New Friends

by Kingswinford Codger

Little Jilly seemed very lonely after the great loss of Hugo, her soul mate, so it was off to Wolverhampton Ferret Rescue to see if Michelle could find her a friend. I didn't hold out much hope as Jilly tended to be very hostile towards other ferrets.

There were a couple of possibilities; an albino male or two other little girls that had been taken in from someone who, having had an addition to her family, was no longer able to cope. One was a sandy jill called Minnie and the other a polecat named Dolly; they had lived together for some time so parting them was out of the question. Minnie was thought to be at least six and Dolly three.

I thought 'No way will Jilly accept these two,' but it was worth a try. The trio were introduced on the shed floor with many hands at the ready to part them if any fur flying got too bad! To our amazement all went well and they seemed to get on right away; a further long spell in the playpen produced no spare fur or blood so that was that: Jilly was no longer lonely.

During their time on the shed floor it was thought that little Minnie may have a heart problem as she would stop and have a pant or two before moving on, but she was getting on in years.

After a settling-in period it was obvious that Dolly was nowhere near three years old, more like six at least. They both seemed to go downhill, Minnie was hardly eating and Dolly wasn't faring much better but we decided that if things continued along these lines we would give them a chance, but if they deteriorated then we would have them put to sleep as we were not prepared to see their quality of life suffer.

For the next few weeks all went fairly well with Minnie and Dolly. There were no great changes to their eating habits but they seemed reasonably happy, spending most of their days asleep in a sheepskin shoe, sometimes joined by Jilly. However, a few days later on Minnie seemed to stop eating with Dolly no better. Then I noticed Minnie go to her litter tray and do a poo; shock, horror, most of it was pure blood and not just a smear but quite a worrying amount, so we thought, 'That's it: this is her'. However the next morning on entering the shed I was surprised to see her up and about, I'd fully expected her to have passed on to ferret heaven but she was quite lively so we postponed the final decision, but she was very thin. I tried all sorts to get her to eat: ham, luncheon meat, beef, mince beef, cat and dog food but all to no avail.

The next day at lunchtime I went to let her and her companions out for a run round the shed whilst munching a tuna cob. I offered her a bit of tuna and wow, that was it, she ate most of my tuna lunch! I know she will not be with us for much longer but at least she's happy.

Dolly on the other hand continued to deteriorate so an appointment was made with the vets for the following day, but the dear little lady beat us to it and passed away in her sleep that night with Minnie by her side.

To date Minnie is still doing well and putting on some weight so we're keeping our fingers crossed.

(First published in NFWS News #89 January 2011)