April 13, 2004

Little Lost Ferret

Posted at April 13, 2004 12:49 AM in Daily Life .

I finished The Secret Lore of Egypt this evening. I found it interesting. It's obvious that Hornung has a bit of a sense of humor about some of his topic matter and there are little witty barbs here and there in his writing. Also, interestingly enough, he makes it pretty clear that he isn't willing to judge the spiritual or cultural validity of Hermeticism. He even closes with a paragraph saying that it might have some real value in the world since Hermes is a god of reconcilliation and tolerance. All of this from a noted Egyptologist.

I'll probably read my friend Denny Sargent's book on the Holy Guardian Angel next. He gave it to me a month or so ago with the promise, from me, that I'd write a review of it on Amazon.com for him when I was finished with it. I want to do this soon, it's just been sitting on the back burner.

We had quite a scare this evening. The ferret, Thalia, had been out playing for a while (she gets out for an hour or two in the evening when we're home) and I realized that I hadn't seen her in a while after Rebecca pointed out it was quiet...too quiet. She's constantly running around, stealing stuff and putting it in the closet, etc. and she has something like 14 jingle-balls (I'm not kidding, I bought them) that she can't resist carrying between her various hiding places to stash stuff. We looked around and didn't see her. Looked under things, didn't see her. I noticed the cat sitting outside at the back door and thought, "Wait a minute, he was inside ten minutes ago." Somewhere around that time, R walked over and closed a front window in our living room. I said "How did he get out?" or words to that effect and she commented that the window had been open and she'd seen him go out it. This window is above a nine inch or so tall ledge. Thalia has never gone up there and we've watched her try and fail numerous times but as we started looking and looking for her, I had the sinking sensation that she'd gone out it. The outside of the window is a long ledge in front of our bay window. It's about ten feet above the ground over a bush with a two or three foot walkspace covered in bark next to the house. I went outside and looked on the ledge but didn't see her. I looked in the bark and bush and saw no sign of her. No evidence that she'd been there either.

After a quick lookaround, I went inside the house and we continued to tear the place apart looking for her. Eventually, it became pretty clear that she was nowhere to be found. I concluded, given the lack of other options, that she'd followed the cat out the window, either seeing him leave or noticing the strangely open window and somehow getting herself up on it. She would have then have fallen off the ledge. Non-ferret owners don't necessarily know it but ferrets tend to be very nimble and quick but also relatively clumsy. They rush, rush, rush everywhere so they tend to bounce off furniture, miss leaps to objects and generally move like a chaotic storm. The likelyhood of her falling off a strange ledge was pretty high given her spaz tendencies.

The other big issue is that ferrets aren't too bright in the "clever and cunning animal" department. They don't have homing instincts really, don't avoid predators (they attack, in fact) and Thalia has never been outdoors in her life other than being hand carried out once or twice. A ferret's lifespan in the wild, I've read, it about 72 hours. No joke. They don't do well at all. We have a neighborhood full of cats (about 10 in the houses immediately around us) and three dogs on either side. Not good...

It was dark by the time we noticed she was gone in the first place and completely dark by the point that I realized that she must be outside. I grabbed the flashlight and one of her jingle-balls (she generally comes to the noise of the bell when I shake it for her). I walked around the perimeter of the houses, focusing on the bushes by the window ledge and other obvious hiding places. Nothing. I walked the entire backyard (which was pretty far from where she fell). Nothing. I wound up going back and forth and around off and on for an hour. R came out and looked quite a bit as well and continued to tear the house apart.

After about an hour and a half, we gave up. She'd been gone for a while, there was no chance she was inside and we couldn't find her outside in the dark. In all likelyhood, she'd high-tailed it in a zig-zaggy line in a random direction, somewhat freaked out, and didn't know where she was. I kept the front door open, hoping she might wander in if she was near. After looking outside, a few minutes later, from one of the windows, I remembered that we had a yard light next to the driveway that was fairly bright. I went down to the basement/first floor level to turn it on so we'd have more light out (thinking maybe to attract her or just so I could glance out for her, I dunno). I exited the side door to the carport (the only switch for this light is right there) just to do a last wander through the edge of the yard and over to the main front door (about 20 feet from the carport). I turned on the overheard light in the carport as well. As I wandered past my car and glanced at some bushes to the right (that we'd examined before so I wasn't expecting much), I saw movement out of the corner of my eye...

Out from under the back of my car wanders the little lost ferret. I don't know if she'd been there for a while, been wandering around or even in the neighbors yard. Who knows? When she came out from under the car, she was about three feet behind me. As always, she wandered over to me (I avoided sudden movements) and bumped up against my foot. I swooped her up and jetted into the house, yelling to R that I'd found her.

Our level of joy is hard to describe. She's just a little pet but we raised her from a baby over this last year. She's partially a replacement (in a sense) for our previous ferret who died of cancer in our old house. She's definitely the most loved and playful pet in the house. R and I were feeling quite upset at the prospect of her being out because we both knew what her chances of survival were (none almost) and that no one would ever find her in all likelyhood, unlike a lost dog. She's an untagged micro-weasel in a neighborhood full of cats.

She was all freaked out when I picked her up with her tail all puffed up (a sign of ferret fear or general upset) and she let me hold her a bit. She calmed down after a while and R and I were finally able to relax.

Nice way to spend the evening, eh? I'd given up on finding her when I went outside after turning on the one light. I'd already done my last trip outside before giving up for the night. Luck of the draw for us.

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