Ferret In Hand or………….. In Cage or……………………….

There has been a rule at my home for many years. Ferrets in hand or ferrets in cage before any outside door is ever opened.  Never assume your ferret is still asleep under the bed or behind the TV when you open your door to the outside world to bring in the newspaper, put the garbage out…… whatever!!!

We implemented this rule after one of our shelter ferrets did a walk about without our knowledge! In other words he escaped the house!  My hubby Guy had let our 225 pound English Mastiff outside to go potty and right back in. One Eyed Jack was supposedly asleep behind the TV. We had both giggled as he dragged a stuffy with him to sleep with behind the TV.

One Eyed Jack was a stray found by the river and brought to us.  He had tangled with something and his one eyed was beyond saving.  We patched him up and he became part of our shelter family.  Now he had escaped from his original owners so we should have known he had a bit of the wonderlust in him!

So, Ari went potty and came right back in. We all settled down to continue watching TV. Guy heard this scratching sound.  I didn’t hear anything. Ari was doing what mastiffs do best, snoring up a storm. Guy muted the TV and insisted he heard scratching. He got up and went to the front door.(We had not installed a second door – screen door at that time).  He opened it and in waltzes One Eyed Jack!

OMG and other assorted expletives.  It seems One Eyed Jack had snuck out with the dog. He had his little walk about in the back yard, then went under the gate, up the driveway, up the sidewalk, up 4 very high cement steps and was scratching on the door to be let in.  We hadn’t realized he was out. Had he not scratched to be let back in, it would have been at least an hour when our show ended before we would have realized he was missing. If our screen door had been added back then, would Guy have heard the scratching?

We dodged a bullet that day.  Today I dodged another bullet.  I had Zipper, Zora and Tank out playing in the bedroom.  They spent some time playing in the bedroom, then I was giving them a little free range time before I put them to bed. I looked out the living room window to see two crows sizing up my small  birds at the feeder.  Yes the law of nature is eat or be eaten but not on my watch and not today when I was already not having the best of days.  I quickly opened the front door and the screen door, stepped out on to the front steps  and shooed  the crows away.  I closed the screen door; remembered my rule and looked out the screen door window to make sure no ferrets were dancing on the steps. All clear. Good! I closed the screen door and the front door. It’s cold today!

About fifteen minutes later I decided to round up the 3 furries and put them back to bed. Tank was sleeping in the sleep sack back in the bedroom.  Zipper was sleeping in the ladybug back in the bedroom .  I can’t find Zorra in the bedroom sleep areas.  I start with the bedroom and start looking. No Zora. I close the bedroom door and move on to the shelter room.  I checked everywhere in the shelter, no Zora. I then checked their cage. Yes, sometimes, she puts herself back to bed and maybe I am panicking for nothing. Nope, not in the cage.

Oh God, I opened the front door to shoo the crows away. My mind screams no way  she  got out! She is not in the house, so yeah, she has to be outside. Great! 30 minutes head start at least! Where to even start!  I am ferret sitting these three; what will Colleen say when I tell her I’ve lost her little girl!  By now I am in tears and fighting a panic attack.  Find ferret and then have your damn melt down!

With squeak toy in hand I opened my front door.  Did I mention that I have a screen door and then my front door. I look down as I reach for the screen door handle and there she is! Zora was huddled in that small gap between the front door and screen door.

Relief flooded over me. Thank god she was tiny enough that I hadn’t squashed her between the doors.  I guess when I peered through the screen door to see if any ferrets had gotten out on to the steps Zora must have been right at my feet.  I didn’t see ferrets on the front step, so I closed the front door without looking down.

Zora washed my face with kisses and I snuggled her so hard her eyes could have popped.  No bad news to give Colleen.  My world righted itself once again.  Now that the crisis is over, let me share my rule with all you ferret owners who think it can’t happen to me because I’m always careful- yes it can happen to you! I have run the main shelter for 20 years and you’d think I would be smarter!……………………FERRET IN HAND OR FERRET IN CAGE BEFORE OPENING ANY DOORS TO THE OUTSIDE!

By the way, just so you all know, a stray ferret was surrendered to our shelter on Saturday evening. The ferret was found wandering a rural property and has yet to be claimed! Now this is Easter weekend with many family gatherings that started on Good Friday right through to Easter Monday. Lots of get togethers, people coming and going! Somebody out there is bawling their eyes out while searching for their ferret.  I just hope they call.

Deb, shamed ferret mom

 

When is using a water dish not a good idea?

At the shelter every cage has both a clip on water dish and a water bottle.  This is something I have done for a long time.  Family and close friends will tell you I can worry about that 1% that may never happen.  That’s mostly true, but, once in a awhile I am proven right.

