Thursday, October 18, 2018

Dust at PetStores vs. Here

So, the other day I was at Petsmart getting dog food and I happened to walk down the small animal aisle and I saw the dust and it made me think to post this...

Now, I get people all the time who get a chin here, but then when I ask if they need any other supplies, they say, "no, they'll go to the pet store on the way home."  Of course, that is their choice, but I usually mention that supplies are cheaper here, and that's why I offer.  Some get supplies here, some go to the pet store.  Of course, the pet store has set hours and I can understand that it is convenient (potentially considerably more convenient at times), but I wanted to share an example I found with you from Petsmart, of why I even mention the cost.

This is the dust the Petsmart in Schererville carries.

In case you can't read that, the large one contains 3 pounds and is $13.49, and the small one contains 13 ounces (16 ounces is a pound... so less than a pound) and is $7.69.

Compare this to here, where we charge $1.25 per pound for dust.  Often, we even have those same jars, as a lot of people drop them off here and we wash and refill with our dust.

So, for our prices... the 3 pound jar would cost $3.75 and the 13 ounce jar would be $1.00.

While I understand convenience making a difference... to me, my perspective... $3.75 versus $13.49... and $1.00 versus $7.69... I'd make an effort to go the cheaper route.  But, that's just me.

And this price difference is why I offer... I hear people often comment that chinchillas are so expensive... my reply is always -- it depends where you shop (and often these are the same people that I know I sell supplies, yet choose to go to the pet store instead, lol).

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Questions About Orders

This happens rarely, but now and then...

In the current batch of orders that went out this morning, I had one order that included a cuddlebuddy.  I didn't even realize there was one still listed on the site, as all the ones listed had already sold.  You got it... that one up there wasn't available.

I emailed the person with the order immediately after the order was placed, informing them of this, and asking if they'd like to see the cuddlebuddies that I currently have.  I explained what the base colors / designs were, and I also explained that if she didn't like those, I'd be happy to refund that part of the order, or even the whole order.

I never heard back.

That was about a week ago now, and I feel enough time has passed, so I packed up the other item in the order and mailed it out.  I will now be sending another email (as I always do when orders ship) with info on tracking, refunded shipping, etc etc... and in this one, I will also mention, I sent an email on this day, because I didn't hear back, I will be refunding that item....

It frustrates me that I can't get in touch with this person.  Did they want a cuddlebuddy of a different color?  Maybe, I don't know.  Maybe they'd want a refund of the whole order... I don't know.  But without a response, I have to pick (99% of the time, a refund for that item).  For me, I find it super important that whatever email is associated with a paypal account... actually has someone occasionally looking at it.  Because my not-knowing-what-to-do-without-input would be alleviated, if this person would check their email and respond./

Again, this doesn't happen often... but now and then...

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Soaps! (for people)

Did you see we have soaps available?  If you didn't, guess what, we do!  Soaps for people are now available on the webstore.

We currently have both loofah soaps and regular soaps.  Some Halloween designs and some everyday designs.  Let me share some pics...

We had these soaps at the last expo and had a few people looking at them.  Like any new product, it'll take a little time to take off!..... but unfortunately, it takes no time for someone to decide to steal a soap out of a four-pack :(  

I'm sure I have an extra to throw in there, but this just boils my blood.  But anyway, we now have soaps available!  $6 each or 2 for $10!

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Custom Cages Fiasco

Let me start by saying that this post will likely be LONG, and that the only reason I didn't do screenshots is because again, there'd be a million and a half of them.  So, here goes...

So, now that I've had time to calm down and count to like 10,000, I can write about what happened with those custom cages.  In case you missed it, this whole thing blew up on the NWI facebook page, when I eventually posted the cages for sale, and the people tried to "defend" themselves.  Ok, but from the beginning:

2/1/18 -- I get an email from this person.  It reads:

I was wondering if I bought the 3 cages from you could you transform the cages for me like you have for your chins where it's all wood inside. We are waiting to get our tax return back so that's when I would be able to pay for them. I was wondering if you could make one of the cages a little more handicap friendly for peanut since she only has three legs, one of them will be shared by 2 females Mia & Eve and then I have Daisy. I'm hoping if you can't that's fine I can buy them from eBay I would like all three cages to have a swing, some kind of rectangular boxes or square boxes at the top of the cages but honestly however you have free creative range over this. I also needed fleece liners for the bottom of the cages. I'm just trying to stick to a budget of 1300.00. I looked everything up on eBay and Amazon and with cages I'm going to spend 1600-2900.00 and I really can't afford that. So I was hoping you could me and the girls. Talk to you later. 

We talk on 2/11 on facebook messenger, where I ask her about some specifics for the cages.  She says what I'm talking about is fine, and asks how much we're looking at.  My response:

I don't know, and honestly, I won't until I start putting them together. It is almost impossible to like plan out a cage on paper. When I try, most times all the stuff doesn't even come close to fitting into the actual cage. Less than $1300 for sure, but I mean, the three cages you sent pics of were so different, that was another thing I wanted to ask... one has larger shelves, one has more of the houses hanging up in the air, one has more like stepping stone shelves... I mean, I'm happy to mix it up and I figured you probably didn't want all three cages identical, but you gave me enough ideas to do about 20 cages

Her response included this:

Before you start working on them I can text you when we get our taxes back then that way I can pay you right away for them.

