One of the ferrets in my shelter was named Sonic Boom. He was named that because he ran around so fast, I almost heard a sonic boom every time he went past. He was a happy, happy, happy ferret.
A dark sable, he had that typical dark nose. He also had huge, deep dark eyes that glittered with mischief. He always looked like he was laughing. He came to the shelter through our local Animal Rescue League. Someone had dropped him and two other ferrets off there with no information at all. No names, ages, reason for surrender, nothing.
The ARL asked if I would take these ferrets, since they're not really set up to handle ferrets. I said yes, and when I saw them I was amazed at how gorgeous they were! Usually the ferrets you see turned into local Humane agencies are thin, bedraggled-looking little things. They've been living in a bad environment, been fed seriously unsuitable food, not had enough play time or attention, and looked it. These three ferrets were gorgeous! Fat, fluffy, soft, well-fed and very interested in people. It was a mystery what they were doing there!
I took them back to my shelter, gave them suitably kooky names (Keep Your Ion Me, Sonic Boom, and Domino Effect) and put them up for adoption. Domino was adopted out first. A friend had just her albino, and Domino was a fantastic specimen of an albino; she fell in love immediately. The others hung out at the shelter for a little while--there were many excellent ferrets at the shelter, and people were looking for chocolate females at that time.
After a couple months, a woman called and asked if I'd taken in three ferrets from the ARL--an albino, a sable and a chocolate. She mentioned that they were large. I only got three ferrets together that one time, so I told her I thought I had. She started crying and sobbing and said, "Just tell me they got good homes!"
I told her I still had two of them and asked what the heck was going on. She explained that she had recently broken up with her boyfriend, and while she was moving out, he stole the ferrets. He took them somewhere and wouldn't tell her what he did with them. I told her we still had the sable and chocolate, but the albino had been adopted. She assured me that she had NO plans to get rid of them, that she loved them, and the surrender was completely unauthorized.
So, long story short(er), I ended up giving them back to her. She paid the adoption donation (I'd fed and housed them for 2 months while she tracked them down, vaccinated them, and ADV tested them) and she took them away.
Two months later, she called and asked if she could surrender them. She said that it just wasn't working out. Sonic had fallen and injured himself. She said took him to the vet, and they x-rayed him. She said they told her there were no broken bones, and they didn't know why he couldn't use his back legs.
When she brought them to me, I was appalled at their condition. Sonic was thin, sick-looking, and sad. Ion was thinner, but in decent shape. She kept looking away from me, and I got the feeling there was something more going on that she wasn't saying. The new boyfriend said that they just couldn't take care of them with Sonic's problem. He pooped and peed anywhere he happened to be. They kept them locked in the bathroom, and even in there the urine had soaked through the linoleum.
Huh? Soaked through the linoleum? But ... The boyfriend looked me in the eye and firmly assured me it had most definitely soaked all the way through the linoleum.
I just grabbed the ferrets and shooed them out. My vet x-rayed him and said he had a broken back, and showed me where it was obviously broken. At that point I was pretty sure they'd been lying about taking him to a vet, as even *I* could see the break.
Okay, fine, I deal with this kind of thing all the time. People lie. Oh well. Sonic was in bad condition, but I figured he should feel better with some good care. I gave him prednisone and my special duck soup that I call yumyums. Sonic loved yumyums. He'd practically jump up in the air (just on the front half) when he smelled it.
Gradually, he seemed to heal. He was no longer in pain, and was back to his happy-go-lucky self. He gained weight, learned how to run on only two legs, and even gained a little movement in his back legs. He was back to grinning at me and being happy.
Ion was adopted, but no one wanted a ferret they had to squeeze to make pee, and who pooped whenever it was time. He had no bladder or bowel control, and that meant he'd leave long trails of poo as he ran across the floor. It also meant that his cage needed to have the bedding changed 2-3 times a day. He needed washed off once or twice a day, too.
I didn't mind. I took him everywhere I went -- to ferret shows, on vacations, everywhere. No one else could manage to express his bladder, and if he didn't pee, he would die quickly. As a result, I guess I bonded pretty closely with him. He was such a great little ferret. He was always pleasant, never bit, loved chasing and being chased, and tried his darndest to climb, despite his handicap.
And strangely, he started to succeed in climbing! His back legs started to gain strength, and I started to find him on top of the cages! He'd climb a set of cages 3 or 4 cages high! It was amazing. His front legs were buff. He could pull himself anywhere he wanted to be. His new favorite game now was running full speed away from me, stopping suddenly and letting his back end swing around, making him face me again! I swear he was grinning from ear to ear! We would find him up on the couch, on cages, on chairs ... he tried and tried and tried until he found a way to do it.
Then, a couple days before Thanksgiving, he began dragging his legs. It seemed like he had re-injured his back, and no longer had any feeling or control of his legs. That made me sad, and I wondered if I should have tried harder to keep him from climbing, but I tried not to blame myself. I told myself that I'd allowed him to be a ferret, and that was all a ferret ever wanted to be; Sonic was a very special ferret.
Thanksgiving morning, I gave him his usual yumyums, but he didn't finish it. That was very unusual, since he gobbled that stuff down like it was going out of style. I thought maybe his back was hurting, so I gave him his pain meds and checked on him later.
When I looked in on him, he didn't look right. I realized he was twitching like he was having small seizures. Throughout the day, it got worse, and by Thanksgiving evening, I realized I had to have him put to sleep. I didn't want to. Oh boy did I not want to. But Friday I was off work and disturbed my shelter vet at home, and he agreed to put him to sleep.
It was hard not to cry. It's a little dangerous driving with your eyes full of tears, and I didn't want his epitath to read, "Killed in car accident." He went peacefully. When we did the necropsy, it turned out he had tumors all through his kidneys. There was no kidney left. They looked like lampwork beads, with white balls stuck all over the outside. It was horrifying to see. His kidneys didn't look like anything earthly, but like some kind of alien organ.
Knowing what happened did manage to salve my guilt a little. I'm still worried that his kidneys got into that condition because I didn't empty his bladder often enough, but at this point, I can't undo (or, in this case, do) anything. I hope he didn't suffer too much. It's hard to lose a treasured pet -- people expect you to be sadder about a distant relative dying than a special friend you've taken care of for years just because they have fur. There were very few people I could really share it with, and those people were crying, too.
Sonic touched the lives of every person living in my house and everyone who came to volunteer. He was only 2-1/2 years old when he died, and that makes it especially difficult. It's hard to understand how a ferret with such a strong spirit could be struck down and die in only a week.
We're all still trying to understand and deal with it. I still shed a tear often, especially when I go down my list of morning and evening medication routines. Always, the first thing I did when I woke up was to take care of Sonic. Caring for him was the first thing I did when I came home in the evening, and the last thing before going to bed. Once in a while I'd miss the after-work time, and that haunts me now, making me wonder if I killed such a wonderful ferret just because I was tired or sick.
Maybe he was here to teach a lesson, and once done, he left. Maybe he was my lesson in taking kidney issues seriously. Maybe he was here to show us that being handicapped didn't have to be the end of fun. It sure wasn't for him. Many people wanted to adopt him, but just couldn't deal with the potty issues. It was a lot of work, but I would have gladly done it as long as he needed me.
Like I always told people, Sonic was the least handicapped paralyzed creature I've ever known. His memory will always be with me. Even though it's painful to have lost him, I wouldn't give up one moment I had with him. It was worth it.
Rest in peace, my Sonic Boom. I love you now, and always will.