Thursday, January 24, 2013

Not much going on today...

So today I missed a call from someone asking about the degus.  Called them back saying that they were on hold, but I could let her know if they decided to back out.  Haven't heard back yet.

Had Snowbell picked up today.  :)

Shipped out that motorhome that I've been talking about forever.  Finally cut off the too-long piece on the roof, packaged it up, and out it went.  Also sent out an order of 5 pounds of food, and an order from the Twilight event.

Hadn't heard from one person regarding their Twilight event orders.  Talked to Christine (owner of Twilight) and she contacted them, cause they'd seen my message Monday, but hadn't gotten back to me regarding exactly what they wanted in their order and so, I hadn't been able to get them an invoice.  So, Christine emailed her, and she contacted me saying sometimes her boyfriend used her computer and so she hadn't seen the message.  Ok, so she told me what she wanted the order to be, and I messaged her with the total.... and here we are.  Still waiting.

Messaged another person with an outstanding order saying I'm going to the post office tomorrow, and if they pay by then, it can go out then.  Dangling the carrot, you know?  So, they paid, and now I will be going to the post office tomorrow.  Lol. 

I ordered the globe flowers, jasmine flowers, hibiscus, and calendula today.  Also ordered more hawthorn berries and rosebuds.  So everything but the globe flowers should get here quick.  The globe flowers are coming from China, so that may be a bit of time before I can get them here.  But otherwise, they were gonna be super super expensive, so China it is.  And they're still looking like it's gonna be around rosebud price.  Though I imagine, like the rosebuds, you get a decent amount because I bet they're light.

My mom cut up more of my spare fleece so I stuffed and sewed the last few cuddlebuddies that I had ready to be stuffed.  So those are now up on the website along with the two newest hammocks.  Even got them up on the fleece items for sale page.  Still have more hammocks and cuddlebuddies to do.  What I have cut up ready to be sewed is all of my non-chin-safe fabric, so I guess the rat hammocks are getting made next. 

I think that's it for today.

Oh wait, I don't think I posted about the girlscouts.  But I'm waiting for permission to use some of the pics, so I'll come back to that another day, for pictures anyway.  But to quickly wrap it up, it was fun, we got a lot of goodie bags made, and the kids seemed like they had fun.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Chin dropoff and girl scout prep

So, today was a relatively uneventful day.  Had scheduled someone to come by who wanted to drop off a chin -- they actually showed up (who-hoo for them!) and then proceeded to tell me how they were a tad unsure about asking if I could take in the chin, cause they'd been reading the blog and all the recent posts were so negative and mad.  Oops.  They said they understood though, with how everyone had been canceling or not showing up or giving me "dog chew toys" as an answer, it was actually kind of funny. 

So they dropped off a dark ebony male.  Apparently it's less than a year old and originally from ABC Chins (Kristi @ Crystal Lake, IL).  It's a nice looking chin.  They couldn't remember exact age, they said less than a year old, so we're gonna go with 9 months as best guess.  They were feeding him Oxbow (kudos!) and brought a little toy, hidey house, and chews with him.  So he's now got part of a FN to enjoy. 

So then, I had someone email wanting to come pick up some plastic shelves (the ones that come with the cage, so they came and got them, so another person on time.  Maybe this is a start to people actually coming when they said they would.

Went to Meijer, picked up some leafy greens for the pigs.  Was going through my emails and I noticed I had one saying my domain name ( was going to expire in April.  So I renewed it for 5 years, cause doing so would save the rescue $75 (versus renewing it yearly).  So it doesn't expire until 2018.  So I won't have to think about that for awhile.  My web hosting expires in September 2013 though, so that'll be coming up later this year.  Will see about renewing that for several years as well. 

Started prepping for the girl scouts to come over.  I cleaned the guinea pig cages.  Took Joey's (rabbit) cage and cleaned out the side that he poos in, put down a tad of dry bedding, and put in a litterbox.  We shall see if he uses it.  Also cleaned Rochelle's cage and Shiloh's cage.  Now, all that's left in terms of bedding is the shredded paper.  Which is such an AWESOME thought, as I was hacking cause of all the shaving dust today.  Ick.  No dust with shredded paper, yay!!   Some of the cages still have shavings in them, but once those are eventually dirty enough to clean, then those will have the paper too.  I'll be able to breathe!  Minus the pet hair and dust and all, but at least there won't be additional dust from the shavings.

So I cleaned up everything, tried to get everything where it should be, in it's place, and pulled out a table for the girl scouts.  They said I'll have 17 kids, so I'm thinking I will need to pull out a second table, and I can have girls on both sides, so two assembly lines, getting ready the goodie bags.  So that'll be good I think.  Still need to get out the second table, get the bowls with all the items in them, get the number of whatever taped to the table... but that will all be during the day tomorrow.  I have someone coming to look at a cage at noon tomorrow, so I gotta be up for that, and then they're not coming til like 6:30, so I'll have time in the middle to clean any mess or poos that've been left by the critters and get ready for them to do their project. 

Also went around and filled up all the hanging chew toys.  Drilled and glued the wheels on the motorhome.  I could've had it finished and already packaged to head out tomorrow, but.... somehow, every time I make the motorhome, the roof is a tad too short, so I always end up having to cut an extra piece and glue it on.  Which isn't a huge deal, but this time, I purposely cut the roof so it'd be too long, so I'd have to go back and trim it to make it the right size.  Well... I'd already vacuumed up all the sawdust from the table saws, and vacuumed the surface part of the tables themselves, so I figured, that can wait until after the girl scouts leave.  Cause I tend to leave the saws and the area underneath them unvacuumed until it becomes ridiculously heavy with sawdust, but I want it to be clean for tomorrow.  After tomorrow, it can go back to messy again.

On my to-do list, not for tomorrow, but for eventually, is to organize boxes.  Seems I have like a gazillion boxes and they're all like practically stacked to the ceiling in the one area of the basement.  So I need to like condense, even if it means breaking most of them down so I can not have such a disaster pile.  At the very least, it needs to become two piles -- small boxes for a few little items and then another pile for hidey houses and larger items.  With maybe a third pile of ultra huge boxes for when people order 4 hidey houses at once (hey, it happens).  But that wasn't today, today I just threw more boxes on top of the ever growing pile.

And I even vacuumed the steps going down to the basement.  How they get so covered in fur and hair and junk, I will never know.  It's gotta be some stuff falling out of trash bags, and some dog hair and chin hair, but it really piles up!  Well, now it's clean though.  Yay.

Guinea pigs and other things.

So, remember those people who were emailing me yesterday about Apollo and about me breeding guinea pigs?  Yeah, they went and posted on a guinea pig forum about how people should flag my ad. Cause, you know, some people have no life.  So, an admin on that forum was on Chins-n-Hedgies, and PM'd me to let me know what was being said.  They knew it was me, cause when I responded to the original person, my signature attached (you know, says NWI Chinchillas, etc...) and so they had basically posted how I was acting as a rescue to make myself look better.  Cause in their minds, I was making myself look bad by breeding my pedigreed chins.  Yeah, I know.  So, this admin sort of knew who I was from CnH so they were sticking up for me, and now half the people on that forum are arguing..... I just took down the craigslist ad for Apollo.  I don't even care.  If someone's looking for a guinea pig, I have enough other ads that it will pop up.

So, in anticipation of the girl scouts coming Wed, I was cleaning today and trying to move stuff to where it actually goes, so it's not such a congested mess down there.  Will probably clean a few more cages tomorrow and get some more vacuuming done so that I'll have less to do Wednesday.  I started building the motorhome for that guy's order.  Also cut up the wood for several more hidey houses.  Need to drill the holes and sand, but that's for another day. 

So then, I went through, and on all my wooden items like the hidey house and the car and mobile home, I added "Also, please note that this item is typically made to order, and can take up to two weeks to be shipped out. " to lessen my load a tad.  Cause I was getting emails two days after orders would come in, saying, did you ship out my item yet????  And while I would love to always have hidey houses in stock so I could just leisurely make them and have them ready when orders come in, the rescue has to be super slow for that to happen.  So, I put that up.  And if I do have them in stock, I can ship them right then, but if not, I have two weeks to make the item, so I don't have to be tripping over myself rushing to make orders.

So I listed Joey (rex rabbit) and Dash (black variegated rat) today, and finally found my paperwork for the standard grey boy that was returned after Christmas, and put his ad up as well.  Also put up a courtesy listing for one of Amber's (guinea pig rescue's) rabbits. 

Someone had asked about some specific flower products that they wanted carried at the store, I could only find calendula petals (marigold).  My usual supplier for the hawthorn berries and all has it, and it seems reasonable (and is organic), so I think we'll try stocking at least a pound (I need to order rosebuds and hawthorn berries from this place anyway) and see how it goes.  I plan to look more in depth to see what else I can add to the store from that place.  But not today, it's already late.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

craigslist & other things

So, I should probably stop posting ads on craiglist.  Cause those are the ones that cause me the most stress, and that's not what I need right now.

Got an email earlier telling me that I might want to treat Apollo for mites because biting is an indication of mites.  Ok, well, he doesn't have mites, and I know because I preventatively treat the rats and pigs.  And he just bites because... he bites.  I mean, sometimes it's not always explainable through some bodily illness.  They go on to say that they hope I'm not breeding rescue guinea pigs, as there are hundreds on Petfinder.  Funny, mine are some of those hundreds.

Anyway, so I respond and tell her that I know he doesn't have mites because I preventatively treat the critters and I say that I am not breeding rescue animals.  So of course, then I think I can't just leave well enough alone, because I get an email back saying that they're glad that I don't breed but that offering the information that Apollo is a skinny carrier might attract people who breed.  Really?  So might the fact that he comes with a pedigree AND his ads specifically state that he could be used for breeding.

So, I nicely explain to her, he is not a rescue, he is a pig that was bred at a friend's caviary, and as he is not a rescue, he is not being "adopted out," per se.  He is not on PetFinder, also, because he is not a rescue. 

Also, she notes that I should consider spaying and neutering all the animals before they leave the rescue.  Really, and who's going to pay for this?  I nicely explain that my vet, and the other local ones, charge at least $150 to spay/neuter small animals, and at that rate, I would have to adopt out every small animal for at least $150, and I would still be operating at a loss because it costs money to house, feed, medicate, and clean them.  I told her, if I could find one of those vets who'd work with me and charge me $20 to neuter a small animal (and I do know of a rescue that has a vet that has that agreement with them to charge $20 to neuter a small dog), then sure, I'd spay and neuter them all.  But an extra $150 per animal would put the rescue out of business so fast it wouldn't even be funny.