...and that was the last time she ever talked about paying that didn't involve some sort of delay (remember this, this is important later).

We continue talking about cage specifics, and that same day, I send this message:

Ok. Are you able to let me know when you like officially want me to start on these, like say two weeks-ish from when you want them picked up? The reason I ask is cause I don't keep three in stock like ever (too much money tied up in cages), so I'll have to order three and have them off to the side for you, and I don't want to do that too much in advance. Does that make sense/

So, this should not be a surprise later, when I complain about the cages tying up too much money and stock, because they've sat around forever...

Her response 2/18:

I just looked it up. We are supposed to have our taxes back by the 22nd so I can text you as soon as I get the email that they are there. It's up to you but I can get a money order for however much you would like and send it to you or if you send me a PayPal I can send the money to you that way. We are having our son in law follow us up to your house when they are ready to come get them

My response 2/18:

Ok. Once I have the cages together, I can let you know the cost, you don't have to pay ahead of time or anything. I'm a bit backed up on orders at the moment, so it may have to be a bit more time before I can start on them, because otherwise the orders stay backed up, I'm sure you understand...

Her response 2/18:

I understand. Just let me know of about a time frame and i will make sure to have money put back for you. So i have an idea are we thinking under a 1,000.00 for the job. And yes i completely understand you do have a lot going on and making 3 cages is time consuming. Thank you for giving me heads up

So, somewhere in there, we must have texted (because I don't have it on messenger), but I remember talking back and forth, and asking about if it was a good time to make the cages.  This was in late May / early June... and the reason I texted asking if it was a good time, was because although she had said that she would let me know when she was ready... she never had.  She said yes, good time. 

Fast forward to June 7th.  I get a message from her asking if I'm working on the cages.  My reply:

Yes! I actually built the third one (just the cage frame so far) yesterday so I’m hoping in the next week or two I’ll have the cages done. I’m out of town mon- wed I don’t anticipate this upcoming week but soon!

Her reply:

Ok I can pay you at the beginning of July or August. Which ever one. I will have to rent a truck to come up there and get them.
Thank you for doing this for us my girls will be so happy in their new homes

My reply:

No problem. I will let you know as soon as I have them done for you 🙂 and whenever you can get up here is fine

Her reply:

That's fine thank you

Fast forward to June 9th.  I send a message:

I’m about done and didn’t end up putting wheels on cause i figured I wasn’t sure how exactly they were going to be in the truck on the ride home and if they’re standing up on wheels the bouncing Could possibly break the wheels. I have the wheels for you, I think it’d make more sense to stick them on when you get them home. Few more days for sure and they’ll be done. Just waiting for some stuff to dry

Her reply:

Ok thank you. How much do I owe you. I can come get them Saturday September 1st. I just can't do it in August because I have to get all three kids school clothes and supplies.

Notice, we went from where she would pay at the beginning of July or August, whichever I preferred, to the beginning of September... almost 2 months from July 9th, when the cages were about done.

My reply:

I would not have gotten them ready anywhere near this early, if I thought you didn't want them for a month and a half
I have no idea what my schedule is that far away
I'll send you a message when I know my schedule better closer to then

Her reply:

Ok that will work

I then send pics of the three cages.  Her reply:

They are awesome I can't wait to get them. I super sorry I can't come until September 1st. Its truly because Andy's wages are being garnished and I have ssi but the 3 kids start school August 2nd and I have to use all of Augusts ssi to pay for clothes and shoes for the kids plus book fees. How much so I owe for the cages

My reply:

there's always some expenses, I get it! I'd have to look for the exact amount (I have it on a sheet downstairs) but it was around $700. Under $700, but around there

So, then we continue to talk a bit about the cages and whatnot.  Fast forward to middle of August, and I try to message her.  When I hit "send" on the message, it shows up "this person is not accepting messages at this time."  Well, I thought that was odd, because that's what shows up when someone blocks you.  Ok, whatever, so I have this person's phone number, so I call and text her.  A few days go by, no response.  I'm thinking this is highly weird, but I keep thinking to myself, no, I know these people, they wouldn't do this crap, and so I also have the daughter as a fb friend, so I message her and I tell her, I can't get a hold of the mom.  Long story short, turns out, the mom says she accidentally blocked me when trying to block another Ashley G.  Possible, but, eh... not sure I believe it.

So, the immediate order of business, why I was messaging her in the first place, was to set up the pickup date for the cages, September 1st like she said.  August 20th, message from her:

Um please dont be mad I have it figured out it's just going to take me a couple weeks longer. On August 31st I have to get my back breaks and my lower sway bar replaced and it's about $900.00 to fix so what I was going to do is on September 9th we make a pretty good amount of money on parking cara for brickyard so I was going to use that money to pay you for the cages. So any weekend after September 9th let me know what works best for you and I will rent a uhaul for that weekend and we will come up there on a Saturday mid morning early afternoon. I'm sorry for the delay I didn't know when I took my car in for an oil change they were going to find things wrong

*sigh*  We end up settling on the 15th, at 5 pm.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, they never show.  And what's the kicker of all of this, my entire night was filled with appointments, AND I had someone call and want to come by at 5 pm. I told them, sorry, no can do, too busy with appointments (and with three cages to haul up the stairs and into a u-haul, it would take all the time I allotted).  They've never called back.  So, I potentially missed out on an adoption that I potentially could have had... had I known these people weren't going to show.

