Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Room At the Rescue

So, this has been coming up more as of late, so I wanted to mention it.  Regarding there being room at the rescue for people to bring in animals. 

So, people have been calling and setting up an appointment to bring in their animal, and then no-call, no-show-ing on the appointment.  When that happens, I do reach out and send an email / text / call (depending on how the person had initially contacted me) and if I don't get a live person, I leave a message basically saying, hey, didn't see you today for the animal dropoff, did they want to reschedule?  About 95% of the time, I don't receive a call back.

If that was the end of it, no problem... but what's been happening lately is that that person will contact me a couple of weeks in the future, they'll basically tell me that something came up last time, but now they are ready to surrender their animals.  Just assuming, basically, that I have room.  The one person who sort of triggered the writing of this post wanted to drop off some guinea pigs, and when they called, I had only two guinea pigs here, and I had room for more.  When they called back, a couple of weeks later, I had 8, and that's full FULL of guinea pigs (no room for more).  So I told this person, sorry but now we are full.  She asked for a referral, and I told her to check out another place that I thought of. 

I haven't heard back from her... but some people absolutely lose their minds when you tell them that the rescue is full and their current option (other than to go somewhere else, of course) is to get on the waiting list.  Just because I have room today, doesn't mean that I will have room tomorrow.  I've gotten in large batches of animals before, or even just a lot of animals in a short period of time, and things change in an instant.  Same goes for adoptions.  I've had animals sit around for months waiting for that perfect home, and then all of a sudden, 5 people want to adopt them.  If you've heard me lately, I've been talking about how great it is that we had so many adoptions this spring.  Don't worry though -- that'll be off-set by how many surrenders we get here in the summer.  It's all give and take, and us having room here is always relative.  It can change at any time.  That's why people would do well to know that just because we have room right this moment, does not mean we will have room at some random day in the future, and of course, there is no way to predict that.  That is all.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Chins Coming Into the Rescue

So, I suppose not everyone is familiar with this, so I wanted to touch on this again.  How it works when chins and other animals come into the rescue. 

When animals come in, they are put into a cage, labeled with their name and surrender date (if they are an owner surrender) and weighed.  Rescues / owner surrenders are kept a minimum of 30 days.  In this 30 days, we get up their name / age / etc on the website under the "under evaluation" section, and mainly, the chins just get fed, watered, and cared for during that period of time.  They are also weighed around the time they come in, so we have a baseline.

Wait!  You say, I've seen some chins materialize on the website and be available within a day or two.  Sometimes this is because we haven't gotten them listed in the "under evaluation" section, and by the time we get to that, they are available.  This is more common when we are way beyond full and have chins coming out our ears.  Right now when we have less chins, you can probably bet almost every single one is listed.  Anyway, in that case, they would magically appear available from the first day.  The other option is that they're not rescues.  If I bring chinchillas from my herd in Ohio, here to Hammond, they don't need the full 30 days.  This is because I know where they are coming from and how they are cared for.  Similarly, they are weighed when they come in.

The purpose of weighing the animals when they come in is to have a baseline.  It can often be difficult to tell if, or how much, a chinchilla is eating, due to the fact that some of them dump their food or dig through their food.  Others with cagemates, well... are they both eating?  Is one being a pig?  Who knows.  So, we weigh them.  For rescues, they're usually weighed at least once, but preferably two times, before they are listed (and then periodically afterwards as well).  The second time is usually right around the 30 day mark, to see how they have progressed.  For younger chinchillas like the typical ones we bring from my herd, they typically should be gaining weight.  For adults, they should be maintaining their weight.  Depending on their previous diet, it may or may not be surprising if we see a weight loss.  We had one chinchilla, years ago, come in eating snack-size snickers bars.  I am NOT even kidding.  Not even a little.  One in the morning, one at noon, and one at night.  It was not at all surprising that he lost some weight.  By weighing them, we were able to monitor this, and once he leveled out, he was put up for adoption.

That's the thing... when I say that they stay here a minimum of 30 days, it's just that... a minimum.  Within the 30 days, if they are sick or not doing well, this will show up, as will if they are not settling in well, or a variety of other things.  But 30 days isn't some magic number.  Sometimes 30 days comes and goes, and we're still not sure if that chinchilla should be put up for adoption.  If there's doubt, the chinchilla stays under evaluation, and will be ready at some future time.  In the end, we don't want to send home a possibly sick or non-well-adjusted chinchilla. 

Assuming the 30 days is up, the weight of the chin has been maintained, and the chin has a personality that is good for adoption purposes (as in, the chin doesn't need to go to a foster home to help work on making them more personable), around 30+ days is when we start taking pictures and start interacting with the chinchilla more.

Why don't we interact more sooner?  To let the chinchilla settle in.  People have occasionally told me how the chinchilla they got was more friendly and outgoing here, and then at home, not as much.  It took time to warm up.  It wasn't as outgoing.  We all need to remember, these animals are prey animals.  A lot out there wants to eat them (so they think) and they need to be cautious.  One thing I've learned in these 16 years of doing this is that if I give them time to settle in, I have a better end result.  When you compare this to the people who take a chin into their home (new people / new other pets / new environment / new cage / new everything) and then try to interact with the chin on day 1, often they are surprised when the chin isn't jumping into their arms like their long-lost-best-friend... but usually there is a reason for this. 

