My kids (my journey to ferret paradise)

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My dad is probably still cursing the day I met Ina. She saw a picture of a ferret sitting atop a canoe in a book her mom's friend (who no doubt is still being cursed by her mom) lent her, and decided she wanted a ferret. We did a bit of research on ferrets, visited petstores to play with the kits and figured since we are going to the same university, if we each get one, they will have company.

Actually getting a ferret was a bit more compicated. I just had lung surgery, and the surgeon (plus the incredible amount of doctor friends my dad has) decided that short fur is very bad for me. Ferrets have short fur. I had a problem.

When Ina's parents heard, they decided she couldn't have a ferret unless I could, since we were going to share an apartment. I guess it was a good excuse not to let Ina get a ferret. After some nagging and persuading on my part, the doctor said it's okay to get a ferret if they shed once a year only. I looked it up and told him they shed once a year. I felt a leettle bad about lying.

Ina and I (and our reluctant families) went to a petstore that had a couple of dozen kits. There was this one little sable I picked up. She nipped every member of my family (not my mom, who was too scared to hold her) but not me. Naturally, I bought her. Ina got her sister, Firefly. We picked them up the day we left for university.

First came Birch ...

Name: Birch
Sex: female
Birthday: 15 July, 1994
Colour: sable
Eye Colour: black
Hit Rate: 98%
Crossing: 5 November, 2002
memorial page

Birch is the sweetest ferret I know. When I first had her, I didn't know much about ferrets, and she just acted crazy to me. Now I know that all ferrets are insane. Birch liked to nip people's feet, but she's very polite about it, she'll nose at you to get permission first. She's very good at climbing and jumping (vertically). When I visit my parents with her, she's allowed free roam of my bedroom, and the only sign she has been on my shelves again is a few little ornaments that get tipped over miraculously.

Birch is also the smartest ferret I know. When she play games, she's very good at ambushing from the top or behind. She dislikes my dad and would slink under the bed and underneath shelves just so she could surprise him from behind. Birch moved with me between all my school and work terms. She has been tremendously supportive, I can always count on her sleeping an extra hour or two for me when I have to work late on assignments. Taking so many math courses back then, having a furry yawning face greet me when I come home probably helped keep me sane (or at least not terribly insane).

When Firefly passed away, even though she and Birch were not terribly close, I was afraid Birch might get lonely. Ina got Demon, but Birch didn't seem to like cats. I considered adopting, but the Toronto shelter had ECE. My dad was against it, of course. But Birch seemed depressed. A trip to the petstore was called for.

At the petstore, there were 2 ferrets. A male and a female. I really wanted a male, and for some reason still thought I could only get 1 ferret. The female was really cute with a ringed tailed. I still think about her occasionally, and leaving her was either a mistake or a blessing (you will see why). Dief was Birch's christmas present that year. I will never forget the look of confusion?horror? on her face the day they met.

... then there was Dief ...

I named Dief after the deaf wolf in Due South, and discovered afterwards that he was deaf. Dief was a little brat when he was young. I kept him in a little cage so I could supervise Birch beating him up (Birch is free roam). He found his voice 2 days after I got him and started screaming whenever he wanted something: out of his cage, anything he couldn't reach... I noticed after a bit that he didn't scream anywhere as loud when Birch scruffed him. After that, I stopped rescuing him. But Birch was the centre of his attention, he was always following her from about a foot away, and eventually getting scruffed.

Nick Name: Dief
Name: Diefenbaker
Sex: male
Birthday: 2 November, 1998
Colour: sable panda/blaze
Eye Colour: burgundy
Hearing: deaf
Hit Rate: 100%
Crossing: 29 October, 2002
memorial page

Dief had lots of energy. Birch sleeps about 20 hours a day, but Dief was always awake. Birch and I are old and not very energized. He kept waking us up to play and the lack of sleep was making us grumpy. We introduced him to the cat (the only cat in our apartment back then), and they play fought a lot. Dief was horrible, he would be squealing his head off and we thought Demon was killing him, and all that time he would be the one with his jaws on Demon. After an hour or so, Demon would get tired, and Dief would still be raring to go. I had a monster on my hands.

It was around this time when it a few thoughts occured to me:
     a)I don't live with my parents.
     b)I make money on my work terms.
     c)I pay for my own rent, school fees, groceries and my ferrets.
     d)legally, I am an adult.

