Thursday, March 4, 2010

Clair's Story

Well, here I am finally with some information about Clair and how she managed to end up in our household.

Here’s the story:

Awhile back, my daughter asked me if I’d ever consider getting another ferret so that Bailey could have a constant companion in and out of his cage. I mean there’s Nacho the cat, of course, but Nacho takes off when she’s had enough of ferreting around. And she doesn’t care to cozy up with Bailey in his cage. Anyhow, at the time I answered no to my daughter, but the truth in the matter is that I’d been secretly contemplating for the longest time getting a second ferret because ferrets, although certainly able to live alone, are so much happier in pairs, even groups. And let’s face it, no matter how much time we spent with Bailey, how hard he played with his toys or how much he adored Nacho our cat, he still looked...well...lonely. Especially when he was in his cage.

Now, once I started to seriously consider an additional fuzzy, the easiest way to handle it would have been to visit the pet shop where we got Bailey from and just get another fuzzy. But my daughter and I didn’t want a very young ferret; we wanted an older one that was past the baby stage with all its baby-laden habits. At the very least, an older ferret would be somewhat, if not completely, litter-trained. I mean, who the heck wants to go through the diaper stage again, right? Ferretatively speaking, of course.


So the preferred age of the ferret wasn’t a problem; we both agreed on an older one, no less than five to six months old and, of course, reasonably priced. The problem was trying to find one. It’s not like searching for a cat or dog, animals that are everywhere. And it’s not like we live in a big city where our chances of locating a fuzzy that fit this criteria would be greater. And it’s not like there’s a ferret shelter nearby that we can rescue a fuzzy from. Basically, the decision to add another ferret to our household had been made, but I didn’t have very high hopes of this happening any time soon.


I don’t know what possessed me to do this, but on the morning of February 18, I typed “ferrets Kingston, Ontario” into google and pressed send. I didn’t imagine anything interesting would appear; I was merely fooling around. If anything, I expected some pet shop to pop up with advertising about the ferrets they offered in their store, or someone selling a ferret cage or ferret accessories or a ferret cage and a ferret or two. But I was not expecting to hit the jackpot, which was a single, older ferret and nothing else. No cage, no long list of additional ferrety items, nada. Just one little ferret that was not too young and didn’t come with a ton of other accessories that cost a small fortune.

So imagine my surprise when Google presented me with a link to an advertisement for Clair on Kijiji, a free classifieds website. The story goes that her primary caretaker was a teenage girl who had other priorities and didn’t have time for her any more, which is very sad. Because of that, the mother of this girl ended up having to care for Clair, which wouldn’t have been all that bad if the household that Clair lived in didn’t include kids, a cat, a dog, pet rats and some fish. This is what I gathered from a quick stop off at Clair’s old home to pick her up; for all I know there may have been even more two and four-legged critters.


When I saw a photo of Clair in the ad, I fell instantly in love with her; she was adorable. In addition to the picture, there was a lengthy ad that - along with some interesting and useful information about her and her care needs - included the statement “MUST GO BY FRIDAY” (the next day). That particular statement was like a neon sign on my screen.


Because, dear readers, seeing that it was Thursday morning, the day before Clair “MUST GO”, the first thing that came to mind was “why must she go by Friday”, and if a new home is not found and she can’t go by Friday what happens then? To Clair?


I fired off an email to whoever was trying to find a new home for Clair, asked how old the little fuzzy was and why a new home was needed for her. I got a reply almost two hours later that it was believed that Clair was about year old and that a new home was being sought because the ‘daughter’ who was the main caregiver had ‘decided on other priorities’. Basically, from my understanding, everyone was too busy for Clair. And this, dear readers, is why I’ve created ferrety Friday; so that anyone who is contemplating, or has ever contemplated, getting a ferret as a pet understands clearly what’s involved. Sure they look cute at the pet shop, but they have unique needs that many people think they’ll be able to handle only to find out that they can’t. Or don’t want to. Or they start off doing it only to realize somewhere along the way that they no longer feel like it; it’s just too much trouble. Worse than that, they never had any idea what’s involved and when they do find out, they don’t like it. And who ends up paying the price? The poor little fuzzies that end up in another home, which, if they’re lucky, is a happy one, and if they’re not, well, I don’t even want to think about it. Or they end up in a shelter. Or in the garage, cage and all, forgotten and neglected. Or, worse case scenario, released into the great outdoors where they don’t have the skills to survive and are sure to perish.


But not Clair. Clair ended up being one of the lucky ones because my husband drove me and my daughter down the next evening to pick her up and bring her home with us. Yes, the owner of the ad, who turned out to be the mother of the teenage girl that now had other priorities, was trying to relocate this sweet little ferret into a new home because she was much too busy with her job, her kids and an assortment of other pets, and she was tired of being saddled by the care of her daughter’s pet. I did inquire at some point about why Clair MUST GO BY FRIDAY and was told that they (the family) were going on vacation (I believe it was that weekend). What I didn’t ask, which I’m assuming is because I really didn’t want to know, was what the plan was for Clair if a new home hadn’t been found before said vacation. Some questions are better left unasked because some answers are better left unheard.

Moving along.

The first thing I noticed about Clair was how tiny she was. I’d always thought of Bailey as a small pet, but after Clair, he suddenly seemed enormous. She was literally half his size, if not even smaller. And she seemed much too thin, regardless of how petite her frame is. It seemed abnormal to me that her bones stuck out the way they did, or that you could trace your fingers along each bone on her back and on her rib cage, or that the bones around her shoulders poked out whenever she bent over to eat.