So then, she asks if I'm licensed by the dept. of agriculture, as they "prohibit the breeding of animals that are adopted out from licensed rescues."  Really?  So, let me ask you something.  You adopt out an animal from somewhere licensed by the DOA, and you get them to believe you that you're not gonna breed it, and you take it home and breed it.  Let's even say they find out that you're breeding an animal adopted from that licensed rescue.  What are they going to do?  Oh yeah, probably nothing.  Because animals have no rights under the law, and animals are still considered property, and last time I checked, people can pretty much do what they want with their property.  Heck, puppy mills are USDA licensed half the time, you think they're gonna care you're breeding a rescue critter?  I highly doubt it.  Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE if they would crack down on things like this.  But they don't.  And frankly, they probably can't, because if there isn't enough money and resources to shut down the big dog puppy mills, I highly doubt there's money to worry about small animal breeding.

Moving on, she tells me that reputable rescues don't breed.  Excuse me, remind me where I said I breed rescue animals?  Oh yeah, I didn't.

And somewhere in there, I told her, just because Apollo is at my house, does not make him a "rescue animal."  I have a dog, she is not a rescue animal.  I have my chins, they are not rescue animals.  They are in the same house as rescue animals, but that does not make them rescue animals.  No more than having my parents live here makes them co-owners of the rescue.  Nope.

So, now I'm waiting for my reply email which is probably going to read "I'm going to report you to blah blah blah and you're doing everything wrong and blah blah blah."  That should be a fun one.

Moving onto the next email.  So, we all know I'm having my 13% off sale for 2013.  Let me start by saying the email starts with "answerusthis" (answer us this) which makes me think they go around asking people annoying pointless questions.  But I digress.

Here's the email I get:
2013 sale! All adoption fees are 13% off! Apollo's reduced adoption fee is $30. ??? I don't think you can sell pets on just rehome them so why is there a sell of 13% off?
Omfg.  I explained to the person, nicely, I might add, that as a rescue, I am allowed to have something "for sale."  I told them, usually it's like $5 off a starter package, or $1 off a hammock, but this time, it's a reduced adoption fee.  I told her, I could put it "reduced adoption fee for January!!" but that doesn't have the same ring to it as "sale."  And, it gets people scratching their heads and emailing me asking "well... how is that different from a sale."  It's not.  But just because I am having a sale does not mean I am selling pets.  There is a difference.  They still have an adoption fee, it is just reduced.  I told em, I can't please everybody.  Some people don't like it worded as a "sale," others think its confusing if I put it up as "adoption fee reduction."  I confuse less people with "sale," so that's the term I used.  Gonna piss someone off no matter which way I go, I'm going to choose the one that makes more sense. 

I have a feeling all my ads are going to be flagged down tonight.  And I swear, I was actually nice to these people in their emails.  I admit, if I write an email and send it off without reading it, sometimes it can come across more aggressive than I'd like, or more negative than I'd like, but I read these emails several times and revised them so I wouldn't sound like an idiot, I'd sound like a reputable person running a rescue.  I still have no doubt the ads will get flagged.  

I remember that one year when I had 16 rescue chins come in within a month's time.  Well, probably more, but those 16 were all from the same place, hence why I remember them.  So, almost all of them completed evaluation around the same time, and at the very most, there was maybe a month between the time the first completed their eval and when the last completed their eval.  So, all of a sudden, I have hoards of chins available.  And for anyone wondering, I had extra runs out and many of these chins were living together, which is the only way I was able to have that many here all at once.  So, I had them all up on craigslist and on the other sites where I list the rescues, and I consistently got emails that the only way I would have that many chins up for adoption all at once was if I was a breeder who was trying to sell off chins that wouldn't breed, or was trying to get out of chin breeding.  Really?  Do they question the humane society when they have 60 dogs for adoption at once?  Didn't think so.  Just with chins, since there's only one "species" (versus so many breeds of dogs), people kept seeing a ton for adoption and apparently couldn't think of anything except *points fingers and yells* "BREEDER ALERT!! BREEDER ALERT!!"  Uh no.  Not these chins anyway, any actual chin breeder could have told you they had horrible fur and were not anything anyone would breed (and yes, I do get some nice looking chins in now and again, but they are rescues and are not bred, they are adopted out into pet homes).  But people apparently couldn't help themselves and every time I would put up an ad on craigslist, it would get flagged down.  I even took the time (stupidly) to email these people back when they'd have a cow and email me telling me how horrible I was for dumping all these chins at once.  Excuse me, me?  Horrible for dumping?  I think I'm the one who had them dumped on me, not the other way around.  But you know, my response, to them, was just a breeder backpedaling and trying to "sound" like a rescue so I could use craigslist to rehome the chins.  Uh-huh.  Can't change everybody's mind, but I can almost never just leave the email alone, I almost always feel the need to respond to the email.  Not because I feel guilty, but because I want the people to know what's really going on, and that I'm not this horrible person they think I am.  

Every once in a blue moon, there will be a chin/rat/whatever posted on craigslist, and when the people can't rehome it, after months, they will call and say "hey, I've had this critter up for adoption for x months, no one's called, can I come and drop it off."  So then, once it's here a month and I list it, and it's got the same name (though different pictures) and information (age, color, likes/dislikes, etc)... oh, they have at me then.  Then I'm an "animal flipper."  Yes, an animal flipper that took the time to get on PetFinder so I could quicker rehome the animals that I flip?  Yeah, that's probably about what they think.  I swear, people on that site have the most negative opinion of everyone.  And I hate to be mean, because I know I've sat here and called people animal flippers, but it's different when someone gets a guinea pig for free and then tries to charge $150 for it.  There's nothing different between Monday when the pig's for free and Tuesday when the listing is put up by the new home asking for $150.  At least here, when I take in the pets, they're here for at least a month, they're evaluated, they're weighed and checked that they are healthy, if they are not healthy they are not put up for adoption until the are, they get vet care if needed, they get the requisite foods (for chins, pellets and hay, for guinea pigs and rabbits, pellets, hay, leafy greens, and apples/carrots/etc, for rats, lab blocks, a dry mix, and extras), they are cared for well.  As in, I spend money to care for them, so by the time they're adopted out, with the exception of some of the higher priced chins, I've probably spent considerably more than $25 feeding and caring for every guinea pig and rabbit that comes through here, probably in leafy greens/veggies alone.  And I offer a health guarantee.  I think that warrants a $25 adoption fee (though definitely not a $150 one).  And for the chins, they have a higher adoption fee because they're a more expensive animal in general.  Not to feed, per se, but in terms of vet care, and also because of the fact that if I charged $20 per chin, everyone and their mother would be coming out of the woodwork wanting one.  I charge right around what other rescues charge for chins, and I think the price is fair.  Call it flipping if you want, but I hardly think taking in an animal, making sure it's well fed and healthy, screening owners and making sure they're actually a good home for the critter, and all that, is something a flipper would do.  Just my opinion though.

Other than that, been some good days.  My good friend Lisa, who I've known since middle school, came over to help the other day.  We built four houses and I probably have at least another one cut and ready to be sanded and put together.  She said she had fun, and she was holding some of the rabbits and guinea pigs and rats.  She doesn't have any pets, but she always talks about adopting when she gets a place of her own.  So we will see.  But that's good, cause now I have some houses sitting and drying.

Still need to make that motorhome for the order that the one guy put in.  Was thinking of doing it in the morning tomorrow, but since class is not being held because of MLK day, the usual time my capstone group would meet, the building will be closed, so we're all gong to meet in a coffee shop near the school location.  So, that'll be in the afternoon, I don't want to be covered in sawdust for that, so I'm hoping *fingers crossed* to start on that when I get home.  

I have all but one of the orders from the Twilight Auction/Flea-Market Event packaged up.  The one that I don't have ready yet is from this one person who wanted to get a hammock and some other stuff.... enough stuff that her order will actually have to go into a box rather than into one of the first class mail packages I have.  So I hope to get her an invoice for that tomorrow.  And then I have one more person I'm waiting on.  Someone from Canada had messaged saying they wanted the one shamrock hammock during the event, and after the event said they wanted to add another hammock.  Well, I hadn't yet updated my "fleece items for sale page," which shows all the available fleece patterns, as I won't actually remove a pattern until the person has picked up and paid for their hammock.  Otherwise, what happens is that I remove the picture and then the person doesn't buy the hammock, or never pays, and I end up having to put the picture back up.  Because, see, I use that page as the link that I give people when they ask what patterns I have available.  So, I hadn't updated the page yet, and the person asked me if they could get the dot explosion hammock, which someone had already claimed in the event.  So I told them that, and they said they would get back to me.  They still haven't, so I messaged them on facebook a bit ago asking if they'd decided anything.  Cause, ideally, people aren't supposed to back out (I know, I know, not supposed to, key words), but I would like to know, one way or the other, if I'm supposed keep those hammocks on the side for her or what.  The shamrock ones I have oodles of, I guess I bought more of the fabric since it was on clearance, so it's not like it's the last one of that color, but I have already enough clutter without having a hammock out on the table for someone who doesn't want to purchase it.  

When I would talk to Jean (of TJs), before I had my own chin store, she would talk about how people would order and she'd get the order together and then get back to them with shipping, and they'd never get back to her.  So she'd talk about how she'd have all these orders in boxes on her table ready to be mailed out, and half the people wouldn't get back to her, which is why she now only accepts orders through the shopping cart.  Which at the time, I was like "how bad could it be?" but now I see.  If someone wanted to know how much shelves would be, with shipping, I used to cut up the shelves, weigh them, find a box that fit, put them in the box, put in packaging materials, weigh all that, figure out shipping, and email them back.  And what would happen?  I'd never hear back from people, and then I'd have an order of shelves sitting around, either needing to be re-cut or used or sold or whatever.  Anymore?  Ha.  No, now... let's go with a recent calculation so it's something I can recall.  Someone wanted three 23" shelves and an 18" shelf and a corner shelf.  Ok, so 3 x 23 = 69 + 18 = 87.  87 / 12 = 7.25 feet.  So, I know that a board that's 6' long weighs roughly 6 pounds.  So, I write down 6 pounds.  I find a board that's roughly 15" long and weigh it.  Add that to the 6 pounds.  I figure that those shelves would have 15 bolts, 15 wingnuts, and 30 washers.  So, I pull those out and weigh them all.  Add that to the total.  Add another 2 pounds for box and packaging materials and tape, and now I have a total and a relative box size (because I know how long the boards are and about how tall the box will be considering I know how many boards I need to stack).  So, I use that box size and that weight to determine shipping.  And sometimes I'm off, especially if it's a box over 15 pounds that I have to use the human scale to weigh (versus the gram scale), or if it's a box that managed to fall under balloon rate packaging.  But if I'm considerably over the amount, they get money refunded, if I'm under, I eat the losses.  I had someone order a pound of mazuri and a goodie bag the other day.  I guess they wanted to give it a try.  Somehow, this order only ended up with $5.25 shipping.  Which, don't get me wrong, isn't pennies.  It was more shipping than the order cost ($1.25 + $2.00 = $3.25 total), but it still wasn't enough.  Because I couldn't get it in a small flat rate, I used the next tiniest box I had that would fit the two.  Shipping was like $7.35.  For a pound of food and a goodie bag.  Ridiculous.  But the point is, I eat it when it's an overage on my part for shipping (that order was paid through the shopping cart -- usually I give myself a $1 or so of a buffer if I'm actually quoting someone shipping, cause I can always refund if it's over).  Shipping is just getting so high anymore.

