Can you believe I let my son have a ferret for his 14th birthday? Well, perhaps you can. You might know about my silly too soft heart.

“Please, Mum! I’ve always wanted a ferret. They make good pets. They become real friends,” begged Callum.
I didn’t think our pet shop would have a ferret. They’re not exactly run-of-the-mill pets. Perhaps it was safe to say, “Well… we could go into town and have a look. No promises, though.”
Just as I expected, the pet shop was all out of ferrets and I drew a sigh of relief. Callum looked very disappointed. He’d set his heart on having a furry ferret friend.
“Can I ask if they expect to get any ferrets soon?”
I didn’t think there was much chance the pet shop was expecting a shipment of ferrets so I let Callum ask. How was I to know it was ferret season, the only few weeks of the year when ferrets are available?  Two ferrets would be up for sale in two weeks’ time. And yes, Callum could reserve one for his very own.
Callum’s face lit up. His subdued mood disappeared instantly. “This will be the best present ever, Mum! Wow! You’re the best mum in the whole world. I can’t wait… I don’t suppose I could have both ferrets? No, of course not. One will be just fine!”
Two weeks later we went to collect our new family member: a long, wriggly, white creature with pink eyes and sharp teeth. Callum called him Finn.
We’d done a bit of reading about ferrets. Ferrets are very much like cats or perhaps a tiny dog. They can be given the run of the house. They will curl up on their owners' laps. They enjoy being taken for walks on the end of a lead… apparently…so we were told.  Callum could just imagine it. Finn would become his constant companion. He’d sleep on his bed, sit on his shoulder and nuzzle his ear while he was studying. He’d go everywhere with him. He’d be a real friend.
But before the dream could come true, Callum had to overcome one little problem. He was afraid of those sharp, sharp teeth. Whenever he approached too closely to Finn those teeth snapped shut, trapping a mouthful of skin. The ferret would then hang in the air, refusing to let go. It was almost impossible to dislodge him. And it hurt! We tried squeezing Finn’s jaws. We tried spraying him with water. We tried spraying our hands with a foul tasting liquid. Eventually we would escape his clutches. We’d regain our freedom…until the next time.
How can you become best friends with something that attacks you as soon as you come within striking distance? Did Finn sense Callum’s fear? “He’ll settle down soon. Handle him firmly. He’ll learn you’re the boss.” But Finn didn’t learn. He knew who was in charge and it wasn’t his owner.  It wasn’t long before Callum’s inclination to go near his new animal disappeared completely. Finn became a neglected pet.
“You can’t just leave Finn in his cage all day,” I pointed out. “He gets bored and he needs exercise. You need to walk him and let him out for a run.”
Reluctantly Callum agreed. He tried dragging Finn around the garden. Then he tried letting him run around the lounge. Unfortunately he didn’t warn the little girls. Soon Finn was hanging from the bottom of a skirt. Terrified girls screamed. The next time Callum let his animal loose he made sure the girls were safely on the other side of the door. The rest of us sat with our feet hidden under our bottoms in an attempt to preserve our toes from being pounced upon. We braced ourselves for possible attack as Finn charged from one end of the room to another and back again. Around and around he went, occasionally choosing a victim to leap upon. After a few minutes I could stand no more and ordered Callum to return the animal to its cage.
Callum was not happy. Finn had changed his life. He was no longer a carefree teenager who looked forward to each day. No, every day he had to face ‘the problem’. He had to face those teeth when he cleaned Finn’s cage (ferrets are so stinky!) and when he exercised him. Callum knew nobody liked his pet. We were all afraid of it. Finn hadn’t become part of the family. He hadn’t become Callum’s friend. He was ‘the enemy’. Callum no longer wanted to own a ferret. What was he to do?
Callum returned to the pet shop and asked if they’d take Finn back. But the pet shop didn’t want him. Callum wrote a notice: ‘Ferret free to a good (any) home’. But no one with a silly too soft heart read the notice. We started asking around: “Does anyone know of someone who wants a ferret?”