I may have told this story before, but I had a couple take home two chins.  I got a call that night, the chins weren't as friendly at their place as they were here.  So I asked, what had they been doing with the chins since they'd gotten home?  Turns out, they'd been home about 5 hours, and had the chins out of the cage for the majority of the time.  That can be sort of like sensory overload for the chins, not to mention, they might have been getting a little warm as well, depending on temp and whatnot.  So I nicely told them, put the chins in the cage and let them settle in for a bit.  I explained my 30 days.  Of course, I don't expect everyone to do that, but I explained why I do it, and said to leave them alone for a couple days minimum.  Their response was that they would try to leave the chins alone for the night.  Get a text the next day, more of the same, the chins are barking and kacking and not acting happy.  Told them, just feed them and water them and let them settle in.  A week would be good, now that they're acting actually unhappy.  They respond, well maybe we can manage a full day.  Third day, more of the same.  I admit, I was starting to get irritated, because I don't understand why people ask for advice and then don't listen to that advice... so when they repeated the same thing over, and clearly hadn't left the chins alone, at all, my response back was literally, "you're supposed to be leaving them alone."  I sent that text.  I didn't hear from them for a few days, and I really thought I'd pissed them off, but I mean... the chins did need to settle in, and forcing themselves on the chins was not going to be helpful.  A few days later, I get a text.  In so many words, it said something like... you know, since what we were doing wasn't working, we thought we'd give what you said to do a try, and they're doing much better now!  They're back to how they were at your place! ---  Imagine that.  Haha.

It really does make a difference.

So, when they are ready, that is when we start interacting more, and that's also when we start taking pics and writing up a description for them.  Depending on what their personality is like, some of these chins may go to foster homes, and this is when they can go (after the 30 days), but most will stay here and we'll get a listing up, so that people can find their info, apply to adopt them, and bring home their new furball.

Friday, June 14, 2019

No-Kill Shelters

Sort of going along with the other day's post about what we are and what we are not...  one thing that we ARE is no-kill.  

Now, because we are transparent... I will explain to you that no-kill does not mean that animals are never put down.  It simply means they are never put down due to space or behavioral issues.  We rarely put down animals.  I can only think of twice in the last couple of years where we have had to put down a chinchilla, and both instances were due to severe malocclusion, which is incurable and super painful for the chinchilla.  Other than severe health issues that basically result in no quality of life, that chin will chill here til it gets adopted.

Some rescues are no-kill, some aren't.  Some rescues that we would THINK are no-kill, are NOT.  Have you ever heard of Whimsy's Menagerie, the chinchilla rescue on the east coast?  Did you know that they're NOT no-kill?  No?  I didn't either!  We were talking with one of our previous adopters the other day, and she mentioned that she would no longer buy from or support Whimsy's, so of course I asked why.  She said that they weren't no-kill, and that they euthanize for behavioral issues, such as biting and spraying.  Not that I didn't believe her, but I had to look it up for myself:

Well... there you have it.  I will be honest, that absolutely floored me.  Sure, you may have heard me joke about eating a chinchilla for dinner when they make me mad or whatever, but it's just that... a joke.  Sprayers and biters are FULLY adoptable, to the right home.

Let me tell you a quick story.  We got a chinchilla in here from a small breeder who was moving out of his parents' house and wanted to reduce his breeding numbers (I think we got in 7 of his chins).  One of the chinchillas that came into our rescue from him was a black velvet female.  She didn't have a name, so Jennifer (our worker) named her Onyx.  Onyx came in fully matted and icky.  I let her settle in for a week, during which she would bark at me, but nothing overly obnoxious.  About a week later, over a couple of days span of time, I spent all sorts of time pulling out mats and grooming her so that she would be more comfortable.  She was NOT happy.  Time unfortunately didn't help this, and the longer she was here, the more pissed off she was.  I couldn't even feed her without her acting like an obnoxious brat.  If I was filling the feeder (which is outside the cage, a J-feeder) she would spray me.  If I cleaned the cage, she would spray me.  God forbid I tried to take her out of the cage, she would spray me AND try to bite me.  She acted similarly with Jennifer, though not with quite so much menace... but still a crabby furball.

Because she was an adult, she was cheap ($100 adoption fee) and everyone wanted her, with her being an unusual color (black velvet).  It didn't matter that she was listed as "under evaluation" (because of the spraying / biting / etc), everyone asked about her.  Once I would mention her attitude, everyone was (understandably) like "ehhh...nevermind."  So, I finally took her down from the website.  Nothing happened to her, I just removed her listing.  I figured, when she was ready, I would list her again.  In the meantime, I set out to find a foster who wanted a difficult chin to work with... and I almost had one lined up... when one of our previous adoptive homes messaged me asking if I had any chins that might pair with one of theirs (the cagemate had passed), and problem-chins were ok with her.  So you know who I thought of.  

The family came over to meet Onyx.  I got a wonderful pee-shower and some chomps on my hands getting her out of the cage... but magically... she got along with their chin just swimmingly, and they took her home.  She now lives in a big cage with their white mosaic chin, Peanut (also from the rescue... as are all but one of their 8 chins).  I got the chance to go over to their place in Chicago last week and see the chins.  Onyx, now re-named Cookie, actually let me pet her!  She's super happy there.  She does occasionally bark at her new family, but she's no longer spraying or biting.  She loves getting neck scratches!