When my dear friend Helen was killed instantly at 10:30 at night in a car accident; her cousin contacted my mid morning the next day when they went to Helen’s house and saw the large poster in her ferret room that I had made for her and insisted she hang up.  I went so far as to “bully” her standing there with push pins and tape. I wasn’t leaving until she hung it up. Then we could have our tea. Because of this poster, her cousin knew who to call to take care of Helen’s ferrets!  Helen was not close to her family as they  did not like any of her pets so know one would have known whom to call if not for that poster.

When Jeanne and I arrived to collect the ferrets that morning; several of the cages had no water.  Like most of us, I am sure Helen told herself that 1/3 of a bottle would do till she got home after work and then she would top up all the bottles (she had 13 ferrets housed in 5 cages).  She was probably running late to get to work. We will never know the circumstances for the empty bottles but the fact was she was literally 5 minutes from home when she was killed. From 10:30 pm  till 10:30 the next morning is a long time before I arrived at her house.

None of the ferrets were in distress because of course it was only 12 hours  or so hours.  But, it reaffirmed my being anal about having both the water dish and the water bottle in each cage.  We expect to return home.  We expect to fill dishes or top water bottles but we just have to run one quick errand. Even in larger families, during an emergency/tragedy everyone is focused elsewhere and the animals can be overlooked.

Having said all of the above, sometimes, a ferret will defy your perfect logic.  Meet Buddy.  Buddy is an un-socialized ferret living in the playpen in my living room  giving me access to him till bedtime.  He is coming along. He no longer hides under the blanket. He used to only come out under the cover of darkness to eat and drink. Now he will eat and drink even as I walk by, he will play with the stuffies. He will run through the tube in his cage. He will even sleep/rest on top of his blankie and watch me as I walk back and forth from the kitchen into my living room.

I have a water bottle hanging from the playpen.  I also have a small dish clipped at the bottom.  I keep topping up the dish.  I have seen him drinking from the bottle.  I have seen him at the water dish.  He must be a very thirsty ferret! The water dish seems to be empty every time I go by.  This morning I was working on my laptop minutes after giving Buddy fresh water in his dish.

I hear the sounds of splish splash and look up in time to see Buddy happily paddling in his water dish. The floor mat is soaked and so is the Christmas sleep sack. Heh, stop that Buddy.  He slunk off and crawled under his towel in the nest box. Hmmm, not a thirsty ferret at all.  Just a water baby!  When he is a little easier to handle he is going to have fun playing in the bathtub!

So for Buddy, it now means I will hang two water bottles for that “just in case something happens and I can’t get home in time”.  I’m leaving the water dish and yes I will top it up! Can’t deprive Buddy of the joy of splish splashing in his water dish!

 

New Hiding Spot

I had my three old ladies out playing on Sunday morning.  I was changing some litter boxes in the shelter room and these scrawny ferts can fill a litter box quicker than any other cage so I was doing their cage!  Mariko, Finni and Rosie will tootle about for about 45 minutes before finding a nest box to crash in. It had been an hour and I knew it was time for them to go back to bed.

Rosie - you can't see me!

Rosie – you can’t see me!

Finni- I smell something!

Finni- I smell something!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

Mariko-This is my best smile!

My  nine year old grandson, Holden arrived early for his bi-weekly Sunday visit with me. I normally have all the ferrets back to bed before he arrives. This is not a safety issue from me but from the “powers that be”.  Of all the ferrets in the house, these three, if given the chance might “gum” you to death! I follow the rules and the ferrets are locked up.

I needed to put the girls to bed because it was time for their duck soup and because my grandson is not used to watching where he walks (has not learnt the ferret shuffle). Of course also for the above stated reason.

Rosie and Mariko were curled up in the nest box behind the TV and I put them back in their cage. I couldn’t find Finni!  I knew that she hadn’t gotten out when Holden came in the front door, but, where the heck had she gotten to? Holden was told to play in his bedroom with the door closed while I looked.  I checked all the usual sleepy spots without any luck.  Then, I went by the front door to check the bed in the closet.  Holden’s boots lay where he had taken them off – in the way – right in front of the front door!  I bent down to move the boots to the boot rack and I little face peeked out. I ran for the camera but by the time I came back, she was almost out of the boot.

I called Holden to come see.  We both laughed and I grabbed the opportunity as a “teaching moment” . Now Holden understands even more why the furries have to be back in their cages because they can choose the silliest places to sleep and might get hurt!

Finni in Holden's boot

Finni in Holden’s boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden's boot

Finni woken up from sleeping in Holden’s boot

Scrappy crosses the Rainbow Bridge

Enough time has passed that I can now share with you that Scrappy took a turn for the worse and crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Scrappy had dislocated her shoulder when her front paw was caught in the shelf of her Ferret Nation cage.

