Monday, December 7, 2009

Pet Peeve

Blind Dudley

Many of you may not know this, but Dana and I used to have 9 ferrets.  Yes, you read that number 9 (nine) correctly.  They were Frosty, Stoney, Holley, Haley, Harley, Dudley, Ashley, Chi Chi and Spud.  This may be obvious, but we didn't name Chi Chi and Spud.

We loved our ferrets, they were so sweet.  We lost Harley to cancer in the Fall of 2002.  Right after that we lost our hedgehog Thorndyke.  And right after that we learned I was pregnant with Kaia.  By the time Morgan was born we had lost all of our ferrets, but Dudley. 

Kaia loved Dudley.  He was our big baby.  Big, lumbering, dumber than a box of rocks, and so sweet.  He was mostly blind and had bouts of baldness, but he enjoyed being carried around by Kaia and was always up for some hopping around with her. 

So if ferrets are such vicious creatures, do you believe that Dana and I would have ever allowed our daughter to play with Dudley?  Of course not.  Yet every radio and tv commercial I've seen for the past 5 years has made ferrets out to be horrible biting creatures.  Even the APA recommends that they not be in homes with children (they don't like hedgehogs for pets either). 

Out of 9 ferrets, we had 1 (one) that bit.  Holley was a tiny, silky albino female.  We were her 5th owners, in just over a months time.  She had a biting problem. I personally had her bite down on my knuckle, hit bone and hold.  It started with the first owners, and each owner after brought her back because they couldn't handle her. 

Ferret babies, like kittens and puppies naturally nip when they get excited.  Ferret mommies or owners have to teach the babies not to nip.  Now at a pet store, you might hear the teenage worker tell a customer to "flick their nose" when the cute little baby nips.  Feel free to flick the teenage worker's nose, or whap them upside the back of the head.  Flicking their nose teaches them to bite because they fear hands.  Proper ferret training involves the scruff of the neck, pinch the scruff and drag the ferret while saying "no."  See, now you can educate any stupid pet store workers you may run into, although I think flicking his or her nose would really be more fun.

We don't know if Holley was flicked first and that started the biting habit.  What we did learn years later was that she had had her ribs broken prior to living with us.  They were broken and began to calcify, scaring the crap out of us when we were sure the big lump was cancer.  Even though someone did that to her, we were able to teach her that people were ok.  We took our time and handled her carefully.  We used proper training when she was naughty, and at the end of her life she only nipped if you made a sudden move toward her.  And then, it was only a little nip. 

I can't stop the media from demonizing these sweet pets, but I can at least tell my readers and you can spread the word too.  And if you ever need personal testimony just ask Kaia about Dudley.  But be prepared for the tears and lamenting over the loss of her pet.  She even used to ask me if Jesus would send Dudley back so she could have him here again.


Kristina said...

I had no idea! This is really good to know, Tysa. I hope it shows up on lots of Google searches about ferrets.

Just Breathe said...

I think they sound like great pets, I always thought I would like to own one. What are their bathroom habits?

Lady Farmer said...

I have always thought they were so cute and wanted to have one but the ones that I have been around, the cage smelled so badly! But probably just that the owners didn't clean it often enough. We used to have rats and they are marvelous little creatures but most people just say YUCK and wont even talk to you about them. I have found that these small creatures ( we've had many rats & hamsters ) are quite suseptable to cancer.
We have enjoyed a variety of small 'unconventional' pets in our home when our girls were small. They were always a delight! If most people are squeemish - they shouldn't have pets anyway!

jennifer said...

I'm sorry Kaia misses Dudley. I think you made a good point in that how a pet behaves starts when they are small and with training.

Have a great week TJ!

Anonymous said...

We had Merret the ferret before we had you!
You survived!


Noe Noe Girl...A Queen of all Trades. said...

I never knew TJ. Thanks for the info.