Ferret Footnotes

Monthly Newsletter of the
Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas

ferret face
"Li'l Girl"

MARCH 1998
RAINBOW BRIDGE/DISASTER EVACUATION


A LETTER FROM YOUR PRESIDENT

Dear Friends and Members of the Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas:

Important Announcement: With deepest regrets I must inform you of my resignation as President of FLC-TX effective June, 1998. I have accepted a job at the University of Tampa in Florida and will be moving in July. The decision to move was very difficult, as the Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas plays a large and important role in my life. I plan to continue to support the club from afar, and intend to fly back for the October Ferret Olympics!

Please volunteer! My resignation brings up the issue of finding a new president and distributing some of my responsibilities. Matthew Stevens has graciously taken on membership responsibilities, and Chris Snoberger will be handling product merchandising. I can continue to handle the newsletter from afar, on the condition that members are responsible for emailing me information to put in the newsletter, or until someone else volunteers to take the newsletter over. We need someone to help with correspondence, to coordinate educational efforts (such as training sessions with animal organizations, talks at schools, etc.), handle fundraising efforts, and so on. The new president will be involved in all subcommittees, including legalization, show planning, educational seminars, vet relations, and so on.

Please nominate! If you are interested in volunteering for a position or would like to nominate someone (you can nominate yourself) for the presidency, please contact the Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas. We will vote on these issues in the coming months.

Thank You. I have appreciated your support. Being President of this Club has been an honor and an enriching experience. I wish the club best success, and hope I have laid the groundwork for a promising future.

Sincerely,

Erika Matulich

President, Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas


FLC-TX FUNDRAISING GARAGE SALE APRIL 24-25

The FLC is going to be putting on a garage sale to raise money. All proceeds benefit FLC-TX affiliated shelters, legalization campaigns, and educational activities. The garage sale will be Friday, April 24th and Saturday, April 25th from 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m. at 1806 Hillcrest Drive, Irving, TX 75062. Please donate items to be sold to help out.

Donated items need to be already priced/labeled and brought over to Chris Snoberger's house by the evening of Thursday, April 23rd. Clothing items DO NOT need to be priced - we will set one price for each type of clothing (pants, shirts, dresses, kids clothes, shoes, etc). Paperback books will all be priced the same, as will hardback books. If you would like to reclaim any of your items that do not sell, you will need to do this Saturday evening, April 25th. Any unclaimed items will be taken to the local Goodwill on Sunday.

Even if you don't have items to donate, we can still use your help working at the garage sale. Please call or email me and let me know what hours you will be able to work. We will start as early as 6:45 a.m. to set up on Friday and Saturday. I can't do this by myself!!! To make this a successful fundraiser for the club, I will need your help!!!

Thanks,

Chris Snoberger

(972) 255-7474

snobergerc@aetna.com


TEXAS HOME SHOW REPORT

The Ferret Lovers' Club of Texas participated in the Texas Home Show in Dallas on March 14-16. Our booth was generously donated, and we had another generous donor for tables and carpeting. Many thanks to all our hard-working volunteers who manned the booth; especially to Chris Snoberger, who was at the booth every hour it was open for all three days. Thanks also to Matthew Stevens for coordinating the effort, and getting us a spot at the September show. We used to opportunity to educate the public, display merchandise, and promote shelters. Unfortunately, we could not bring any live ferrets to the show, which would have improved the promotional situation, but we will have to wait until ferrets are legalized in Dallas.


PRODUCT REVIEW: GENTLE & SOFT ASPEN PELLETS

Chris S. reports: After trying a bag of the Gentle & Soft aspen pelleted litter, I am convinced that it is definitely worth a try by those owned by ferrets. It works the same as the Pine Fresh pelleted cat litter or the oak woodstove pellets. However, I feel that it helps minimize odor better than the oak woodstove pellets. For those cost conscious people, it does cost almost 3 times as much as the oak woodstove pellets (approx $4.25 for a 40# bag), but is cheaper than the Pine Fresh. A 45# bag of Gentle & Soft can be purchased at the Canine Commissary for $11.99. They also sell 8# and 23# bags - don't have those costs. Also note, the Gentle & Soft comes in two pellet sizes - small pellets comparable to the Pine Fresh or large pellets comparable to the oak woodstove pellets. When using this product, only fill the litter box 1/4 full (no matter which size pellet is used) as the litter will expand 3 times its size when soiled on. If more litter is used, you may have an overflow problem to clean up. -

Erika M. reports: I had been using clay cat litter in the boxes, and was eager to try the Gentle & Soft aspen pellets. I opted to test the smaller size pellets, because my ferrets did not want to walk on larger pellets when I tried pelleted newspaper. Remember that aspen is absolutely THE safest wood product to use on ferrets (or any animals) as it does not contain any of the harmful chemicals or wood oils apparent in other types of products. The product has a very pleasant smell, and did an excellent job of controlling odors. I find its features superior to both clay litters and pelleted newspaper. Availability may be the only problem; currently the product is only distributed through Canine Commissary. I will be a repeat buyer of this product.