Here's Cookie with her new human mom, Claire:

...and sprayers and biters are un-adoptable?  No.  The just need the right home.

So to me, to cull (aka put down / euthanize / kill / pick-your-word) them is just... unbelievable.  We only ever put down chins for major, incurable, no-qualify-of-life-health-issues, NOT culling / biting / behavioral issues... and that is how it will remain.  

So, going back to the previous post.  You may think our cages are not the greatest, some are small and not chin-mansions... but sometimes, the reason other rescues have room for chins and can manage to use only big fancy cages is due to the fact that they are putting down the less-than-perfect chins... which we would never do.  We might use smaller cages for some of them... but they all get a chance at a forever home.... regardless of how much they might be little furry turds at times.  That is all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Cages Here at The Rescue

So, we've had a lot of people lately coming by that mention they would like to see the place before they drop off their chin.  In talking with a friend, she suggested that maybe these people are thinking of dropping off their chin here as more of dropping off the chin in a home, as opposed to a rescue.  I suppose, since this is a home-based rescue (and we have foster homes as well), I can understand that.  And of course, I have nothing to hide, so everyone is welcome to come see the place, before you entrust your baby to me.

We do have some general pics of our setup on the Chin Room page of our website -- click here.  Do we have more cages than that?  You bet!  Are some of the cages smaller than that?  Of course.  The cages pictured (the ferret nations, critter nations, etc) are the cages we typically use to house the rescue chinchillas / owner surrenders (the ones that don't come with a cage).  For people who bring in opposite-sex pairs, we separate those, and the female will go in a baby-safe cage until they have cleared pregnancy watch.  We have less of those (pregnancy safe cages), so sometimes that chin will get the short end of the stick, and will end up in a smaller cage.  We have typical guinea pig type cages... which we usually use for guinea pigs, but also chinchillas, depending on room, and we also have some smaller chinchilla cages with built in dusters, to help with any stress the chins might feel.  Are these cages all chinchilla mansions, similar to how a chinchilla might live in a pet home?  No.  Am I ashamed of that?  Heck no.  This is a rescue.  These chins are NOT meant to live here forever.  This is meant to be a temporary home, while they find their forever homes.  Would I like for them to all have huge cages?  Of course!  Thing is, there's only so many hours in the day, and I am only one person.  I have one person who works for me, and some months it's a struggle to pay the bills, pay her, and feed / care for all the animals.  Big cages would be great!  But they would require more work, more people to do the work... and that's just not something we have here.  For some people, I realize, the answer may be, take in less chins.  Here's the funny part about that.  We have expanded, and I have moved my breeders to Ohio... so that I can take in more rescues and have more time for the rescues... because there's already not enough chin rescues around.  If we take in less, which sure, we could do... where do those other chins end up?  That's what I worry about.  We already get in quite a few chins from homes that mention they got one and it wasn't what they expected, or it was too much work, or what have you.  If these people who are surrendering their chinchillas to us, now start re-homing them to the first person with $50... I'm not sure we wouldn't end up with the chin anyway... just from someone else down the line.

Want to see some of the other cages?  We had a video made partly here awhile back, you can find it here -- starting at 3:06, there's a pan that shows about half of the rescue.  In the video, on the far left, far right, and all the way back, you can see cages that look like this (with some variation), all those were breeder cages that are now gone, to make way for more pet cages to hold more rescues.  Note, in the view the camera has, you can't even see our wall of FN's (6 along the back, plus guinea pig cages), which are the main big cages in the rescue.  We also now have another FN on the front wall, which is our cage that was dedicated to Bonnie Reinhardt (see blog post here), and we usually have another pet cage up there next to it as well. 

All the chins here have food and water, dust baths as needed, chew toys.  Unfortunately, I can't always say the same about some of the chinchillas in their previous homes, before they came to us.  That's a post for another day, but I'm often amazed how people don't give their chins some of the basic necessities.... and oddly enough, sometimes those chins will have huge cages... but nothing to chew on, and the person ran out of food a week ago, and finally decided to surrender, rather than go get another bag of food.  But I digress.

At the end of the day, I do my absolute best for these furballs.  Do I wish I had a million dollars and could do things better?  Sure.  In reality though, doing rescue doesn't make anyone rich, and we make do with what we have.

Do you have questions?  I'm happy to answer them.  Feel free to ask.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Fungus in Chinchillas

So, if you've ever heard me talk about fungus, you basically know that it's sort of like the common cold for chinchillas.  It's basically always around, just waiting for the right moment.  It's nothing overly serious, as long as it's treated of course. 

If we have chinchillas with fungus, they are treated and are fungus-free before leaving for their new homes.  But... not everyone, and especially not pet stores, are the same way.  Here's a chin I saw at a pet store awhile back:

See how the nose is bald and kind of flaky?  That is fungus.

Fungus, in chinchillas, is a ringworm infection.  It is about the ONLY thing that we can catch from our fluffy furballs.  So, when we have a chinchilla with fungus here, we make sure to wash out hands after touching the chinchilla, and before we touch other chinchillas, or really, anything else.  To keep it from spreading, fungus needs to be dried out.  It usually starts around the nose / eyes, because it is, well, fungus... and requires some moisture, at least to start out. 

