I don’t know the exact moment I wanted ferrets. But I do know what prompted it. It was a late night showing of The Beastmaster in the early ’80s. I was enraptured with Kodo and Podo.
I was in my early teens at the time, living with my parents in Calfornia. Growing up I had no shortage of cats. For as much as I can remember we had no less than 3 cats at any given time. Sometimes more. We even had one dog, for a while. But being in California there was no chance of convincing my parents to get a ferret. They were, and still are, illegal to own in that state.
Later in my teens we flew back to Wisconsin to visit our extended family over the holidays. While on the way to the airport for our return trip I learned that one of my uncles owned ferrets. I asked if he would bring them to the airport for me to see. He did. That was the first time I had ever seen or held a live ferret. I was hooked. I was going to adopt a ferret some day.
Almost two decades later circumstances lead me and my then fiance out of California and into Nevada. We wed. We both wanted ferrets but were going to wait. But one thing led to another in early March of 2006 and we ended up adopting a ferret from the local Petco. We named him Fex. It was short for “Ferret Rex” because he was one of the larger ferrets in the Petco cage. I was giddy as could be as I held his little box on the drive home. Almost 20 years after seeing Kodo and Podo I had a ferret!
Fex was a handful at first. We read a little bit on ferret ownership but not too much. He was very much an impulse adoption. But we loved him quite a bit. Tananda, our cat, tried to stalk him once but after that had nothing to do with him. Our chihuahua, Popo, was ever jealous of any other critter that vied for our attention. So she was no friend to the little guy either. Early on the little guy did what most children do, he befriended a stuffed animal.
Eadie had a stuffed monkey that someone gave her. Fex found this monkey and spent a good half hour trying to drag the monkey to the top of his cage. Fex almost got the monkey there, too, but the hole in the top level was too small. Eventually he gave up and curled up to sleep. His dad decided to give him a helping hand and put the
monkey in with him. From that day on the monkey was his bud. When Fex first woke each day he had to know where the monkey was. If the monkey wasn’t where Fex thought it should be he would grab it by the neck and drag it to just the right place. He wrestled with the monkey. He slept with the monkey. He was being a ferret with the only ferret sized thing he could tussle with. Even when we eventually adopted other ferrets to keep him company he never ignored his monkey.
Fex accepted Aesa and Samson into our family on their very first night with us. Though he was a bully from time to time they generally got along. He had ferret buddies. He had lots of tubes and boxes and crinkly bags in which to play. He was our Fexerton, Fesser-bunny, or just bunbun. He was the ferret with the teddy bear ears. At times frustrating, willful and stinky, even for a ferret. But we loved him immensely.
Earlier this year we lost Samson quite suddenly. We had been expecting it due to his age, 8 years, and an earlier complication with the cap of a pen. We were worried about Aesa since she had been with Samson almost all of her life. But this is why we had three ferrets and not two. We read that ferrets can mourn the loss of their peers. Aesa had Fex.
But Aesa, too, was very old for a ferret, 7 years. So we adopted two younger females, Xara and Xena. This way there were more ferrets around for Aesa to play with and when we lost her Fex would have someone more than his monkey with whom to snuggle and play and do ferrety things. Little did we know that just a few weeks after we adopted the terror twins Aesa would fall ill. Eventually we had to let her go.
Suddenly Fex, our baby-boy, went from being the youngest of our business to the oldest. But he seemed quite healthy and given the ages that Samson and Aesa reached we had a few more years with him.
I was at work Monday when Eadie called around 10:30pm. She checked in on Fex and he was limp and completely unresponsive. My heart caught in my throat but I knew he would be OK. I had found Aesa like that once when I accidentally skipped one of her doses of prednisone. He just needed to get his blood sugar up. I let Eadie know what I did for Aesa. She had responded in a little under 10 minutes. Fex didn’t. After a 1/2 hour we decided to get him to the Las Vegas Animal Emergency Center. Eadie drove him down from our house. I left work to meet herthere.
Fex had to stay overnight. But there was a good chance he would improve so Eadie and I went home. A few hours later the vet on duty, Dr. Tiller, called. Fex had taken a turn for the worse and had a seizure. She didn’t think he would make it through the night. I drove down to stay with my bunbun in case he did leave us.
The staff at AEC put me in a room with him and checked on us regularly. I held him and talked to him through the night. I talked about the day we brought him home. About how he loved his monkey. When he met Aesa and Samson. How he was stalked by Tananda when he was younger. The ever more opulent cages we got for him. How he was with us through two moves and on this last one how we adjusted one room just for him as a ferret.
Fex made it through the night and I was able to take him in to see or normal vet, Dr. K. In the morning he was still listless but definitely aware of his surroundings. Considering how much he had been through in the night it was chalked up to exhaustion. She wanted to keep him for observation that day to see if he would show signs of improvement. If he did we could being him home under guarded care. He did improve. He was interested in his surroundings and while not completely mobile he did move around in our hands. We brought him home.
We set him up on the top half of our cage. A litter box, food and water, some towels in which to burrow, his monkey to snuggle. I was to wake him every few hours to syringe feed him. The main thing we were looking for was to keep his fluids up, his body temperature stable, his blood sugar up and no seizures.
The first seizure hit at 12:30am. Just a short one, less than 5 seconds. Then he was looking around. I hoped that would be it. Then the second hit at 2:30am. A third at 3:30am. They each were short and he seemed alert after each one, but my stomach turned into knots. Not my baby boy! He was improving just 12 hours ago!
We packed him into the carry cage w/his monkey and took him in immediately on the morning of the 14th. We told Dr. K what had happened. After some discussion she didn’t think it looked too good but we could try another day of observation. Eadie and I made a deal, one more day but if he had another major seizure we would let him go as that would be the best for him. Dr. K wanted to check his blood sugar level before we left.
It was normal it not slightly elevated. Which meant the seizures weren’t coming from low blood sugar but from some other cause. She thought he might have had a major seizure the previous night well before Eadie found him. Or maybe the cancer in his pancreas had spilled over to other parts of his body. There was no way to be sure but really, there was little we could do for him. We decided to let him go.
We moved to that one room in all vet’s offices. The one with the comfy chair and the rainbow bridge. Dr. K brought him in and let us know that while she was with him in the back he had had another seizure and she felt we were doing the right thing. She gave him to me to hold. I nestled his monkey next to him. Eadie and I said our goodbyes and I held him as he left our life, left this world. He was with his mom and dad and his bestest friend, a stuffed monkey.
It’s not that I love Aesa or Samson less but we knew our time with them was short. I held Aesa when we let her go. I knew then that some time in the future I would be doing the same with Fex. Bur three days ago if you had asked me how much time we had left with Fex I would have said he would live past the end of the world. He would have plenty of time to romp and play with Xena and Xara. To pal around with his monkey. There was no way he would be gone in less than 48 hours.
My baby-boy is gone.