in one of the chin groups on facebook, that someone had seen us at one of the expos, and had snapped a pic of our booth and posted it on there, saying how we were horrible and totally had a ton of people impulse-buying chins, and we don't care about finding good homes, and yadda yadda.

In the future, this person is going to tag me, if I'm in the group, so I can share how adoptions work.

But here's why I mention this -- and I'm sure this falls on deaf ears for the people making the accusations -- but you know... if any of them would, you know, actually talk to us, they'd learn that none of this is the case.  If people have incorrect assumptions about chins, we correct them.  I'd rather someone come talk to me, and find out, you know what, a chin isn't the right pet for them... as opposed to adopting, that's great. 

Undoubtedly, a few of you have heard the story of the one guy who adopted a pair from us on Black Friday, where the guy had expressed he wanted "cuddly" chins, and how I'd explained that that's not really how chins are.  He said he understood, and took them home... only to return them about a week or so later.  Of course, that's not the ideal situation.  He had to learn for himself.  Despite him hearing me say that chins are not cuddly, and despite him expressly telling me that he did understand, and he understood he'd only really be holding them for short periods of time, he took them home... and determined (surprise, surprise) that what I told him was the truth, and that's not what he was looking for.  THAT is what I am trying to head off. 

I'm not trying to convince anyone that chins are great pets.  If you don't think so, fine.  Some people do, some people don't, but I'm not a salesman, trying to sell you chins.  I want to find these chinchillas homes that will hopefully have them for the rest of their LONG lives.  If I didn't care about chins, I'd just go around, without rescue adoption forms, and tell people, oh yeah, feed whatever you like, care for them however you like... just fork over the $$ and you can have the chin.  And you know that's not how it works.  Everyone gets a care packet if they take a chin home. 

The interesting thing is this -- I spend MORE TIME educating people who email / call / text / message on FB / see at expos -- more time educating those, than the typical people who come to adopt.  Many people coming to adopt are return customers, who were happy with their first chin from here and want to add a second furry family member.  They don't have to be educated a second time.... more often, time is spent educating people who've never seen a chinchilla before, and are curious what it is, and how it's cared for... or maybe their kid asked for one, and they want to do research before they buy one.  So, we tell them the positives, negatives, and so on.  I don't say they're a great pet and hide the fact that you will find poo in your bra next week.  There's good and bad things about every pet, chins included, and all of that is outlined in the care packet, and of course, if we talk to you, it's mentioned as well. 

But go ahead and tell me that we don't care and don't make sure the chins are going to good homes.  While I'm not going to go as far to do home checks, pardon me for doing expos, where we actually can be out in front of the public and get more visibility.  Should I be sorry for wanting more people to learn about chinchillas and their care?  Cause I'm not.  If a chinchilla isn't the right pet for someone, then by all means, they can go get something else, but if you ever think I don't care where they end up, you are sorely mistaken.  By all means, before you accuse me and anyone with me at these expos of not caring about the animals, come talk to us and see.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Volunteers

So, the other day we had Aleks here volunteering.  She came and fed the chins, cleaned some empty guinea pig cages for their next inhabitants, then helped feed and mist our geckos, and then she worked on sanding toy parts, so we could later assemble some of the zany loofah toys. 

Sounds like that all should be quick, but that was about 4 hours worth of work!  And that was four hours that I was able to work on other stuff -- I booked a flight for shipping a chin, I answered emails, and so on.  That's the beauty of volunteering -- there's a lot of easy stuff that almost anyone can do, and if someone else can do it, then my time is freed up to do stuff that's harder to delegate.  So of course, we appreciate our volunteers!

We have Colette & Devon (our wonderful hammock-helpers) coming to volunteer later this month, and they'll be here a good part of the day, helping with whatever I come up with.  Can't WAIT!  There's never enough people helping, but even an hour or two, here or there, really does make a difference.  Someone else can feed?  Yay.  Saves me at least 30 minutes, if not longer.  Every little bit helps!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Chins Getting Along

Lots of people are telling me lately, they don't want to bring a new chin home, unless it gets along with their current chin.  And I get it, ideally, they want one cage with two chins.

No one can guarantee any two chins will get along.  Not me, not Jim, not any hoity-toity breeder out in wherever.  It's just not something you can guarantee.

You can have two chins, both of which had siblings that they got along with.  Both of which got along with other chins (not their siblings) in the past.  Put them together, they may get along.  Or, they may kill each other.  How do you know?  Well... you really don't.

You may have chins that get along with every chin ever!!  Social-butterfly-chin!  But you put them with the specific buddy chin and they hate them.  For no good reason, but they sure don't like them.  Or, you can have a chin that hates everybody... but does enjoy the company of one random chin. 

You see, it's a crapshoot.