It is a misconception that chinchillas get fungus JUST from being wet.  Sure, if you drench a chin and don't dry it properly, they can get fungus.  But not because they're wet, per se.  It's because their fur is so thick that it can hold the moisture close to their skin, which can cause the fungus to take hold.  Otherwise, all the chins that like to sit under the dripping water bottle would all have fungus too, and let me share a secret with you... they don't.  Chins get wet (here and there... not like drenched) all the time, and they're just fine.

Fungus is easily treatable!  No need for a vet visit even, you can buy athlete's foot powder such as desenex or tinactin.  Sprinkle it in the dust, like you'd sprinkle powdered sugar over a pastry, and give the dust (with powder sprinkles) once a day for 1-2 weeks.  You should see fur stubble within a week or two.  Usually this will take care of it. 

Fungus isn't harmful, per se... think of it like chicken pox.  It itches... but it's more of an irritation than anything else.  That's how fungus is.  It doesn't look pretty, but the chin isn't actually in pain or anything.  Just a minor skin infection that can easily be cleared up.  That is all.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Chins With Good Hiding Places

Ever had a chin you couldn't find?  I have! 

This was from a couple of weeks ago, but one of our chins got loose upstairs, after bringing her home from an expo.  Searched and searched... left out food and water.  Finally on the second day, I heard a noise and determined she must have been in the living room.  So I blocked off the doorway and set out to look.  There's some more well-liked hiding spots in there (cause believe me, this is not the first time a chin has been loose in there), and she wasn't hiding in any of those.

Kept going back and forth, looking and looking... couldn't find the little stinker! 

Finally I got down to the floor and looked at floor level, since I figured she must have been somewhere I couldn't see from above.


Little turd!  Having now located her, I did finally catch her.  But that was a pretty good hiding spot!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Chins Getting Along

So I know it's been awhile since I wrote one of these, and I apologize... but we've been busy!  Did you see how few chins we have right now???

... of course, that's good, since the summer influx will likely be insane, as it always is. 

But anyway... onto the blog.

I have had a lot, and I mean a LOT of people asking lately about wanting a chin as a buddy for their chin.  That itself is pretty common, but lately people are basically wanting me to guarantee that the chins will get along, forever.  I can't guarantee that.  In fact, no one can. 

Most chins here, we don't know if they get along with others.  Why?  Because I'm not willy-nilly pairing them just for the heck of it.  No sense to stress them out, or even bond them with another, and then someone just wants to take one of them home.  Nope, they tend to stay by themselves unless someone asks about two chins being paired.  So, as a result, unless the chin either came in with another, had a sibling, or otherwise had interactions with another chin in the past, very simply... we just don't know if it gets along with others.

But here's the thing... even if we HAVE some thoughts on that.  Let's say that one chin is really popular and people keep coming by and seeing if that chin gets along with theirs, and hypothetically, let's say it does... but they all pass on that chin to get a different one.  In a situation like that, I may change the listing to reflect that the chin has gotten along with other chins in the past, so that would suggest (note, suggest) that the chin could get along with other chins in the future.  But even then... that chin could get along with every chin here... and not the one chin that the person owns, that they want it to get along with.

I mean, think about it.  With people.  We all have that one friendly person that we know that likes and gets along with almost everyone.  Note what I said.  Almost everyone.  You can always find someone that that person is not crazy about.  So why is it that we think, oh, cause that chin got along with those 3 chins, it will automatically get along with all chins?  I'm really not sure.

The thing is... you never know how they will get along until you try the chins together.  Some people bring their chins here to try them together here.  The real test, though, is when those two chins get to the home and are put together there, in the territory of the original chin.  They could get along swimmingly here... and then go home, and the original chin could literally decide, "NOPE!  This is MY cage!  DEATH TO ALL INTRUDERS!!!" and what can we do?  Sure, we can re-arrange the cage, and we can give dust baths, and we can do certain things that can help (note, help), but if that first chin is hell-bent on not having a buddy... well, we can't make them have a buddy.

I know of someone right now who started with a couple chins, then added one to that, then another.  When the most recent one was added, one of the original chins started acting aggressively, to the point where the owner had to separate that chin from the other three.  I've since heard how this person has tried multiple different ways to get the chins living together again, even to the point of ordering a new cage so they can put them all back together and hope that they all get along (when the cage arrives).  It may work... it may not.  This person has mentioned even surrendering the "problem chin" and getting another one, cause they want all these colors... living together.  I reminded them, even if they do this, they may have this same problem with another chin, as there's just no knowing how everything will work out.  Because it all comes back to this:  no matter whether the chin gets along with other chins or not, you never know how it will go with one specific chin.

One more little anecdote before I go back to organizing the rescue -- we had a chin in the rescue that was adopted out, and later I found out, the new home has her and a buddy living happily together.  No problems, they're doing wonderfully together.  I find this interesting, because when this chin was surrendered, the owner told us that she barbered the fur of the chin she was with (and they brought that chin with to surrender as well, so we did verify this).  Why that chin didn't get along with the buddy at the first home... who knows?  But she got along with a buddy at another home!  Logical, I know. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019


I get this sort of thing now and then:

My response:

Just in case you ever wondered...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Lists of What People Want

I repeat this all the time, so I may have talked with you all about this before, but just in case...

