Welcome to the blog for the Oregon Ferret Shelter! Ideally, this will be a nice venue for friends of the shelter to get information about what is going on with the shelter. Or maybe just to view some funny gifs.

To get to the Oregon Ferret Shelter's main website, please visit OregonFerretShelter.org

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Just stick your arm into this alligator's mouth...

Had a breakthrough today!

Leeloo decided that she, too, wanted to steal dog kibbles, just like all the other ferrets do. (My Golden Retriever just watches them do it, a sad look on his face. I tell him that he shouldn't have left any behind.) The other ferrets must have told Leeloo that I'll take it back from them if I can get it, dog food being a poor substitute for ferret kibble. So she grabbed a piece and ran for the hills.

I found her sometime later, looking rather distressed. Since she did not know the ways of eating giant dog kibble, she had tried to crunch it all at once, sinking her teeth deeply into a kibble that was way too big for her mouth. She ended up getting it stuck between her teeth, firmly wedged into her upper jaw cavity.

I've had to pull a kibble or two from the teeth of my ferrets, especially D.P., who is fixated upon the joy of Iams Weight Control Large Breed. (BTW: I know it's bad for them. But my dog has these big sloppy floppy chops that can send kibble flying around the room. It's hard to find them all before the release of the wee beasties.)

But now I had to pry off a large piece of Iams from Leeloo's very sharp and well-practiced teeth. YIKES!

After a few tries, during which Leeloo was quite distressed, she quickly figured out that I was trying to help her. She calmed down enough for me to pry it from her teeth and out of her mouth -- and she didn't even try to bite me! This is significant progress.

I think I'll go to bed while I'm riding on the high from this victory.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Many Updates!

I haven't been able to update this very much this month. Lots to do. Here are the highlights:
  • Leeloo's biting -- I spoke to Chris, some other ferret friends, and the vet. They all had a lot of useful information on how to continue my rehabbing, along with a lot of encouragement. The vet, Dr. Emily Stuart, told me not to expect too much too soon from Leeloo -- it could take months for her to stop biting, and even then she might be skittish for the rest of her life. It's hard to tell what kind of effect her background will have. But we'd come a long way together already. I remembered that the first dozen times I saw Leeloo, she wouldn't even approach the bars of her cage; she was so afraid that someone would hit her that she hid when anyone approached. Now she rattles the bars to get her "out time" like an old pro. So maybe things are not so bleak, eh?
  • Easter Hat contest! The Oregon Ferret Shelter had an Easter hat contest, and first place was a tie. Lisa had a lovely feather creation -- a hat complete with Easter bunny and a glamorous boa! My entry, the Beaded Spring Fez, was also well-received (but then, who doesn't like a fez?). Lisa got a wonderful gift of sugar cookies. I got a really loud wind chime, which I HAD planned to take outside to annoy my neighbors, but it has instead become a ferret fixation. Techie, the ferret who loves anything technological, rubbery, or noisy, discovered that it is really fun to swing on the key that dangles below, sending hundreds of decibels' worth of chiming throughout the house. It's good feng shui -- no need for a singing bowl now. If there WERE any bad spirits in my house, they have now departed with great haste. Strangely, my ant problem also went away at the same time. Awesome! Oh, if anyone got pictures of the Easter Hat contest, would you send them to me at jeni(at)aracnet.com? Sadly, I have nothing workable on my camera. I would appreciate it.

I would like to thank Carla Smith for a post she made in March of 1996 called "I Had a Bad Biter Too". It's from the FERRET-SEARCH archives, from the FML Issue 1503. Her post was both informative and uplifting, and I keep it by my computer to help me when I am bleeding and stressed.

Must go -- I think I hear the cage bars rattling! Shoes on, Ferretone in hand, loins girded, GO!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Rehabbing a Biter, Part 3

Well, had a setback yesterday. And we were doing so well.

After a long session of gleefully trashing my house, Leeloo curled up in a bag in my closet. When it was time for her to return to her cage (so I could clean up the carnage), I gently prodded her awake and tried to lift her out. She nipped me.

"Leeloo," I said, "Nobody likes to be woken up. But it's time to go to bed. There will be Ferretone and sleepsacks and MOTHER OF GOD OUCH OUCH OUCH!"

Leeloo had bitten me. Hard. The "bite and hang" kind of bite.

I grabbed her by the scruff, and she released her hold on my flesh. Then I yelled, "NO! NO!" In her face, and I dragged her a little across the ground, like a momma ferret does to discipline her kits. That is, I dragged her until I realized that I was using her to mop up MY OWN BLOOD!

(Aside: Ferrets are highly absorbent, by the way.)

I looked over at my hand, and rivers of blood are oozing their way through my fingers and down to the floor. At this point, Leeloo is hanging totally limp by the scruff, something she has never done -- usually, she at least kicks a foot or gets a very sour look on her face. This time, I think she was as freaked out as me.

Bleeding profusely, I dripped a nice trail along the floor over to her cage. I put her inside and did a damage assessment. Wow! She must have hooked into an artery or something because my hand was covered with way too much blood for the size of the wound. The flesh between the knuckles of my first and second fingers was blowing up into a Brazil-nut-sized lump (not big enough for a walnut, but close). There was severe bruising already starting.

While I was running my hand under some cold water, I started crying. How am I going to be able to take care of this little ferret? How am I supposed to get her to trust humans again? How can I repair the damage done to her by all of those cruel people? How am I supposed to stop myself from going down to the pet store we got her from and punching out all of the employees for what they did to her? I just don't know. I guess I'll just ask Chris at the shelter tomorrow. Maybe she'll have some good advice.