From the Ferrets First Rescue and Shelter

THANK YOU SPONSORS AND DONORS!!

The shelter will soon be putting out its own newsletter for those interested in what's happening with the shelter, shelter ferrets, and shelter fund-raising. Some of the ferrets will contribute a few pieces for this newsletter too, so it should be fun reading. Volunteers are needed also for shelter fund-raising events and for helping reach more ferrets that need us. We will offer the newsletter at no charge, but this may change later on depending upon response and costs. Please contact Trish if you wish to receive the newsletter or wish to help out in some way. Phone: Metro 817-596-0558 or 817-599-7740 or email: ffrs@flash.net


FERRET OF THE MONTH COVER PHOTO

Li'l Girl peeks out from her ferret hidey hole. Li'l girl owns FLC-TX member Karen Farrow, and plays hard with her buddy Romeo.

Would you like your ferret to be featured as a cover photo? Or published in the new handbook? Send photographs to the editor (see page 2), and with a SASE, they will be returned. Be sure to identify the ferret, and mark the photo with your name and address.


MARCH MEETING: RAINBOW BRIDGE:

DEALING WITH THE LOSS OF A FERRET

By Erika Matulich

Death is a subject that most people are very uncomfortable with. However, when we make the decision to own a pet, we create a set of responsibilities for caring for every aspect of the pet's life. One of those responsibilities is dealing with the end of our pets' lives. Because ferrets live 7-10 years, they are not like human children, most of whom will outlive us. When we take a ferret into our home, we will have to handle all phases of the life cycle, and will need to deal with the ultimate loss.

Stages of Grief

When our pet dies, we will grieve, because the bond with the ferret is gone, and in a way, we have lost a part of ourselves. It is natural grieve, and normal to mourn your pet. There may be others who do not understand your level of grief and may try to belittle it ("After all, it's just a ferret - you can always get a new one.") Accept these clumsy measures, and continue through the normal grieving process, which has several stages: shock and disbelief; anger, alienation, and distancing; denial; guilt; depression; and finally, resolution.

Shock and Disbelief

When a ferret dies, a person's initial reaction is to be emotionally overloaded with the situation and experience mental numbness. This stage may last a few hours (if your ferret has been old or ill and you have been mentally preparing for eventual death) or many days (if your ferret died suddenly). This mental numbness and disbelief is a defense mechanism to handle the stress overload of the tragedy.

Anger, Alienation, and Distancing

When the shock of death wears off, we are burdened with a rush of emotions that we may not be able to handle. This anger stage is a response to our sense of frustration and outrage over having no control over the ferret's death, although we had total control over life. This sense of helplessness makes us lash out, often irrationally, at others. You may blame your veterinarian, another caregiver in the household, a pet food manufacturer, or yourself. At this time you are most likely to lash out at others who cannot understand your grief. Try and be prepared to handle the insensitivity of others, and channel your anger into healthier alternatives. Try writing down a list of what you are angry about, or talk to a sympathetic fellow ferret owner.

Denial

Denial one of the first stages of mourning. When we are unable to accept the reality of the ferret not bouncing out to meet us, we may

fantasize about the ferret "coming back" or make bargains with higher authorities to get the ferret back. This stage can be made briefer with you being willing to accept death. Veterinary medical teaching hospitals often train their vets to allow clients to view the body. This viewing adds to the final reality. The ferret owner should have some private time, alone, with the body.

Guilt

Guilt is a normal response to thinking we have failed in our duty or obligation of being a ferret owner. We feel responsible for letting a pet die, and these feelings are greatly intensified if we made the decision to euthanize the pet. The feelings of guilt and self-blame are intense, as we wonder what we should have done differently during the life of the ferret. Guilt is especially strong if there was an accident, or we had no time to say goodbye to our ferret. Here you must find the power to forgive yourself. As a human being, mistakes are made and accidents happen. We do the best that we know how to do at the time. It is impossible to prevent all accidents or illnesses; all we can do as a ferret owner is improve the odds for survival.

Depression

This stage can be the most troubling and saddest phase of the mourning process. We feel overwhelmed by the loss, and very sad. We may experience physical fatigue, appetite loss, and difficulty sleeping. This stage allows us to live with and get used to our new, grim reality. It is actually the first stage of healing. This stage can be helped by support groups, other ferret owners, or a pet bereavement counselor.

