Posted: February 1, 2009, 5 a.m. EST
Courtesy of Karen Douglas
Jubilee had an interesting experience being an ambassador for ferrets at an education day.
What is the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you in the great, wide world of ferretdom? If you are like most ferret enthusiasts, you can’t answer this question with just one story. Ferret owners tend to have a great sense humor to match the comical personalities of their ferrets. The end result seems to be an unending chain of rib-tickling adventures. But what is the mother of all funny ferret stories?
Ferret Ambassador Mishap
Karen Douglas, a ferret owner now residing in Florida, recounted a rather precarious situation that occurred when she used to live in North Carolina. A local ferret shelter held a ferret education day at a nearby PetSmart to show people how wonderful ferrets are and to dispel the myths that ferrets bite and stink. Douglas volunteered to bring her unde-scented, tiny, sable ferret named Jubilee that day. This ferret seemed perfect as an ambassador for ferrets, because she was very people-oriented, smart and cute.
During the event, Jubilee rode on Douglas’ shoulder and had a grand time — until she became intrigued with a certain little girl. Jubilee was so taken with the girl that she grabbed the child’s finger and tried to stash her away. Jubilee never actually bit or broke the skin, but this ferret gave the little girl and the other spectators quite a start. Douglas said it was then that the excitement caused Jubilee to poof. The odor that followed, coupled with the near-bite, sort of defeated the event’s purpose. "There went the ‘ferrets don’t stink and ferrets don’t bite’ sermon right out the window,” Douglas said.
Talking To Ferrets
Lynda Galloway of Canada eagerly told me her favorite zany story about her ferret, Toby. Galloway regularly enjoyed walks with her handsome ferret in local parks. One day, while the two were enjoying the winding paths of a park in St. Catharine’s, Galloway followed after her chunky, waddling ferret as he traveled from the wider and better-known paths to the smaller paths. Then, of course, his ferret curiosity led him to the overgrowth. And this is when the tale takes a turn in a most unexpected way.
"I was standing there holding a leash that could not be seen by anyone passing by because the brush was waist high,” Galloway said. "I was allowing Toby to smell whatever he was interested in and talking to him. There I was, just standing there talking away to Da Handsome Boy, letting him explore and roll in mud, when I heard from the path. ‘Are you alright? Do you need help? Can we call someone for you?’ I said, ‘No thanks. I'm walking my ferret.’ She said, ‘It's OK. I was a nurse, I can help you.’"
I think that definitely tops my story about trying to smuggle my ferret into a store under my shirt. To keep her still, I kept bending my head down to talk to her. That’s when I got the distinct feeling someone was watching me. I looked up and saw a few people sporting rather uncomfortable expressions; they quickly whipped their heads away from staring at me. I suppose it must’ve looked like I was talking to my chest.
The Ferrets Weren't Scared
I think what follows, however, is the mother of all ferret stories. Pat Stauffer, a ferret owner and ferret breeder living in Pennsylvania, volunteered to pet-sit three ferrets for an American Ferret Association judge so the judge could attend an Ohio ferret show. Stauffer was running late the night she picked up the ferrets, so she pulled up to the home and left the doors open to her SUV. A friend of the judge was at the house and helped load up the ferrets and their supplies into the back of the vehicle. He waved goodbye to Stauffer, who happily drove off playing her favorite CD and enjoying the summer night’s air with the windows down.
Not long after driving off, Stauffer thought she heard a voice. Lowering the volume on the CD player, she listened, but heard nothing strange. Up went the CD volume again. Soon after, Stauffer heard the mysterious voice again. That’s when she looked over and saw a car full of boys next to her with rap music blaring from it. Mystery solved! Or so she thought.
Once she was alone, Stauffer heard the voice yet again. She turned off the CD player and began to wonder if there were satanic messages on the CD. She never heard any before, so there went that hypothesis.
Stauffer was now deep in the woods, in the middle of a park. Every urban legend about ax murderers swirled in her mind. After all, she did leave her doors open for a while at her friend’s house.
"I looked in my rear view mirror and didn’t see anything. Then I heard these words, ’I betcha can’t get me.’”
Stauffer occasionally carries a .38 caliber handgun. "I was trained by a police instructor, and let’s just say I can hit what I aim at.” She had the gun and drew it from her purse. As she got ready to turn around and fire, the voice spoke again.
"Whoa! Put me down.” The messages repeated, leaving Stauffer suspicious. She pulled over and examined the back of her SUV. And that’s when she found it … a Babble Ball hidden away in the ferret supplies. This simple pet toy was the source of the mysterious voice.
Stauffer felt a surge of relief after realizing that a murderer wasn’t in the car, and she hadn’t shot up her car, but then anger erupted. Furious, she tried to phone her friend, but accidentally called the man that helped load up her car. She yelled at him. Whatever an ax murderer might have done to her would be nothing compared to the wrath that Stauffer was going to unleash upon both of her friends when she saw them.
The man then called the judge, and the judge shared the story with others at the Ohio ferret show. "It took me months to live that down,” Stauffer said. "Even my boss got involved later on!” With a little help from Stauffer’s judge friend, her boss tried to trick her again by hiding another Babble Ball in Stauffer’s office closet.
These stories are the tip of the iceberg of the tales that ferret people tell. And just when you think you’ve discovered "the mother of all stories,” another one comes along, and then another. So my quest, in fact, is never ending! And this is one of the many joys in the world of ferret ownership.