Moving on, today was supposed to be the day that the person dropped off the 5 chins.  Note, I said supposed to. This was the person that had cancelled at least 3 times prior.  So, it was like 4 am last night and still no email so I thought I was in the clear.  Uh, no.  I get an email at like 6 am that she found a place to move to where she can keep the chins.  That's positive, so good for her.  But here's the one pet peeve -- she said in the email that she found out "early yesterday morning."  Ok, so she found out early Saturday morning.... but she waits til 6 am Sunday to let me know?  Maybe it's just me, but if I find out I can't make a doctor's appointment or whatever appointment, if I can't be where I said I'd be, I call when I find out.  I don't wait until the day of, an hour before the appointment (unless that's when I found out) to let the people know.

On that note, I had someone picking up food the other day, and they were late.  Which was fine, because they had texted me a bit prior to when they should have been here, saying that they were going to be late.  It was almost funny, because my mom had asked me if she'd told me how late she was going to be, which she didn't.  So, probably an hour passed and she showed up and got her food.  Now, that was really late, but the point is, she had the decency to tell me that she wasn't going to be on time.  That's all I ask for.  Unless I have some pressing committment where I absolutely need to be out of the house by 5 pm (or whatever time), I will wait around for you to show up if you actually say you are still coming.  But, say I do have that committment, I probably would have mentioned it prior to scheduling an appointment, as I think it's important for people to know that, yes, I am squeezing them in at 4, but if they're still yapping at 5, I need to leave.  I think sometimes people think I have nowhere else to be, and that's fine if I really don't have anywhere else to be, but every once in awhile, I do schedule someone close to a time when I have a doctor's appointment or something of the sort where I have to be there on time.  And I tell people so they're aware that if they're considerably late, there won't be anyone here to adopt them their pet.

So that lady would have been my first appointment today, my second was that my volunteers from a few weeks ago came by to adopt one of the rats, Bella Boo.  So they adopted her and hopefully she's currently getting along good with their ratties.  Will get a pic up on happy customers within the next few days.  

I wrote up the ads today for Joey (rex rabbit), Dash (male rat), and the standard grey male kit that was returned after Christmas.  I plan to put those up tomorrow if I get a chance.
For my capstone class, we had agreed to get docs to me no later than Sunday at 6 pm, so I have time to put them all together in the master document, so I can send copies of that out to everyone Monday morning, and then we can all discuss come class time Monday night.  I swear this relates to the rescue.  So, today, the one guy in my group hadn't responded to me with his document, and you know, we each have a section and I can't say I completed mine, but I got a good part of mine done, and other people did the same, they completed part of their larger section and turned it in to me (I'm the group leader).  But for this guy, I hadn't received anything.  We're using this app called GroupMe, where everyone in the group can see our texts to each other (due to my saying, during week 1, that if we had any "he said, she said" argumentative crap going on that I had to break up, I was kicking people out of the group).  So, basically, any of us send a message in this app, and it goes to all of us.  So we'd all know what was being said from everyone to everyone.  So, I had sent a message out on this app saying that I hadn't received his part, and if he'd sent it, I needed him to re-try sending it (cause sometimes I'd get the email and, at the time, not realize there was no attachment, but this time, there wasn't even an email).  So I didn't hear back, and one of the other group members told me I should call him up, since we had all exchanged all contact info at the beginning as required.  So I called him, and he told me why he hadn't gotten it in and then... told me that since he'd brought home my business card with the chin on it (I handed those out to my group first class cause it has my email/phone/everything on it, rather than writing it out), his kid was begging him to go see a chin and see if it'd be the right pet for them.  So he wanted to set up a time to come out and see the chins.  He said we'll set that up tomorrow when we all meet.  So, we'll see how it goes.  
I never did get a call from that casino job that I was mentioning on here that I applied for.  So I guess I managed to screw that up somehow.  Ah well, something's got to pop up eventually, right?  I suppose I'm lucky that the rescue is at the point where it's supporting itself, because if it wasn't, I sure don't have the money coming in to keep it running on my own.      

When I was going on about closing the rescue, someone told me last week (if it was you, I apologize that I can't remember who said it), if it wasn't for the rescue, who would have taken in Rochelle, or paid for Shiloh's surgery, or paid for all of Fuzzy's care (way back when)?  Which made me think, because, that's true, the people who had Rochelle weren't going to take her to the vet, and if they'd posted her for free hoping someone would take her in and get medical care, most people would see a free chin and grab it without paying any attention to the fact it needed medical attention.  Which is why, when I have sanctuary animals, I don't have them listed as "free to good home," in fact, they're not listed at all, cause (sorry for the prejudice) the biggest creeps come out of the woodwork when you say something is free.  I tried it once or twice with a chin and something else.  One needed significant medical attention, the other just needed monitoring, and the ads both specified this, and I always got people who never made it past the word "free."  So that's why, if you have one of the sanctuary animals, you remember that it was offered to you, and you had probably no knowledge that I even had that animal before I asked if you wanted it.  That way, the correct people end up with the animals.  But anyway, when I think about it, Rochelle may have never been taken in for treatment, and that leg may have gotten even further infected, become septic, and died.  Fuzzy would have died from his impaction without months and $1000+ worth of treatment (which pales in comparison to the $2700 spent on Shiloh, though the $1000 was back at the beginning when the rescue was only bringing in a few hundred per year).  And with Shiloh, the people was with couldn't even touch him.  I remember them literally taking the carrier, inverting it so the open end was down, and shaking it, the way you'd shake a suitcase to get crumbs out.  They said he'd bite and you couldn't touch him.  But they'd said they bathed him, and when I asked how, they said they dumped him in the bathtub.  Well, that I can vaguely understand, because we have bathed him once and it was QUITE the ordeal.  But those people, would they have spent that kind of money and took the time to handfeed him while he was gnawing on my hand creating lots of miniature puncture wounds all the while?  I doubt it.  I'm not trying to make myself sound like something special, but the few animals that really do need medical help, or even just the right food and clean water to recover from years of bad treatment, there is a question of where they'd be without the rescue.  Shiloh would definitely have passed.  I don't remember the exact days, but the first time we took him in, for his breathing, he was put on metacam (anti-inflammatory, pain med) and said give it a week.  By day 2, I wasn't comfortable with his breathing and we rushed him back to the vet.  He had his surgery the following afternoon, and stayed at the vet for the next 7 days, running up a $2700 bill.   Apparently, the trachea on a prairie dog is so far back that they can't adequately breathe out of their mouths, so if forced to, they will eventually die of exhaustion.  He was on oxygen for just about the entire time.  And not that I don't cringe when I think of that vet bill, but so many people, when given an estimate of $650-$2100, would say forget it, and put the animal down.  Obviously, that estimate was a tad blown out of the water, but at the point you're spending $2100, I suppose an extra $500 isn't something you're going to argue with.  It's over and done with at that point.  
Those kind of animals are the ones that need the rescue open.  I remember how surprised the vet was when I gave the go-ahead for Rochelle's laser therapy.  Or even Pixie's (guinea pig) steroid use, and how happy the vet was to hear that she was using her legs again.  There need to be people willing to try to save the animal, even if it means using new technologies and alternative meds and techniques.  Steroids aren't approved for use in small animals.  They cause all sorts of weird side effects internally, not to mention, Pixie was losing fur like no tomorrow.  Same with Rochelle -- she had such a bad infection, we were using an antibiotic made for dogs because the vet thought it would work quicker (and in effect, end up with us losing less tissue to tissue death) than a small animal antibiotic.  But, when the alternative is putting the animal down, then the alternative methods, even with their side effects, look appealing.  If they don't work, or cause the animal pain, the animal gets put down anyway, but at least you tried.  The animal's no worse off.  But on the other hand, they could actually work and then the animal is considerably better off.  But it takes the right vet and the right person to say, yeah, we're going to spend the money on the new therapy, or we're going to try different meds, or we're going to save this pet even though those 10 other vets don't think we can.  Not that I've never turned away a sick animal -- sometimes I do literally have enough sick ones here that I don't literally have enough hours in the day to care for them all (but I do send them to another good rescue) -- but the ones I take in, I make sure they are cared for well.  I can't say that about everyone who owns animals, and that's a shame.  Most people don't even see the animals until they are healthy and almost ready for adoption.  If I have a sick critter that might upset someone to see its injury, or needs peace and quiet, it's usually somewhere off where it's not visible to the average person at the rescue.  But if you all saw the condition of some of the animals I get in, it's amazing how bad people can treat their animals and still think they're "caring for them well."  And I'm glad there's people out there with rescues, like me and my friends (seems when you have a rescue, you tend to meet others that run rescues), who take in those animals, and make sure to educate the next owner, so the cycle doesn't repeat itself.  I think, for the most part, we do a good job.  There will always be some people who slip through the cracks -- some who aren't great owners, that we don't realize until later on -- but for as much as we all usually have on our plates at once, and with as much effort that we put into it and how hard we try -- I'd say we're doing pretty good.  :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Good times

Ok, so not much been going on lately on the adoption front.  Lots of people canceling appointments and deciding, after having their critter on hold for a few weeks, that they don't really want to adopt.  And of course, the people without the common courtesy to call and tell me when they're not coming, and last of all -- the person with the dog chew toys.  So, I think only one person has heard me talk about that, so here goes...

I had someone fill out an adoption form for one of our chins, and they left the chew toys section blank.  So, I emailed them and asked what type of chew toys were safe.  So, they replied:

Im not sure as to what type of chewtoys a chinchilla would need. Chew toys like dog toys? or do they have special chew toys?

So, I answered:

As for the chew toys, for chins they're for a different purpose than like a chew toy for a dog.  For chins, as the care packet indicates, the chew toys are meant to wear down their ever-growing teeth.  Typically, chew toys are made of wood, pumice, or other chin-safe materials that can gnaw on.

Her reply:

I will get a dog chew toy then probably from pet smart.

And people wonder why I want to pull my hair out.  I, nicely, emailed her back, saying:

As for the chew toy, I will paste what I wrote in the last email:

As for the chew toys, for chins they're for a different purpose than like a chew toy for a dog.  For chins, as the care packet indicates, the chew toys are meant to wear down their ever-growing teeth.  Typically, chew toys are made of wood, pumice, or other chin-safe materials that can gnaw on. 

If you read what I pasted above, you will see that a dog toy will not work, as dog toys are not made of wood.  You would want to get some sort of small animal toy in either the small animal or bird section of the store.  If you can't find anything you like, I have chew toys for sale.  But usually the pet stores have quite a selection of stuff to chew on, just look for toys with some sort of wood. 

