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Have you ever wondered what it might be like for a shelter mom to go through the experience of dealing with a dying ferret? Here is one shelter mom's very private thoughts put into words shortly after the death of little Cinnamon. There are so many more stories just like this multiplied by the number of shelter moms, foster moms (and dads) and others who have loved and lost their beloved ferret.

About Little Dudes

Email  or call 206-659-LDFC (5332)

Some personal historyWhy Ferret Boarding? / Research! Research! Research! / Ferrets are NOT Rodents / Ferret Disease / About Ferret Vets / A Dying Ferret / Shelter Life for a Human Ferret Caregiver

A Tribute to Shelters Everywhere
Photo Credits

Courtesy of Mike Janke - Miami Ferret
Over the Rainbow Bridge March 21, 2007

One of the most notable members of the ferret community. I didn't know you in person yet you left such a profound impact. Your words are everywhere and continue to inspire us all as if you never left.

WORTH mentioning is my virtual conversation with Mike.  One day I was in such despair over the number of ferrets who were sick and dying - and suffering, I was agonizing over making that life or death decision.  On that day,  Mike said to me, "euthanasia is taking their pain and making it yours."  It had such a profound effect on me and I never forgot it. Then my own vet - a very compassionate man had a similar conversation with me  when I was in the process of making one of those fateful decisions. He said, (and I paraphrase) "when a ferret is at end of  life and there is no chance he is going to recover, sometimes it's better to end their suffering 2 days early, than one day late."

When you are faced with having to make a decision to end a life, it's natural to want to wait until the very last minute because selfishly, we just don't want them to leave us.  Often times those feelings get in the way of making the best decision for our pet, we wait too long and then regret it. Nobody should have to be put in that position, but those words give me the strength to make and live with, a very painful decision.

PERSONAL HISTORY.  There have been many changes along the way since the official inception of Little Dudes Ferret Ranch Rescue and Shelter in May 2004.  From a ferret owner at 25, to a ferret shelter volunteer at 45, I became official as a  networked "satellite" shelter in 2004.  Not long after, Little Dudes became it's own entity.  It didn't take long before it became obvious there was a shortage of shelters, rescuers, volunteers and foster homes to care for the special needs of a geriatric ferret.  I transitioned over to ferret hospice and 3 years later, suffered a total emotional burnout meltdown (figuratively).  Clearly, taking care of dying ferrets cannot be sustained in the long term.   What WAS I thinking.   In time, it can break even the hardest of hearts.   The experience was certainly life altering and permanent.  The hardest part for me now, is when the day ends and it's time for bed.  Everything is quiet and like many other people I'm sure, I can't shut down my thoughts - or control them.

WHY FERRET BOARDING? I don't want to completely abandon ferrets or waste all the knowledge and experience I painfully obtained, so I am now a work in progress trying to morph into something ferret related that will give me peace of mind and still provide a community service.   What could be better than FERRET BOARDING!

Regardless of where my journey leads me, ferret education will always be a top priority.  Even now, as LDFR transitions over to ferret boarding and volunteers go their own way, I still hope to carry the word about  ferret responsibilities BEFORE adoption rather than after.

RESEARCH! If you are considering a ferret for a pet, there is no way on earth to convey the importance of doing ferret research first.  The consequences to the ferret are too numerous to list here.  Ferrets For Dummies is a great book full of very useful information as well as the Ferret Resources page. This should get you started and help you decide if a ferret is the right pet for you or your family.

FERRETS ARE NOT RATS. I would like to point out at least one important fact to consider which is a common misunderstanding.  Ferrets are not rodents or even close to being in the rodent family.  They are not "caged" pets and need personal attention and playtime outside their cage.  It's critical to their physical, social and emotional growth.  You may think that's odd considering they need to be housed in a cage but you will quickly understand that the cage is for his own safety when he is not being supervised.  No other domestic animal on earth can get themselves into more trouble - serious trouble, than a ferret.

FERRET DISEASE. Also of particular importance is understanding and recognizing ferret disease and illness.  Ferrets are stoic little creatures and their survival often depends on not showing signs of weakness. They may not show outward signs of distress until later in the disease process.  Sometimes it's too late to intervene so it is imperative that you learn about these common ferret diseases and the earlier subtle symptoms.  KNOW YOUR FERRET.  Your vet counts on your ability to notice behavior changes to help with early diagnosis.  This is also to your advantage because it could save you hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars in lab and other diagnostic costs.  The most common ferret diseases are discussed in FERRETS FOR DUMMIES and again, on the Resource Page there are some informative links to ferret health.

Adrenal Disease.  It's really only one of the diseases ferrets get but it's also the most common.  As a rescue, I received LOTS of requests for veterinarian referrals experienced with adrenal surgery and/or treatment or just ferret health in general.

ABOUT FERRET VETS. I try to separate personal from professional feelings which comes pretty easy for me but not so easy for other folks.  Without a doubt, ferret lovers are some of the most passionate people I have ever met.  This is why it's hard to recommend another rescue, vet, petsitter or any type of business because the expectations and requirements of each individual are so variable.  

Personally, I use two different clinics depending on the reason why I'm seeking care for my ferret.  I'm happy to discuss any personal reasons with you by phone. 

There are several other vets as far north as Mt Vernon and south to Tacoma that are worth mentioning because they have had good reviews and positive personal experience by other people and shelters.  I don't have any personal experience with anyone other than the two I currently use and for whom I would throw myself in front of a bus for,  so please do your homework and ASK QUESTIONS!  I can't stress this enough.  Don't be shy or intimidated.  If any doctor - DVM or MD, is offended when you question his experience or credentials,  then maybe his ego is bigger than his need to help you or your pet.  If that's the case, MOVE ON!  That said,  hopefully you can find a good exotic vet in your area on the Ferret Resource Page.                                                                                                                               

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Or, have you ever wondered what a typical day might be like when caring for multiple ferrets?  Here's a peek into one shelter mom's life.  In fact-my past life, and the life that goes on today, every day, at every shelter.