Tuesday, May 27, 2014

While I'm up...

While I'm up, I might as well post.

It's been kinda crappy lately.  Very few adoptions.  Quite a few no-shows.  Actually, kinda a ridiculous number.  I've had more people not show for their appointments in the last two months than I've had actually show up.  I find that kinda rude.  I can understand the occasional person who has something come up and can't get to the internet to find my phone number, but all these people?  Decide you don't want the chin anymore?  Got one somewhere else?  Call.  I've had people flat out forget they have an appointment.  Write it down?  There's a reason I have a planner.

Not much exciting going on since the Lake County Pet Expo.  I feel like that was around the last time I posted, but it's been slow.  Just been cleaning cages and such.  Still working on painting the work station type thing that goes in the basement, and once that's done, I will have the basement more organized.

Pigeon coop is working on being done, but still need to get the roofing on and need to put some sort of guards so the pigeons can't get out the sides where the coop connects to the roof.  One thing at a time though.

The main thing, today, is with Cumberpatch.  Cumberpatch went on a trial run a few days ago, with a family in Indy.  They said she was fine the first night and then at playtime the second day, they noticed a few drops of blood.  Initially, I thought she just somehow cut herself.  Wouldn't be unheard of, and would just result in a few drops of blood, but then the person asked her daughter and the daughter said that something was sticking out.  So I asked the person to check, and yep, something sticking out.  So, the typical thought on that is anal prolapse, so I gave her the number of the vet to call and talk to and she took her in this morning.  As guessed, anal prolapse.  They said about 2 inches had come out -- and considering we're talking about a 3ish month old chin, that's a heck of a lot.  Surgery would have been $500, not counting that this could happen again if they didn't discover the cause of the prolapse.  They said that if it was parasites, that would be the easiest solution, but to determine that they would have needed to take a fecal, and since the chin wasn't pooing (which it wouldn't with a prolapse), they would need to do the surgery, or at least open her up to go in and get a poo.  The alternative would be doing bloodwork, which may or may not have shown a parasite, and they said could show bladder problems, liver problems, a whole slew of different things that could have been wrong to have caused a prolapse. The bloodwork alone would have been another $200+, and that would have potentially only shown what the problem was (if it even did that), so we would have been looking at $700ish at the minimum.  That's a lot of money, especially for a chin where prognosis is not good.  This sort of thing can happen over and over.  So, sadly, she was put down. 

RIP Cumberpatch

Monday, May 12, 2014


So, this is something new I guess.  The expos we typically go to in Darien, St. Charles, and Oak Lawn have now said that for us to get sponsored (so we can go for free), we need to present at each show, make a donation basket for each show, and find at least one vendor to attend.  Now, presenting is fine, the donation basket is fine (we typically make one anyway, requirement or not), but the vendor may be a problem.

Last year, the person I talk with regarding these expos suggested I find myself a sponsor. So, I went to local pet related businesses, and even some that aren't, and asked for either them to sponsor the booth or to give some money towards the booth fee.  Not a single place would give me even a freakin dollar towards the booth fee, much less sponsor the booth. 

One place told me that they had to buy mulch (yeah, because you know, mulch is so expensive), and the others pretty much echoed a similar sentiment:  with the closest show being 45+ minutes away, they didn't think anyone from the shows would come out this way to come to the businesses.  Which does make sense, as there's pet hospitals and specialty pet stores out in the Chicagoland area as well.  No reason for the average person to drive an hour just to go to one little shop.  And I spent a LOT of time talking to businesses, to get nowhere. 

The email that said these things came from someone different than the person I usually talk to, so I emailed the person I know, asking about this.  I told her how I spent a lot of time this past year trying to get sponsored for the expos myself (and she should remember that), but I had no luck whatsoever.  And I told her, if I have to spend weeks upon weeks to find a vendor, it's just not worth it.  At the expos, we typically get about $50-100 worth of sales (over two days), $15-30 in donations, and if we're lucky, an adoption (most times, no adoption... but it does get the word out). 