We don't keep lists of what people are looking for.  If you want a chin, let's say a specific color, and you want it now, I may be able to work with another breeder to get it.  That's sort of the exception.

But for those who are like, "hey, let me know when you get rats in" and that sort of thing... we don't keep a list.  Let me explain why... because I have kept a list in the past.  And in the past, when I kept the list, and then would message / call / reach out to the person and be like, "hey, so this is so and so, we have in rats at the rescue, you had mentioned you were looking for rats..." -- the answer was always, "oh!  Thanks for letting us know, but we already got some.  Thanks though!" 

Every.  Single.  Time.

Like no joke, without fail.  Once, it was as quick as like a two-day turnaround, where I told the person I thought I was getting in guinea pigs, and they were super excited, and this was actually going to be a transfer from another rescue, so they would be available once they got here.  The person said they would wait.  So I contact them, early on the second day, to tell them, we got in these guinea pigs, all young ones, cool colors, both sexes, yadda yadda.  Oh, they'd already gone and gotten one... and here's the kicker... right after they got off the phone with me (and yes, that means, right after they told me they'd wait to hear from me).

So no, we do not have lists of people waiting for animals.  Simply because there's no point. 

This all came up because I received an email from someone who wanted me to share with them some potential leads for homes for animals they have.  I don't have em to share, unfortunately... I told this person, I'm happy to take in the pets, if desired, but I don't have contacts to hand out.  It would be nice if people really did get on a list and stay on the list and wait... but since people don't... this is how it is at the moment...

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Yelp and Other Phone Calls

So, you may remember how Yelp has pestered me in the past, to pay for their paid service.  Their paid service is like $300 / month, so it's nothing cheap, and nothing I could "try out" -- not at that price!  For $300 / month (if I had that to spend), I could legit hire someone to work for me and really get a lot of effort out of that, rather than just get a listing on their website.

Part of the reason I have always told the Yelp representatives, when I have been unfortunate enough to get on the phone with them, that I will not pay, is because of the way my rescue pops up on search results.  It pops up under rescue, and I understand, it is a rescue... but so is every humane society out there. And since, as we all know, people don't read... this creates a problem. 

The main thing being, people see "rescue" -- don't read "NWI Chinchilla Rescue" -- just focus on "rescue" and call.  Then they're surprised when I don't have what they're looking for.

So, a few days ago, I finally had someone fill out a request for information on Yelp.  Mind you, it's only taken two years for one of these to be filled out, since I created a Yelp account (so, you see how useful Yelp really is).  The person wanted a price estimate... wait for it... on a kitten.

I kind of ignored it for a day or so, mainly because I was on my phone and couldn't seem to log into Yelp, but once I got on my computer and logged in, I was able to select "service not offered" and I typed in a little blurb about, we are a chinchilla and small animal rescue, we do not take in / adopt out cats / dogs / kittens / puppies.  Sorry, but best of luck! 

... and this sort of thing is why I will not pay for Yelp.

Also wanted to share a phone call from the other day, which I wouldn't be at all surprised if it came from someone viewing the Yelp page:

Me:  Hello?
Them:  Hi, is this an animal rescue?
Me:  This is NWI Chinchilla Rescue, how can I help you?
Them:  I'm looking for a puppy, I--
Me:  Let me stop you right there.  We don't handle any dogs or cats, we just take in small animals like chinchillas, guinea pigs, rats...
Them:  Oh but that's what I'm looking for, a small puppy.

*major facepalm*

Fun fun fun...

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Calls About Adopting Other Animals

This is another one of those things that I just don't get, and we've been getting a LOT of this lately, so I wanted to talk briefly about it. 

So, someone calls the rescue, and asks, do we have kittens / dogs / puppies for adoption.  Lately a lot of people asking for kittens.  And I will explain, we don't take in dogs or cats, we only take in small animals.

So then the next question is, "ok, what do you take in?"  So I tell them, chinchillas, guinea pigs, those sorts of animals.

Their next question is, "oh, are those free or do they cost?"  I explain, they all have adoption fees.

"Oh, what are the adoption fees?"  So I tell them, chins tend to start at $75, guinea pigs $25-35 for a single, $40-50 for a pair.

And that's usually the end of the phone call. 

Here's what I don't get... if you're calling to get a kitten... and someone says, oh we don't have them, but we have chins and guinea pigs... first, it's not what you're looking for, so why does the phone call not end there, and second... when you start asking about adoption fees (and sometimes they even ask what those pets are like and how hard they are to care for)... how does this NOT seem like an impulse thing to the person at the rescue?  Of course, I'm always nice to the people, because maybe some of them go home and research and decide that a small pet is right for them... but I think many of them seem a bit overly curious, about an animal that they weren't looking for, 5 seconds ago.  That is all.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Expo Dates / Scheduling

So, I've had some chats lately with some people about which expos we're going to be at, and when, and how this can easily be kept track of.  Best way -- we have a "Come See Us" section on the home page of our website.  Other than that... it gets kind of messy.

Some expos, we have planned way in advance.  Like WAAAAAAAAAAAY in advance.  For example, I already know when the Chicago Pet Show -- Kane County is in the fall, and I'm pretty sure I already had to notify that we will be there... like as of last November (which is fine, we love that expo).  Yeah, LAST November.  Some are booked way in advance.  So that probably will not change.