So I reach out.  September 16th:

Hey there. Looks like you missed your appointment yesterday. I wanted to first make sure everything was ok? Secondly, I want to honestly ask if you still intend to purchase these cages that I've completed for you. We had an agreement about a certain timeline, which has already been pushed back several times. I would very much like to gain the valuable space back in my work area that they have been occupying for quite some time, as well as the financial resources tied up within them. I did not expect them to be here this long, so I would appreciate some honesty. If you still want them, we need to arrange a pickup as soon as possible.

I also texted her.  Called her.  No response. 

September 17th, in the morning, I send the daughter a message on messenger.  Also no response.  Later September 17th, I send both mom and daughter messages that ask, are you getting my messages?  No response.

Fine, time for the big guns.  Later that day, I post on the mom's fb page and tag her in it, how we need to reschedule the appointment that she was a no-call no-show for, for the custom cages that were ordered but not yet paid for.  In so many words (now I'm officially blocked and can't see it... and I'm sure she deleted it).


Within two freaking minutes, the kid messages me:

Hey Ashley, my mom is currently in Michigan because my sister is in a serious situation so I called and talked to her and she wanted to know if we could set up a payment plan for $58 a week for 12 weeks. We got financially hit with several bills because my grandma switched them into our name without our knowing.

Um... no, she's not.  And I don't say that to be an ass, but let me explain how I know that.  In the days prior to the 9/15 pickup appointment, the mom had posted NUMEROUS times about the one kid having dental work at a place where they live (central Indiana, not Michigan).  The place was tagged in the posts, and when I saw those posts, my initial thought was, "I wonder if they're going to have the money for the cages."  But... I didn't want to be nosy and whatnot, so I let it go, figuring, they would let me know if they weren't going to make the pickup appointment (ha ha, I know, hindsight is 20/20).  So, unless the mom dropped everything and went to Michigan that morning (2 days after missing my appointment and seemingly intentionally ignoring me...), no, she wasn't in Michigan.

Now, the grandma switching bills into their name.  You can't just do that willy nilly.  So, that sounds like another excuse to me.  By the way, if there is a way to switch bills into someone else's name without their consent (which there isn't, but for discussion sake...), someone needs to let me know, so I can get someone else to pay MY bills.  I mean, I'm not THAT stupid.

And finally... the payment plan.  If you read this whole post... you probably can gather why that didn't sound like a great idea to me.  Every time they needed to pay or money was mentioned, more excuses came up.  Every time pickup was mentioned, excuses came up, and they needed to pick up later.  So, in my opinion... how was I to know they'd pay the payments?  How was I to know they'd pick up the cages?  From September 17th, 12 weeks is the middle / end of December.  You're going to tell me that when there's very possibly snow on the ground, that wouldn't be a potential excuse for why they couldn't come get the cages? 

My response:

Sorry, no. Your mom told me back in February she wanted the cages. I thought that meant that you all had the money, and I even checked with her before I started on them in June. In July, when I was done, she said sorry, wait until September 1st. Then, September 1st didn't work, but for sure she said she'd have the money after September 9th. I understand things happen but I have already held onto these cages, and consequently, am $700 in the hole and struggling paying MY bills because those cages should have been picked up months ago. I can’t wait another 3 months for pickup, and honestly, I’m not sure that I believe they would be picked up, because then who knows what the weather will be like, and if it’s snowing, I’m not sure whether the effort would be made to come get them, paid for or not. I do not have the room to endlessly store these things. You guys have been here, you know that. I am going to list them for sale. Should they happen to be here in December when you have money for them, you are welcome to buy them, but I am no longer holding them for you, as it has been one excuse after another why they cannot be paid for and picked up.

Her response:

Then sell them. I’m sorry that our financial issues have been such a burden for you. I guess we will be finding business elsewhere. Have a good rest of your day.

...and so I posted them for sale.  I really wanted to reply and mention how it didn't seem to matter to them, that I had all the money tied up in cages for them, and MY financial situation was of no concern to them...but I refrained. 

I nicely let it be and posted them for sale.  Someone asked what happened, and I posted about how someone had ordered custom cages, kept delaying payment and pickup, and now offered a payment plan that I wasn't happy with, so they were available.  I never named names or anything.

Well, they apparently couldn't hold back, and the previously so silent people posted on my post about how horrible I was for not accepting their payment plan.  How dare I not work with them!  Wtf?  I'd worked with them since the beginning and held these cages since middle of July with no payment, and I was supposed to wait until almost Christmas?  No.  Sorry, not sorry.  NOT HAPPENING.

Then, and this was an absolute hoot, they literally posted (and this is still in the fb post, you're welcome to read it if you'd like, it's funny), that they offered to give me $800 and I wouldn't take it.  I can prove, with screenshots, that NEVER HAPPENED.  They asked twice what the cost would be, twice I said I'm not sure.  When I officially had a price for them, they never had money from that point on (even though, it was SIGNIFICANTLY less than their budget of $1300).  The best part was that they posted saying, "oh, if it had been under that amount, we would have just donated the rest."  Someone on fb went on that comment and called bs on that, saying yeah right, they're gonna have all these money troubles, yet donate all the spare money?  Not likely. 