Now, lets assume that we have an awesome expo.  We make $100 in sales, $30 in donation, and get a $100 chin adoption.  Yay, right?  That's $230 made in 2 days for the rescue.  Yay, right?  Not quite.  Hotel for two days typically runs about $150.  All of a sudden we're down to $80.  Gas isn't free.  Let's take St. Charles because that's typically a good expo.  That's about 60 miles way.  So, 120 miles there and back.  I get roughly 15 miles to the gallon, so 8 gallons to get there and back.  Let's say 10 gallons total, because we have to eat while we're there and we gotta drive to where we're eating.  So, 10 gallons at $3.50/gallon is $35.  Down to $44.  If we eat fast food all weekend and can restrict ourselves to $7 per person per meal (not including breakfast, which is free at the hotel), we have 4 meals (dinner Friday, lunch and dinner Saturday, and lunch Sunday).  4 Meals x $14 (two people) = $56.  Wait.... now we're at negative $12.  And that's an AWESOME expo (for comparison, our last expo got $37.55 in donations, $50ish in sales, and a $13 rat adoption... but we still had hotel, food, gas, and other fees).  Not to mention, the time spent packing at home and unpacking/setting up at the expo.  And packing again at the end and unpacking at home.  And getting ready ahead of time, because I have to make the toys, package the herbs, etc etc.   Plus the fact that we're there (two people) for two and a half days.

Anyway, my point is, it's fine if we barely break even (or not) if we get the word out and don't spend a ton of other time (outside the expo weekend) on the expo.  But if I also have to spend weeks of time trying to get a vendor to attend.... it's not worth the time.  The rescue already loses money on the average expo, without losing a ton of time as well.  And to be perfectly honest, if we're gonna spend weeks trying to get a vendor, for the purpose of going to an expo to get exposure.... I could just as easily spend that time working on marketing and promotion and accomplish the same thing without ever having to leave the house, pay for hotel, pay for gas, etc.  And let's not forget the difficulty I have with getting people to go with me....    

...and really, I'm not even sure, if I did spend weeks and weeks trying to get a vendor, if I'd even get one!  We're too far out from the expos for most local places to care, and again, time is worth something.  If I spend weeks and get no one, and consequently, don't go to the expo, that's a lot of time wasted, for absolutely nothing. 

So, I emailed asking about this and letting her know about all of this.

But here's what kills me.  And I know that the person I deal with isn't part of ownership of the company or anything, so it's not her that's money hungry, but here's the thing.  It costs like $800 for every vendor who wants a booth.  Pet hospitals and smaller pet businesses and the like are $600, pet rescues are $300 for a booth.  Let's just say, conservatively, there's 10 vendors per show.  Let's say there's 10 pet hospitals.  Let's say there's 20 rescues.  Admission is $7 or $6 with a coupon.  They often say at least 10,000 people attend, so let's go with that.  Let's just, for shits and giggles, say they all have a coupon and get in for $6.  All of that equals out to $77,000.  Now, granted, they have to pay for the location for two days, so even if that's $20,000, they're making $57,000 in profit.  IN ONE WEEKEND.  I get companies that want to make a profit, heck, I want the rescue to pay for itself, so it doesn't have to come out of my pocket  (other than my time).  So I get it.  But you'd think with $57,000 in profit they could waive a $300 rescue booth fee.  I mean, let's think about this.  To get a free booth, I have to get a vendor to agree to pay $800ish to have a booth there.  Versus paying $300 for a rescue booth.  Hmmmmmm.  Plus presenting, donation basket, etc etc.  Seems that's a lot of work for a $300 booth -- not even HALF of what it costs for that vendor.

Little peeved today if you can't tell.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


We have more babies!!  Nikki had two males on the 8th (I'm behind on everything, I know...).  And... I got to see part of it!  See, cause they usually have babies early morning, so typically I wake up to babies.  But not that day, it was like 2 in the afternoon and I opened Nikki's cage to check on her and found a baby!  And got to see the birth of the second one!  So if you don't want to see not-very-graphic pictures of that, go back now. 

Opened the door to find a wet mosaic male

mosaic male, drowned rat special edition

Nikki pulling out the other baby.  If you look closely you can see a leg.   Jackson looking on.

Nikki checking out her freshly born baby.  Jackson being like "mom!  privacy??"

....and look, he's already perfected the stink eye

...dried off later on. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pigeon Loft

I don't know why a pigeon house is called a loft instead of a coop.  People ask, not quite sure.  Best guess would be that it's recommended to have high up perches in the loft, and maybe that's why.

