I am delighted to report that as of yesterday, we have five chinchillas living in our home. Dudley, Gabriella, Ninotchka, and Joonko flew in from Detroit to join their new sister Chihiro, whom we adopted just over one week ago.
Yesterday was a bit of a nerve-wracking day. Adam and Sally, our friends and colleagues with the Matilde Mission, drove the chins from their home in Jackson, Michigan to Detroit Metro Airport yesterday morning. We had had a special carrier built to carry all four chins, but at the airport, the Northwest Airlines luggage representativs refused to clear it. Fortunately, Adam and Sally had brought two back-up carriers -- one each for Dudley and Joonko (who have been a pair for years), the other for Gabriella and Ninotchka (who have been together for almost a year.) Dudley, by the way, is a neutered male: the others are all females.
As soon as they had dropped the chins off for their flight to Los Angeles, Adam and Sally called us with the waybill number. We promptly went on line to track our new babies' progress -- and horror! The airline website told us that the four chins had been placed on a plane to Phoenix, Arizona. Could one possibly send heat-sensitive animals to a worse place? Fortunately, the same webpage revealed that that mistake had been quickly corrected, and the little ones were on the right plane to LAX.
We drove off to the airport early yesterday afternoon, filled with nervous excitement. We first went to Terminal 2 in the main airport complex, but were told by an unpleasant man at the Northwest Baggage Service that our chinnies were "freight, not luggage" (who knew there was a difference?) and would be delivered to an off-airport cargo site some two miles away. As we turned to go back to our car and drive to that site, the Northwest fellow said, nastily, "Enjoy your new coats." Trust me, a complaint will be filed. I have a very easygoing nature about most things, but not about "pelting humor."
Thankfully, the good folks at the Northwest Cargo Office were much nicer. When we got there, and told them about our chinnies, the woman behind the counter immediately made special arrangements to send a truck and driver right on to the tarmac to meet the plane and bring our babies directly to us. While we were told it normally takes 1-2 hours to get freight off the plane and to the Cargo Office, our four new kids made it to us in a fraction of that time. Flight 327 from Detroit landed at 2:40,and though we were two miles from the plane’s gate, we had the chins in our car, ready to go home, by 3:05PM.
Dudley and Joonko share one very large (60-inch high) cage; Ninotchka and Gabriella share one only a tiny bit smaller. They are all positioned to see their cartoons (which run 24-7), and their cages are filled with hay and chew toys and exercise saucers. The three girls were exhausted last night, but Dudley insisted on coming out to play. Unlike the others, he’s had some experience being shipped before, so perhaps being on a plane didn’t wear him out the way it wore out his three female companions.
In any event, pictures will be up soon.The move to the new blog site will happen in the near future, and I hope to have a paid Flickr account for easier viewing of chins and other things. Here's an old (June 2005) picture of me with Dudley, taken when we flew out to Michigan to meet Adam and Sally and form the Matilde Mission. We had no idea when the pic was taken that he would someday come home to us. Of course, we had no idea we would lose our Matilde so young.
My wife and I are very, very happy.