Assigning Responsibility for your ferrets

This is never a pleasant topic of discussion.  What would happen to my beloved ferrets (really all your pets) if something happened to me?  Well my spouse or partner would take over! But what if both of you are involved in the same accident and pass away?  Well my adult children would take them!  Are you sure?  It’s nice to think that our immediate or extended family would jump in and take our pets but life isn’t always fair.  Our family may not like our ferrets, may have pets that would not get along with your pets or maybe they just don’t have the room to take in anymore.

My son and his wife went to Grand Forks for the weekend.  I went over each day to feed and play with my two grand cats.  Now I love these two cats.  We had cats when my sons were growing up. However, if something happened to the both of them; what happens to their cats.  As much as I love them; they would not fit well in my home.  My dog Miki would not be impressed and of course Raven and Salem would most definitely be scare of the dog. Then of course I have many fostered and personal ferrets in my home.  Again, Raven and Salem would not be impressed by being chased around the house by my furries.  Perhaps my daughter in laws parents would take them but, I don’t think they are cat people.  Now who would take their cats?  I know how much they love them and I would never place them in a shelter but what would I do? I guess I would be down to seeing if any of their friends would take them and hope that I am doing the right thing.

Two years ago Helen, our Winnipeg Beach Shelter Mom was killed on her way home from work.  When family called to come get her ferrets it was a nightmare.  Helen had not gotten around to hanging the pictures with documentation on the 5 different cages.  In my shock, I did not grab my back up shelter documentation book. Jeanne and I spent an hour trying to match ferrets with their names and documentation.  We even forgot one ferret whom Helen had left out to play while she was at work.  Fortunately we hadn’t gone too far before family called to say a ferret had appeared at their feet.  We were carrying pet carriers and food and stuff out of the house. We were not watching for loose ferrets. Thank goodness she didn’t escape outside or worse left behind with no food or water.

Helen also had a dog named Dudley.  He was a goofy mutt who loved the ferrets and that is why Helen tolerated his accidents in the house.  I knew I couldn’t take him as I had two dogs at home at that time.  I loved Dudley and was so worried what would happen to him.  Her family were not pet people and I knew they wouldn’t want him.  Thank goodness a neighbor stepped up and took him.  He would have ended up in a shelter and euthanized as he wasn’t completely housebroken.  That would have broken Helen’s heart!

The lesson I  learnt was thank goodness I was an “organized freek” because if the roles had been reversed, family and friends would have had no trouble knowing which ferrets belonged to me personally and which ferrets had to be re-homed within the shelter community. All my cages are labelled. I have their picture and on the backside are a the most important details.  I even have a copy of their latest vaccinations.

Several months ago, our former webmaster Teraysa passed away suddenly.  Family called us.  She had one ferret in the top cage and two in the bottom half.  A huge bucket of food and treats nearby.  Taking the ferrets wasn’t a problem. Trying to figure out their names and ages was something else.  I had to scan through all her pictures that she had posted on her Face Book page.  Thank goodness she loved to post pictures of her pets.  The one ferret I thought I knew wasn’t. That ferret had passed away about a year prior. Thank goodness she had posted a RIP for that ferret and then pictures of the new baby!  We had their names but no information on when their vaccines were done.  We never did get any documentation from her family as they sorted through her stuff.

Besides my ferrets, I have a miniature Eskimo dog, 10 years old now.  If something should happen to me, I have plans in place for her to be taken care of.  I have not left that burden to my family, none of whom could take her.

Years ago, we developed a short check list for our members so that they could plan and organize responsibility for their ferrets and other pets.  The hand out was given to all new ferret owners but as it is a sensitive topic I am sure it was quickly misplaced.  I went looking for my hand out and found it in my files.  I have revised it a bit and I am posting it below so anybody with pets will be reminded that they should make plans for their pets in case something happens!

Assigning Responsibility for your Pets

It is important to make arrangements for the care of your ferret in case you are incapacitated through illness or injury or in the event of your untimely death.

  1. Have written instruction as to whom you wish to have look after your ferret . Have the document witnessed by two independent people of good character. You may even want to include the assignment of your pets in your will. Consider allocating a sum of monies for their continued care.
  2. Prepare an information sheet for each ferret:

 

  • Description of each including special markings /annual photo
  • Location and description of each cage
  • Details of what brand of foods – where to purchase their food
  • Details of what litter you use , how often to change it and where to purchase
  • List of favorite treats, and how often they are given
  • Details of bathing, toe-nail clipping and ear cleaning
  • Details of favorite play times, toys, and behaviour
  • Details of socialization with other types of pets such as cats or dogs
  • Details of any current medical conditions and med regime
  • Name, Address of Vet
  • General information on personality of the ferret

 

  1. Leave a copy of your instructions with a reliable family member or friend who can speak on your behalf immediately. If the only copy is in the safety deposit box at the bank, by the time the document is located, your ferret may have already been disposed of unintentionally. Make sure your family is aware of your wishes and will not dispute your request.
  2. Make sure you review and update this information on an annual basis.

At the shelter, on the back of each picture of the ferret is the date of surrender. We also list Gender, Age, Color type, and then there are several lines for notes such as: climber, best friend is……..

Your family may remember that you have a banditt and a Loki but these names are not gender specific and they will not remember who is who!  The more info you can provide the better your ferrets and or other pets will be cared for.

Updated: June 2017

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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