Anyway, they had a huge hissy fit, and made it sound like I'm the bad guy.  Of course, you can make your own opinions from this, but to me... I ordered these cages only after confirmation that it was a good time to begin.  A month later, they were done, and payment was supposed to be that month or the next.  Then when I tried to contact, magically, I was blocked.  Then when I did get through, oh they had to wait until the following month.  Then when I reached out about a time, oh, later that month, sorry sorry.  Then they missed that appointment, and only contacted me back after I went to extensive lengths to reach them (oh, I should also add... they were active on facebook and messenger, and POSTING on fb for the entire two days they ignored me).  Excuses excuses, so to me, it makes sense to not mess with payment plan, which I feel would have been JUST as iffy as all of this, as far as whether it would have been actually paid, or what.  Or maybe they would have paid, and then delayed pickup forever.  But personally, I feel like I was plenty understanding of their situation, and at the point that I'd decided I was done, was a reasonable point.  At least in my opinion.  So, that's that. 

Two of the cages sold pretty quickly.  I still have one custom cage left, and I'm sure it will sell eventually.  Now, I have written up a custom item contract which requires half down of the estimated cost at the beginning, and approximate pickup dates and all, and even what happens if they don't pick up.  So, in the end, this was a useful learning situation.  Still a maddening one, but I did learn from it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Waiting List Moving Quickly

So, I know I post about how it's impossible to know how quickly the waiting list will move, but I tell people, sometimes, even without a lot of adoptions, it moves quickly.  Let me share how that can happen with the current example.

As of 9/8, I had seven people on the waiting list.  I had room, so I called the first one.  That was someone who got chinchillas for the kids for Christmas, and the kids lost interest.  They brought their chins into the rescue.  These chins are Buddy and Princess.


Another larger cage opened up towards the end of the month, so on 9/30, I called the next person on the waiting list.  They were on the waiting list due to getting divorced and being unable to keep their chins.  I didn't get them on the phone call, so I left a voicemail.

You see, when I don't immediately have someone answer the phone, I leave a message saying who I am, why I'm calling, and basically explain that there is now room and I'd appreciate that they call me back, whether or not they need to bring the chins in.  That way, if they do need to bring them in, we can set an appointment for that, and if not, I will know and can move onto the next person.  So, for that person, I left a voicemail.  Also in the voicemail, I give them a time frame, for example, "if I don't hear from you by X day, I will assume you don't need to bring the chinchillas in, and I will move along to the next person on the waiting list.  However, I'd much rather hear from you..."

With this specific person, she had until the end of the day on 10/3, and I never did hear back from her.


On 10/4, I called the next person the list.  She was on the list due to her son having a chinchilla that he couldn't keep, and she was trying to help him find it a home.  Reached her, she said she found somewhere else to take them.


Called the next person.  She found a pet store that would take in the chinchilla and rehome it to a family that would make sure it got lots of time outside the cage, so she was super happy with that.  Moving along.


Called the next person.  He had taken in chins from a student who had moved back to China, but now he couldn't keep them.  Turns out, he found someone to buy the chins off him.  Moving along.


The next person I only had an email for (rather than a phone number), so I sent her an email on 10/4.

10/5 in the morning, received an email back, said she had already re-homed the chin.


Shortly after receiving the other email, I emailed the last person on the list.  She was on the list due to moving and not being able to take the chinchilla with her.  Turns out, something worked out and she WAS able to take the chinchilla with her!  Yay for her!  She wanted to make a donation though, and she ended up donating $25!  Who-hoo, thanks to Jennifer R!


So, in the course of a short period of time, we went from 7 people on the waiting list at the beginning of September... with only ONE person bringing in chinchillas, to having no waiting list at all.  So, sometimes it really does move quickly.  It just depends.

And before you wonder, maybe these people all found places elsewhere because they were on the list forever, know that the earliest person on the list was from the late middle of August (so about a month and a half), but that over half the list was from September, so very short waits for me to get back to them.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Showing! Or Lack Of...

So, some people were asking about why I haven't been posting about going to that many shows recently, as we've missed a few that we've attended in the past. 

As you may remember, my breeding herd moved to board at the Ritterspach ranch.  They are doing well, settling in, and actually breeding better than they were here... but it's still not quite been maybe 6 months since they've left.  Probably not even that long.  So, they're still settling in, and the chins that are being born are growing out.  It all takes time. 

Chins that are shown are typically 8-14 months old, and that means, from the time they're born... 8 months later, you might be able to show them.  In a perfect world, you pick out which ones look nice as youngsters, and hang onto those.  Sometimes that works out and those turn out to be the super nice show chins, but also what can happen is that as they grow out... they may not look as nice.  So, those end up going to pet homes.  Much of having something to show is picking which ones to hang onto, as youngsters.

That all said... I will be at a show soon!  The Ohio Claim show is coming up later this month, and with the re-organized Ohio Chapter MCBA, I am the new Secretary / Treasurer, so I get to have all sorts of fun figuring out how all that works... including the claiming part... for my first show!  Make sure you all come out and claim animals so that I have lots and lots of paperwork to do, lol.  I may or may not have a vendor table there, that has yet to be determined, but of course, I can always bring things to the show if anyone wants anything specific.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Costs of Unusual Chinchillas

So, I get now and then, people asking why certain chins are more money.  Wanted to share this with you, as this is one example of why.  Earlier this week:

​The two chinchillas (attached images) are the two I'm interested in. Though I think we're just going to get one. Why is the 6 month old white ebony mosaic female $600? I know the fur pattern makes them rarer but $600 seems a bit high.