But, on the other hand... the All Animal Expo (AAE) in Wheaton / Hammond -- we can schedule or cancel up until the day before, probably even the day of... and sometimes we have waited until the day before to officially decide.  And that's fine.

Also, sometimes expos get moved.  See if you can follow this:  The Chicago Pet Show -- Oak Lawn is scheduled for May 4-5.  Did you know... it was originally scheduled for April 27-28th.  When it was originally scheduled for April 27th, I had agreed to go.  Then, it turned out, the Atlantic Chapter MCBA (Chinchilla) Show was also 4/27.  So, I was going to go to the Chicago Pet Show, as I'd already booked that.  Well... then we received notification from Chicago Pet Show that the Oak Lawn venue had been double booked for 4/27-28, and the show was moving to May 4-5.  Well... shit.  That was the day of the Ohio Chapter Show.  So for a moment (actually a span of 3-ish months), I had to tell Chicago Pet Show... I really don't know if I will be there or not, please check back, and I will notify as soon as I figure out (I'm on the Ohio MCBA Chapter Board, so it's hard to NOT be there for a show... I have stuff to do).  What else this meant though... was that April 27th was now expo-free again.  So, I decided I was going to the Atlantic Chapter Chin Show, as, with the Chicago Pet Show moved, I would not be able to attend the Ohio Chapter Show (IF I attended the Chicago Pet Show).  Knowing I would not likely attend the Ohio Chapter Show, I was going to attend the Atlantic Chapter Show.  Then, the Ohio Chapter Show got moved to 5/18.  Learning that, I called up the Chicago Pet Show and informed them that I WOULD be able to attend the Oak Lawn show.  In the meantime, I received a flyer from the Be Kind to Animals Pet Care Expo... also on the 27th.  With the Ohio show moved, knowing I would be able to show my animals more locally, and under a judge I liked better (than the judge for Atlantic Chapter), I applied for a booth at the Be Kind to Animals Pet Care Expo, and decided not to show at the Atlantic Chapter Show.  With the Ohio Chapter Show on 5/18, the AAE scheduled having kangaroos at the show on 5/19.  So that week/weekend will be insane, with me driving out to Ohio Wed/Thurs, showing Saturday, driving back Saturday night, and going to the AAE Sunday. 

With all these changes -- mostly event dates changing and whatnot -- can you understand why I tell people to always check our Come See Us section, when they are unsure if we will be at an event or not?  Sometimes it's hard for me to keep track of all of this!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Donations Etc.

So, I know I posted a bit ago about how when people are sponsoring a chin, they can designate which chin they want to sponsor, and this and that...  this sort of thing is across the board.

See, if you donate something, you're more than welcome to mention what you'd like that to go to, or who's name you want it in, or whatnot.  Of course, within reason, and of course, we try to accommodate as best we can.  Want the donation in someone else's name?  No problem.  Suggest that that we buy a new shop vac with your donation, when the current one is running fine... we will likely reach out and have a chat.

The reason I bring this up, though, is because people have, moreso in recent years, been donating in honor or someone, or wanting someone else's name up on the donation.  You might remember how when Ed R.'s wife passed, he wanted his donation in Bonnie's name (and informed us that she had passed).  Not only did we do that, but since this family had always been so generous and kind to us and the rescue, we also got a plaque that has been  put up on one of our cages, dedicating the cage to Bonnie.  In case you missed that post it is ---> here.

... and basically, I just wanted to let you all know, in case you happen to be donating, feel free to suggest what you'd like it used for, or if you want it in honor or someone or whatnot.  Of course, we can't get plaques for everyone, but we can do our best to make people feel appreciated!

More recently than the cage plaque, I received a donation from someone, and they wanted it put from someone else, for their birthday.  I sent that person a message, asking if the person might like a donation thank you card from the rescue, and explained that I would need their address, if they would (the donations on the webstore don't require an address... though even if they did, this would be a separate person entirely).  They responded saying that was thoughtful, and gave me the person's full name and address.  I went out and got them a birthday card, in addition to the donation thank you card, wrote a little message inside, thanking them for their donation to the rescue, and mailed it out.  Hopefully they got it in time for their birthday and enjoyed getting it. 

Obviously, this is a different situation than a lot of people who are donating, but we really do appreciate every little bit, and if there's a simple way that we can express gratitude, we are definitely happy to do so.  :)

Monday, April 29, 2019

Give and Take

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 27, 2019


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Guest Writer - Playtime!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Chicago Pet Show -- Oak Lawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sorting Herbs

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the second pic, you can see the 3 oz bag of whole rosehips on the left, and the 3 oz bag of rosehip nibbles on the right.  We have added these to the webstore, $4 for 3 oz. -- https://www.nwichinchillas.com/apps/webstore/products/show/7977833

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

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Phone Calls -- Never Cease to Amaze

Phone call today:

Me:  Hello

Them:  Hello.  Do you get in stray dogs?

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

Them:  Hello?

Me:  Yes?

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

Me:  Yes, chinchillas and guinea pigs.

Them:  So no dogs?

Me:  No, sorry, just the small animals


I swear...

