Monday, April 29, 2019

Give and Take

So, this was actually something else brought up by a new foster, that I thought was kind of interesting, and so, I wanted to touch on.

I've always asked fosters to sign the foster contract (which they may or may not think applies to them, despite signing it, but that's beside the point)... but the one thing I do require is that all fosters let me take a copy of their ID, usually a driver's license.

Now, the actual reasons for this -- several things.  First, should I not be able to read their chicken-scratched address, I have a typed out version of it.  Second, should I ever need to go to their house for any reason, I already have the address and don't need to waste time asking for it.  Third, should a potential adopter ask me how far they are away from the foster, I can figure it out... literally to the foster's address.  Last, should they run off with my animal and supplies, I know where to find them. 

I always assure the fosters, I do not give out their address, and should any potential adopters be coming to their home, they themselves will be the one talking with them and giving out their address (and of course, they are not required to let potential adopters come to their home -- the other option is for them to bring the animal back to the rescue, where it would be adopted out here).  Basically, I assure them, I'm not using their info / ID information for evil.  Bwahahahaha.

So, the other day, one of the fosters said, well, I am entrusting them with an animal, and that's a big thing, so they feel they can entrust me with their information.  Basically, the way fostering works is that the foster home gets to care for an animal while it's in the process of being adopted, and they have to send photos and info routinely about the animal.... in exchange, I need their info. 

The reason I mention this is because of course, I've had people whine and moan before about giving their info.  I realize, people are secretive, but... this is fostering.  If people don't want to give the info, that's fine, but then, I don't want to give the animal.  Maybe fostering is just not for those really private people then, and that's fine, maybe they can find another way to help, if that's their end goal.  But it is give and take.  They give their info -- they take a basically free "pet" that they care for, with all supplies and support provided -- there has to be some "give."  That is all.

Saturday, April 27, 2019


I wanted to write this, because sometimes when I talk to people, I discover my perspective on things is a bit different.  Not like in a weird way, but simply... I've been doing this now since 2003.  That's 16 years.  So what may be like old hat to me, may not be to you.

Of course, I try to put myself in everyone else's shoes when they ask a question or want to see more pics or whatnot, but sometimes I acknowledge that I really do see things differently.

The one thing that I often talk about with friends is how often I hear people say they don't have time for their chinchilla.  Going off yesterday's guest post -- without chins needing constant playtime (which they really don't) -- I really find it hard to grasp that perspective.  Of course, we'd all like more time with our animals.  I have dogs, and I'd love to spend all day doing nothing but sitting around and petting them.  But... well, we all have lives.  When you take away playtime -- and this goes for any animal really -- there's feeding them, watering them, cleaning their cage, and interacting with them.  What of this, takes so long, I'm really not sure.  By no means am I saying this to judge... I guess it's simply that I wish people would tell me what it is that they no longer have time to do, that they want to do, as it's just escaping me.

Another thing -- and this was pointed out by a recently new foster home -- "chins are high maintenance."  Are they?  When this foster home originally wanted to take a chin and foster a chin, the day they wanted to come was right before I went out of town for a week.  I told them, hey, you can... but if you hate it, you're stuck with it for a week until I get back.  They said that was fine, and that even if they really didn't like it, they could manage a week (this was months ago).  So, they signed the foster contract, took their foster chin and supplies, and went about their way.  Never did hear anything bad.  Well, a few days ago, they brought the chin back to the rescue so she can be adopted.  Since this was the first time they'd be officially "done" with a foster chin, I wanted to ask them what they thought.  Their FIRST comment was about how they had read so much online about how chins are so "high maintenance" and how, after having experienced one, they really didn't think so.  They asked me what I thought about this (and I agreed) and we had a chat about, as above, it's just weekly cage cleanings, keeping them fed and watered, and for this foster, she had a chin that enjoyed playtime, so they did playtime a couple of times a week.  But the point was... that was it.  And she couldn't imagine what those people were talking about, with the chins being high maintenance.  So, I think the next person who I hear say that, I am going to legitimately ask them, what about them is high maintenance?  Not to be an ass or whatever, mind you, but because I really want to know.  I mean... what pet out there is less maintenance than a weekly cage clean, and occasionally feeding and watering?  A pet rock?  So, I'm curious to hear an answer.