Now, I want to note, this person put down on their application that they READ our care packet.  These type of people drive me nuts -- it's almost no different than the person who "reads" the care packet and then puts down that they're going to feed Kaytee.  Hands down I know the care packet says to not feed anything Kaytee.

But anyway, these people aggravating me has me on an all time bitch-fest lately (ya  might have noticed), meanwhile, I was stressed cause of all the animals and all the work cleaning em all -- someone is trying to help me out.  I'm not super religious, but there's no way this is all happening without some divine intervention.  I really don't think it's been cause I've been bitching, cause that's just been pissing some people off, rather than making them want to help. 

But I have had quite a few volunteers coming over lately to help, probably more in the last two weeks than I had all last year.  This has significantly lessened the stress for me, and given me someone to talk to, which is a hot commodity when you're not working and staying home. 

In addition -- and this has got to be divine intervention, cause there's no way this is just coincidence -- I ran out of the brown paper stracks bags I use for everything.  And of course, I forgot to tell my dad to make sure to ask for those when he goes to stracks, and he went later the same day... and got plastic.  So, this is sort of a problem for me, because, while I can use plastic for just about everything else... I need those paper ones for when people buy hay.  So, one of my regular customers comes by this morning to pick up some chin chow, and she shows up with...brown paper bags (the big kind, like I need).  Perfect timing.  Omg.  Awesome.  And some guinea pig food, and a water bottle as a donation, as well as some reuseable tote bags.  Awesome.

Also, got in the mail yesterday a donation from Mara some food for the chins.  I'd have to weigh it and see how much it is, but it's one of those large medium boxes full of food!  How awesome, right?  That should feed the rescues for awhile.  So then, today, I get in the mail another box, and it's this cute little package of guinea pig treats!  I believe it's also from Mara, as she's the only one who recently asked for my address (the address on the box is exactly how I wrote it out for her -- few people actually address boxes to "NWI Chinchilla Rescue c/o Ashley Gajda" haha).  Heck, few people send things here, so that really limits boxes that I get for the rescue, in general, lol.  But how awesome, right?  See pic below.

Don't get me wrong, I have food for the chins and treats for the piggies and all, they're not gonna starve without donations, but it's always nice to see someone's thinking of the rescue.  :)

I think that may be it for now.  Hoping to have some adoptions to post soon -- I got a call about David this morning, they said they needed to talk it over with their bf and they'd get back to me, so we'll see how that goes.  And then I'm supposed to have those 5 chins dropped off Sunday, assuming this appointment isn't cancelled again.  This person has already cancelled 2 or 3 appointments (for sure 2, might be three), so I'm not promising anyone first crack at any chins yet until they get here -- plus, I have no idea what she has in terms of male/female/color.... but sometimes the second I post "I think I'll be getting in a black velvet...." I get four emails saying (in so many words) "mine!"  Lol.  But no grabbies on these guys, until they're here anyways.  She's attached, and I understand that, I just wish, if she was going to cancel, she wasn't always the first appointment in the morning earrrrly in the day.  Just not a morning person.

Monday, January 14, 2013

MBA capstone course

May or may not post more later (it's already late -- probably maybe not), but first, a shameless plug for my MBA capstone class:

For my MBA capstone, we need to build a business plan. Ours is opening up a "pet shop," called The Petite Pet, that features adoptable animals from local rescues, as well as only stocking products safe for each pet (divided to make it clear which is safe for which, in the store). We need feedback on our marketing survey -- -- anyone, ANYONE, can take it. We would love as much feedback as we can get. Thank you.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Honest to fucking god

So, I had someone wanting to pick up some of the plastic superpet shelves and tubes today.  I told her, call before you come over, because I know I'm not going to be sitting home all day.  Does she call?  No.  She comes by, I'm not home, and she calls four times, apparently while sitting in the driveway.  I get a text a bit later, saying she was at my house for awhile, but she guesses I wasn't home (ya think?) and I should call her so I can meet her somewhere.

Now, let's remember.  I said call before you come.  That means... you don't just SHOW UP.  You CALL first.  Did she call?  No.  I don't feel bad if I'm not home when you are calling from my doorstep, because you didn't call BEFORE you came.

Also, let's remember, these superpet shelves and all are $0.50 cents each.  So, we're talking about a $3 order that she wants to pick up.  It is not worth my gas to meet her anywhere for $3.

So, when I do get home, I text her back:

Me:  I wasn't home and I forgot my phone at home.  I told you to call first.  I can't help that you didn't call and you came when I wasn't here.  If you want to get your stuff, you'll need to come here.  It's not worth my gas to meet you for $3. 

Me:  And if you want to stop by, I need to know you're coming before you stop by.

....reasonable, right?  Not being an ass, just saying, I said call before you come, if you don't, I'm not going to apologize for not being home....

Her:  Ok??'re being completely ridiculous right now.  I wasn't mad or anything... tried to call.  Whatever.  Keep your shit.  Not worth the attitude, bye.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Ok, so today is one of those frustration days.

First, we got a chin back.  Sold the chin to the dad, who said that his son (23 yr) wanted a chin and had been asking for one or hinting for one, something like that, for Christmas.  So he gets him a chin and all accessories.  Turns out, he gets the chin home, and the kid didn't literally mean, "get me a chin."  Apparently the kid said he's not at his actual apartment enough to care for it.  So, we get it and everything with it back.

Then, I had someone supposed to come tomorrow to adopt a guinea pig.  Ok, so she calls and says she can't come pick him up, because she's starting a second job, and between both jobs she's going to be gone from like 6 am to 7 pm.  Fair enough.  But then she says, well, when summer comes, give me a call cause I don't work during the summer, and I can adopt then.  Um, excuse me?  So, for 3 months, the pets will have care, but then what about when she starts up work again?  I wrote down her number and may very well call her around summer, but that question is going to get answered first, before she leaves with anything. 

Moving on, I had someone who was texting me last night about the degus.  So the texts were one after another, until I sent a text asking if she'd read in the ad that only one of the degus was handleable.  All of a sudden, no texts back.  So I texted asking if she was still interested.  Nothing.  Texted saying that if she wasn't interested I needed to know so that I could move on to the next person.  Nothing.  And I wasn't like giving her 2 mins between texts, she had like at least 15-20 between each of mine.  Ok, so this morning, she texts and said that she went to sleep, and asked why I hadn't sent her the adoption form.  Oy.  Like people, if you're going to text me back in 15 seconds after every time I text you, and you decide to go to sleep, at least preface it with a "I'll talk more tomorrow," or something. 

So, she gets the forms back to me, decides which cage she wants, and we're trying to set up a time and she asks for the address.  So I give it to her, and I tell her, I can either have her here in the morning or later in the afternoon, cause mid-day I have an interview (yeah, who-hoo, expensive private college education and law degree and this_close to an MBA and I'm going for an interview as a gift shop cashier at a casino -- remind me what that schooling did for me again?).  So I tell her, the latest I can do is 11 or the earliest again is like 4ish.  So, first she says 10, and I say that's fine, and then she says, oh, we're 3 hours away.  Really?  Like you're just now realizing that?  Cause every, and I mean every ad I have up says, "This [insert animal] is located in Munster, IN (46321)."  The idea being, before you email/call/text me, you look up where that is.  Course, that's banking on the idea that people actually read the ad, and let's be real, they read the title and call/email/text.  So, yeah, I'm three hours away, I could have told her that by her address on the form.  So then I ask her if that means she doesn't want to come tomorrow (because she gave me some response dealing with the fact that she has kids and she has to plan for this, cause she didn't realize it was so long, and yadda yadda).  So she says she's trying to figure something out.  Asks what time again she can come, and I say, no later than 11, no earlier than 4ish.  "Ok, how about noon your time?"  AHHHHHH *pulls hair out*

On a positive note, even though the current people for Lucy didn't show up and never emailed, I got an email from the people who were interested in her and then said they were going on vacation and would get back to me.  So, assuming I hear back from them, she may be going home after all. 

Products arriving damaged

So, I feel the need to put this up here cause this has been a frustration lately.

I had someone order a motorhome and several other things.  The motorhome arrived in pieces, with some of the boards of wood literally broken in half.  Like, not like the glue came apart, like somehow 1" wood was completely split.  So, I said send it back, I'd pay for return shipping, and I'd mail them out another one. 

Got it back, repaired, sent back out.  It came in pieces AGAIN.  Now, first off, if I tell you to send something back to me, by all means, don't send it the fastest way possible.  It cost me $20 (what they told me they paid) to ship some pieces of wood back to me.  I sent a completed motorhome, which is a lot bigger than a box made up of pieces, back to them for under $12. 

Also, at some point, I am not liable for your mail carrier's issues.  I have never, and I mean, NEVER, had anything arrive broken moreso than a roof coming off a hidey house.  And I mean, THAT'S IT!  So, a whole motorhome coming apart in the mail, and pieces of 1" wood being literally split in half?  Not completely my fault, or my problem.  I will replace it, if it comes broken the first time.  But if it comes broken the second time, and the wood boards are still split in half?  Guess what, your local mail carrier is just too rough with packages.  It would probably take me jumping on a 1" piece of wood suspended in the air to break it in half.  So I'd LOVE to know how, packaged in a box with bubble wrap and a shitload of peanuts, the boards ended up split in half.  At some point, I can't be responsible.  To protect the products from some of these mail carriers who must decide throwing the boxes off the roof of buildings is the new type of fun, I'd have to package this shit in steel crates -- and imagine what shipping would cost then. 

I will replace things once.  In this case, I spent $20 to ship the pieces back, and yet another $12ish to mail the completed motorhome back.  So I just paid $32 to ship out a $27 product.  Negative profit, wonderful.  If it breaks twice, you're getting a refund, not the product re-made and re-shipped again.  Sorry.  I don't have that much free time to be making three of the same product, mailing three of them out, and making negative $5 on it. 

Not to be mean, but I just don't have that much spare time.  A refund is your friend.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Pictures (to go with the last post)

Got my pictures re-sized and all (for the previous post).  Here we go:

Lilly with her new "mom," Chantel.

GiGi with her new "dad," Chris.

Our male beige hooded rat, now "Peanut Brittle," with his new mom, Courtney.

Spice, with her new "mom," Claira.

(from a few days ago) Kandie with her new "parents," DeeDee & Dave.

Roo (mink variegated female dumbo rat) and Tweak (black variegated female dumbo rat) with their new "mom," Courtney.

......we (me & Meredith) were saying we wanted to get out "evil" and squeeeeeeeeeeze her (to see if evil would come out, haha), and this is the picture that resulted.....

Meredith with one of our rescue pigs, David.  His color isn't actually split down the middle quite like this, it's just the way the picture looks because of hand placement.