Having realized I don't need my parent's permission to get a ferret, a month after I got Dief, I set off for Toronto with my friends Thanh and Ina, to pick a playmate for Dief. We stopped at one pet store which had this gorgeous Dark Eyed White. I always wanted a DEW, so I paid for him. I named him Wolf (he looked like an artic wolf). Thanh, who was driving, decided we must stop at another pet store. They had this really sweet albino kit. I never thought I liked albinos, but I guess I do. I paid for her too.

When I went to pick up Wolf, I found the pet store had sold my ferret to somebody else by mistake. I freaked out. They offered me another ferret in exchange, but I was set on a DEW. So I came home with just my little albino.

... Sprite to keep Dief company ...

Name: Sprite
Sex: female
Birthday: 9 November, 1998
Colour: albino
Weight: 1 lb 13 oz
Eye Colour: red
Hearing: might be deaf
Hit Rate: 60%
I was thinking of a little fairy spirit type name, so I called her Sprite. On hindsight, it was probably a really bad idea, since Thanh's birds have the same name. I thought such a thing was impossible, but Sprite has even more energy than Dief. Sprite was very sweet at the pet store. After she got home, she became the little hellion I know and love. For one thing, she is terribly nippy, and she enjoys stalking people. It took a while to train her not to bite me. I'm still wary of her kisses, she did bite me on the lip once. Unfortunately, I can't really train her not to nip visitors. Put it this way, if you were visiting, would you volunteer to be bait?

Not long after Sprite came home and Dief was starting to look tired, I got a call from the petstore that sold my ferret. They had a dark eyed white ferret in and they were going to hold him for me. Once again, Thanh, Ina and I headed towards Toronto. When we got there, they showed me this sandy coloured ferret who was clearly not white. They insisted he was, but they still called around their other branches to see if anybody else had a white ferret. They didn't find any, but I had been holding the kit for half an hour. How could I not take him home?

Before we went home, Thanh (in case you didn't figure out, Thanh has a car and drives us around, but surprisingly, she has no ferrets) insisted on stopping at another petstore, just to see if they had any ferrets. There was this terribly skittish little silver mitt. I felt very protective of her. I had just read somewhere that you should always introduce 2 ferrets at a time anyways. That was the best Valentine's day I ever had.

... Storm and Sand just happened ...

Storm was named because of her silvery colour, kind of like a thunderstorm. She is anything but. She is terribly skittish, and gets scared very easily. She is also incredibly licky. Put her anywhere near the vicinity of your face, and she'll keep licking and licking. Once, I decided to see how long she would lick me before she stopped. I lasted about 10 minutes before the pain made me stop her. Storm loves me a lot. I know this because she is sort of insecure, and gets picked on a lot by Sprite. I'm the only person Storm bites (by bite I mean leave a mark and maybe even draw a bit of blood). It's kind of a chain reaction. Sprite harasses Birch, and Birch beats her up. Then Sprite takes it out on Storm. Storm takes it out on me. She doesn't trust anybody else enough to beat them up.

Name: Storm
Sex: female
Birthday: 24 December, 1998
Colour: silver
Eye Colour: black
Hit Rate: 100%
Crossing: 4 March, 2002
memorial page
Nick Name: Sand
Name: Silicon
Sex: male
Birthday: 31 December, 1998
Colour: cinnamon
Weight: 2 lb 13 oz
Eye Colour: burgundy
Hearing: might be deaf; might just be dense
Hit Rate: 20%

Sand was also named for his colour. I decided he was a bit younger than Storm because he was smaller and stumpier and looks spaced out, so I gave him a later birthday. He is now my biggest ferret and I know that dense look is just a genetic thing. He also has a funny jaw, his teeth don't quite fit, one of his lower canines fits into a little hole on the roof of his mouth. Sand is, well, special. Where as the other ferrets jump and dance, he will waddle and lie on his back kicking his feet in the air. He's also a lousy fighter and a sore loser, when he gets beat up, he will walk away, hissing to himself.

Not long after I gave Storm and Sand free roam, I realized I had a problem, which I will call a shituation. Sprite, already free roam, who had been pooping in the litter boxes, had also been pooping under my bed. By the time I discovered this, Storm and Sand had already been corrupted. It took me over a year to get Storm litter trained again, but I'm happy to say she now has a 100% hit rate. I haven't quite given up yet, but I am inclined to think Sprite is too rebellious to ever achieve 100%, and Sand is just too dense to learn the difference between the inside and the outside of a litterbox. Unfortunately, Sand also poops 5 times as much as anybody else.