My response:

For the chinchilla costs, the $600 chin that you mentioned isn't that price due to her markings, she's actually that cost due to her genetic makeup.  You may have noticed that it says on her listing that she's a curly / locken carrier.  That's a special gene that results in a curly coat in chinchillas.  It's a recessive gene, so to produce a chinchilla that actually looks curly, you need two chinchillas that carry the gene, like that girl.  Most chinchillas in the world don't have that gene, as it has to be specifically bred for, and that's the reason for the higher price of that chin.  I understand that you're looking at the chinchilla for a pet, but even so, she has the gene, and that makes her cost higher.

In case you were curious...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018


I feel like we just talked about this, but location is such a big issue.  I get people all the time, one in particular that made me think to write this, where we're several emails deep into the conversation of the chin they want and them getting it and whatnot... and then they spring it on me... they're in another country.


I don't know if maybe people think that getting animals from one country to another is less difficult than, you know, GOING to another country, but it's not.  Remember the last time you went to another country?  Even for Mexico / Canada (for those of us in the US), you need a passport.  If I want to take chins over, I need a passport, vet certificates, etc etc etc.  I'm not 100% sure on exactly all that is needed, but what I do know is that it's complicated.  To drive an animal into another country isn't super bad, but to ship one in requires certain permits and whatnot... which I don't have. 

So, when we're waist deep in a conversation about what chins someone is getting, and everything else, and then it comes out that they're in another country... that conversation was for nothing.  Sometimes, depending on the country, I can refer them to a more local breeder, or at least, one in their country.  Sometimes not.  But for sure, I can't get them the chinchilla.

I guess it comes back to... how do they not think this is important?  It's another country!  If I have to explain why this is a vital piece of information, well...  it is.  Sorry, but I cannot get chins (or any animals) out of the country.

Monday, October 8, 2018

"Quality" and Pricing

This is one of those buzzwords that drives me insane.  Not necessarily the word, I suppose, but the way people are with it.

For example.  I get a lot of people emailing who want "good quality chinchillas," and some even specify, they'd specifically like "show quality."  That's fine and dandy and all, but in reality... every chinchilla can be shown.  I've shown rescues before, because they looked nice, and heck, why not.  Doesn't hurt anything.

However... that's the thing.  "Show quality."  What does that really mean?  I can assume, that means they want a nice chin, sure.  How nice, though?  Because a chin that's show quality, in my opinion, might get a 1st place, or a 2nd place... or heck, might get 1A, 1B, Class Champion, Phase Champion, Color Section Champion, Grand Show Champion... all these are "show quality" -- so which one do they want?  And further, that Grand Show Champ at a Claiming Day may only be a 2nd Place at Nationals, when the competition is much stiffer.

So, I try to narrow it down.  I've found out, this is an apparently stupid way of doing it, judging by responses, but I've asked people, ok, what is their price range.  Lord almighty, that is apparently a stupid question.  Either that, or a ridiculously difficult one, as NO ONE can seem to answer it.

Let's step back a second.  I'm not asking because I want to charge at the top of their price range.  I'm asking because I want to stay IN their price range.  If someone wants a show quality chinchilla, and wants to spend $150, chances are  (depending on the show of course, see above) that chinchilla will be a 1st or 2nd place animal (read: probably not a champion) and is going to have some more obvious faults.  Maybe the fur is laying down in one area.  Maybe it has a pinched neck.  Maybe it's got a halo / incomplete veiling.  Certain faults will bring down the price of a still "show quality" animal... while of course, the animal is still definitely show quality, but would need to be paired to a super nice, complimentary chin, in order to better the breed in the next generation.

In comparison, if someone wants to spend $200, the animal will be better.  $250, even better.  $300... you get the idea.  Champions are worth more, grand show champs are worth even more.  I've paid $500-600 for some grand show champs before.  At some point, we run out of "better," but the idea is that the better animals cost more.  This isn't a new concept, I mean, this is how life is.  Want the better computer?  Probably going to cost more money.

Again, I ask, because I want to know at what level of quality we are talking about.  If someone tells me they want to spend a certain amount and want it nice quality, I will look for the best quality animal at that price range.  That's where the difficulty comes in.  If someone tells me that they want super nice quality, without a price range... "super nice quality" is $$$ in my mind (and that's fine, if the person thinks so too).  So then, let's say I come back with an animal that is $$$ but also super nice... and the person is like, "oh well I wanted to spend only $"... chances are, there's a nice animal with that quality... but likely not the super nice, $$$ animal that I picked.  That's why I ask.  I want to match the best animal, quality wise, whatever wise, with what the person is able to spend.  I'm sure there's the right animal out there for everyone, but finding it requires some idea of pricing, at least to me (at least, without the person saying, I want one that could be Grand Show... which no one says either).

I have someone right now that gave me a list of criteria.  There were 3-4 colors that would work for her, she wanted a smaller chin (not the super beefy like we tend to see), but gorgeous fur, smaller ears, smaller face, so on and so forth.  And she even gave me a price range.  I found a chin that matched the look she wanted and the price range and showed her, and she was happy with it.  See, that is considerably easier than just saying "good quality" at least to me.  That's why I ask questions, not to make it difficult or be an ass, but so I can get the person the best chin possible that matches what they're looking for, and matches their budget.  That is all.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Flat Rate Shipping

Why do I push flat rate shipping?  I know people are probably always wondering why I tell them, they're better off ordering the flat rate boxes of food and dust, rather than ordering a pound here or there (when it's being shipped, anyway). 