Another thing I noticed within an hour of picking her up was that her stool was watery and reddish (I assumed at the time it was blood although I’m not entirely sure now). I sent an email to the woman who we got Clair from and asked her if she was aware of this, and if Clair has (or has had) any health problems. The answer was no to both inquiries. Hmmm... [As much as I’m tempted to, I won’t comment any further about this (I’ve no doubt that some of you have an opinion about this), although I will add that I’m fairly confident that the watery stool did not just happen on our clock, especially since Clair had only been with us for about an hour when we noticed this. I think you know what I’m getting at.]

In any case, according to the previous owner, Clair was being fed a high protein kitten food at the time that we got her, but it wasn’t always consistent. From my understanding, what she was being fed was (often? once in awhile?) changed. This is a no-no for animals because sudden changes in their diet can upset their digestive systems causing diarrhea and vomiting, in many cases. Well, since it seemed that Clair hadn’t been on a steady diet and one more change wouldn’t make much of a difference, I decided to immediately introduce her to Bailey’s ferret food, which I am extremely satisfied with. Thankfully, she took to it right away. And it must have done her a world of good because within two days all her bowel movements were normal and healthy-looking. So yay to that. And yay to the end of this topic. I mean, who feels like reading about an animal’s bowel movements?


Finally, for the first few days, Clair trembled like a leaf whenever we picked her up or held her, which struck me as a little unusual since we’d never experienced that problem with Bailey, even when we first brought him home. And she’d hold on for dear life when we carried her in our arms, almost as if she feared being dropped. Whatever the reasons, these issues cleared up quickly, and her trust in us grew.

Now, I don’t want to end this post by speculating about Clair’s prior life because that would be a waste of time; ultimately, the entire truth behind an adopted pet’s previous living conditions can never be known. A previous pet owner will not confide all the details, good and bad, of their pet’s experiences, which may or may not jeopardize the finding of a new home. The way I’d like to end this post is by telling you all that Clair is doing wonderfully. She has put on a little weight, she has bonded with Bailey and Nacho, and she’s learned to trust us completely. She no longer hangs on for dear life when we hold her, and she runs over to our feet to be scooped up for a bout of affection. She’s as gentle as Bailey and just as sweet. I’m very happy that she is part of our lives as I’m sure Bailey is too.

Now, let’s get a comment from both the fuzzies.


Oh Bailey, of all the things...


We love you too, Clair.


  1. Martha that was perfect ! I also wonder what on earth would have happened to her if it wasn't for your kind heart .. but we move forward and try not to think of that right ? Clair is so happy being a member of your tribe .. that is what counts and soon she may be just as big if not bigger than Bailey ? LOL
    The three little furry souls are just so gorgeous healthy and happy .. you couldn't ask for more : )
    Great biography of Claire : )
    PS .. remember some of those Casa Blanca lilies are for you too .. 18 to a pack is way too many for me to handle girl !! LOL

  2. Whoa, what a tale. I'm very happy she's found a home where she's well cared for and no longer has to tremble at human touch. It seems like a case of benign neglect, sadly many pets needs are simply not met and while they're not quite abused, they're not thriving either.

    I am thrilled at the luck in her life that brought her to your home. I do have a different take on pet food though. I often read the same things about cats - that abrupt changes in diet can upset them, they can be picky, etc. But I always feed them a variety of food anyhow, because it makes it easier on me if I run out, and it also prevents them from relying on just one brand nutritionally. If one brand is slightly deficient in a nutrient then over time kitty may become deficient in it as well. So I feed them all a variety of wet brands and one stable dry food and so far they seem to appreciate it and get a bit bored if fed one brand for too long.

    Now I know kitties are not ferret, I just wanted to share something that works for us that runs contrary to popular wisdom. Glad your critters and happy together!

  3. Awww...what a wonderful story, Martha! It is clear that Clair was meant to be with you---that wasn't just a coincidence. I'm so glad to hear that she's already fattening up and becoming healthier. What a lucky little ferret she is---to have at last found a home where she is loved and taken care of and where she has a best buddy ferret friend to cuddle with. They make a very cute couple. :-)

  4. Hi Joy, it took some time to get all this written down, but it’s finally done. Clair has her own story, one that I’ll never know the full details of since she can’t speak, but this is as much as I can add about her. I can’t tell you how sweet and gentle she is; I’m so glad we got her. And all the members of the tribe love each other. It’s the most amazing thing to see.

    Oh my goodness Joy, you don’t need to keep lilies for me! Although I’ll certainly take them if you FORCE them on me…LOL... I can’t wait to have some garden flowers to give to you. Maybe next year? And you know that if I pick up bulbs, there’ll be some in there for you too! It’s so cool to have a friend who enjoys gardening as much as I do.


    Tatiana, you are right about ‘benign’ neglect. Even not having enough time for pets is a type of neglect because it has an impact on them. A pet doesn’t have to be severely abused to deteriorate; just sensing that they’re not really wanted is enough to crush their little spirits. Clair has adjusted to our home so quickly, it’s amazing. And she is becoming more like Bailey every day: laid back and affectionate. She’s adorable and we love her.


    Beth, I agree completely! The way this came about – so quickly, so wonderfully – is a sure sign to me that we were meant to cross paths with this little furball. She’s the cutest little thing and her and Bailey adore one another. I’m also happy to see that she’s putting on some weight. Because she’s a female, she’ll always be smaller than Bailey, but with a little extra meat on her bones, she’ll stop being the frail one and start calling the shots! :~)