What it comes down to is this -- if you're not prepared to either divide your cage or have a separate cage for every single chin you bring home... it may not be a great idea for you to bring home multiple chins.  Not saying that chins can't get along... a LOT of what I have at the rescue right now is pairs... they DEFINITELY can get along and can be buddies... but... there's no way to know, ahead of time, if any two chins will get along, prior to pairing them.  So... you always run the risk that they won't get along, and that you will have two separate chins that don't like each other.

Sure, you can work on introducing them to each other, joint playtimes, swapping cages... I'm not saying this stuff can't work... but most people don't honestly want to put in the time and effort... they want to open the cage, place the second chin in the cage, and be done with it.  That just doesn't always work.  Just be aware.


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Prices

I swore I wasn't going to start this new year complaining.... but you all give me so many opportunities! 

I can't tell you how many emails I get (3 today, alone... and it's barely noon!) where someone emails and says, in so many words, hey, I like this chin, I want to get it.... and then is FLOORED when I tell them the price (and of course, doesn't adopt). 

Of course, there's always the outliers like the curlies or curly carriers, where they look vaguely similar to the other chins, but are higher priced ($350-600), due to genetics.  Those, I can understand when people see them and don't realize how much they are.  But... I'm not talking about those.  No...  I get people all the time who are like, ok, they read on the website that I have a 5 year old standard grey female... and if you look at the website, I have several others that are vaguely around the same age range and color... all for $75.... and so I tell them, ok, that specific chin is $75, and they're like HOLY SHIT I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE $10!!!!!! 

...the best is when that's followed by, "well, $10 is all my daughter can afford."  Time to get a hamster.

If you're unsure of the price... ask.  It's not that hard, I promise.  Or better yet, if you're wanting to stay below a certain price... let me know.  It's SUPER HELPFUL when people are like, "my budget is $200."  Because then, I just won't show them a $300 chin, or if they point out that one, I will mention, hey, it's over budget. 

That's almost another funny thing... I've had several people over the Christmas season, where I've asked what their budget is, and they're like, well, if the kid likes it, we'll just get it.... only to have them balk at a $150 chin (and let's be honest... very few babies are $150 or under... only two colors to be exact).  If you want to stay under a certain price range, that's perfectly fine!  I don't care, other than to help guide you to whichever chin is right for you.  I'm not going to think you're cheap, I just want to help you find the right chin.  So, by all means, if you have a budget, let me know what it is, and don't say, "oh we'll pay whatever..." if you really won't.

Friday, January 5, 2018

"Picking" A Chin

"What are you looking to adopt?"

Answer:  A senior male, 10+ years old, in perfect health, oh and neutered

Let me pull out my wand and create one for you.

That's not how rescue works. 

This isn't like creating a painting, where you can tell someone you want it in blue, and they make it in blue.  I don't have chins of every age, perfect health (HA!  most 10 years olds that make it here are on death's door), and much less... neutered!... 

The chins that come in, are the chins that come in.  I'm happy to tell you what's here, but a lot of people lately are wanting very specific things.  That's fine.  But I can't produce a white chin with a smiley face on it's back.  Or, oh, they saw this neat chinchilla on chinchillas.com and it sold for $3,000, but surely I have one just like it, right?  Oh, and it should be a rescue, no doubt, so $100 is too much for them... but like, identical to this --

http://www.chinchillas.com/listings/details/index.cfm?itemnum=1166678502  (scroll down in the link for pics)

Hold on while I get out my spray paint....

No, but seriously.... rescue is rescue.  90% of the rescue chins that come in are standard grey adults.  They just are.  That's what people have as pets, especially when they get them from the pet stores, which mainly stock... standard greys... so it's really not surprising.  I can't tell you how many times people ask if I get the angoras (longhairs) in at the rescue.  Heck no.  If someone pays $3k for a chinchilla, you can bet that if they don't want it anymore, they can at least resell it for a few hundred (and they will, easily), not drop if off at the rescue.  And really, if I got one in... sorry, ya'll, it's MINE.

I rarely get people any more that are like, let me come see the chins, see what I like.  For babies, yes.  For adult rescues, people are like... "well, what do you have that's under $100, so when my kid kills it, I haven't spent a lot?"  These chins are worth something too!  Sure, you can't hand pick some neat color or markings or whatever, but what ever happened to just enjoying the pet because you enjoy the pet?  Not because you can say you have some fancy color.  Seems everyone has that "I want to rescue an animal" mentality... but lately, only if the rescue animal is somehow super neat.  Sad to say... they're usually pretty normal, standard greys.  Usually not with the greatest personalities, even.... across the board, animals that end up at a shelter aren't often thrilled to be there, and haven't always been cared for the best, prior to that, so that's another slight pet peeve.... they're NOT going to always be these super friendly, awesome pet that you always wanted.  Sometimes yes, sometimes no....

But the point is, people are starting to have these unrealistic expectations of what rescue animals are... and often... they're just not what people are hoping for.  Sorry?  Love them for the animal they are, not what you hoped they would be.