And the last thing -- I can't tell you how many people mention about how they're getting a cage tomorrow and then they need a few weeks to set it up.  Now, I acknowledge, not all cages are easy to set up.  But... just for shits and giggles, I vaguely paid attention to the time today, as I set up a critter nation cage that was completely broken down.  As in, no screws in the base, all the pieces just next to each other on the floor.  It took me less than 15 minutes (with a mallet to whack some uncooperative pieces into place).  As a single person, with no one else to hold a piece while I tried to fit it into the slot.  Now, I still need to wash and put in the pans... but that's all I need to do, as I usually sell them without shelves, as the new homes often do that themselves.  Now, I acknowledge that it took me probably less time than the average person, mainly because I've probably built 100+ of these over the years... but with two people, it should be even easier, and maaybe take 30 minutes, even including reading the directions.  So again, I guess I'm confused on what takes a couple of weeks?  For me, I couldn't put together two pieces and walk away, and come back later.  I will do the entire cage, or nothing.  So again, next time someone tells me they need a couple of weeks... I may just ask.  I really want to know!  Even if I do shelving -- which would be considerably easier with another person -- add another hour at the most. 

I'm not trying to lessen anyone's perspective on doing these things.  But I'm curious, for when people mention these, and other things similar to these... what exactly they mean.  It's good to know what others think of as "difficult" -- maybe someone wants a pet that is litter trained (as opposed to cleaning an entire cage every week) -- I don't know.  But I'll be interested to hear the answers, that's for sure...

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Guest Writer - Playtime!

Hey everyone! It's Chris again. Let's talk a controversial topic in the chinchilla world.... play time. I'm sure Ashley has discussed this before, but I'm sure it helps to hear another person's perspective!

Now... I'm not a breeder or rescue worker like Ashley, but I AM a longtime chinchilla owner. I've had chinchillas for 12 years now. I've owned a total of 12 chinchillas over that span (8 currently). I learned much of the good information I know now from Ashley, and reputable chinchilla forums online, and now I'm a member of multiple groups on social media. I've been around the block as a chinchilla owner, so I feel confident in the advice I give.
One huge myth that is often stated for chinchillas is that they need an hour (or more) of "out of the cage" play time everyday. If you don't think too hard about it, or are an inexperienced chin owner, this sounds like a good idea. It's a great way for them to stretch their legs, interact with their owner, and just have some fun... right? The pet store will probably even tell you to do this. However if you discuss this with breeders, hardly ANY of the reputable ones will advise you to do this. Why? That's a great question...

Let's look at the most obvious reason why first. Look at the chinchilla. what's the most unique feature about your chinchilla? It's that thick soft furry coat it has, right? Now, can you imagine putting on a fur coat, and then being expected to run around for 60 minutes and not get too hot? It doesn't sound like much fun, does it? Overheating happens very often in chinchillas during playtime, and we see this leading to seizures, dehydration or lethargy.
Next, people usually want to do playtime with chinchillas so they can interact with them, which is understandable. But how often do you simply sit on the floor and let your chinchilla run around you? Probably not often. You probably stand up or move around or do something while your chinchilla is out and about. I can't tell you how many times I've heard horror stories of people stepping on their chinchillas during play time, or falling on top of them, or other accidents like this. You think it won't happen to you, but honestly, unless you're sitting on your butt and not moving, there's a chance.

Next, think about the space in which you're doing play time. Do your Chinchillas have a whole room to run? Then I guarantee it... they will find something to chew on. An electrical cord, a wall, carpet, anything. None of these things are safe for chins to eat! "No worries" you say, "I use an exercise pen! It's safe!". Oh yeah? Well, how tall is it? Because mine is 3 ft tall and I have regularly had chinchillas jump to the top. Luckily we don't take our eyes off of them for a second, so when this happens, we react immediately to grab them or tap them to jump back into the pen.

Ok, so you finally believe me. Playtime can be dangerous. So what do you do instead? I interact with mine in the cage! Critter/Ferret nation cages are wonderful, so I can open up both doors to be able to touch, pet, scratch and "play" with my chins in the comfort and safety of their own cage. And they love it! I get more interaction in their cage than I do when/if they are OUT of their cage. Try it, you might be surprised!

