Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, July 22, 2007
      ( 7/22/2007 07:05:00 AM ) Bill S.  

POOH THE FERRET – Pooh the ferret died Friday night – after several months of dealing with a strange infection and swelling just below the right side of his ear. We knew it was coming. Earlier, we'd taken him to be examined by the vet, and the prognosis wasn't good. Over the past few months, we've gone through multiple vet trips, plus four different types of oral and topical medications; the vet had lanced and drained the swollen area; and I'd been applying nightly warm compresses and using cotton balls to clean the little guy's ear out. The infection kept a nasty mixture of blood and pus pooling in the little guy's ear: he'd regularly shake his head and send droplets all over the sheet covering his cage. Pretty nasty.

We'd thought the little guy'd rallied some after the lancing. The swelling had gone down and the amount of gunk in his ear had diminished, while the most recently prescribed topical ointment also seemed to be doing its job. But when we left him and his "brother," an albino named Pip, to be watched by some friends in a local ferret club while we were out of town for four days, Pooh quickly got worse. The swelling moved down to his throat; he grew weaker and had difficulty getting up to go the litter box; his stools grew tarry with what we knew was blood. Our ferret sitters phoned us late Saturday night to apprise us of the situation, and, from their description, we weren't sure he'd even be alive when we got back home the next day. He was, however, and lingered with us until Friday.

We've had ferrets in the house for several years now and have had to deal with their deaths before, of course. As pets, they don't have live as long as cats or dogs, though I'm told that American-bred ferrets have a shorter lifespan than their European or Asian cousins due to in-breeding. We've had up to four of 'em in the house – all ferret rescues – though with Pooh's death, we're currently down to just one. With things still presently up in the air as to where we'll ultimately be living and working, it doesn't seem smart to bring any more animals into the picture. So at the moment, our ferret population consists of an albino named Pip. Spent yesterday afternoon cleaning out the large three-decker cage that used to house four, so we could give it to an acquaintance in the local ferret rescue group. Pip's now down to a second, smaller cage that we'd been using for the ailing Pooh.

As house pets, ferrets generally do best when they're living with at least one companion. Incorrigible players and wrestlers, they typically benefit from having at least one other ferret to bounce around. Most nights, we'd uncage the critters and place 'em in a fenced-in living room area with a lotta toys just so they can cavort in a slightly different setting. Watching these little spuds do the weasel dance, it was like seeing a living version of those "Peanuts" strips featuring Snoopy doing his happy dance, big hind paws flapping as he floats on air. Recently caught an episode of the PBS series, "Pursuit of Excellence," dealing with ferrets and ferret owners, and telefilm can't quite capture the sublime silliness of ferrets at active play: all it basically gives you are the sort of awww, don't they look cute moments that are just one small part of the picture. It's more than just cute – it's a full-bodied, living expression of joy.

Goodbye, Pooh.
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

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