Leif Erikson, my little viking in the sky. Sept 29, 2012 2:27:31 GMT -5
Post by fisticuffs on Sept 29, 2012 2:27:31 GMT -5
When I was 16, I decided that I would move away from the small island I grew up on and get a ferret and name him Leif Erikson, after the song by Interpol. When I was 19, living in my own small 2 bedroom apartment in Oregon, I brought him home. He was so tiny and afraid of the linoleum in my dining room/kitchen. I was so scared I would hurt him or lose him. Having grown up with dogs, I used the crate-training method. Eventually, he never went into his cage anymore and I got rid of it by the time he was 6 mos. old. He NEVER missed the litterbox. I don't have much experience, but apparently from what I've read this isn't common.
We spent the majority of the next 5 years inseperable. He knew what time I got home from work and would be at the door, waiting for me when I walked in. He went *everywhere* with me. In stores, he stayed in my messenger bag, occasionally peeking out surreptitiously. In the car, he sat proudly in the passenger seat, or climbed on my lap and slept. He slept in my bed, curled between my feet when I was home. When I wasn't, a hammock in my closet served was his napping place of choice. I have nightmares and would wake up crying. On these nights, more common than not, he would lay on my chest, his head on my shoulder against my neck and lick my skin (probably because of the salt in my tears).
Leif got sick in May. I took him immediately to a well-known ferret specialist. He had IBD, but the prognosis was good. Two months later, after 3 14-day rounds of 6 medications twice daily, he was at only 17 oz. His weight was wildly unpredictable in the weeks before this, resulting in overnight stays at the vet. I cut a corner of my favorite blanket, a green microfiber throw, and made sure they put it with him, along with his best friend, a beanie baby pig, that he carried with him *everywhere*. I worried about him injuring himself going up and down the stairs in my house, so, for the first time since he was just 4 months old, he was caged. We bought a beautiful rabbit hutch and modified it so that he wouldn't injure himself or have to travel far. He didn't seem to notice, thankfully, because he was sleeping so often. I had asked at each appt. if he was suffering. At this one, Dr. Burgess said he probably was. He had gained weight and was at 23 oz. 5 days prior. I didn't understand, but I knew what I had to do. That was the easiest decision I've ever made, but the hardest to live with. Towards the end, when my partners asked if I would get another ferret, I swore I wouldn't. Weeks later, the sight of the modified rabbit hutch made me unbearably sad. I thought about Leif a lot and how we were meant for one another. He helped me through the hardest parts of my PTSD treatment. Even when I wanted to give up I couldn't because he depended on me and me alone. I have no family - he was all I had. I realized at some point that if I had been stubbornly grieving the loss of another pet, I never would have had Leif.
Rather impulsively in comparison to the years of planning before getting Leifers, I woke up one morning when neither of my partners were home and decided I wanted another fuzzy. I brought Piran home 2 hours later. He's helped me remember the good times with Leif - the playfulness, the cuddling, the insatiable curiosity and sharp emotional intelligence that make ferrets such wonderful companions.
I had Leif cremated. Part of him is in an urn, next to his pig, wrapped in the green corner of blanket. The rest of him is in an antique wheelbarrow in my garden, where I built a "fairy garden" (portable so I can move it under the porch in the winter), complete with a stone ferret statue with angel wings.
I miss you, Leifmonster. I think about you every day.