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Holiday Toys! And Ornaments!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 12, 2019

Things That Make Me Happy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Addition to Previous Post

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Scheduling Appointments... in the Future

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

Let me explain.

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Overstock Adoption Inquiries

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

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

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

"I don't have money."

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

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Fake Inquiries

Yes, we really do get these!  Most aren't all that obvious, until they start asking really weird questions, like can they eat the chins?  Can they pelt them?  Can their snake eat them when the get tired of them?  Oddball stuff. 

But this one that I received was actually kind of amusing, so I wanted to share.  Here's a screenshot of the email:

Now... I routinely get these adoption inquiries from overstock.com... where, I should note... I DO NOT POST MY ANIMALS.  Somehow that website must grab listings from other websites and post them to there as well... and while that sounds great, almost no adoptions come from it.  Mostly because people are far away.  So, as a result, the first thing I do when I receive one of those overstock.com adoption inquiries is type in the zip code and see where they're located.  If it's like east coast or west coast or whatever, I might as well just ignore it. 

So note, this one has the zip code, 01234.  Whether or not you know anything about zip codes, let me tell you, there really are some zip codes that start with 0.  They're pretty much all on the east coast.  But I figured, I would look it up and see exactly where.

... ok.. no.  So then I look at the rest of the listing.  Look at the phone number... (123) 456-7890.  Also look at the name -- Jane Doe.  So it's all fake... but look, they did put down that they have 8 birds and one cat in the house! 

So... what exactly is the point of this?  I suppose if I'd looked at the entire thing, top to bottom, initially, it would have been more clear that it was fake to start with... but why even take the time to write all that out... like other than to waste someone's time?  Just don't get it I guess...  ah well...

Friday, March 29, 2019

Adoption Time Frame

One thing I get asked a lot is how long adoptions take.  Do they submit the form and hear back in a day?  A week?  Can they do it in person?

For chinchillas and guinea pigs, I will usually let the people do the adoption forms in person, though for other animals I'd prefer the forms be filled out ahead of time.  Mainly because, let's say for a hedgehog, while I understand how to care for them and whatnot, if someone really doesn't, I don't know all the info off the top of my head to lecture.  For chins, what temps should they be below?  74, preferably lower, got it.  For hedgies... uh... they need it warmer.  I can guarantee you, in my care packet, there IS a temperature range, I just don't know it verbatim.  And what I don't want to happen is for someone to get here, tell me, "I know nothing about hedgies, educate me!" (which, by the way, happens ALL the time with chins), and then I need to share all the useful info.  Plus, if I'm honest... I feel like people should do some of this research ahead of time. 

Sometimes that works out, sometimes not.  I had someone call the other day, asking if we still had the hedgie, and I told them yes, we do, and then they asked if they could come over and see him, that day.  I told them, they could, but first, we had a care packet they'd need to look over and an adoption form to fill out, since this is a rescue.  They said that's fine, I wrote down their email, we talked about making sure they checked their junk folder for the email... and I immediately went upstairs and sent them the docs.  Never heard back.  Could I have adopted out that hedgie that day?  Possibly... but chances are, I would have had to help that person, every question of the way, with the adoption form... and again, with the more exotic animals like the hedgies, I'd prefer that people read the care packet and fill out the form PRIOR to getting here, so... guess that one didn't work out.

But I actually didn't write this post to yap about that specifically (it just worked it's way in), but it's a good example, because I told them, if they submitted the form that same day, I would look at it, and provided everything looked good, they could come over and adopt, that same day.

Sometimes it's fine to wait, sometimes not.  I always tell people, I don't hold the animals without a deposit, so if people dilly dally too long, someone else may scoop one up.  With the guinea pigs recently, I had someone message me, asking about single guinea pigs that could be adopted.  We had two single females.  So we went back and forth on emails over a couple of days, sending pics, ages, whatnot... until we got to where I linked them to the guinea pig care packet and adoption form.  Let's say I emailed them to that on Monday.  In that email, I told them, when they fill out the adoption form to let me know, so I am sure to go look at the completed doc.  The following Monday (a week later), I received a "Will do!" email back from them. 

Sounds good, only thing is that that on Sunday, the first of the single guinea pigs had found a home, and that Monday (got the email in the morning), I had someone coming later that day to see the second single guinea pig.  If they ended up adopting, that meant there were no more singles for this person.  I mention this, because sometimes waiting a week would be perfectly fine.  The previous person who was interested in some of these guinea pigs had originally told me, oh they'd have their payment in a few days, yadda yadda... in the meantime, no one else was inquiring, so it didn't matter... I never did hear back.  But the point is, it was maybe 2-3 weeks where there was no interest... and then this one person emailed asking about single guinea pigs, and pics and whatnot... then I had the two more (the one that adopted, and the one that was coming the following day) both send adoption forms in the same day.  You just never know.  For both of those people actually, they sent in adoption forms, I emailed / called them... for the first one, she came the next day, the second one came the day after.  So, sometimes it really is that quick.

This is why I also tell people about the deposits.  Believe me, it's not because I'm dying to send out invoices or take people's card info down over the phone (because there's at least a chance I'm paid in cash in person)... but rather, I can't guarantee any of this.  I can tell you, if you call me up and say, ok, I submitted a form... I can, more likely than not, go look at it within a couple of minutes or even a couple of hours, if I'm in the middle of something.  And if it looks fine, you may be able to come by the same day.  And that's why I mention the deposits... some people will yap in emails for weeks on end, and that's fine... just... the chin (or other critter) isn't on hold, and in the meantime, it may be just that quick *snaps* for someone to adopt it.

