Posted: April 1, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Courtesy of Kim Wenzlau
Usually independent, Dozer the ferret comforted his owner with kisses when she needed it most.
An ocean of stories exist that portray ferrets as little terrors, thieves and mischievous dancing fools. Sprinkled throughout that ocean are little gems describing the precious things ferrets do.
There actually is a very real reason these little cuties look like innocent, furred angels … even when they trip you as you carry the laundry or hijack your socks while dashing off and dooking with glee. In truth, the gentleness and tenderness of ferrets often sets them apart from other domestic pets. Ferret lovers revel in the altruistic side of them. So I asked ferret lovers: what is the sweetest thing your ferret has ever done?
Amazing Ferret Kisses
The most popular responses involved kisses. Ferrets are very compassionate animals. Apparently, they also have impeccable timing, because they seem to know just when to give that cherished kiss when it counts the most.
Kim Wenzlau of New Hampshire owns a very independent little ferret named Dozer that normally does not give kisses. Yet when she faced bad times involving loss and illness, he was quick to show up at her side to shower her with kisses for days at a time. "He must be a very special ferret to know how I'm feeling and to know how to make me feel better,” Wenzlau said. "He even goes against his normal behavior to make me feel better.”
Courtesy Lisa Kaliski
Carlin is a "tough guy" ferret, but he healed his owner's broken heart when another ferret died.
Lisa Kaliski of Missouri described her ferret, Carlin, as a little comedian with a tough guy persona that also never gives out kisses. One very sad day, she lost her other ferret, Avery. Shocked and saddened, she picked up Carlin for a bit of comfort. "Carlin looked up at me and gave me one of the sweetest ferret kisses I have ever received,” Kaliski said. "Carlin, my comedian and tough guy, mended my broken heart one kiss at a time.”
Ferret Therapy For People
There have been numerous accounts of ferrets curling up next their owners and not leaving until they felt as if everything was better. They can be very therapeutic in many ways. Stacey Lancaster of Michigan shared an enchanting little story about an incident that occurred in an adult foster care home where she works.
"One day I had my two ferrets, Mo and Mindy, with me running errands,” Lancaster said. "I stopped to pick up my check and took them in to say hi to the folks. One of our guys — who was 102 — was having a bad day. He didn't want to talk to anyone, and refused to get up for meals. When he heard me come into his room, he basically told me to get out and leave him alone. As I turned to leave, Mo started pulling at the leash to go to the bed. My gentleman opened his eyes and saw this little face looking up at him. With wonder in his voice he asked me, ‘Is that a ferret?’ He then sat up and started talking to me about how he raised ferrets and hunted with them when he was younger. By then both ferrets were on the bed, and he was laughing as he watched them play and explore. We talked for a good 15 minutes, and then I told him I had to leave. He got up and walked me to the door, and as I was leaving I heard him ask everyone if they had seen the ferrets and weren't they cute and then tell them about his ferreting days. It totally pulled him out of his depression. And every time I worked after that he asked me when the ferrets could visit again.”
Mason the ferret wasn't herself after the loss of her cagemate, Madison.
Photos Courtesy Lin Talbot-Koehl
Although suffering from a fatal condition, Max the ferret hung around Mason for days to cheer her up.
Ferret Therapy For Ferrets
It’s very common for ferrets to console other ferrets. Lin Talbot-Koehl of Ohio lost her ferret Madison, which devastated her cagemate, Mason. Despite suffering a fatal condition that was leaving him in increasingly bad shape, her ferret Max curled up around Mason, licking her repeatedly. He stayed by her side for an astonishingly long time.
"He just hung around her, trying to get her to play gently for days until she started to cheer up again,” Talbot-Koehl said. "Here was this little boy — who we were so afraid of losing to such a nasty, ugly disease — doing all he could to keep another healthy, younger ferret happy, when he must have been in pain himself. What a little trooper!”
Pat Baby of Alberta, Canada, described her ferret Salty Dog as not anything remarkable, just a skinny, silver little guy with a big heart. Or so she thought. Then a man surrendered his 10-year-old, blind, deaf ferret to the shelter because he didn’t want to have to endure seeing her die. The little ferret, named Powder, had never seen another ferret before and found herself in a frighteningly strange environment.
"I considered the most humane thing to do for her would be to send her to the Rainbow Bridge,” Baby said. However, she settled Powder into a cage with a warm bed to see how she’d react. While she lay very quietly, peeking out of the sleep sack, Salty went in to say, "Hello.”
"The strangest thing happened,” Baby said. "When Salty got close enough to touch her nose, Powder reached out, sniffed him, grabbed him by the ear and hauled him into the sack with her. From that moment on, Powder and Salty were inseparable. They ate together, drank together and explored the house together.”
Salty guided Powder, acting as her personal seeing-eye ferret when she was out of the cage, Baby said.
"She would walk with her nose to his shoulder, and if she ever veered off track he would give her a nudge to show her where he was.” Baby said. "When she wanted him closer, she would reach out and drag him into the sleep sack. He always obliged her, with a big sigh. Powder lived for another six months, and very happy ones, with the best little guide-ferret in the world.”
Although tiny, Maryann the ferret found a way onto a waterbed that was beyond her reach. How?
Photos Courtesy June Phipps
Stitch the ferret was found to be the reason Maryann made it on the waterbed!
June Phipps of Missouri shared a story about her ferret Stitch and his friend, Maryann. Phipps has a king-sized waterbed that Stitch can jump on. He plays on the bed, and Phipps noticed Maryann also playing with him. But Maryann is a much smaller ferret, unable to jump on the bed. The mystery was how she got on the bed.
"I started watching to try to catch her,” Phipps said. "She would stand up, lean against the frame and Stitch would lean over, grab her by her scruff and pull her up on the bed! One of the sweetest and cutest things I've seen.”
Kay Amrine of Ohio sadly lost two little girls. To cheer up the surviving cagemates, she decided to put her recently neutered ferret, Tommy, in their cage. After what seemed to be an uneventful meeting between Tommy and the most depressed ferret, Ebony, Kay discovered something amazing.
First, Tommy crawled into the bed and curled around Ebony like he was giving her a big hug, Kay said. About an hour later, Kay saw that Tommy was up eating while Ebony still huddled in bed. Then Kay noticed something odd.
"He kept going over to her, and I couldn't figure out what he was doing at first. And then I finally figured out he was taking pieces of food and putting them on the bed for her to eat, and she was actually eating it. She has since started gaining back the weight she lost. I've found all six ferrets curled up in one bed asleep. And I finally got to watch Ebony play and interact with the others last weekend.”
My Sweet Ferret Story
And what is the sweetest thing my ferrets have ever done? They honored and cherished a deceased cagemate’s teddy bear. My little girl Jubilee had a favorite stuffie — a tiny, purple teddy bear. All of the ferrets enjoyed it, but it was very notably hers.
After she passed away, I began to notice the little bear had not been moved. It was very curious, because all the ferrets loved that bear. So, I put it in a toy pile to try to spark some interest. The next day, the little guys came dashing out, each taking turns snagging a toy and hiding it. Several minutes later, that little bear lay in the middle of the floor … alone … untouched. I then noticed a few more of Jubilee’s favorite things had just been lying about, also untouched.
I eventually got the ferrets to play with the other toys again — but not with that lonely, tiny bear. I kept that bear around because it seemed like a waste to put it up on a shelf. Someday, I thought, some ferret would play with it again. But that little bear went without a ferret guardian until other ferrets joined the household that had never met my little Jubilee.