Let me give you an example.

Someone from Florida ordered two pounds of Tradition.  I packed that up in a bag, set that bag in a tiny box (see pic below) and weighed it.  Just over 2 pounds, the box is 8" x 5" x 4".  Small (especially compared to the packages I normally ship).

Care to guess the shipping?  The DISCOUNTED rate that I get through PayPal... USPS GROUND (so, ABSOLUTE cheapest)... is $12.15.  That's actual cost, not even with any handling figured in (I usually add about $1 for paper, tape, packaging, etc).

The shopping cart charged this person $10 for shipping, which I thought would be plenty, but nope!  Still over $2 short!!  I emailed her, giving her some options to either refund, or maybe add more poundage and bump up $4 to that shipping cost so I can ship flat rate (and then, 10+ pounds for that shipping cost)... so we shall see what she wants to do.

But notice, $12(!!) shipping for 2 freaking pounds!!  Versus my flat rate boxes on the webstore are 11 pounds and I can usually cram more like 13ish pounds in there (depending on what else is ordered) and get it anywhere in the country for $14.75 shipping.  INSANITY.  So yes, this is why I suggest people buy the flat rate boxes.  Because anything else just doesn't make sense.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Those Poor Chinchillas...

I wasn't even sure what to title this, I'm still sort of in shock from this whole thing.  Let me start at the beginning.

I had this family, mom and two kids, come to adopt a chin... maybe a month or two ago now.  They took home a standard grey female.  When she was here, she was super sweet, super nice chinchilla.  Nice even, level personality, no biting / spraying, nothing.  Calm chin, good for a family with kids.  The family came and adopted her, family seemed great. 

Later that day, I get a call from the older of the two boys (maybe 9-10 years old), telling me that the chinchilla had bitten his brother and drawn blood, and they wanted to exchange the chinchilla for another one.  As they hadn't had the chinchilla for more than a few hours at that point, I told them to let her settle in for a bit and to not pester her for a few days, and see how it goes.  I told them, if things didn't improve, I would swap her out for another one.

Now, let me say that occasionally this sort of thing does happen.  Sometimes it's just not a good fit, the animal doesn't get along with the adoptive family, and they return, swap out for another, and usually, they are super happy with the second.  This has happened maybe... 5ish times in 15 years.  So, not super common, but it does happen now and then.  No red flags, yet.

Time passes, and the female chin progresses to then start spraying in addition to the biting.  Eventually, we talk again and they bring her back. 

This is what she looked like when they brought her back (and you may recognize, this is the currently listed 3 year old female that doesn't get along with kids):

Does her body condition look kind of off to you?  I thought so as well (these were pics from shortly after re-intake).  At the time (and this is what it currently says in her ad), I assumed that when they were going to catch her to bring her back, she slipped a bunch of fur, and I didn't think much of it.  Also, she was a heck of a lot skinnier than when she was adopted out, when she came back.  But again, I figured, well, if she was stressed out enough to be biting and spraying, she may also have been stressed out enough to not be eating all that well.  It happens.  Giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Moving along.

I swap her out for this gorgeous show quality standard grey male adult, as they wanted a super calm one and super nice one.  He was what I had that best matched what they were looking for, and I actually felt kind of bad that they'd had a bad experience with the first one, as the kid had been telling me about how he was trying to do everything right and how he wasn't sure if it was something he did, or whatnot, and he was telling me how he cleaned the cage and was trying to make the chin happy and I wanted him to be happy.  So, he went home with a super nice chin.

They take home the second chin, the really nice male.  My health guarantee is for 7 days... day 8, I get a text from the mom, I need to call her, the chin is really sick and needs to go to the vet.  I call her, and her "story" was that they changed the bedding on the chinchilla and their guinea pig, and almost immediately, both had labored breathing and weren't doing well.  Now, she said that this is what her sons told her... she did not have first-hand experience of this, other than seeing the chin not doing well.  In her words, she rushed the chinchilla to the vet, still alive, but they couldn't save it despite trying for some time.  According to her, they told her that it was the horrible pine shavings and they told her to NEVER use them with small animals, and said that that was what caused the death.  This is all important later, remember this. 

I told her, pine shavings aren't the devil, and that even if there was something wrong in the shavings, it wouldn't cause immediate labored breathing and death.  But of course, I wasn't trying to be mean, and they did just have a chin die after all, so even though it was after my health guarantee was over and even though it wasn't just like the chin randomly died, I told her I would replace it.  Again.

Of course, they wanted another one that was just as sweet and cuddly and awesome as that one.  At the time, I didn't have any other standard males that were nice (you know, rescues are often rescues for a reason), so I told her, check back in a week or so.  The kid called and texted several times, for about a month, all while I told them, I didn't have a chin for them yet (and legitimately, I didn't).  Then I got in a nice 5 year old culled breeder.  Very similar to the previous one they'd had, SUPER nice, super calm, super chill.  We set up an appointment for them to come by.

They adopted the third chin 9/30.  They told me, they were going to name him Chow Chow.  They said, oh this is the one!!  They even asked if the first chinchilla (the female) was still here, and I said that she was, and they went over to her and said hi.  They left all happy.  Nothing seemed unusual.

You can imagine my surprise when 10/1, barely 24 hours later, I got a call from one of the local vet's office telling me that a chinchilla named Chow Chow had been surrendered.  They were calling me because the family had told them that they had adopted him from my facility.

