Elijah, the 8 Year Old Ferret
I was going to update more about our honeymoon today, but something happened today that tore me appart.
Erin and I have a ferret who is 8 years old. This is very old in ferret years. He was given to me as a rescue by a student who had to get rid of him four years ago. We have had him ever since then.
At the start of the summer, I took him to the vet where he was diagnosed with a form of cancer called insulinoma. Rather than do surgery, the vet opted for medication and comfort as there was little to no reason to subject such an old ferret to surgery.
We left him with my parents while we went on our honeymoon. He’d been declining and I didn’t expect him to make it through the summer.
When we got back, we picked him up the next day. My mom said he didn’t look good. He couldn’t use his back legs, he was covered in his own filth because he couldn’t get to the litterbox anymore, and he was developing sores all over his lower body.
I called the exotic vet first thing this morning and by nine am, I was in their office waiting to go back. He was just laying in my hands, so completely tired.
When they called me back, I saw it in the vet tech’s eyes. When the vet saw him, I knew. She gently lifted him out of the carrier and felt his abdomen: the cancer has spread to his spleen.
It was time to say goodbye.
I went out to the car and called Erin at work. She answered. I think she knew when I called her. I could hear it in her voice when she said hello.
“It’s time, baby.” I choked through a tight throat and tears. “I need you to come to the vet. I don’t want to do this alone.”
She dropped everything at work and came.
We held him and pet him and kissed him and told him we loved him and all I wanted to do was apologize over and over and over again for no reason. This was the right choice. He deserved some dignity in his death, and I didn’t want him to start having the end stage seizures that were next in his illness.
I sat there, petting him, and he rested his head in my hand. How do we do this for our pets but call it murder or suicide when we have family in the same condition? How do we give dignity to our pets but not our parents?
I cried. Erin cried. We held each other. I signed the papers, and they took him away. Because of his size, we couldn’t be with him in the end. They told us that they put him in a chamber to relax him and make him go to sleep before they gave him a shot to stop his heart.
It was painless.
She brought him back to us when it was all over, and we cried more. They placed him in a towel and then in a box and we took him to my parents’ house to be buried. Erin dug the grave and I sat in the swing with him and just listened to the windchime hit the same note over and over again like it was ringing out some sort of death toll.
Erin placed him in the grave, covered him, and placed the stone with my mom’s help. It was her way of closure, to do it all herself. I couldn’t.
I came home after lunch. Erin went back to work. I slept for a few hours.
I haven’t been able to focus since.
This is the ferret that changed my mind about ferrets. He’s the reason we will probably always have them in our home. And now he’s gone… And our zoo is short one life. And it sucks.
It really, really sucks.