Anyway, I've had a few people comment that they really can't picture this thing, so I took some pictures.  Camera phone, so not great ones, but here we go:

That's just a tarp over the top, just uncovered the front for pictures....  That top left door opens down, and is meant to do that so that it can be left open so the pigeons can fly back in.

As you can see in the picture above, the door that folds down will actually fold flat against the cage (if the other door wasn't in the way).  Going to attach some snap-on chain to hold it open at a 90 degree angle so the door will form an L shape with the loft.  Just haven't gotten to that yet.  you can see on the bottom, the 2 x 4's... can't see it on the picture, but there is hardware cloth (same as on the doors) attached, so everything falls through, but no pigeons escape the bottom).

And last but not least, look above, you can see the inside.  Need to do something about the left side, where there's no shelves, but the right has the ledges, and then upside down V perches in the middle, and there's a perch going all the way around the top of the cage.  And you can see the hardware cloth on the bottom of the cage here. 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Pigeon Loft & Railing

So today Desi (from Wheekers) was over to help with the pigeon loft.  Everyone seems to wonder why this is taking so long, but it really is one of those slow-moving projects.  So, to bring everyone up to speed, the loft has the frame up, all shelves up (except for one side I still need to figure out what to do with), and the plywood sides up.  No roof, no doors.  So it's still being tarped when it's not being worked on.  Still need to figure out that roof.  But for today, we were working on the doors.

I should have taken a picture, but the front is divided in the middle, and so the right side was going to be one large door.  Built that first.  Cut the wood, put on the corner brackets, put in the screws, and stapled /hammered on the hardware cloth.  And had loads of fun with those drill-through handles.  The last cage I built had the handles with the screws on the front.  Oh, no, but for this one I decided I wanted the ones you couldn't see the screws for.  Yeah, those take a bit more finesse to put on.   But we got it.  So we got that door hinged on... and it wouldn't close.  Alrighty, out comes the sander.  So, sanded it until we could get it to close, barrel bolted it, and moved onto the other side.  Now, pigeon lofts, from the sites I read, are supposed to have a door that can be left open so the pigeons can fly back in (when you get to that point).  So, we cut a 2x4 and attached it about 8 inches down from the top.  Well.... see, that woulda been super easy had I not already put up the plywood on the sides.  So, we had to take a trip to Home Depot to get some brackets to attach to the one side, since I didn't want to mess with trying to drill blindly through plywood and just hope to hit the wood on the other side. 

So, we get that attached, cut the door and get it all ready to attach and put it in place.  And put on the hinges and everything and then realize... it is really not all that close to closing whatsoever.  So, sander comes out again.  In hindsight, we should have detached it and cut off a tiny edge on the saw.  Because we sanded FOREVER.  Or actually, Desi sanded for awhile while I tried to prep for the last door and pull weeds out of the area where the loft is going to go, and eventually we switched.  So finally that one went on.

Now, for the last door, we used our brains.  Instead of cutting the door so it'd fit nice and snug.... I had it where I (previously) would have thought would have been a good size for the verticals... and then trimmed off a little bit more.  And amazing, only a teeny tiny bit of sanding once the door was up.

So, now all the front doors are on.  I think I have a good idea of how the roof's going to attach, but if it attaches the way I'm thinking, the overhang is going to be ridiculous and needs to be cut down somehow.  So, will worry about that another day.  But now just about everything else is done.

Now, it took us all day to put on those three doors.  From like 11 am to 7 pm, with a short food break and trip to home depot break.  And she could tell you, we were working the whole time, mostly both of us working on different things at once, and it still took that long.  And this makes me think of how you see people who build cages, and they have on there, it's like $500 plus the cost of supplies, and people like balk at that... and it does seem a lot... but consider... just the doors took two people 8 hours.  And that's not including the frame, the grated bottom, the shelves... all that also.  I've been working on this loft for what seems like weeks (and it very well may be), because it just takes awhile.  