If you absolutely still MUST do playtime... please do it as safely as possible. Make sure the temp of the room is LOW so there is no overheating. AC is a MUST in the summer! Keep it short.... only a few minutes. Keep their area small and safe... nothing to chew on. Use an exercise pen with a flat floor surface (no carpet). And if you are inside the area, plant yourself and don't move!

And as always.... ASK if you have questions!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Did you know we offer grooming?  We do!  It's $5 for a regular (rough) groom, or if you're at a show and want the fancy stuff, $10-15 for a show groom (the average chin gets by just fine with a rough groom).

As you probably already know, as with all advice we offer, the advice is free, including grooming advice!  Had someone stop by the other day and they were telling me how they were having a difficult time grooming their chin.  Apparently we'd talked about this before, as they had purchased a #3 grooming comb, so they had the right tools, but they made the comment that the comb was sharp (it is) and that the chin didn't like grooming (they typically don't).  Since they were here in person and had the chinchilla with them, I asked them if they wanted the chin to be groomed that day, and they said yes.

So actually, it ended up being a learning experience, because they could see me grooming the chin and I could explain some things, while doing them, that might not be so easy to understand just with a description.  It's easy to not know how to groom a chin if you've never done it before!  For example, they were grooming head to tail -- like you would brush a dog, right?  For chins, it's tail to head, which seems backwards to most people... but that's how us oddball chin people groom.  Then at the end, you actually hold the comb differently, instead of pointed into the fur, you hold it more like straight down, and brush to get some of the loose fur that's left out.  Then the chin gets the front paws set down, hold one ear and the tail, and wiggle the hind end.  It sounds funny, but it fluffs them back out.  But I guarantee, how you are picturing that last part could very well be way different than how it looks in person... but once you see, it's like oooh ok that's how that's done.  So now that they've seen it, they can go home and try to groom again on their own.  In the meantime, their chin had a LOT of dead fur come out and is probably much happier...

Had someone else ask about grooming the other day... since it was over the phone, I suggested they watch some youtube videos to get an idea of what it looks like, explained the tail-to-head thing, and for them (for the average person) explained that you're probably fine getting a metal dog flea comb and using that to groom.  They're usually not nearly so pointy as the chin combs.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Chicago Pet Show -- Oak Lawn

So... we will be at the Chicago Pet Show -- Oak Lawn this year.  This event is May 4th and 5th at the Oak Lawn Pavilion in Oak Lawn, IL.

We hope it's another great event, as always.  I'm presenting both days at 12:30 on how you know if chinchillas are the right pet for you, so if you're interested in hearing that chat, make sure you head over to the presentation stage.  Of course, myself (and a volunteer or two!) will be happy to talk to you at the booth as well, so don't be shy!

If you do plan to come, make sure you print out this coupon for $1 off admission.

Hey, $1 saved is $1 more you can spend at our booth, am I right?  We will of course have some of our adoptable pets there, complete with adoption forms and everything, so should you find the love of your life in one of our pets there, you can take that furball home!

We should be getting a double booth like we had at St. Charles, and if we do, we will again have three whopping tables of goodies for you to take home for your furballs!  How awesome, right??

Worth noting -- at these Chicago Pet Show expos, we don't typically bring food / hay / dust (the way we do for the All Animal Expo) -- if you'd like any of this brought there for you (or anything else you might want), feel free to let us know ahead of time, and we will be happy to bring it for you... but you have to let us know!

Also, don't forget... though I realize this expo is a lot closer to home... should you want to ADOPT a chinchilla, like a specific one, we CAN bring that chinchilla to the expo for you (with paid deposit... so they don't just sit around all day and have someone decide to no-show).  We actually already have one chinchilla that will be getting picked up at this expo! 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sorting Herbs

You may not have known this... but we sort through all our rosehips (and other herbs) for all of our customers.  Anything "bad" comes out, so only the best makes it to you.  

