Most of the ferrets that I have written about have come to me through typical rescues-But three ferrets came to me through a chain of events that I am still amazed by.
About three weeks before Easter of 1998, I had taken two of my therapy ferrets to a local adult day care. The following morning, I received a phone call that went like this:
Obviously upset caller: Is this Nanette?
Caller: The Nanette who has ferrets?
Caller: The Nanette who had ferrets at daycare yesterday and rescues ferrets?
Caller: Will you rescue mine?
The caller then went on to explain that her husband participated in the daycare because of a brain tumor, and the subsequent surgery which had damaged a large portion of his brain. The caller was trying to care for him, their daughter, work a part-time job, care for several cats plus the two ferrets, and she was feeling overwhelmed and guilty about not giving the ferrets enough time. I made arrangements to pick them up the next day.
When I arrived, it was obvious that the ferrets had been loved and well cared for. Baron, a thin golden sable male had been their original ferret, and was approximately three years old. He loved cats, but turned out to be somewhat intimidated by my most playful “rowdy boys”. As a result, he was one of the ferrets who played “switch”, with the rowdy boys, alternating “caged days” with “ferret room” days. He was healthy, lively, and a little thinner than I would have liked, but he ate like a horse and played hard.
Gizmo (renamed Grizzly Bear by me) was an older, almost black sable male who had been rescued by this family. The summer before, it seemed as if every few weeks an ad was run in the lost and found section of the local newspaper that asked “have you seen our one-eyed ferret?” I knew that this ferret had turned up several times at the local humane society, and each time had been claimed by the owners who vowed to be “more careful”. According to the woman giving me these ferrets, those owners had been her neighbors. They had several young children who would bring the ferret outside as if he was a toy, and then lose interest and walk away. Of course the ferret would go exploring. On several occasions, she had returned the ferret to them, and finally she decided to keep him. She also told me that the missing eye was the result of his being shot with a BB gun. He was also freaked out by the rowdy boys-especially when they approached him from his blindside.
About two weeks after Griz and Baron arrived at my home I was having them photographed. Griz seemed fine when I packed him up to go, but by the time we arrived at the photographer’s it was obvious something was terribly wrong. He was rushed to my ferret vet and spent Easter Weekend in a touch and go fight with dehydration, complicated by the most screwed up blood sugars I have yet experienced. The timing on this crisis was fortunate, as I believe his previous owner could not have coped with the added stresses, financial as well as emotional, that go with a seriously ill pet.
Griz recovered and went on a maintenance dose of prednisolone. He did so well that went on educational programs to show children (and adults) the very real results of being “mean” to animals-that empty eye socket made a point no words could. The photographs were done later, after Griz’s fur grew back from the blood work, and the people who gave him to me received a copy of the best one.
Griz’s trip to the vet resulted in Scooter coming to live with me. One of the vet techs had a sister who was trying to find a home for a six-year-old sable female. The vet tech had known me and had worked with my ferrets previously, but hadn’t thought to contact me until she saw me at the clinic. I agreed to take Scooter and keep her as my own until the day she died. We made arrangements for me to pick Scooter up at the clinic after she had her shots and some basic blood tests done.
Even though the blood work was normal, it was obvious within days that something was not right with Scoots. The next month was spend making trips to the vet every week, giving fluids, taking x-rays, and generally scratching our heads trying to figure out what was going on with this little girl that was making her so sick. We discounted our first instinct, insulinoma, because her blood test had come back perfect. Finally, a light went on. The problem was insulinoma, but the original blood sugars had been artificially inflated by her diet. When the owner had told her sister (the vet tech) to tell me that Scooter liked honey nut cheerios, we had both assumed she meant as a treat when in fact that had been Scooter’s main diet. No wonder she had balked at every ferret food I offered!
We got a handle on her sugars, and gave her prednisolone twice daily. By this time she was also nearly bald from an adrenal tumor that I chose not to have removed because of her age. She was the object of Griz’s adoration, and rotated in and out of the cage with him and Baron. She spent much of her time sleeping, but enjoyed being held and snuggled.
These three, like all the other “permanent residents” were loved and cared for until they died, then they joined my other deceased, but still loved, fuzzies in the urn I have for them.
Baron, Sept 2000
Grizzly Bear, Oct 1999
Scoots, June 1999