Surprisingly, a friend said, “My neighbour is looking for a ferret. He wants to get rid of all the rabbits on his farm.”
Someone wanted a ferret? I couldn’t believe it. Please take ours! We packed up all Finn’s food and cage. We enclosed him in a cardboard box, put him in the car and escorted him under guard to his new home, as quickly as possible before the farmer changed his mind.
Life returned to normal. Callum was no longer stressed out. His day no longer revolved around an ungrateful pet. Our home no longer had a strange unpleasant odour. The girls sighed with relief. We didn’t have to worry about our skirts being attacked. Peace returned to our home.
Occasionally we wondered how the farmer was getting on with Callum’s ex-pet. Was Finn earning his living? Or did his new owner regret accepting our vicious animal? We didn’t dare ask. We didn’t want to know. We didn’t even want to think about it. All we wanted to do was forget we ever had a ferret.
That was five years ago.
The other week we got together with our friend, the farmer’s neighbour. Somehow the conversation got around to rabbits.
“Hey, you remember that ferret of yours?” I tensed up wondering what our friend would say next. “He was a great rabbit catcher. Cleared my neighbour’s farm and all the farms around… “
“Really?”
“It’s a pity he isn’t alive anymore.”
“Oh?” I decided it was safe to share our sorry tale. I could admit we'd felt we were passing on our problem to someone else. I could say how frightened we were that the farmer might want to give Finn back to us. It was quite ok to be honest: the animal was dead. He could never be returned to our home to terrorise us all.
“How did he die?”
“It was a dog.”
“A big crunch?”
“Yes, a big crunch. I wasn’t going to tell you the details. I didn’t want to upset you. I thought you loved your ferret.”
Loved our ferret?
Crunch, crunch, crunch… then one day, no more crunch: Finn's reign of terror came to an end. He encountered a crunch bigger than his own. Crunch, munch, no more ferret.
Mice, ferrets? Surely I have no more horrific pet stories to tell?  But I do. I could tell you about the axolytls. Axoltyls? I have a story about upside down axoltyls, some new homeschoolers and a debate about euthanasia.
I bet you can't wait for that one...or maybe you can!
I look at this photo and I see Callum smiling a little nervously. He has a gardening glove protecting his hand. Finn is attached to a lead. Callum has been dragging him around the garden. In the background I can see our garage. My car is sitting on the driveway because the garage is stuffed full of odds and ends. Under the garage lives a poisonous copperhead snake called El Cid. And I see a ferret who enjoyed a wonderful short life...a ferret who liked to crunch, crunch, crunch.
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  1. I love this. Only because we have a similar problem. Our son, 2 1/2 years ago, was given two Degus. The family was moving back to New York and they couldn't take them (the house they were moving into had cats). The one time I didn't say, "No!" will forever make me leary of saying, "Yes." Like your ferret, to this day, we can't handle the Degus! They like to wriggle and/or jump out of your hands, bite and are almost impossible to catch when they get out!!! And, did I mention, they poop everywhere, have to be on a special diet (they are diabetic by nature) and chew EVERYTHING!!!! They have even chewed through metal!!! We are so tired of them but can't seem to get rid of them. Like your ferret, we feel like we are giving someone else our problems!! I can SO relate to your ferret problem!!! :O ~Nikki

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    1. Nikki,

      I had to google 'degu'. I'd never heard of this animal. We don't have them here in Australia. Oh they look so cute! I can see why you were fooled into accepting them as pets. Their teeth must be very sharp to chew through so much. Oh I empathise with you!

      I am always getting myself into impossible situations because I don't say, "no" often enough. Then again, life is always interesting. I always have lots of stories to tell!

      I hope you find a solution to your degu problem. Maybe the degus will suit some other family better. Someone else might really love them. I hope!

      Thank you so much, Nikki, for stopping by. I've enjoyed chatting about problem pets with you!

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