If you're reading this and thinking, well, that sounds like selling out from under the one person, let me share with you -- I have my fair share... let's say at least 40-50% if not higher, of people who will send emails after emails after emails (or even phone calls), and then *poof* vanish.  Like, I don't get an email that says they changed their mind, or anything, just *poof* gone.  People without deposits, obviously.  Knowing how frequently this happens, if someone says they want to come, in person, and look at the animals, and possibly adopt... and they physically show up and are here, are approved, and want to adopt, you bet they get to take an animal home! 

I've tried to be... I don't know exactly what word I want to use for it... more lenient, more understanding... whatnot.  But I can't tell you the number of times I have told someone who is physically here, "oh, someone online is getting back to me about that one."  And sometimes that person does... but more often than not, I never hear back, and then the animal that could have found a home is still here.  Go figure.  So, now, if there is a good home in front of me, they trump someone who is just "asking about" the animal online.  At the end of the day, that's the only way the animals find homes.  That's all for today!

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Guest Writer - Chinchilla food

Hello again from NWI volunteer Chris!

I'm writing today to talk to you about chinchilla food! Feeding your chinchilla quality pellets is one of the best things that you can do for your pet. It's also one of the things that is the most confusing for new owners!

It can be so intimidating to walk into the pet store and see soooo many different bags of food! You want to trust that anything with a picture of a chinchilla on it is safe for chinchillas, right? Unfortunately...wrong!

If you look closely at these bags, many of them have "extras" mixed in with the brown pellets, like seeds, nuts, or dried fruits. These things are not good for chinchillas, even though they like them! I like to compare these types of food to "Lucky Charms" cereal. Isn't it much healthier to feed kids "Cheerios", without all those extra sweets?? The same idea applies to chinchillas.

"But all my chinchilla will eat is the food with treats! So I HAVE to give it to him!" No, you do not. YOU are the owner, YOU are in charge, not the chinchilla. If a human toddler only wants to eat candy, do you submit to them and only give them candy? No of course not! You give them healthy food and  know that they won't starve themselves, eventually they will eat the healthy food. Chinchillas are the same way.

"What are the best foods?" Your best bet as a pet owner are Oxbow Essentials, Mazuri, and Tradition (a.k.a. Hubbard Life). Oxbow Essentials and Mazuri are commonly found in pet stores, though a little pricey! Many well-known breeders (such as NWI!) feed Tradition to their own herd, and lucky for you, sell it as well! Since breeders purchase in bulk, the prices you pay buying from them is often FAR cheaper than pet stores! Yay!! Cheaper, and healthier... Why WOULDN'T you go that route?!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Adoption Fees

You may or may not have seen this... but I did... so I will share with you...  on our facebook posting for Snowflake, the hedgehog, someone commented, "I might consider adopting the hedgehog assuming you would give me $100 for taking it off your hands."

My response was, "Pretty sure adoptions work the other way around... the adopter pays the adoption fee.  Why would we pay for someone to adopt?"

Which brings me to a quick chat that we can have about adoption fees.  Adoption fees exist for a reason.  While the animals are here, they cost money.  Whether that's food, water, dust, bedding, vet bills, and so on, it all adds up.  Sure, for some animals, there's less cost than others, but then you watch another animal come in that will cost 10x more than all the rest, due to needing to go to the vet, or take special meds, or a special diet, or whatnot.  So, the money gained from adoption fees that don't go right back into that animal, go into the one that needs more.  Or, go into paying the bills, or that kind of thing.

If you have ever talked to me, or read the posts about, those "clear the shelter" days, you know that I feel strongly against those kinds of things.  If you're unfamiliar, those are where the big humane society-type shelters waive adoption fees for a day and the animals are free to adopt.  Yes, the people still have to fill out the paperwork and whatnot... but my worry is always... for the people who either (1) thought $60 was too much to adopt a dog, or (2) couldn't afford $60 to adopt a dog... is it GOOD that these people get a free dog?  Can they afford vet care?  Can they afford BASIC needs for the dog?  A bag of decent dog food is like $30+.  So, at least here, there will never be "clear the shelter" days, or, for that matter, PAYING anyone to adopt.

I suppose I can sort of vaguely understand the concept where someone might pay to get an animal out of rescue.  Not specifically paying, necessarily, but like... if we have a really health compromised animal that's unlikely to get adopted, we try to get it into a foster home.  There, they'll get more attention, more of a "home environment," and whatnot.  And in a sense, we are "paying" for it to leave... we provide the fosters with the cages, food, treats, bedding, whatever they need... but... BUT... we are only providing what we would use ourselves... we're not giving them a money incentive, on top of that, to take the chin.  So...no, sorry, not ever paying anyone to adopt.

At the end of the day, money has to come in to keep the rescue running.  No money, no rescue.  Pretty sure that's how everything works in life, right?  Money makes the world go around.  And on top of that... if I was so dying to have the animals leave that I would pay people to take them... I wouldn't be taking them in, in the first place.  That is all.