Oh but it gets worse.  Much much worse. 

My first thought, upon hearing the chin was surrendered, was that it bit them or something and they didn't want to face me again, so they dropped it off there.  Oh, it couldn't have been that nice of a situation.  No.  He was brought to the vet, examined, the vet talked with the family, and the family decided they didn't want to mess with trying to treat his injuries, and so the vet suggested surrendering him, which they did.

I should mention... it was the actual vet that called.  Not the secretary, not a tech, the VET.  That's NEVER a good sign.

In reality... the vet suspected abuse.  Chow Chow has several vertebral dislocations.  As of the time I write this (10/3), he is currently dragging his rear legs, has hind-end-paralysis, and has a weird kink at the base of his tail.  That kink is swollen, hot, and sensitive to touch.  The vet said this is clearly a super recent injury, and x-rays were done, which is what showed fractures and dislocations.

The family's excuse?  HE FELL.  *cough* bullshit *cough*  Even the vet thought so.  They did say, if a chin did somehow fall hard enough to cause these injuries, the injuries would not be limited to this one area, and the entire impact area would have fractures / breaks...and yet, the injuries were localized in the vertebrae / spine / base of tail.  So, I asked, what was the more likely reason for this diagnosis?  The vet said, the chinchilla was most likely swung around by his tail, causing the vertebral dislocations.

According to the vet, they don't have high hopes of Chow Chow pulling through, though he IS eating Critical Care and is peeing a bit.  Though again, all signs point to abuse.

But it still gets worse.  Remember that second chin that came into the vet?  Unlike what I was told (about them bringing it in, the vet spending all this time trying to save it), the vet said that the chinchilla was dead upon arrival.  Upon examination, the vet said the cause of death was severe trauma... upon hearing this, the family RAN OUT.  So, when the family came back with this chin, the whole vet's office was like "it's THEM!!!" 

I told the vet how the family had told me, oh the vet had said it was the shavings that caused the death.  The vet said they never told the family pine shavings were bad, and said it was definitely severe trauma that caused the death, not anything to do with shavings.

The vet had called me because, with knowing the chin came from here, and figuring the previous one had as well, they wanted me to be aware of what was going on with the family (so as to not adopt to them in the future) and to let me know what was going on with the chinchilla in their care.  They said that if Chow Chow did pull through, they potentially had a staff member who wanted to take him home, but wanted to check with me that if that did not work out, if I would be able to take him back.  Of course.  (of course, this all hinges on him significantly improving)

He's currently still at the vet and as far as I know, still being treated.  They are supposed to update me with what happens with him, whether he passes or improves, or whatever.  Should anyone want to donate to his care (they didn't ask for it, but as they clearly are saints...), he is at Glenwood Village Pet Hospital, and their phone number is 708-782-4573.

Now, it makes sense why the first chin was so worse for wear looking when she came back into the rescue.  With their 2nd chin dying as a result of severe trauma, and the third chin currently not having the greatest outlook, there's a high presumption that they weren't any "nicer" to the first chinchilla.  I should note, when she came back, I made a note on her card that she bit and sprayed them, and I left her alone for a week or two to let her settle back in.  She has NEVER bitten or sprayed anyone here, and is again, nice as a cupcake.  Heck, even the first day they brought her back, when the one kid said, "oh careful she might bite you"... I was able to reach into the carrier and get her out with no problem, no spraying, no biting.  If nothing else, that suggests hostility towards certain people who weren't nice to her, not just hostility in general.  She doesn't know it, but by being a little furry asshole to them, she basically escaped with her life.

I still have her listed as not going to a family with kids (and that won't change), as I believe that whatever happened to these chins, it was the kids that did it.  I won't put this girl through having to live with any kids again, nice or not, as she's been through enough.  Heck, she's lucky to be alive.  No need to further stress her out.

Those poor, poor chinchillas.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Have You Met Lulu?

Meet Lulu:

Lulu is a standard grey female chinchilla.  We don't know her exact age, other than to say that she's an adult female.

Lulu came to the rescue about a month ago.  She was brought here by the manager of an apartment complex.  How she came to her... well...

There was an apartment in the complex where the owners were several months late on rent and were set to be evicted.  When the manager got the keys and was all set to go into the apartment and basically kick the people out... she opened the door to an empty apartment... except for a box in the middle of the floor.  In the box, was Lulu (as the manager named her).  No note, no food, no nothing, just a box with a chinchilla in it, on the floor.  How people can be like that, I will never understand.

Thankfully, the manager had a soul, and contacted us and brought Lulu here.  Lulu has now been here over a month and has maintained her weight and been doing well, so she's now available for adoption... to someone with a cage, appropriate chin-supplies, and all the love they can give.

As far as Lulu's personality... she's not quite the cuddly type.  She's more of an active chinchilla, and her goal just isn't to be your cuddlebuddy.  She would probably really enjoy playtime, though not necessarily with kids.  She gets irritated if you poke her through the cage or even poke her sides while she's in the cage (we scoop up from the bottom), which may suggest that she was in a family with kids that pestered her.  If you poke her enough, and she gets irritated, she will turn and nip.  As a result, she's not suited to go to a family with little kids.  Lulu definitely can be handled and petted, but she is more on the active (read: squirmy) side and doesn't want to sit still for long.  ADHD chin, imagine that!