A shituation isn't as bad as you might think. Sure, I say goodbye forever to clean floors, but there are advantages. When you have a lot of work, cleaning poop is something that must be done, and it is surprisingly relaxing. When you are depressed, it is something to do that will take your mind off matters and let you sigh about something else, namely, your shituation.

There are also other good things about having ferrets, although I will never convince my dad of that. For example, I very seldom get insomnia since I got Birch, in fact, I seem to sleep an abnormal amount. I attribute it to the fact that sleeping ferrets make me sleepy (although in all honestly my lung operation was just before I got Birch). I also almost never get depressed since Storm and Sand came along. It's kind of hard to sit in the dark and think about depressing things when you have 5 bouncing, dancing, crazed animals to distract you. I believe that happiness is proportional to the number of ferrets you have (see right). But I haven't fully tested out this theory yet.

images/ferretvshappiness.gif

... and who could resist a Polar Bear?

So it was when I was working in Ottawa and trying to figure out why I am not depressed that I got my sixth ferret. Thanh, Ina, and I passed by this petstore and decide to go in. They had this gorgeous, full grown white fuzzy with a brown tail. The girl in the store took him out and explained he had been there alone for 2 months (I worked out from when they got him to his age at that time that it was actually closer to 4). He was nip trained, cuddly, and cute. I had 5 ferrets. Should I or should I not? Thanh and Ina decided things for me by buying him for me. I guess I had just graduated a month or so ago and I needed a present...

Nick Name: Bear
Name: Polar Bear
Sex: male
Birthday: 22 December, 1998
Colour: marked white
Weight: 2 lb 13 oz
Eye Colour: burgundy
Hearing: might be deaf; but probably just has no attention span
Hit Rate: 100%

He looked like a little polar bear, so that became his name. Bear is crazy. I thought my other ferrets were nuts, but that was before I met Bear. For the first couple of weeks I had him, Bear acted confused. He had never been allowed free roam in a room before. Birch beat him up and took a chunk of his fur. The other ferrets beat him up. Bear walked and looked dignified, instead of bouncing and looking silly like the rest. He learned to play slowly. He started acting like a normal ferret. He started acting like an abnormal ferret. My theory is that Bear was in a small cage (although he was allowed to run around the store sometimes after it closed) and alone for so long that he had all this pent up energy from his kithood. So while the rest of my kits became adults and slowed down, Bear slowed down but still had double the energy.

Bear is my only outdoor ferret, that is, he is the only one who really likes going outside. Dief and Sand are not too bad, but none of the girls (except Birch on occasion) want to do anything but stay inside my shirt and maybe peek out. Dief and Sand will walk a bit and then try to climb up my legs. The first time I took Bear to Waterloo Park, he walked around for an hour and a half, refusing to be picked up, and when we got home, he was so tired he pooped, took a drink, and fell fast asleep on the floor...

My parents have become resigned to the fact I have a large (for them anyways) amount of ferrets. I still remember my dad offering to buy me a dog so I wouldn't get Dief (haven't worked out why he did that, though, but it seems to be pretty common; Ina's dad offered her a cat if she didn't get Firefly). I'm pretty sure my dad likes my kids, although he won't admit it. My mom calls herself granny, and carries wallet sized pictures of them to show them off to relatives.

It's been over a year since I got a ferret. The Toronto Ferret Aid Society doesn't have ECE anymore, and I have yet to adopt a shelter ferret. I also have very few sables. I need more sables....

Fall 2000


In January 2003, I decided my little family needs a bit of cheering up. I finally headed to the Ferret Aid Society...

I had met with the people at FAST a few times already, so they have some idea of what I am on the ferret obsession scale. Passing the shelter test was not a problem, choosing who to take home was...
Dart was a smart ferret that was a bit of a nipper, so as an experienced ferret owner, I felt quite comfortable with taking her home. Her homicidal tendencies were starting to become a problem at the shelter, when she started pushing stored carriers high above the cages onto the heads of shelter volunteers...
Nick Name: Dart
Name: Moira the Dart
Sex: female
Birthday: 10 July, 2001
Colour: sable
Eye Colour: black
Hit Rate: 95%
Nick Name: Clef
Name: Chauncer of Treble Clef
Sex: male
Birthday: 11 July, 2002
Colour: sable
Eye Colour: black
Hit Rate: 85%
Clef was Dart's playmate at the shelter. Clef defines the word hyper. Clef is also not descented, which made for interesting playtimes once the introduction started..

I took them home on 11 January 2003 and then the fighting began...

Summer 2003

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Last updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2003 @ 04:43:10 EST
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