Busy day

So, today was a busy day.  Started off with a text from someone who'd been texting me for the last bit about my male rat that's up for adoption.  They wanted to come today, so I got them directions and they came by.  Really liked the male rat, and ended up taking him home.  While they were here, the girl noticed the other rats we have, specifically the dumbos, and texted me, after they left, asking how much they are (they are $10 for the first rat, $5 for each additional, just like normal-eared rats).  So I told her, and told her that those rats weren't "ready" yet, so she could adopt them, but they wouldn't come with a health guarantee.  That was fine with her.  So she called me, asking a few more questions, and asking about the chinchillas we have.  So they wanted to know how much they were, and she said they wanted a nice one, but a cheaper one, so I told them that the cheaper ones that we have tend to have attitudes... which I told her, is not a problem out of the cage, but the task is getting them out.  Ok, so she said that was fine, and I told her they could look at them when they came.

Now, in the meantime, Meredith showed up to volunteer, so she was helping prep the corner shelves and then sanding down pieces for my toys, while I tried to organize and clean some more of the rescue.

So the people eventually show back up.  Now, the first time they came, it was the girl and (I'd assumed) her mother.  But when they showed up again.... there must have been 10 people with them.  Which is fine, but oh hell.  Very glad Meredith was there, because the people who bring the entire family, I find exhausting.  Everyone's talking at once, I can only listen to one person at a time, and I'm typically trying to get stuff ready so they can sign the forms and leave.  So, I'm trying to bag up everything and they picked a cage and decided they liked GiGi (yay! she's gone!  not a bad chin, but certain ones I think are gonna be lifer's, and she found a home! yay!) and took her and the two dumbo rats home.  Awesome.

Went back to cleaning up and all, then eventually went and took down GiGi's ads and all, and then Meredith left, and then I was just waiting for Lilly's new family to come pick her up.  They'd come maybe a week ago to pick up supplies and a cage, and wanted to get it all settled prior to bringing her home.  So they came and picked her up and got her and a hammock and took her home.  Yay, I have a completely empty FN...

...and 5 chins coming to fill it, and several other cages, on Sunday.  Oy.

So, lots of critters adopted out today.  Unfortunately, one of the rats that was brought in on the 30th passed unexpectedly today (he was FINE this morning), which is exactly why I won't give health guarantees until the critter's been here 30ish days (or close to, I'm not going to quibble on day 28).  Cause it's possible something's wrong and I'm not going to be liable for some ridiculous vet bill because the adoptive home didn't want to wait.  I'm fine with letting them go home early -- I just won't be held liable for any health problems.  Which, really, I should probably make people sign something to that extent, but it's rare people adopt early, simply because if you're not physically here at the rescue to see them, most people have no idea what animals I'm "sitting on" and haven't listed yet until they're actually available.  Though I think I'm going to list some of the other ones, now that a lot of the adoptable critters are gone... but with the note that they won't be ready until a certain date.

Monday, January 7, 2013


So, just a little mini-rant today.  Ok, so remember the lady with the four guinea pigs and two rats?  That wanted to drop them off Saturday and then didn't show up, and didn't tell me until 7-8 HOURS afterwards that oh, something came up.  Yeah.  I get a call this morning, from a blocked number (which, btw, I will not answer, so if you want to talk to me, don't block your number, cause it makes me suspicious), and it's her, saying she found homes for all the guinea pigs and rats (really? in two days -- what was she paying people to take them?), but now she wants to know -- she has chinchillas she might want to bring to the rescue.  Um... what?  Four guinea pigs, two rats, and chinchillas.  Not that I don't have a lot of animals, but I have my breed/show chins and I rescue.  For the average person -- running a hoarding operation are we?  I would love to see the size cages this person has.  Something tells me they would be small.  And talk about dumping all your animals at once.  I called her and left a message.  Watch her call back and ask if I can take in [insert animal here] as well.

AND.... I got a call a few days ago from someone asking if we took in guinea pigs.  I told her we do, when we're not full, and she said ok she'd refer me to her friend.  Hate to be an ass, but.... are people incapable of calling themselves?  It's one thing to say, hey, friend, know of anyplace that takes guinea pigs?  And if they know, they tell you.  Not that I don't condone people helping one another, but I feel like people are getting too lazy to do any grunt work themselves.  Anyway, so the friend calls today, says she's been "outta work for two years."  And she waited all this time to get them care?  Omg boils my blood.  I called her back (got voicemail) and referred her to Critter Corral, cause her location sounded around their area. 

Ok, one more thing.  I was on craigslist and ran across a Wisconsin rescue type place for small animals and it said how they found a vet to spay/neuter their animals for low-cost.  How it is these people find these vets?  If I'm lucky I get a $10 discount when I go locally, because (depending on who's ringing me up), they charge the re-check fee instead of the initial exam fee.  Ooooh.  Not that I don't appreciate it (I do!), but it sure isn't giving me spays/neuters for $20 like that one small dog rescue I talked to, or even for $50/60 (the rescue I found recently is adopting out rabbits for $60, so surely the spay/neuter is under/near that amount).  Shit, it would cost me like $150+ to spay/neuter a chin.  I want to find a vet to work with me.  And one that's not an hour away, because the drive would negate any savings.  Don't get me wrong, I take in the pets when they need care.  But I would be a lot more willing to squeeze more animals in the rescue, excuse me, more sick animals, if it didn't break the bank every time I go to the vet.  When I'm full, if I have to take in anything, sick animals are at the very bottom of the list.  Not because I don't want to treat them, but because they take so much time and effort, and when the rescue is overflowing, the last thing I have is time.  But it doesn't help that I've walked out of the vet with a $600 vet bill before and all I have to show for it is inconclusive test results and a few doses of baytril.  Now come on, it doesn't really cost $5 to give me an extra syringe, does it?  No, it doesn't, cause I can buy those syringes on a vet website for 30 cents a piece, so I KNOW the vet is getting them cheaper than that cause they're buying in bulk.  Another case --> I saw on facebook that someone's vet charged them only $50 for their kitten to be in cat ICU and get oxygen for 2 days.  $50!!  Shit, I'm jealous.  I paid over $125-200 per DAY for Shiloh to get oxygen, depending on his necessary levels.  I need to find me one of these vets.  Ok, how bout this.  Who wants to grow up and be a vet and cut me breaks when you have your own practice?  I'll bring all my animals to you and you can be the "nice vet" associated with the chinchilla rescue.....  *dangles carrot*

Cages, more cages, idiots, and "failure to thrive"

So, I get up, and I've got a voicemail from the person wanting to swap out their cage.  Cause, you know, I could forget about them.  Anyway, so I'm going to go downstairs and count bolts, and someone suggested that I call Menards and ask them where my order is.  After all, it was supposed to be in on the 31st (checked my order form) and I still hadn't gotten a call.  So, I'm listening through their "dial one for hardware, two for...." system, and of course, there's no "dial 25 for custom orders," so I press the number to speak to a manager.  Cause, you know, the team members didn't know what they were doing placing my order, so I'm going to speak to someone who knows something.  Lol.  So I get a manager, and I explain (nicely) that I placed an order, haven't received a call, and that the people taking the order didn't seem sure they were doing it right (I said it as nice as possible, I swear!), so I wanted to check on the order.  So she asks for my order number, and tells me where I can find it, and checks and it turns out they have my order, they just never called.  Alrighty then. 

So, I go back upstairs to get dressed (presentable-like, to go out in public) and I get yet another call from those people wanting to know if I had gotten their first phone call and voicemail.  The 7 years of customer service training have to push back my desire to strangle this woman (for anyone who hasn't caught on, you only need to ask once... if you call 5 times in the hour, and don't get me any of those times, that results in me NOT wanting to call you, rather than me returning your call right away), but I reign my issues in, and I nicely tell her that I am going to soon be on my way to get my order and pick up some wood, and I will give her a call when the cage is ready.

So, before I can leave the house, someone else calls and wants one of the new cages with shelves.  Cause, you know, my website says the store is closed but people can pick up cages.  Oops.  Wording problem.  That should have said, USED cages.  As in -- cages that already have shelving, so I don't have to do more work.  Well, at the point she called, I didn't have my bolts, so I told her I would call her back when I had them.  Will call her tomorrow.

So, I went and got the bolts and the wood, come home, build the cage and they come and pick it up.  Wonderful.

As for the special order --- hanger bolts are like 2 for $1-ish (depending on size) at Home Depot.  4 for $1-ish (again, depending on size) at Menards.  You want 1000 of them?  Exponentially cheaper.  But only Mendards will do it for you, and only if you know exactly what size and length you want.  So, if you're like me, and would be running to the store every week for hanger bolts (which they would often be out of, since you cleared them out), check out Menards' special orders.  1000 lasted me about a year and two months this time.  That's pretty good, considering I hate dealing with special orders as problems are not uncommon.

And in all fairness, I have yet to OPEN the box they gave me, so it's still very possible that they got the order wrong (I ended up having enough bolts and wingnuts to do the cage without opening the order).  And unfortunately, I realized I should have ordered my washers at the same time, as I probably only have enough of those for another month or two.  Oy.

So, failure to thrive.  In all reality, this could affect all animals, but the only ones I will be referring to are chinchillas.  In chinchillas, chinchillas with "failure to thrive," basically fail to develop as they should.  They're born and they seem fine, maybe small, but fine.  They grow somewhat, but typically slower than their counterparts.  At weaning time, they're often too small to wean, but if it's a male, you have to wean regardless.  They may continue to gain some, but eventually, whatever is wrong with them, whatever is causing them to fail to thrive, ends up killing them.  We had a kit like this here.  One of our three kits from Chunk (who is going to be up for a pet home, but we'll get back to that), a mosaic male, was always small.  He was from a litter of three.  He was not the runt, but his weight gain was all over the place.  By several weeks into his life, even the runt had a more steady pattern of growth than he did.  At 8-9 weeks, he still wasn't even 175 grams, but at that age, they can get females pregnant, so he was pulled and put with one of our male chinchillas, Winx.  He consistently dug through the food, and then didn't want to eat it when it wasn't in the bowl, so I put in extra hay, as sometimes the kits will eat the hay moreso than the pellets.  He kinda sat around the 175 range and then started gaining, slowly, again.  I listed him up for sale, and he was put on hold.  I weighed him a few days ago, and he'd dropped a few grams.  Not a ton, but enough that when his to-be-home emailed me and asked when he would be ready to go (as I'd told them two weeks, and I believe it had been two weeks), I told them that I couldn't let him leave yet, as his failure to gain weight, at this far along in his age, could signify that there was a problem.  It never fails that I send and email like that, and then today, I went down to check on the chins, and he had passed.  I just finished typing out an email to his to-be home, apologizing (though, in reality, with failure to thrive kits, there's nothing that can be done to save them, it's like they have terminal cancer -- it's going to get them eventually), and asking if they wanted to be added to the waiting list for when we have another mosaic male.  We will see what she says.