So, moving onto the railing.  If you've been in the new house, you've noticed there's no basement steps railing.  And I've even mentioned, I never noticed how often I used one until I don't have one.  And my stairs going down have a landing.  For no good reason.  Like, my parents' stairs had one, but it's because they went down a bit, landing, turned to the right, and continued down.  Mine go down, landing, go down some more.  And it kind of throws you off, and even with how long I've been here, I still misjudge where it is.  Like today.

So, I was driving Desi home and something made me think of the fact she had carrots in my fridge.  And then I was like, why are there carrots in my fridge?  Oh yeah, cause her rabbit was here.  So, we had to turn around and get the rabbit.  So, we're making our way down the basement steps, without the stair light on (cause the basement light was on, and you could see... but not well), her in front of me, and I'm (stupidly) reading a text out loud to her and not watching the stairs (both hands on the phone).  I thought the next step was the landing, and stepped forward (instead of down).  Yeah, so the landing was actually two steps down.  In that time it took me to realize I made a mistake and that I'd stepped on air, I wildly grabbed for something to hold onto, but there was no railing.  Landed on the toes of my right foot pointing down, like ballerina style, one step down, which then that foot sort of collapsed under me, and I fell forward.  I suppose, I should be thrilled I had that landing, cause had I not landed on that, I would have continued tumbling down the stairs.  With the loud thud (and probably the fact I stopped reading the text), Desi came running back to check I was ok (had to sit there for a few.... I actually thought, originally, that I might have broken something, but the pain's considerably dulled down to more a badly twisted-type pain).  And of course, it would be my right foot.  Anyway, moral of the story -- after taking my own tumble down the stairs, I will be looking into that railing sooner rather than later.     

Sunday, May 4, 2014


Ok, so I just posted a post that I forgot to hit "publish" on, about a week ago, so there is another new one under this one.

Ok, so few things.

I really find I'm losing my faith in the world when someone calls wanting a chinchilla, I call back soon after, and they've already gotten one.  Ok, wait, scratch that.  I'm losing my faith in the parenting of humanity.  Because when I was growing up, kids had to work for something.  Things were not handed to me, and I sure didn't say "I want this" and got it today.  But that's what I'm seeing more and more of lately, and frankly, it's getting a bit old.  Parents that tell their kids, oh you can get a chinchilla (or whatever) and then, if the place they call doesn't call them back in 2 minutes, or isn't available that day to get it, they move on.  And I mean, I feel it's different depending on what it is.  If you need a car battery and Walmart is out, you go elsewhere.  But this is a live animal.  This isn't my full-time job (though, if anyone would like to donate enough money so that I could just sit around and do rescue stuff for the rest of my life without having to work another job, by all means, I will take it).  I cannot just sit around and wait for phone calls and then jump the second it rings.  This is not like a coach where they say, "jump" and the players say, "how high?"  I don't work for you.  I don't get paid from you.  At least, not enough to make me that super excited to stop my world to answer every phone call.  Well, really, I get nothing.  The money from adoptions and sales of this stuff goes right back into the rescue.  I took a chin and prairie dog to the vet the other day.  Cost me $612.  That's a LOT of adoptions and supply sales to pay that back.  I don't get a cent.  And yeah, I want to adopt the animals out, but not badly enough that I can just always stop everything I'm doing to answer your phone call and then to drop everything I'm doing so you can come over and pick out a chinchilla.

Another thing -- and this isn't even chinchilla related -- but I'm starting to think teens are really stupid.  Not all of them, but a lot of them that call me, when I call back, have a voicemail message that goes something like this, "Hi, this is ________, either I can't answer my phone right now or I'm just ignoring you....."  I don't know if you all think that's funny, but I lose a lot of respect for someone when I hear a message like that.  You have that out there for the WORLD to hear.  You want a job to hear that?  Or someone you called, like me, that has to think you're a decent person so you can adopt?  Maybe it's funny, or, my bad, "phat," "cool," whatever, to your friends, but those of us in the real world don't think so.  Yeah, I have some numbers saved in my phone for the SOLE purpose being so that I DON'T answer when they call.  So I do understand.  I totally get it.  That's not the point though.  But actually saying that in the voicemail?  Sorry, respect lost. 

....and I kinda wonder, if you say that in the voicemail.... do you say everything you think?  Gonna have a hard time keeping a job if you tell the boss, well, you would've done the work, but you didn't feel like it.