This started years ago when we sent out an order to someone, who then posted on one of the facebook groups, a "review" (which they had done with other vendors before, but I hadn't made the connection).  Their review was positive, so nothing bad... the one part that caught my attention was for a few of the herbs, they made the comment that there were a few pieces that were somewhat discolored or a little off, and though those were probably fine regardless, they removed those.  

Those would have been hawthorn berries.  They are small red/maroon berries, that notoriously seem to somehow end up different colors, the most common being turning more whiteish / creamy-ish.  Not mold, mind you, that's just the color some of them turn.  Why just a few, here and there, I have no idea.  But they do.  And every batch of them has a couple that are off-colored.  If the outer layer comes off the berry, they are cream-colored inside.  So now, when packing up hawthorn berries, I make sure to eyeball them.  Not saying some crappy ones never get through, but rest assured, we got out the worst ones (which my animals enjoy thoroughly... cause they really are just fine).

The other day, there were some brown-ish rosebuds in our package of rosebuds.  They looked, well... overdone.  Like someone left them in the dehydrator a bit too long and they got crispy and burnt.  So those were removed.

The latest thing, though, is that our last like... 20 pounds... of rosehips have been, well... disappointing.  We've been buying them as "whole organic rosebuds," and at least 1/3 (if not more) of each pound has been pieces.  As WE are selling whole organic rosebuds, not organic rosebud pieces (at least in the current listing), it shouldn't surprise you that we are sorting these, and have been for quite some time.  Officially we are done sorting these, and hopefully the batches from a different supplier (which we have here, but haven't needed to open yet) will be better.  In the meantime... we have a lot of these pieces.  Some we've already sold off, but we still have a lot of it left.  

We've decided to call them rosehip nibbles! We now have a bunch of these for sale, in 3 oz quantities, for $4. You actually get more of 3 oz of nibbles than 3 oz of whole rosehips, due to them missing the weight of the seeds! 

In the second pic, you can see the 3 oz bag of whole rosehips on the left, and the 3 oz bag of rosehip nibbles on the right.  We have added these to the webstore, $4 for 3 oz. --

While supplies last, of course.  Hopefully the new supplier will have more of the whole rosehips (we used to get a few broken ones... but not like this...)... or else this may be an item that stays around forever.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Phone Calls -- Never Cease to Amaze

Phone call today:

Me:  Hello

Them:  Hello.  Do you get in stray dogs?

Me:  No, sorry, we just take in small animals.

Them:  Hello?

Me:  Yes?

Them:  So you have small animals that can be adopted?

Me:  Yes, chinchillas and guinea pigs.

Them:  So no dogs?

Me:  No, sorry, just the small animals


I swear...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Holiday Toys! And Ornaments!

So... if you peruse the webstore with any regularity, you may have noticed there's been some new additions.

The first things that were added, maybe a few weeks ago now, were the stamped ornaments ($3 each).  These:

I came up with creative names for these... the first being "Do you want to build a snowman?".... the second, "Grandma got run over by a Chin-deer," and the third, I asked one of my friends (and guest blog author, Chris), for suggestions.  She came up with "Walking in a winter Chin-derland."  Yes, we all need lives. 

...but before she came up with that suggestion, she said... "you do know it's March, right?"

Yes, for sure.  But... we have a lot of stuff that's sat around for awhile, waiting to be listed, and I will get it all listed eventually!  And hey, who knows when you might want to order something like one of these, right?

Also, we have two holiday chew toys that have been around this year, but just now listed as of the other day...

... aren't they adorable??  The snowman is 8-9" long and the tree is 6-7" long, and either is $6.  We originally were hoping to have "buttons" on the snowman, but tried that, and... well... nothing sticks to loofah, even with glue. 

So now, all of those items are available in our webstore...

But one more thing I wanted to mention... you may have noticed we are currently running a sale on some of our hammocks...  you may also have noticed we seem to have an awful lot of holiday prints... but only for Christmas.  Seems like Halloween fleece, or Thanksgiving fleece, and whatnot, doesn't exist, but Christmas fleece OMG they have everything.  So... it may have gotten a little overboard.  So... between that, and the fact that we anticipate having these ornaments / toys / etc available year round (hey, your chin likes the cold... why not a snowman?), we are anticipating having a Christmas in July sale which will have for sale all our holiday items, like the holiday-themed hammocks, the holiday toys, ornaments (we have even MORE not listed), and so on.  You can stock up in July... and be ready for December early!  So, definitely check back in July for that sale!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Things That Make Me Happy

Sometimes it's the little things.  Do I whine a lot?  Yes.  Are there stupid adopters?  Yes.  But am I also usually in a decent mood?  Yes. 