I have been asked about why I list kits when I do, and why I don't offer them for sale earlier.  There is a breeder who I consistently see listing day old kits, basically saying look, I have a mosaic male, born today, he's $xx if you want him!  While there is nothing wrong with that, I will be never be caught dead doing that.  I list kits at 175 grams.  At that weight, they are able to survive on their own, should they need to, or should something happen to their mother.  They can be offered a dry formula, they are eating at least somewhat on their own at that point, and they can definitely live and thrive on their own.  Prior to 175 grams... they can live, but it takes a lot of handfeeding, and even with that, it's just not a good bet.  I'm not saying they can't live.  I have handfed kits from 30 grams until they reached 250ish grams, and they all lived and (as far as I know) are still living in their new homes.  However, I would never offer one for sale until it was at 175 grams, as I would not be comfortable listing kits that I do not feel are past the danger zone.  Granted, 175 is not some magic number, they can still die after that weight.  Kits are fragile, just as human babies are.  However, 175 is my "turning point," where I will list the kits.  So, for the people on my waiting list, if I have a baby born that matches what someone wants, I email them at 175 grams (typically 4-6 weeks, depending).  If I don't have a match on my waiting list, they are put on the website at 175 grams.  Before this instance, I had never had a kit listed on the website and die, and I do believe that's as a result of picking a weight and sticking with it.  I have had kits die here, we had several die this year (as all breeders do, the chin mortality rate is ~ 20%), but all of them were under 175 grams, so none of them had been listed for sale.  I, personally, would be curious to know how many babies (that the other breeder offers for sale) die before they are picked up.  Maybe not a lot, I don't know, but I would prefer to never have to tell someone that their baby died.  I think listing them on day one is just asking for having to tell someone that their baby died.  That's just my 2 cents.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Good / Frustrating Day

All in one, yeah, I know.

My first person today was supposed to be dropping off some guinea pigs and rats.  Had the appointment set between 10-10:30.... they never showed. 

On a positive note, the 11:30 showed, and so they got their stuff, adopted Kandie, and went their merry way.  When they were gone, I emailed the 10ish person and asked what happened and if they still wanted to bring the pets over.  They said the were called into work and just got a break (at 6:37 pm).  Fine.  But the email was sent from their phone.  Would it have been that difficult to type a one-liner and email it off saying they couldn't come today?  Apparently so.  So she says she wants to still bring the animals but is busy til next Saturday, so I emailed back asking what time.  We'll see how that goes.

So then, I was supposed to have people come between 12:30 and 2 to pick up Lucy.  They had said, yesterday, that they were going to call in the morning to confirm.  Yeah, about that, even after the 11:30, I still had no call, but I finally got an email around 1:15 saying the daughter won't be home til after 3:30 (and they knew they couldn't show up any later than 2, or had to wait until later tonight), and of course the daughter had to be there, and so they asked about coming later tonight.  So I told them, my next available times were 6:45 or later.  Got an email back saying they'd email or call around that time to come by.  Fine.

So, my 3:00 showed up on time, no problem.  Adopted Spice and got a cage and supplies to go with her.

So, time passes, it becomes 6:45ish, and I have no email, no call, no nothing, and I'm debating leaving the house to get some food.  Well, I ended up leaving, and good thing I did, because I never did receive either an email or call from those people.  So, I sent them an email just nicely asking when they want to stop by.  *deep breaths*

Then I get an email from the adoptive home who took home Spice.  Turns out, the cage they chose (which I might ad, resulted after much long deliberations, you'd think they were choosing a new car, not a $100 cage) only has a door close to the bottom and two doors on the side.  And, they find it difficult to get the chin out.  Apparently they were too concerned about the sturdiness of the bars (because, you know, the cage has to apparently stand up to 4000 tons of pressure, should a car happen to land on top of it), and not so concerned about how easy it would be to get the chin out.  So, the kid's complaining she can't get her chin out, and they want to bring back the cage and get another one.  Fine, so they ask about another cage which I'd recommended because it had thicker bars which they had liked, and I told them, it has two doors,one towards the top, but if the chin is on the very top shelf, it's still difficult to get the chin out. For anyone, not just for a kid with short arms.  I can't design a perfect cage, sorry.  So, in the email, they ask if they can buy the cage they used for the trial run.  How bout... no?  It's MY cage.  It's the one we use for the expos, and it has shelves made with the poo guards, which I absolutely despise having to cut and make (which is why they're not offered on the website).  So they asked about the new cages  that I have for sale, the medium one.  Which, actually, is the same cage as the cage they took on the trial run.  They can take that one, it's fine with me, but here's the thing -- this whole "the store is closed" thing has turned from me wanting a break to everyone adopting a chin wanting half the store items with the chin.  So much for that.  Now, if they want that cage, I don't have enough wood here to make the shelves, AND, Menards is a week late already on my order of bolts and wingnuts.  So I may not even have enough here to shelve the cage even if I did have the wood, as I don't build the shelves for a new cage until I actually have someone buying one of the new cages.  So much for relaxing on my two weeks of store being closed.

So I told her, I can check in the morning about the bolts -- I'll count how many I used on the expo cage and if I have that many, I can replicate the shelves in the new cage, though that will require a trip out to the hardware store for wood, and a trip to Menards to ask where my order's managed to be.

AND I went to the post office today to mail two packages -- a hidey house order from back in December (oops) and another package -- when I met with Amber (the guinea pig rescue), in exchanging the critters, I forgot to give her one of her bags, which contained 20 of the muncher's delight chew toys.  Whoops.  I told her we could just meet up next month again, but I guess she wants them before then, so she asked me if I could pack them up flat rate.  Well they just barely fit in a large flat rate box, and I mean like SQUEEZED in there.  Well, at the time she hadn't paid yet (she has now), but I figured she's good for it.  See, if I know you, or you've been here enough times that you notice changes at the rescue, you can have more leniency on small-amount payments, i.e. your package will ship while I'm waiting for your payment, you can paypal me when you get home but take your stuff with you today, you can write a check, etc.  And I've known Amber for awhile, so I figured I'd ship her box and I know she'd be good for the payment.  So I get to the post office, and the stinkin APC machine is out of order.  Really?  Like I put all the orders together and everything and of course, when I finally do, I get there and it's out of order.  I was glad I was going elsewhere (to pick up dinner) or that woulda really been a peeved situation.  Though, on a positive note, I did pick up a stack of boxes (those medium flat rate ones make awesome chin/rat carriers for short trips when people don't have and won't buy a carrier), so I'll be set for future pickups and for future flat rate Mazuri orders as well. 

But ooooh frustrating.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Cleaning & Guinea Pigs & Other Stuff

So, today I went to Merrillville in the morning and met Amber.  She adopted Darwin (cream & white coronet guinea pig) and Aries (dwarf hamster).  From her, I picked up a guinea pig for one of my to-be-adoptive homes.  Can't think of her name.  Also picked up 3 texel piggies and a skinny pig for a guinea pig breeder.

Got home, had one of my adoptive homes come over to volunteer.  Now, I love any help I can get, but some people that I have come over... how do I say it... can't take direction very well and I end up standing over them the entire time.  If I'm standing there educating you for 2 hours how to do something, that's great cause you're learning... but I could have probably done it myself in less time.  Not that subsequent times wouldn't be quicker, but there's definitely something to be said for people who I can tell vacuum out the cages starting this way and going down, and I'll be behind you adding shavings.  And the person who I had come over today was awesome.  Been here before, so that always helps.  I don't expect the new people to know what they're doing, which is why most people who've never been here before end up making toys or hidey houses or something like that, because it's easier and I can do it with them without standing over them doing nothing.  But today, it was good. 

Not all the cages needed to be cleaned, but a good majority.  The guinea pig cage that has Apollo and Lucky in it needed to be vacuumed out and have new bedding.  So did the three guinea pig cages in the stack, as well as Rochelle's cage and Lucy's cage.  So we got those vacuumed out, scraped, and refilled with bedding.  Then moved on to the FNs and CN.  I just washed the liners the other day, but I hadn't switched out the old for the new.  Usually I try to give myself time to do that, because I need to pull out the dirty liners, vacuum up everything in the pan, wipe down the pan and get out any stains, and then put in the new liners.  So, it can take awhile to do the span of 5 cages, top and bottom.  It worked out a lot easier with two people though.  And since it wasn't taking me forever to do, I actually had the time to pull all the FNs away from the wall, vacuum all four sides of the cage, and vacuum the floor under the cages.  I even pulled the stack of runs away from the wall (which requires the CN next to the stack to be moved) and vacuumed under that and on all sides of that.  So that was a very nice deep clean for all of that.  I don't think I've pulled the cages away from the wall and vacuumed behind or under them since I switched over to the FNs.  And they weren't filthy, by any means, but there's always some fur buildup on the outside of the cages and I can't get all the poos under the FNs without actually moving them... so that all got done. 

Also got all of the runs vacuumed out and new shavings put in those.  So, any chins wanting to have some babies, now's the time!  Vacuumed the piggie poos off of the liner in the pig's cage.  Let's see.  I just did the degu cage the other day, so they were good and didn't need cleaning.  I moved over the two youngest rats to the middle cage in the rat stack.  I need to move more over, but that just didn't happen today.