Lulu is available for adoption to an approved home (adoption form required) for $75.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


I know we talk about this over and over and over.  But this post about deposits is slightly different.

Sometimes deposits go smoothly.  I tell people, ok, I can only hold the chinchilla for like a day or so for them without a deposit.  If they want to put down a deposit, they paypal money or call or whatever to give me credit card info.

But lately... I've had a slew of people where I explain how the deposit works, I give them options for how they can pay the deposit, they choose an option... like they actually will tell me, ok they're going to do paypal or a credit card or whatever... and then they fall off the face of the earth.

That's fine, people can change their mind.  But, what doesn't change, is this -- me holding that chinchilla (or whatever animal). 

I've started telling people -- especially people who are asking about an animal that's not yet listed and I'm waiting to list -- they have until a certain day to get back to me about that animal.  If they don't, then I will list the animal.  Often, I will even possibly offer the animal at a lower price to that person (usually for the $$$ animals, don't get excited that you're gonna get a huge discount on a $100 chin)... if I list that animal, that cheaper price no longer is on the table. 

So, when I'm talking about a deposit with someone, and (for example) they have my paypal email, so they could send payment if they wanted, and they have an email / text / whatever from me that says, should they want an invoice, let me know and I will send them one (this would be more for facebook, where I don't have their email and need them to provide it to me)... and a day or two goes by with no contact, no payment, no nothing... that chin gets listed.  I'd hope people don't think I'm endlessly holding the animal for them, though honestly this really does confuse me, as why get to the point of asking how to pay the deposit... and then vanish?  *scratches head*  Really not sure on that one.  But anyway, I guess the point is, if we've talked about a deposit and you've had several days to pay it or respond to my message and haven't, you shouldn't expect that the animal is still here for you, with me waiting for you, twiddling my thumbs.  Sorry not sorry.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Adoption Form Answers -- "Don't Know Yet"

I get this a lot -- an adoption form filled out, and all of the relevant questions (such as what food are they going to feed, what sort of hay, what sort of dust, what cage, etc) are all answered with "not sure yet" or "I don't know" or something of that nature.

Now, let me start by saying, I am perfectly happy to help if someone needs suggestions or thoughts or whatever, on picking what is right for their new pet.

That said... when I get adoption forms like this, usually, about all that is filled out with concrete answers is their name, address, whether they own/rent, whether they have air conditioning... etc... the thing is... I can't approve someone to adopt based on just those things.  The questions that get the "I don't know" answers are the ones that are crucial to chinchilla ownership.  If you feed the wrong food, they can get sick and die.  If you have an inappropriate cage, it may be dangerous for the chinchilla and could potentially result in injury.  This may be a surprise, but I really am not that interested in your address.  Over 75% of the time, I don't even notice where the people put down that they live.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I glance at it, but if the person is within a few hours distance of here, I move on.  I need the answers to those other questions to know if the person will be a good home or not.

I'm not saying don't submit forms.  But maybe, before you submit a form that is 90% "not sure yet"s, just maybe... ask some questions or read some care sheets first.  Because either way, we will have a long discussion about care.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018


I'm sure I've talked before about how annoying Yelp can be if you ever add your own "free" page.  Yes, the page is free, but their incessant bugging makes you wonder if it's worth it.

I almost forgot about this from the other day, but I got an email today that reminded me... it started off, "In September, you had 8 views to your Yelp Business Page."  Who-hoo, a whopping 8 views.

Let's backtrack a moment.  I got a call the other day from a nice lady at Yelp, and I suppose they choose their employees based on how pushy they are, because you can never get them off the phone, and no matter WHAT you say, they tell you how much you NEED their business.

They're always telling me, oh I had so many clicks.  So, the lady the other day told me that my business page was really busy!  Lots of activity!  She wanted me to log onto my business page (surprise surprise, I didn't want to), and I told her, please just give me a number.  You're gonna love this.  I had 98 views on my business page in the last 12 months.  Let me repeat that.  I had 98 views in the last 12 months.

Let's compare to the website, shall we? 

I realize that pic is showing up way way huge and may look kinda funky, but I want you to be able to see / read the important parts.  Note, on the top right, it shows that these are the statistics for the "nwichins" site, for the "last 28 days."  Let me repeat.  Last 28 days.

Notice, in the last 28 days, there have been 2,272 visitors.  Let's say that was an awesome month, to give Yelp some leeway, and say that in a month, there were only 2,000 visitors.  That still means, in a year, that's 24,000 visitors (I don't have the premium version of Clicky / statistics, so I'm limited to what I can view), and that would likely be on the low end.  Now, come again, Yelp, with that whopping 98 visitors to the page in the last year?

Every time they call, they want me to upgrade my profile.  Oh it's ONLY $300 a month.  This time they called, it was ONLY $3/day.  Well, that's still ~ $100/month, and that's $100/month too much for me.  I do my best to wait for there to be a "sale" to renew my website, but even without the sale price, I looked at my billing, and I have paid between $200-400 for two years of my website, since I have had it. Even at $400 for two years, that's $16.67/month, or around 50 cents per day.  And again, it gets ~2,000+ visitors per month.  But totally, I'm going to pay Yelp exponentially more, when they haven't showed me that they're worth it.

Honestly, if I wanted to dump another $100/month into advertising, I'd probably do it on facebook.  Where everyone is.  I actually like yelp as far as finding a restaurant and that sort of thing... but for this... no.