We adopted Xena, along with her sister Xara, a little over two and a half years ago. They came as a pair from the local ferret shelter. Before that they had been adopted from the same pet store by a military man who could not keep them. He had been deployed to the Middle East and had no one here in Las Vegas to care for them. The pet store adoption papers put them at about 2 years old. They were bonded and inseparable. Not that we would ever think to do anything of the sort.
I called Xena my little warrior princess because of her name. She really didn’t live up to it. Aside from chomping my thumb twice while adjusting to her new home she rarely fought with her sister nor with her new baby brother when we adopted him a year later. She left putting the new boy in place to Xara. No, Xena was more princess than Xara was. After eating she would always find the nearest blankie and rub her face over it a few times. My wife and I figured she was just getting the crumbs off face like any proper lady should.
Xena was the caretaker of the toy stash. Any time we moved the toys she was the one that ran around to make sure each was put back in its place. She even chased around a water bottle or two at 3am, much to the annoyance of my sleeping wife.
Lately though she started to slow down. We chalked it up to her getting up in years. Then a trip to the vet a little under a year ago let us know she had insulinoma. Common in ferrets, especially for her age. As time passed she slowed down a bit more, slept a bit longer, snugged her sister more often, and put up with the boy invading their cuddle puddle as much as she ever did.
But last week Xena got really, really slow. She had runny poops. Another trip to the vet confirmed what we suspected. Her insulinoma had advanced and we needed to up her dose. She was down from 1.6lbs to 1.1lbs. The vet said the prednisone would help with her GI problems which should increase her appetite.
I didn’t notice.
Two days ago as I was rounding up the kidlets to put them to bed before I myself went to sleep I found 3 very dark, very runny poops behind the igloo, Xena’s favorite out-of-the-cage sleeping spot. She was pooping blood, lots of it. I bundled her up, left for the vet’s and forgot my keys in the house. In the end my wife drove us down.
Xena was down to 0.8lbs, 1/2 her normal weight. Our normal vet, DrK, didn’t think she had a good chance. I thought now that we knew she hadn’t been eating if we syringe fed her, made sure she got some food and liquids, she might bounce back. If we could get her blood glucose levels up we can tackle the other problems. So I decided to take her home. We had instructions to feed her every few hours as long as she accepted the food. But if she didn’t perk up by morning to bring her back in as she probably would not make it much longer.
That night my wife fed her every few hours as I slept. By the time we got home I had been up almost 26 hours. After several hours of sleep we traded off. I held Xena and fed her with a syringe every few hours. But I could see the decline. She was moving less. She was starting to fight the feeding more. By morning it was clear, she wasn’t going to pull through.
So the morning of March 8th I let my wife know I think it was time to let her go. I say it that way because I’m the one who had to try one more night, who couldn’t give up the day before. I made sure Xara got to snug her sister, and Xander got to see Xena, before we left. We arrived at the vet’s office, held her tight for a little while longer, then held her as she passed.
Dook in peace, my warrior princess. Be free of pain. I’ll take care of your sister as best I can. I’ll do better.