Resolution

Death is inevitable, and there comes a time when we realize that to know the joys of owning a ferret, we must experience the sorrow of loss. It may be incorrect to say that "time heals all wounds." Instead, time allows us to live with the scars from our wounds. "Letting go" does not mean the end of remembering or loving your ferret. It means that we let go of the shock of the pet's death and go on living without the emotional burdens of death.

Ferrets Grieve, Too

We don't know what "stages" a ferret goes through when a companion dies, but we do know that ferrets grieve deeply for their lost buddy, sometimes to the point of endangering their health. The surviving ferret may become very depressed and refuse to play or eat. This ferret needs extra attention from you. It may help for the surviving ferret to see and smell the body of their friend. Ferrets seem to accept death more easily if the death is witnessed first hand, rather than their partner just disappearing and never coming back. You may also need to get your ferret a new playmate, but be careful, because a grieving ferret may not accept a new buddy right away. Having three or more ferrets can also help with grieving, because if one dies, there is still a pair or more of ferrets left to play with. Staggering the ages of ferrets in your multiple-ferret household ensures that your ferrets are used to new ferrets coming in and older ferrets leaving.

Euthanasia: A Responsibility but a Personal Choice

Having to consider euthanasia is part of the responsibility of owning a pet. The choice is highly subjective and extremely difficult. At what point should one end suffering or a negative quality of life? At what time do the bad days outnumber the good? How can you tell, since ferrets are so stoic about pain and don't let you know? To opt for euthanasia, you must believe that this is the only recourse to end the pain and suffering of your ferret, and understand that making this decision will leave you with deep feelings of pain and guilt. Consult your veterinarian and other ferrets to help give you objective advice. Prepare for a possible euthanasia decision BEFORE your pet gets old or ill. Do not abuse your responsibilities as a pet owner and opt for euthanasia when it is convenient, or you no longer wish to accept the responsibility for caring for an ailing pet. However, don't delay the inevitable and greatly reduce your quality of life (due to time or financial straits) to care for an extremely ill ferret. Additionally, accept that you may have to make a euthanasia decision; don't get so paralyzed by emotions that you cannot carry through a necessary decision when it is right for the ferret.

Euthanasia Options

Do not make a euthanasia decision lightly; it can't be reversed if you change your mind. Your suffering pet may be ready for this decision, but you must be as well. Euthanasia is literally putting your ferret to sleep. Often, a pre-sedative injection of ketamine or some isofluorane gas is used to let the ferret doze off so they cannot feel the final step. The final step may be an intravenous injection of an overdose of a sedative or barbiturate (such as "blue juice" or "euthanol"). Another option is known as a "stick" in which the veterinarian inserts a needle into an organ (such as heart, kidney, or liver) so that functions cease. Although the latter method may sound cruel, it is very quick, and your ferret cannot feel anything because s/he is already asleep. Your vet should allow you to make the decision as to whether you wish to be present during euthanasia. This is an intensely personal decision; there is no shame in not bearing to be able to witness this experience. However, many express regret later for not being present. Remember that your veterinarian finds this procedure uncomfortable to perform.

Final Arrangements

It is your responsibility as a ferret owner to take care of final arrangements. There are several options, including home burial, pet cemetery burial, and cremation. In many cities, it is against the law to bury a pet in your own yard; check your local ordinances. Home burial allows you to bury the ferret with his or her favorite toy in a box you select. You can plant flowers over the grave (which should be at least three feet deep), or set a marker. This is the least expensive option. Burial in a pet cemetery can either be in a common grave with other pets or in a private grave. Costs range from $35 to several hundred dollars, depending on the grave marker or whether a memorial plaque is purchased. Average cost is about $100. Cremation is another option; again, either a common cremation, or a separate cremation where ashes are returned to you in a box. This option is also about $100. Your veterinarian should be able to assist you with these options.

Remembering Your Ferret

There many options that help the mourning and healing process. These deal with memorializing your ferret. Think about a scrap book remembering the ferret's life. Or write a letter to your ferret and thank him/her for all the good times. Dedicate something in your ferret's name. There are pet memorial foundations that use moneys for animal causes, or other animal foundations where your pet can be remembered with your gift. Donate a memorial trophy to a club or show. Post your memories to a newsletter or electronic mailing list. Invite ferret friends for a memorial service, or hold a private ceremony. Make a list of the things your ferret used to do to make you laugh or smile. Hug your remaining ferrets and take pictures of them. Whatever you choose, find a positive way to remember your pet.

The Rainbow Bridge (Author Unknown)

Just this side of heaven is a place called the Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to the Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water, and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; his eager body begins to quiver. Suddenly, he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together...


