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Melanee Ellis, Speaker At The 2011 International Ferret Congress

A profile of International Ferret Congress 2011 symposium speaker Melanee Ellis.

By Renee Downs
Posted: May 20, 2011, 8:35 p.m. EDT

“My mom died in 1993, and I became severely depressed. I thought having a pet would help ease the depression. I'm allergic to cats and, at the time, we lived in an apartment, so a dog was out — I like big dogs. I had wanted a ferret since I was 16, so when I saw one advertised for sale, I asked my husband if we could go look at it. It was love at first sight! And that's how Bosley, the first of many ferrets, came into our lives. He was so funny and playful, that whenever I was with him, I wasn't depressed.” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Shortly after Bosley came into her life, Melanee put an ad in the paper looking for other ferret owners. Twenty people and 35 ferrets showed up to play and get to know each other. And Lane Area Ferret Lovers was born, followed by the decision to open a shelter. “With the shelter came monetary issues, so we needed to do some fundraising. Shortly thereafter the Ferret Olympics was created. This was the first of many fundraising opportunities I undertook. We made over $300 on our first Olympics!”

What a wonderful idea, short-lived as it was. “In 2004 I was contacted by the National Olympic Committee and told to stop calling our fundraising event ‘Ferret Olympics.’ The club was threatened with a lawsuit if it did not. That was when it was renamed the Ferret Agility Trials.”

Melanee likes to make up silly songs about her ferrets. But life isn’t all about ferrets. She also likes to cook and play hidden item games. And, occasionally you may find her crocheting or creating cards and posters on the computer. Her favorite movie is The Princess Bride and she has an eclectic taste in music. Like other ferret owners, Melanee likes science fiction/fantasy and Dean Koontz horror books. And, given the chance to spend time with anyone, she would choose Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Why? “He wrote some fascinating books. I'd like to talk to him about how he came up with his ideas and how he feels about the Obama administration.”

Melanee also relaxes by going on motorcycle rides with her husband. Married to Bill for 20 years, the romance began in Juneau, Alaska, where Melanee grew up. They moved to Eugene, Oregon, where they still live with their ferrets — Oy!, Sasha Fierce, and Jet (a black sable). You will need to ask her about the radio contest she won. Worth $11,000, it included a motorcycle among other things. This is a woman you want to consult before dropping those raffle tickets!

And, Melanee recognizes the efforts of those around her. Her sister, Anna, “overcame heroin and alcohol addiction, being homeless and losing a business. She also raised a child, who is now 25 years old, pretty much as single mother, holds on to her ideals and still has time to talk to me when I'm crazed about work or life in general. She overcame so much and didn't let it pound her into the ground. She has a good job and owns a house; she is doin' OK!”

Melanee would like to be remembered as “the woman who started Lane Area Ferret Lovers club and helped it evolve into Lane Area Ferret Shelter and Rescue,” but just as important, “as the person who kept working at it to make sure it survived.” Melanee will be sharing some of her fundraising experience with us in Phoenix at the symposium. Join us and see how you can make a hit with the Olympic Committee!

To learn more about Melanee and the Lane Area Ferrets, visit the Lane Area Ferret Shelter and Rescue's website.

For more information regarding the June 3 to 5, 2011, IFC Ferret Symposium in Phoenix, visit the IFC website.

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