I suppose, if I have to tell you, I'm actually a reasonable person like everyone else, you probably wouldn't believe it, but there are a lot of happy / good moments interspersed between the stupid and annoying ones.  But... when there's a great adoption that goes off with a hitch, I can often sum that up in a sentence or two, versus the idiots, well, as you know, I can write a book. 

But anyway, I wanted to tell you that often the good moments, aside from adoptions and whatnot are actually little things.  People donating little amounts.  Don't get me wrong, $100 is great... but also few and far between.  People donating $0.25 is more likely, and would add up, if everyone did it.  So believe me that I am sincere, when I tell you thank you for your (little) donation.  I do mean it.

The other night, the good moment didn't involve anyone but myself... it was already after midnight, and I'd already over-ridden the timer once downstairs.  If you don't know, the lights are on a timer downstairs and go on in the morning, and off at night.  I don't know exactly what time, but after 10 pm for the evening turnoff.  So I'd already had to turn the lights back on (which I'd rather not do... can upset the chins which are used to the schedule) to keep working down there, and then went back up, and told myself, not going back down.  When I was upstairs, I looked at my to-do list, and the one thing on there was to list two toys (another post coming about that).  The one was already made and I have a pic of, but the other I had just sold the last of.  Even though it was more a holiday toy, I wanted to have it listed on the website, so I wanted to make one so I could take a picture and list it.  The day before, I had dyed some wood for the dyed part of the toy, and that day, it was dry, so I knew if I went downstairs again, I could assemble the toy and get a picture (and then, go upstairs and list it).  So, I said ok I'll go down again, turn on the lights again, just for that toy.

So as I'd opened the door from the house to the hallway that goes to the basement, I heard sounds like there was an animal there.  Oh, forgot to mention... there was a chin that was loose from the previous night, that I hadn't seen all day that day.  Turned on the light, the chin was at the top of the basement stairs!  (Oddly enough, this is super common... why they go up there, I don't know, but they like to go to the top of the stairs)  The noise was from her hopping around on the top step.  I caught the chin and put her away.

I did end up going down and assembling that toy.  But what was so awesome was that, had I decided to not make that toy, I wouldn't have caught that chin, at least, not right then.  And let me tell you, it's a lot easier to catch them when they're on the top step then loose in the basement.  Right place, right time, to decide to go down and make that toy.  So that was my happy moment for the day, and I wanted to share with you all.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Addition to Previous Post

Sort of an Update / Addition to the previous post about making appointments in the future... some people can't even keep next-day appointments. 

Yesterday, someone scheduled an appointment for 10 am, today.  Before I even saw it, they requested that the appointment be changed to 11 pm.  For some reason, I have to approve appointment changes, though not appointments.  I went in there, approved the change from 10-11.  I actually had something in mind that I was going to do today, but then I saw that appointment and I was like oh well that's ok, someone set up an appointment.  But, had there not been an appointment, I would have gone and done something, away from the house.

I suppose you know I'm writing this because they never showed.  For a next-day appointment that they even adjusted the time for!

While some people do keep appointments for the far-away-future, and in reality, not that many people are no-shows... this sort of thing only convinces me further to not schedule way-out appointments.  I suppose, though, regardless of when the appointments are, some people will be flaky regardless... oh well...

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Scheduling Appointments... in the Future

So, this has come up, from time to time again, so I feel like writing about it really quick.  We get a lot of people who want to set an appointment for way in the future... often a month or two (or more!) from when they are contacting us.  For the most part, unless I somehow know 100% that I will be available that day (which is unlikely), I rarely book these sort of far-out appointments.  Usually, I tell people, contact me closer to the date when they want to make the appointment, and then we will book it.  No one's ever happy with this, of course, but then, I'm rarely happy when I've booked appointments that far out either. 