She did so well at first. She received four laser treatments and they really helped. I don’t know what happened. She turned her nose up at her duck soup one night. She had a bit of blood in her urine, so I made an appointment to see the vet thinking she had a bladder infection. I started her on amoxi for the weekend till the Monday appointment.

On the Saturday, while doing water therapy she had an episode of trouble breathing but recovered.  Later on I did her massage therapy and again she had an episode of struggling to breath and before I could do anything, she stopped breathing.  I could not bring her back. She died in my arms.

I blamed myself. I thought my massage therapy must of pinched a nerve and stopped her breathing. My vet has spoken with me and feels that she had a sudden brain bleed.  I have to trust he is right because the alternative that I did this is more than I can bear.

She is whole again, chasing her stuffies with her friends at the Rainbow Bridge.  Bee, another very precious old gal passed only a few days before Scrappy, so I know they are together.

All the cages now have the updated SAFE shelving. No other furry will get hurt. That is her legacy.

Scrappy just days before she got her wings

Scrappy just a week or so before she got her wings

STILL HOPE FOR SCRAPPY, CAGE MODIFICATION

It has been an emotional roller coaster with Scrappy! At the beginning of the week I was sure that I would have to let her go. Which ever position I put her in her hospital cage is where she stayed. She didn’t even move away from her bowel movement. She wouldn’t lift her head to look at me. I made the vet appointment for Thursday.

Until then, I continued with water therapy, stretching exercises and lots of cuddles. Her right shoulder remains dislocated. On Thursday morning, Scrappy would lift her head and her eyes would follow me.  She could support her head while eating her duck soup. During the stretching exercises it became very evident that the whole right side of the body was compromised. The dislocated shoulder and the nerve compression all the way down to her right back leg. She cannot  weight bear, but if you stroke the back of the leg she will move it forward.

Scrappy, 3 weeks after the accident

Scrappy, 3 weeks after the accident

My vet took the x-rays on Thursday. She didn’t have a broken back. Nerve compression does not show on an x-ray,however her toe curling indicated nerve damage. Dr. Singh is not one to give up and so we went to plan C.  We would do 6 deep tissue laser treatments. The MFA just couldn’t afford this but he kindly offered the treatments at 50% off.  This is still a $150.00 touch which is a big bite out of our limited finances. Dr. Singh also suggested that we try giving her 4 drops a day of the children’s B complex formula. The B complex is a nerve tonic and will help with the necessary healing of the nerves.  The gentleman at Sangsters didn’t bat an eye when I told him the B complex was for a ferret. Apparently years ago, his son owned a ferret! What a small world!

B complex to help with the nerve damage

B complex to help with the nerve damage

So 2 laser treatments a week, daily B complex drops, water therapy, stretching exercises, prayers galore and just maybe this sweetie will pull through.

Meanwhile, I have 4 or 5 Ferret Nation cages with the second version shelving just like what Scrappy hurt herself on. It’s not like I have empty cages to move the ferrets into until the new plastic pans for the Ferret Nation cages arrive.  I have been fretting like crazy. These cages were in use for several years before the injury and yet I am holding my breath praying no one else gets hurt before the shelves get here.

Now anyone who knows me well, knows that I can fix just about anything with 2 items. I am never without these items. Don’t laugh  once you find out because by god they have saved many a day! If DUCT TAPE won’t hold it together, then bring on the drill and ZIP TIES. I have zip ties in black, green and white!

I have zip tied a castor back onto the base of a cage turning a useless donated cage into one that I am still using. I have zip tied J food hoppers to the cage so that ferrets don’t knock them over. I have zip tied shelving to the cage bars to keep them in place. I even zip tied the catch trays for all the litter boxes.

So, duct tape won’t work on the shelf edges as too many of the ferrets will chew on the tape and give themselves a blockage. So…… on to zip ties. How can I make the shelf safer for now. Well I could see the gap where the plastic insert the the metal cross piece left enough room for a paw to get trapped under. Drill a few holes for the zip ties and voila, no more gap! At least any ferret wanting to jump off the shelf into a hammock won’t catch their paws. There is still a small gap from the edge of the plastic to the frame but I can’t close that gap and not sure a paw would fit in the space.

plastic insert zip tied to the metal cross piece and closing the gap

plastic insert zip tied to the metal cross piece and closing the gap

 

 

another view of the plastic insert zip tied to the metal cross piece to close the gaps

I am hoping the new shelving arrives at Pembina, North Dakota in the next 7 to 10 days. Then I just have to pray the weather cooperates so I can drive down and pick them up!

I hope by next Friday, the 16th, I will have even better news!