I would have already moved the rats, but I had someone who was supposed to be coming for one rat, and they wanted to know if I got any more in.  Well, I had one of my adoptive homes have to bring back some rats due to life circumstances, and so I had 6 new rats coming in (3 originally from here, the other three were theirs).  So, I had told this person about these rats, and I told her that the three that were originally from here were adopted out pretty recently (late November-ish) and they were pretty young, so while I would guess they were probably healthy, if she wanted to adopt them, I couldn't give her a health guarantee on them, as they'd have only been here a few days.  Well, she wanted pictures sent, so I sent her pictures, and she wanted some more, so I sent her some more.  Well long story short she decided she wanted to adopt the four females, plus the original male (to be a cagemate to their current male).  So, they were supposed to be getting a cage (from me) for the rats, a food bowl, water bottle, so on and so forth.  She not-so-nicely threw a fit that hammocks were $8.50, and I told her, the hammocks at the pet store are $9 and that doesn't include tax, so.....  So she asked me what the $4.50 cuddlebuddies were.  So I told her they were like pillows and I told her how big they were and I explained that they don't hang, they're like pillows, and finally she understood, so she asked me if I could somehow make her a $4.50 hammock.  Now, I hate to be an ass, but she was being a pain and at that point I should have told her to shove it.  Come on, you don't go to the petstore and say, "Well, I know this cage is $100, but I want one exactly like it... for $25... make me one?"  No, you don't.  Ok, but anyway, that day I had my issues reigned in more than I do today (this was several days ago), and I told her I would look and see if I had extra fabric.  Cause see, way back when, I picked up a rescue chin and the lady gave me a bag of various fabrics which she said she had used to make hammocks out of.  I feel bad, but I don't know which chin that was.  Anyway, so none of the fabrics were straight fleece.  One was a cottony-type material with a back that almost reminded me of batting, had these fancy design skulls on it, another was a tapestry type material, and the last was a polyester/fleece blend with embroidered flowers and leaves.  So, it was donated material, and so I took pictures of the three fabrics and sent them to her and I told her I could make her hammocks out of any of those for $4.50.  Because none of the materials were straight fleece, they wouldn't be safe for chins, but rats shred/destroy their hammocks anyway, so they can use pretty much whatever is around.  This was before I closed the webstore and all that, because this lady was kind of the last straw before I decided I needed a break.  So, she chose the fleece-ish material with the flowers and so I stayed up late cutting it into hammock size and sewing the hammocks.  So, she was set to come at 6 the next day, but it was going to be 5 my time because she was out of the time zone.  Fine.  So, it's 5 and she's still not here.  It's 6 and she's still not here (I was trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, thinking maybe she was telling me what time she would be here in "my time").  So 6:15-ish I text her and ask if she's still coming.  She tells me, well no, it would be too late.  Well, yes, if she left right then, but I told her, I'd expected her over an hour ago.  Now, this was supposed to be over a 4 hour drive for her, but she had already told me that she realized that, and she said maybe her husband would come instead of her, and I had said that was fine.  So, she wasn't texting back after I'd said that I'd been expecting her for some time, and so I asked her if she forgot.  She said she did, but the fact that I had to suggest it made me think that she really decided she wasn't coming.  So, I texted her asking when she wanted to come.  No text back, of course.  So, I had her email, because we'd already done her adoption form (over texting) because no matter how I sent it, she couldn't get it to open (of course).  So I emailed her nicely laying out the days and times I was available for the next several days.  Yeah... haven't heard from her.  And, even though she pissed me off and made me rush to get her hammocks done (because she's complaining about the price and telling me she wants cheaper ones the night before at like 2 am), I will give her the 5 days to respond back, and if she doesn't, then she gets two more days, and then that's it.  I'm being nice.  But it just pisses me off, cause I try to go out of my way to be nice, and they can't even tell me if they decide to back out?  And not like this is the first time, but they don't even have to admit they don't want the rats.  I don't care what people say as long as they tell me they are backing out.  For all I care, they can call and say "something came up, I'm not going to adopt."  I don't need ANY details, just tell me you're not coming so I know what to do with the critters.  Cause now, they're all sitting here for another 5ish days because I don't know what's going on with her.  Granted, I have a pretty good idea, but every once in awhile someone emails on day 7, so I try to be nice and give people the benefit of the doubt.  I don't think that's going to happen here, but anyway.  Not like 4 of those rats could be adopted out right away anyway (short of people wanting to adopt without the health guarantee), but that other rat has been here since he was like 5 weeks old.  He is now 5.5ish months old and is STILL here.  He's a sweet boy, who wants to adopt a rat?  But like right now, he's hidden on petfinder and he doesn't have ads up anywhere else, because when people express interest and I actually think they're going to show up, I take down ads or mark them on hold or whatever, so I don't end up with a backlog of 10 people wanting the same critter and emailing because the ad's still up.  Frustrating.

And she's not the only one who's backed out.  I have a couple on my waiting list who were wanting to adopt a pair of females.  They were going to take a pair for the trial run prior to Christmas, and then decided after Christmas would be better.  So I said that's fine, I'd contact them after the new year.  So, a few days prior to new year, I thought I'd see if Lilly would go in the cage with Kandie.  Prior to that, Lilly had been in a closed off run by herself, because when I tried to pair her with other females, I still had Lilly's mosaic female here, and so when Lilly got in the cage with her baby and the other females, she went berzerk trying to protect her baby.  Well, now that the baby had been sold, I thought I would try things again, because Lilly had previously done well with other females.  Well, she ended up doing fine with Kandie, so my first thought was to email these people on my waiting list and let them know that I had a pair of females they could take on trial run.  Even though it was a few days prior to new year, I figured we could get a head start on setting a date for them to come pick them up.  Well, surprise surprise, I never heard back.  Sent them the two day notice, still never heard back and tonight was their last night of that, so they are being taken off my waiting list.  Which actually has worked out alright, since Lilly is set to go home soon, and Kandie's being picked up Saturday, but the point is the same -- how difficult would it be to simply email me and say, we decided against it?  Apparently too difficult.

Ok, so moving on.  One of our chins, Spice, is on a trial run right now, and it's been over a week, so I was expecting a call about that.  So they called today and said they want to get her, so we set up a time and all.  I think Saturday.  Anyway, so they have a cage on hold, and they said they were wanting to get some other supplies, so I asked them to email me what else they wanted, so I could get it ready ahead of time.  Because if I know someone wants 5 pounds of food, I will scoop them 5 pounds of food, rather than wait until they get there and have to do it then.  Ok, so I get an email saying they want food, hay, dust, a cage, and so on.  Which, and I mean this with no offense to them, is not helpful to me in any way.  Short of telling me that I should get out a baggie for dust and food.... how much am I getting ready?  No idea.  They also wanted to know about a few other cages that I had for sale.  All of which were here and they looked at, at the time they decided which cage they wanted.  Which is fine, but these people really wanted a sturdy cage.  Back in 2003, when I got my first chin, cages were built a lot better than they are now, and I have my first chin cage up for sale.  So, that one is kind of the exception to the rule, as it has somewhat thicker bars and the bars don't flex if you press on them.  So, they're asking about other cages, and I'm explaining that I don't think they'd like these certain other cages, because of the fact the bars flex, which they said they didn't like because it wasn't sturdy.  Well, one of the cages they were asking about was one that I'd sold the other day, but they said they liked it because it folded down. Well, here's the thing.  I can break down any cage you want -- but YOU will be the one putting it back together.  She said she liked that it folded down flat (which that one did fold down flatter than the one they had on hold, because it had a 1" pan versus like a 5" base), but I told her, you're giving up the sturdiness for ease of breakdown.  Which, short of having some necessity of breaking down the cage weekly for some reason, is only a problem once -- the initial time you bring the cage home. 

And then they asked about the 13% discount.  And here's the thing.  This is why I NEVER do sales on chin prices.  Because everyone in the last month tries to call me up and ask if I can refund them some money because they "just got the chin 7 days ago, and Meijer honors price changes up to 7 days after the sale."  Hate to break it to you, but this is NOT Meijer and they do NOT have chinchillas, so I hardly think you can compare.  And I probably will not do another sale on chin prices after this one, because I have gotten so many phone calls and emails.  Everyone wants something for nothing.  I usually do $20 off a pair, which is reasonable in the chin world.  Well, now, people want 13% off each chin and $20 off the pair (despite the fact that right now I don't even have a pair to sell), and they ask, oh, am I giving out the reward cards yet?  No, I'm not.  It's not even about the money, but I'm not going to apply the sale price, and then another different sale price, and then give you money off for every so much you spend.  This is not extreme couponing on TLC people.  You can't pile discount on top of discount, and then, there was one person who wanted all those discounts (and how they found out about the reward cards, which I think I've only mentioned once or twice on here, I don't know), and then they asked, oh and could I reduce the price cause they just don't have the money?  No.  Guess what?  You don't have $65 for a chin and $75 for a cage and another $25 for some supplies, you don't need a chin.  I'm not saying people without money shouldn't adopt, but if $10 is going to break the bank, you should probably go with a cheaper pet as far as vet bills are concerned.  I said no on the additional discount because they basically wanted to get a total of $300 worth of stuff (sale prices, mind you), for like $200.  Uh, sorry, this isn't a garage sale.  You ask for a discount nicely, and without asking me to pile the discounts on top of one another, I may give it to you.  But $100 discount?  Sorry, I still gotta feed these things at the end of the day.

So I told the people with Spice they could have the discount.  But here's the problem with that.  I usually do it this way -- when you say you want the chin and I put it on hold, that's the price you pay.  So, if the chin is $150 and you put it on hold, you pay $150.  If I decide to do a sale the following week and cut adoption fees in half, the point is to move additional chins, not to reduce the prices for those that are already on their way out.  I'm sorry if people don't like that.  But see, people want the price that applies when they pick up.  Well, sometime.  Cause see, if the chin's on sale today, and they wait til February to pick up, well, darn, they want the sale price, cause it was on sale when they put it on hold.  Well, funny, if you want it that way, then if it wasn't on sale at the time it was put on hold, you would get the normal price.  You can't have it both ways, people.  The reason I have it the way I do is so that if someone sees the chin and it's on sale, they get the sale price when they pick it up, even if the sale is over.  If it wasn't on sale and now is, they pay the price it was when they put it on hold.  That's the only way to be fair, I feel, because it doesn't reward people for (intentionally or not) not picking up until their happens to be a sale, and it doesn't punish people who see a chin on sale and can't pick it up until the sale's over.  I hate to be an ass, but don't like it?  Too bad.  I try to be fair but at the end of the day, I can't please everyone.  There's always someone who wants something else, or something for nothing, and I have been walked all over enough in the first few years of having the rescue open that I can't just bend to every little whim of the customer.  I no longer work in retail, but when I did, I HATED that "the customer is always right" thing.  No, they're not.  If the sign says "pants 50% off" and they take a shirt off the rack, it's not 50% off people!  The sign says "pants," but they think because it says 50% off it applies to everything (I worked in the fashion department of Meijer for years and saw this stupidity every day).  Same goes for specific things.  We used to have Americana t-shirts that would have flags, or red white and blue... people would pick up a t-shirt with a butterfly on it (and mind you, not a red white and blue butterfly) and wonder why it wouldn't ring up the price for the Americana t-shirts.  Just like I've had people ask, if a pair is $20 off, why isn't a single chin $10 off?  Cause it's a PAIR.  Jeez.  Like buy two, get one free.  If you just buy one.. you don't get anything free.

If you can't tell, people are getting to me, and I had to take a break from the store before I really told some people what I thought of them and their ideas about how my discounts should work.  I really feel like, you want to set discounts, go open a store.  I had someone tell me the other day that a certain item I have is priced above retail.  Is it?  It depends where you buy it.  If you look at other chin retailers, you will find that my price is EXACTLY what everyone else charges for this item.  If you can find it cheaper, by all means, go and get it cheaper.  But I'm not going to lower my price because you found it cheaper.  Sorry, I don't price match.

I got into this discussion with someone over hay the other day (and no, hay is not the item in question above).  I can get a 40-50 lb bale of hay for $5 and I usually even get one donated when I go to pick up bales.  I sell the hay for $1/pound.  Sure, that is a ton of profit if I actually sold the 250 pounds of hay I come home with... but in reality, I sell very little hay.  Most of it is eaten by the critters here.  So, I had someone ask if they could buy a bale of hay from me for $5.  Uh, no.  And I'm not even trying to be mean, but I can only fit a few bales in my blazer, so I have to get someone to borrow me their truck or drive with me out there to get the bales, and I have it stored up away from the floor so it doesn't mold.  By all means, anyone wants the name and phone number of the place I get the hay, I will gladly give it to you.  But, I will not pick you up a bale.  I don't care that it would be a fortune in profit if I sold someone a $5 bale for $50 (which, no one would want to do anyway, as most people can't easily store a bale or several of hay), but I'm also not going to drop my price down to 10 cents per pound, as that would be stupid and I'd spend more time in bagging it up and hoarding the paper grocery bags to put it in.