Moving on.  Please, people, do not call me saying you're on your last pellet.  I mean, by all mean, you can call, but again.... I'm getting a bit tired of jumping for people that aren't smart enough to call before they run out.  Now, if you want to pick up pellets, that's fine.  But this applies to those who want me to ship it.  In other words, they're out of pellets, and they think I should jump and pack it right now and ship it 5 minutes later.  Um... how bout we get some planning skills?  I don't just sit here bored waiting for orders to come in just so I can jump and get them out.  Plan, please.

And then, is it that hard for people to listen?  I had this conversation yesterday (relevant part):

Me:  oh yeah he's a sweet boy (referring to the prairie dog)

Her:  oh, how long do they live?  how old is he?

Me:  they live 10-15 years in captivitiy, 3-5 in the wild.  He's 6 years old.

Her:  Oh ok, so you've had him for...

Me:  4 years.

Her:  Oh, ok, how long do they live? 

Excuse me while I go strangle some people.  I'm tired of these conversations.

But let's switch to positive things.

At the Oak Lawn Chicago Pet Show, we had a record amount of donations (for an expo), $37.65.  Yay!  We sold a decent amount of stuff, not as much as usual, but not too bad.  Presented twice on chinchillas, and it was a decent show.  And, had someone ask about rats the first day, and come to the rescue and adopted some rats a few days later.  Yay. 

Unfortunately, this year's Lake County Pet Expo was kind of a let down.  The expo itself was fine, but our booth was kind of in a bad spot, and except for the people who had already told me they'd come to the expo to pick up supplies, we sold about $20.  Not a ton of donations, and we didn't see all the local people we usually see at this expo.  No one asking about adopting (other than the prairie dog), lots of dogs putting their muddy paws on our tablecovers (that are washable, thank god), and an excessive number of rude people that said that either (1) we should have left the prairie dog in the wild and we're basically horrible for keeping him as a pet, or (2) they used to hunt him and he shouldn't be here.  Kind of both similar but still.  Dude.  KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.  You never hear people say, to a pit bull rescue, "oh I used to fight those dogs.  They made me lots of money and a shitload of em died, but now I'm rich"  So why is it ok for these people to tell me, "oh I shot those stupid prairie dogs every chance I got?"  I don't really even care if you did, that's fine. But keep it to yourself.

So, I guess my attempt to make things positive didn't turn out that well cause people have just really been asses lately.

What else.  Um... LOTS of people who want to adopt end up getting a chin before I can call them back, an hour or so later.  So adoptions are down.  I have orders I need to work on, but the basement's still not finished, and the saw's still not in, so all the wood orders are still waiting.  I had a pair of young males get into it and are now separated.  LOTS of chins are available to adopt, if you know of anyone who wants a chin, contact....  I need to list them, but for now, I'm going to list their sale prices on the website and hopefully that might attract some people in the meantime....

Fun at the hardware store

So, I wanted to share my somewhat humerous experiences at the hardware store today.  Several select people know that I'm building a pigeon loft.  Those people are the ones that have come to my basement and been like, "oh, you have pigeons!"  Otherwise, you really don't know.

Anyway, so its like a chicken coop, but designed for pigeons.  So, up til this point, I was building it in my garage, but it got to the point today where, if I was to connect the front and the back in my garage... there would be no getting it out of the garage without help (which you would totally understand if you saw the amount of stuff in my garage at the moment).... and my ability to convince people to come and help me with this stuff is sort of lacking.  Ok, in reality, most of my friends live too far to ask them, so mostly it's just me, with no help.   

So, I took it outside.  I cut a few things that I needed, and attached the front to the back outside.  I had thought ahead and had purchased some corner braces to help keep this all together.  Well, somehow my head had worked out that there'd only be four corners, instead of 8.  Oops.  So I put on what I could and got as much worked out as possible.  Attached front to back.  Put up support in front and back.  Put up side supports.  Attached these all with nails and braces.  Well, then I was at that point where I really couldn't do anything else without purchasing other items.

