Last night, we lost a very special little friend. Potion the ferret has been one of our furry companions since my undergrad years. I fell in love with her at a pet shop one day and couldn’t resist. I had been researching ferrets already and was hoping to give one a home. This particular ferret came from a breeder in Canada and was the only one at the independent pet store. She was so tiny then… And boy, was she a handful. For such a little thing, she could sure bite. She drew blood on more than one occasion, and it was only through the patient but stern training of my husband (who was still my boyfriend at that time) that she learned to trust us and have fun without chomping down. After that, she was one of the most gentle little souls in our home. She played with the cats, loved to explore inside the couch, and was always happy to lick our ears after a shower. Later in life, she would show that same gentleness with our baby. When she was younger, she regularly performed her “ferret war dance” with many a cluck. Because ferrets are social animals, we brought home a friend for her – Puck. They were the best of friends, although they also got into little spats. It was a riot to watch them bounce around together…
When Puck passed away in the summer of 2012, it seemed like a little bit of Potion’s spark went with her. Her friend was gone and she had less to do when we were away in the day. We continued to take her out as often as possible and she still seemed in pretty good health. She loved to chase and be chased by our little cat Samus. When she got tired, she’d find a quiet place to hide and fall asleep. This was always rather annoying because it happened before I needed to put her in her cage for the night. It was a ritual that inevitably belated our bedtime. We used to have to coax her out by shaking a container of treats or gently kicking at the couch. Sometimes she’d nip me through the fabric which always made my husband laugh. She was gentle but could be a little spitfire too!
After I had my baby girl, we weren’t able to spend as much time with Potion. We still took her out every night, but because we moved into a bigger house and had to attend to the baby, we kept her in our bedroom. After a little while, I noticed that she was less active and seemed to be out of character. She didn’t bounce and cluck like she used to. She was losing fur and showing all the signs of the diseases that plague ferrets, especially the elderly. It was everything Puck had experienced, but at a very rapid and sudden pace. She continued to hide and fall asleep every night. Some days it was hard to find her again. I always feared I’d stumble upon her already dead. I made a special point to tell her I loved her and gave her extra cuddles before bed just in case. Puck’s death was a surprise and I’ve always felt bad that I wasn’t able to say goodbye…
A few nights ago, I noticed Potion was really out of sorts. She didn’t seem to be eating or drinking as much. Her stool was different. She hardly wanted to move. I cuddled her close and stroked her head, looking into those little beady eyes that always shimmered with so much love. I felt awful for not being able to do more for her. Between all of our debt and medical bills, we just didn’t have the money to take her to the vet for tests that would only tell us what we already knew. We opted to offer her the best comfort we could until the quickly approaching end. We modified her cage so she didn’t have to climb to reach anything. I carried her with me to the sink and gave her water right out of my hand. We gave her soft treats which she still showed a great love for.
Last night I cuddled her close and whispered my love to her. I noticed a couple of her nails looked long so I trimmed them to try and keep her comfortable. I helped her into her hammock , stroked her little head, and said goodnight.
This morning I found her cold and still. I pray she didn’t suffer long and I hope she knew how loved she was. I hope she knew how much joy she brought to us even though the end was hard and she did not get as much of our attention after the baby. Because it was anticipated, I don’t feel as shaken as I did when Puck passed away. I had time to really come to terms with it. I also firmly believe that Puck was waiting for her. A few nights ago, she did something she’s never done – something that was Puck’s specialty: she stole something rubbery- my husband’s nice earbuds. I was struck by how odd it was for her. It’s like she was playing with Puck. And last night, before going to bed, I picked up my baby and randomly started to sing “Reunited” by Peaches. I feel like Puck was here, waiting to be reunited with her old friend. And indeed, when the ground thaws, I will put Potion next to puck in the moon garden.
In case you’re wondering, no – I’m not planning to bring any more ferrets into my home. Not now, anyway. They are adorable and clever, it’s true. They make me laugh and have so many good qualities. They really do make great pets, however they really need a lot of attention and care – something I just can’t do with a baby. So if you’re interested in caring for ferrets, please know that they need a lot of work. Think about your current lifestyle as well as what you aspire for. Think about whether or not you’ll have room in your budget for the end of life care they often need. I didn’t think about that in college but I did the best I could …
As we enter the second day of the 12 Days of Yule and I place mementos of her around my Ancestral altar, I’m reminded of how precious life is. No matter what you celebrate, take some time to show everyone in your life, including your smallest family members and friends, that you love them. You never know when they will be called to the Otherworld.
9 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Potion”
Awwwww. I could tell reading through this how much you loved her. How sad. I can’t believe the tears I have reading your compassion for her.
Thank you for your kind words.
So sorry to hear about your adorable critter 😦
Your last paragraph rings true, though… we never realize how precious life is until it’s lost.
Thank you. And yes… too true.
As one ferret lover to another, and I certainly feel for you.
Thank you. 🙂
Every animal has a unique personality, what a great experience to have such an animal.
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