DISASTER PLANNING: EVACUATIONS

by Lori Goats, Ferret Haven Shelter Director

Disaster planning for evacuations is a real concern because I live in an evacuation zone. If you have a small number of ferrets, this task is easier. For shelters with 15 or more ferrets, evacuation can be a scary thought. earlier you start, the better you will be.

Planning for Evacuations:

Planning for an evacuation can be a complicated procedure, especially if you have many ferrets. We all know the necessity of stocking up on necessary supplies, food, and medicine. Keep a bag of nonperishable ferret supplies packed, just like you do for the rest of the family. When planning on how much bottled water to stock up on, keep in mind how much your ferrets drink in a day. Prepare a list of things you will need if you evacuate. For example, you will need a cage or enclosure, water and food receptacles, towels, litter box, treats (always!), food, vaccination records, etc. To prepare for an actual evacuation, you will have to find out where the evacuation zones are and if there are restrictions on your travels within this zone. For example, our zone has road blocks set up that only allows travel one or two ways to get outside the evacuation zone. This limits our choices in destinations. You can find out this information by contacting your emergency management organizations. If you cannot find them in your phone book, police and fire departments can assist you in obtaining the necessary phone numbers. For those with a few ferrets, the most convenient plan is to find a friend that lives outside your evacuation zone who will agree to have you and your ferrets with them. Alternatively, contact other ferret shelters in those areas. STAR* Ferrets has a comprehensive database of ferret shelters. Contact information for STAR Ferrets can be found on our Contacts page. If you can't find a ferret shelter, try hotels, cabins, campgrounds etc. in the areas you plan to evacuate to and see if you can find places that will allow your family and the ferrets. Ask if they accept reservations during evacuation times and the process of doing this. Be sure to have three or more of these contacts because in evacuation times, these places can fill up quickly. If you have many ferrets, finding a place to stay can be much more difficult. You can try all the above suggestions, especially if you can locate another shelter. If all these attempts prove to be fruitless, you can contact Humane Societies along your evacuation route. To get a listing, contact the Humane Society of the United States at (202) 452-1100. Bargain with these agencies to allow you and your ferrets to stay there during evacuation times. You can work for them in exchange for a space for your ferrets. You may even find that they have cages for kittens or other small animals where you can temporarily house your ferrets. Be sure to bring the necessary supplies and foods for the length of time you will be gone. Get all agreements in writing, especially if you don't work with that agency already. When time passes, people tend to forget these types of agreements. You can also contact animal control offices in areas outside your evacuation zone. However, most animal control offices don't have cages that are safe for ferrets and don't seem to have the capacity/space to allow for many ferrets. If you plan on bringing you and your ferrets to one of these places, you will need proof of vaccinations.

Summary:

Evacuating with your ferrets may require a lot of planning. Plan far in advance so you won't be caught off guard. I'd like to hear from other ferret owners who have faced some type of disaster with their ferret(s). Let me know what you did and how you feel it could have been improved. You may contact me at Ferret Haven, P.O. Box 442, Port Neches, TX 77651.


FFRS SHELTER FEATURE FERRETS

Ms. WEASEL NEEDS A SPONSOR

Weasel - a light sable female, about 4.5 years old. Teenage owner went off to college. Parents felt they couldn't give enough time to Weasel to make her life happy. So now she has lost her home and come to the shelter. She has Marshall Farms tattoos. She has had adrenal surgery, but is showing signs of other health problems. Ms. Weasel needs a sponsor!

READY TO ADOPT: DEVADANDER

Devadander - a red-eyed-white male, about 3 years old. Surrendered because his owner was moving in with others who didn't like the ferret. Dev has no visible tattoos or other markings and was a whole male when surrendered. He's since been neutered and is in good health. He was a biter initially because he'd never been trained not to bite hard when playing with humans. He learned very quickly and stopped biting. He's very active and does an extraordinary performance of the weasel wardance! Dev is available for adoption, though is unsure of other ferrets so may not socialize well at first.

SHELTER WISH LIST

The shelter also needs donations of the following supplies: paper towels, bleach, litter, hairball medication, vaccines, food (Iams kitten or Totally Ferret), and other medications. You can also help by sponsoring or fostering a needy ferret. Donations can be made directly to the FFRS vet account at the Bowen Rd. Animal Clinic. Check out the new web site for the Ferrets First Rescue and Shelter at http://www.flash.net/~ffrs

Please help if you can. If you wish to make a donation, become a sponsor, or request an adoption application packet, please contact shelter director Patricia Curtis at metro (817) 596-0558. Or at ffrs@flash.net