Same goes with the other item mentioned above.  If I sold it for what it really costs me, I'd probably have everyone and their brother in the chin community buying it from me.  But here's the thing -- I don't want to be shipping out a gazillion boxes with this item, because it wouldn't be worth the time and effort for me to get it, package it, get it in a box for shipping, and so on.  By charging the same price that everyone charges, we're all making relatively the same margin on this item, the difference being in how much we pay for it where we get it.  If someone finds it cheaper, by all means.  I really don't care one way or the other if people get supplies from me, I just want people to be able to find safe supplies, which is why I sell supplies.  Takes all the guesswork out for people who don't want to have to hunt down a certain brand of food. 

Ok, moving on again.  So, I had posted on here about the guinea pig that Amber (guinea pig rescue) had adopted out to these people, who had listed it for free.  Well, (and I think I said this already), the guinea pig ended up at a flipper's house, who then listed it on craiglist with cage and "$300 worth of hay" for $150.  I had emailed this person asking if they'd sell just the pig, because Amber was trying to get her pig back, and they said sure, for $75.  So I told them that while I would rather get an animal from craigslist versus the pet store, I would not pay more than double the price I'd pay at the pet store on craigslist.  That's crazy.  Shit, I can get a nice pedigreed, show quality texel (more difficult to find breed of guinea pig) for $50 from a reputable breeder.  Why would I want to pay $75 from some random craigslist person for a pig with unknown health history and all? 

Anyway, moving along to the present.  One of my adoptive homes said they would try to contact this person and see if she would sell them just the guinea pig.  Well, the person flat out refused, saying the guinea pig could not go with her stuff.  Now, without really going into it, you could make a C&C cage for probably under $40, a gp at the pet store is $35, and a bale of hay is $5.  That's $80 for everything NEW, nowhere near $150.  So, my adoptive home told the person that if they changed their mind, to let her know.  The response she got was that she had sold the pig and was taking the ad down, and the person who bought the pig was happy to pay that much because they were going to make a lot of money breeding the pig.  Oh, I could pull my hair out.  To start with, if someone thinks $150 for a pig and cage is a GOOD price, they have seriously inflated ideas about what a pig costs in the first place.  And weird ideas about how much $300 worth of hay really is.  I could feed the rescue hay for the rest of my life on $300.  Which makes me think that this is someone completely uneducated about pigs.  So, chances are, the pig will not be fed leafy greens, because those actually cost a decent amount if you're feeding a good amount per day, and those would cut into her profits on the pigs.  And if they think that's a good price for the pig and cage, what do they think the pig is worth, $50? $75?  Who knows, but I bet it's more than the $35 that pet stores sell their pigs for.  And I hate to break it to anyone, but if you're going to sell your animal at ABOVE pet store price, you better have something special to justify that.  Because many people will just as soon go to the pet store and avoid the breeder/rescue entirely.

So, say she breeds this pig and has babies.  Well, if she thinks the adult is worth a ton of money, well, darn, the babies must be worth even more (on that train of thought).  Now.  Adult pigs (here) have a re-homing fee of $20, unless they are pedigreed.  Baby pigs (3 weeks-ish) are $35.  The pet stores typically have 6-8 month old pigs for $35.  So, people are often willing to pay $35 for a baby pig here.  But let me tell you, by no means are they flying out of the cage with people snatching them up at $35.  So, asking even more is going to make them sell even slower.  And, with guinea pigs being about to reproduce at 3 weeks of age, chances are, this person won't have a second cage, and so the dad pig will still be in there, re-impregnating mom every time right after she delivers.  The baby pigs may impregnate each other, or dad may get one of the baby females pregnant.  Maybe a baby male will get mom pregnant.  The longer they're all together, the more likely this is.  That's why we have our pigs separated out at 3 weeks.  Taking no chances.  But see, someone just concerned about the money is just going to breed over and over, and not separate the male and female, and if the babies aren't selling, they're just going to pile up because the person isn't going to stop breeding. 

Let me tell you -- any good breeder is going to keep some of their own, so not everything they produce is going to be for sale.  But even for the ones that are, if there are no buyers, and the breeder is just filling up cages and more cages with the offspring, they are going to stop breeding.  I'm not saying entirely, but I know some chin breeders (and have heard this from additional ones that I don't know personally as well), that if the chins weren't selling, they'd close off a run or two.  No sense producing a ton if the market is saturated.  But the people who are just concerned about the money and not the welfare of the animal  -- nah, not happening.  It is so frustrating.

And then (and this will be the last tangent, I swear), I had posted on facebook that I think several of our females are pregnant, and this one person had posted saying that it was hypocritical to be a rescue and breed.  Really?  Ok.  So here's the thing.  We have three breeding runs.  That's, at the very most, 12 breeding chinchillas, assuming all the runs are full.  I have never denied that we breed, but I have stood behind the fact that we do NOT breed the rescues.  The chins we breed are from known breeders, good genetic lines, good parentage.  And you know, if we have a pair that is not producing good quality, they're split up, and if the quality's bad enough, I don't even care about the lines of the parents, one of them may end up for sale.  Back last January, Joker had a litter.  Two standards and a black velvet.  I remember thinking then that the black velvet was red (which is highly undesirable in chinchillas).  Ok, but I figured, she'd get one more chance.  Joker didn't do good with Bailey, because they both have somewhat loose fur, and loose fur + loose fur does not = strong fur.  So, she'd been paired with Nytro.  Well, the first litter wasn't too great, but I figured we'd try again, because they can have some better than them, some worse.  She littered one large baby in November.  Looked good when it was born... few days later and even my new-breeder-friend could see the red.  Joker is still in the run right now, but her hole is closed off (so the male cannot get to her), and I have the date marked down when we will know for sure if she is or is not pregnant.  If she is pregnant and litters, once the babies are gone, she will be sold, or if she is not pregnant, she will be put up for sale to a pet home.  It doesn't matter that she's got good lines, she is throwing red kits.  And breeders who are breeding for quality are going to pull chins that are not improving the species and throwing something better than they are.  Which is exactly what's happening here.

But going back to the whole breeder and rescue thing.  There is a point to not breeding rescues, and the point is, that you do not know what the health history and genetics of that rescue is.  Just like say you want to buy a nice pedigreed dog.  You want the parents to have the eyes certified, hips certified, and so on and so forth.  Because good breeders do that, so you don't end up with a large dog with hip displaysia at age 2.  Same with chins.  While pedigreed chins are not necessarily always free from defects (I have had a pedigreed chin develop malo -- but like many chin issues, the jury isn't back with whether it's genetic or environmental -- it's like the nature/nurture debate, there's never going to be an answer, because it's a combination), they are considerably more likely to be free from defects.  Let's say I have a chin here develop malo.  Ok, so I pull that chin from breeding, and say I was not the original breeder of that chin, so I would go and alert the original breeder, hey, this certain chin developed malo.  And they would go and if the parents of that chin are still around, potentially pull those from breeding.  So, the chins that are creating a chin that actually expresses the disease (rather than being a carrier for it), would be pulled from breeding.  By doing that, that helps ensure that breeder chins are not going to have as many genetic (or other) flaws, because people are actively removing chins with those flaws from the breeding pool.  But, if you breed your average pet store chin, you have no idea what you could have floating around in that chin's health history and genetic makeup. 

And really, it's not hypocritical to breed and rescue, not in my mind anyway (and I know MANY breeders who feel this way, as many small breeders will take in some rescues if they have room).  With breeding chins (or any critter), you are pairing up chins that complement each other and you're trying to improve the species.  Chins don't breed very fast, so at the absolute max, you could have 2 litters per year, per breeding female.  This year, we are retiring (and will be selling) some of our breeding females, but for most of the year, I had 9 females in the runs.  From 9 females, I had something like... 15 babies?  Not a lot, right?  Here's the other thing.  Chins typically have a 20% mortality rate, and NWI is no different than any other breeder.  I haven't figured out our mortality rate for the year, but assuming 15 babies and a 20% mortality rate, that means that only 12 of those babies lived.  So, by selectively breeding 9 chins, we've had a total of ~ 12 babies alive this year.  That's really not a lot.  Especially not considering that Dennis, who runs the wholesale chin business out in Valpo, supplies all the pet stores with several chins and has several hundred chins at least.  I saw on facebook someone posted that they had 300 babies this year and were shooting for 500 next year (I would assume they are adding females).  And someone's gonna complain that I added freaking 12 to the chin population?  Excuse me, no.  You can leave if you want to argue with me. 

I rescue because there is a need.  There are a lot of chins out there that people get tired of, can't keep, whatever the reason, need to go to another home.  At this point, the rescue is a lot bigger than my breeding operation, and I do not plan to increase the breeding operation significantly.  Maybe at the most I'd add another run or another pair or two of chins in a different cage.  But not enough to produce 500 babies or anything like that.  I remember one year, one big breeder posted on CnH that they had 27 babies born in one day.  If I had 15 born all year, (and obviously, they weren't all born one at a time), that means I had roughly 24-25 days between births.  And in reality, the gap's larger than that, since we had some litters of 2-3.  Versus 27 for ONE DAY.  The people churning out 27 per day and not screening the homes they go into, or wholesaling them to the pet stores, those are the people that people should be concentrating on, if they want to point fingers at why so many chins are in rescue.  Even if I got all 12 babies back at the rescue, that's 12.  I take in over 100 animals per year.  12 more probably won't kill me.  Except, I hardly ever get a baby back, even I hardly ever get rescues back, because for the most part, the screening process works pretty well and people who adopt them end up liking them and keep them.

If I was getting in a ridiculous amount of chins at the rescue, and wasn't adopting them out and was having problems selling babies, I imagine I would slow down breeding.  Close off a few females.  But, because I want to show chins and improve the species, I breed.  And because I care about the welfare of the chins out there that need new/better homes, I rescue.  The two aren't mutually exclusive, except in the part where I don't breed rescues.  Breeder chins are kept separate from rescues, except for the case where I'm selling a breeder chin.  When I put Lilly (culled breeder chin) with Kandie (rescue chin), they're both females, they don't know that one's a breeder and one's a rescue.  They don't care.  But that's the only time.  Or for example, male babies tend to get put in with Winx (my pet male).  Short of same-sex cagemates, the breeding and the rescue chins are kept apart.  But the idea of breeding and rescue, going on at the same place, is not an impossible idea.  The two can, and do, co-exist.