So, I went to Home Depot cause I needed to pick up some more 2 x 4's, so shelving for the inside of the loft, and a few other random things.  Got everything I needed (or so I thought), and I had a lot of 8' wood on one of those wood carts that is huge.  So there was no going through self-checkout.  Well, it seems that, at least in the times I've been there, Home Depot thinks most people can self-checkout, so there's only one other cashier.  And if I have just small items and no wood, I will use self-checkout.  But not with a cart full of wood.

So I go up to the one cashier, who happened to be counting the money in the drawer and was having issues with it.  I wasn't sure what was going on, but 10 minutes later, she's still counting, and I'm starting to get impatient.  Finally she called over management who told her, worry bout the money later, take care of the customer first.  Smart management.

Anyway, so I know that I had 5 of the 2 x 4's, I had 6 of the 1 x 2's, I had two 1 x 12 x 8", and four 1 x 8 x 6'.  So I tell her that.  And I don't expect her to look em up, but if I say I have 6 of this item... the typical employee types in "6" and scans the item.  Or at least counts the item and then puts in "6" and scans one.  Nope, she apparently didn't believe me, and scanned everything one by one.  Which was fine, I didn't have that many items.  But then she got back to the screen and looked and wasn't sure she got everything.  So she went back and counted everything several times just to be sure.  So finally we get to the point where I'm ready to pay.  I swipe my card.  She asks to see ID.  Now.... my order was under $100.  It was large pieces of cheap wood.  If I stole someone's debit card, I sure would go and purchase more "fun" items.  Even Home Depot has more fun items that I would purchase if I had someone else's card.

Anyway, that's beside the point.  She apologized several times about taking so long, and really I wasn't in a huge rush, but I was kinda happy I don't typically get someone like that.

So I go home, put more of the loft together.  It starts getting dark and so I stop cutting the wood and start putting together what I have.  Finally it's dark enough I'm not going to get much accomplished without some light source, and I'm not looking to get eaten by bugs, so I call it a night.  And I realize, the sander I bought is apparently only useful to sand dead skin cells off someone's feet.  I apparently bought a polishing sander, not what I intended.  So I figured, I needed a few more things, I could go back.  Let's note, that this was at least 4-5 hours after I was there the first time (and I live not even 5 minutes from Home Depot, so it's not a drive).

So, last thing I do before I leave is measure the loft so I can get the plywood cut.  Before I leave the house, I take the spare tire / donut out of my vehicle to give me more room for the plywood.  So I get to the store and exchange my sander and get a clamps for the tarp.  Finally find someone to cut the plywood. Very nice, asks what I'm making, and we talk a bit.  The one piece of plywood was cut to 46".  Well, that's almost a full sheet.  So the convo goes like this:

Him:  what kind of vehicle do you have?

Me:  SUV

Him:  Large?

Me:  Small

Him:  This gonna fit?

Me:  Oh yeah

Him:  You sure?

Me:   I measured before I left

Him:  Okay.  (in that disbelieving tone)

Ok so we get to the checkout.  And who's there but my favorite cashier!  The same one from earlier. So, she rings me up considerably faster at this point in time, and made a comment about how she's happy to see me back after how long I waited last time.  I told her, it wasn't that bad, and she seemed happy.  If I'd had my phone the first time, it wouldn't have been so bad, I would have at least amused myself.  Anyway.   

Ok, so we get the plywood outside and I pull up my blazer under the contractor roof so we can load.  Another guy comes out to help load.  It's three sheets of plywood, I think I could have done it myself, but you know.  So I open the back and

Them:  This isn't gonna fit.

Me:  It's gonna fit.

Them:  Uh.....yeah.

Me:  I measured this at home, it's gonna fit.

**both guys stand there, looking at me heavily skeptical**

Me:  It's gotta go in at an angle.  This isn't a pick-up bed, there's not room to lay it down flat.  So it needs to angle up to this side *motions* and it'll fit

**still looks skeptical, but one guy lifts up the biggest piece**

....and it fit.

The guys that were there were super nice, so I just thanked them and left, but had it been anyone else, I was secretly dying to say that I KNEW it would fit.  I'm not usually the told-ya-so type, but this would have been the perfect instance for that.

Anyway, so I get home, and there's some lightning, and I think, ok I better get that tarp on before it pours.  So I stand up the loft, get the tarp over, and use the newly purchased clamps to hold it down.  Get inside, and it starts pouring.  Awesome timing.  Lol.