My love for ferrets developed in Minnesota. The kids and I went to a shopping center in Bemidji. My daughter and I were in one store and my son was looking over the rest of the shopping center. Soon he came up to us with a big grin on his face. He told us that we had to see something incredible. California and Hawaii are the only two states that donít allow ferrets. For that reason, I had never seen one before. We went to the pet store and I fell in love with the sweet baby ferrets. I wanted badly to bring one home. However, having an assortment of exotic pets, I knew I had to do this properly. We went home and researched the ferret. We bought all the supplies we needed and found a vet who would take care of a ferret.
About a week later, we had our first ferret. A little male, light colored with a darker hood and dash of dark down the top of his body. As he grew up he ended up being almost totally off white in color. It wasnít long before we discovered he was blind. He got along just fine and lived to a ripe old age. He went from room to room with his little white cane. One by one, we ended up with seven ferrets.
Our other animals got along great with the ferrets after an incident or two. My Australian Shepherd puppy was of course curious and would not leave the ferrets alone. They were always closely supervised. The ferrets started to nip the pupís feet. We broke up the situation. The next day was the next introduction. The pup soon learned which end didnít bite. He picked the ferret up by the tail and ran through the house, ferret swinging back and forth. We were in hysterics, we ran after the circus, to rescue the ferret. The ferret was not harmed and that moment on, they had found an admiration for each other, and become close friends.
During our many walks, I learned to respect skunks. I just loved their curiosity and their sweet disposition. Before long, I was in chat groups with people who had domestic skunks as pets. I never knew there were domestic skunks for sale for the pet industry (a not legal in California thing again). For about a year, I learned all I could. Knowing that skunks breed in early spring. I made plans to purchase a skunk.
The kids and I drove to New Sharon, Iowa to buy a baby skunk. The owner brought a carrier of several baby skunks to us to view. It was hilarious each one turned in chorus, rear end toward us, tails up. Of course, they already had their scent glands removed. Thus, they were only shooting blanks. It was a tough decision. I told myself I would come home with just one skunk and I did, at least the first trip to Iowa. Our first skunk was named Squirt. He fit right into the family.
Check out the articles on domestic skunks in my archives. Skunk as a Pet Skunks do rule the house. They follow their nose and end up in all types of situations. He learned to get into the dog food which is not good for skunks except for a bite or two now and then. I kept the dog food in a tall bin and stored it under the staircase.
One day I couldnít find my skunk. Soon I saw the very tip of his black and white tail sticking out of the dog food bag. He walked up the stairs and dropped into the bag. Skunks are smart! They can also learn to open a refrigerator door. They really like to eat. They are sweet, friendly, and very intelligent. Childproof cupboards and a bungeed refrigerator helped.
Because of the messed up Workmen Comp laws in California my injured neck never healed nor would they let me have surgery. The ďcomp nurseĒ would follow me around to doctorsí offices. Every doctor who had previously said I needed surgery reneged after the comp nurse said ďbut they are such tiny disc bulges.Ē A few years later, I could stand the pain no longer and went to a neurosurgeon in Fargo, North Dakota. I had neck surgery. They were not just bulges but badly ruptured discs the same thing with my back. Shortly before that, I had discovered I had breast cancer and had a double radical mastectomy.
A few days after returning from the hospital with a surgical brace on my neck my son passed away. I had always been very close to my kids it was devastating. My parents had purchased a nice travel trailer and had put it next to the house. At the time, my son had turned 15 and enjoyed spending nights in the trailer. We had it completely checked out from top to bottom by the gas company. There had been a heavy melt because of an unusual warming spree. That night the temperatures plummeted. The vent that circulated the air out of the trailer had frozen over. He died in his sleep. The carbon monoxide tester did no good since we could not hear it. I fell on the slick ice destroying my recent surgery. The days ahead were nothing but a blur. The worst thing after his death was telling my daughter that he had died. They had been very close.
After the fall I found out my spinal fusion surgery was a mess. In addition, bones had begun to soften and crystallize. The muscle spasms have caused my spine to turn in a huge curve. Every disc has been destroyed. If only they would have taken care of the problem when the accident occurred and had not played their games, I would not be totally disabled now.
My ex-husband and I had divorced. He had been living in Arizona getting his Harley Davidson mechanics certification when I went through the breast cancer, double radical mastectomy, and chemotherapy. We had tried one more time when he returned from Arizona. He went to rehab but it did no good. After our son was gone Ė the marriage was over, I had nothing left to give, no strength to hold him up any longer. The story of my sonís death
I loved the woods as my daughter did. We were determined to stay there. I developed a flesh eating infection from the reconstructive surgery. I ended up with home nursing for a year. I was also operated on several times as they tried to cut the infection away. Even with heavy-duty antibiotics, they finally said there was no hope. That is when I went back to my country surgeon and asked if there was anything, he could do to save my life. He said yes, as long as I was willing to stay in bed a year with IVís and let the massive wound granulate together. Of course, I was willing He cut me open from side to side and up and down. He left the wound open stuffed with gauze drenched betadine solution. Living back in the woods it was often impossible for the nurses to get back to my house. My daughter was trained to change the dressings and take care of the IVís. The huge wound did eventually granulate together.
This brings me to my next animal. I had a wildlife permit at the time. A friend dropped off a baby wild raccoon (kit) He was maybe two months or so. I reached into the box and heard a deep growl. I decided to take this cautiously. I grabbed some heavy gloves and picked him up. Set in a chair petting him. Little by little he calmed down. When I became convinced, he was not going to take off my hand at the wrist, and he decided I wasnít planning on inviting him for lunch, him as the main course, I took one glove off; the one petting him. Soon I took the second glove off.
Rascal and I were close friends from then on. My home nurses were not thrilled with my raccoon hanging from the IV pole and was worried about germs. I got the infection from the hospital and of course never got sick from the raccoon!
After the raccoon went through prerelease he was ready for the return to the wild. I loved him and wanted to keep him so badly, but he belonged in his natural habitat. He deserved to live free and to have his own family. He did stop by to visit every once in a while.
Yesterday was the 15 year anniversary of my sonís passing. I can think of no better way to give my reverence than to perhaps, as a result of this article, planting a seed that brings one more person closer to nature and all her magnificence. Part one
Healers of the Wild: Rehabilitating Injured and Orphaned Wildlife
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