Let me explain.

First, I rarely know what I'm doing that far in the future.  What has prompted this blog post is that someone booked an appointment for tonight, 4/6, back on March 12 (3/12).  I suppose that you can guess, I'm not writing about this because it was a great time... rather, they didn't show.  Now, what prompted me to book this appointment, today, was that I already knew that we would be at the AAE today, and they wanted an appointment here, at the rescue, after the AAE.  Well, I know that I don't go around and do anything after the expos, as they are tiring, so I knew I would be home after the expo.  So, I booked the appointment. 

That ^ is unusual though.  There's a chin show coming up in like two weeks that I cannot make my mind up as far as whether or not I should be going to.  The same weekend is an expo, that if I want to go, I better hurry it up and register for.  I haven't yet decided yet which (if either?) I'm going to, but one would put me locally, maybe an hour away, and the other would put me on the east coast, I think North Carolina.  I'm sure you can see why it would be hard to plan for that weekend at the moment.  Even a few weeks ago, for MCBA Nationals, I hemmed and hawed about whether I was going or not, up until like a few days before the show.  What finally made up the decision for me was that I had people wanting to come by and adopt on that weekend (versus... I would not be bringing animals to sell at the show), so I stayed home. 

Obviously not every weekend is such a big deal as far as stay home, or go, or whatever.  But especially planning a few weeks out can be difficult, as sometimes plans aren't fully figured out.  There's another weekend coming up in May... Saturday is the Ohio Chapter Show / Field Day.  As some of you may know, I'm Secretary / Treasurer of the Ohio Chapter MCBA, so besides the fact that I really should be there for that, I would like to show.  So, that's Saturday.  Sunday is the AAE show where they have the kangaroos.  If the one past expo with the bear cubs was any indication, we also really should be at the one with the kangaroos (as the bears weekend was an awesome weekend for sales).  I've talked with I don't know how many people about how to manage to be at both, drag the dogs around, drag the stuff around, pack the van early, etc etc etc.  Have a vendor table vs. don't have a vendor table (at the show), etc etc etc.  I will have to figure that out, prior to the weekend, but one thing that will play into account... the chins are getting adopted really well right now.  Should that show come around and I have very few chins to bring to the AAE... will we go?  Maybe, maybe not.  But... I won't know that until a lot closer to the show, and that's the 5/19 show... so over a month away.  Will adoptions continue how they are?  Will they taper off?  I don't know, no one does.  Time will tell.

And of course, the other thing that always makes me iffy about scheduling appointments so far out... is no-show.  Some people somehow manage to not show up to appointments made the next day, much less a month or so out.  Some do show up to long-scheduled appointments, don't get me wrong, but many don't, and then, like today, I sat around waiting for this person to show... and they never did.  With that much time, it's easy to forget there's an appointment, and unfortunately, there's not enough hours in the day for me to contact everyone and remind them of their appointments, so if someone doesn't write it down or recall (on their own) that they have an appointment, nothing I can really do.... but I can avoid scheduling appointments way out in the future.

This is also why, if you've checked out our scheduling software at all -- here -- you may have noticed that there's rarely the ability to book an appointment more than a few days / week in the future.  Same thing.  I set available times for days, sometimes only a few days in advance... so the appointment stays fresh in everyone's mind.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Overstock Adoption Inquiries

I think I told you, the other day, about how it's rare to get a good lead on a potential adopter through those overstock pet listings (which if you recall, I don't list, but must somehow pull our listings from another site).

As I mentioned, most people are either too far away, or don't respond, or I get weird responses or whatnot... or like that fake response that I got the other day that I posted about.  This one was also too good to not share with you all:

Now, that zip code is Florida, so it is a real zip code, unlike the last one, but in case you missed it, let me draw your attention to the comment they wrote:

"I don't have money."

Then... you won't be adopting?  Something like this, I won't even bother responding to.  If you read these blogs with any regularity, you know my take on all of this -- I don't think anyone has to be rich to own a pet, but you do at least have to have money for necessities and possibly vet bills... but if you say you don't have money... well... you don't need a pet.  Sorry.  Why even fill this out?