Last Monday didn’t go so well for me. I suppose it was worse for Phillipa because suddenly she couldn’t use her back legs very well.
Her rear limbs haven’t been working 100% for months now but even Sunday night she was scampering around, taking chewy treats from my fingers and trotting over to the water dish.
But Monday was a different story.
We were up & buzzing about getting ready for Alistair to hit the road to Bismarck a few days early so he could take care of a challenging fiberglass sliver embedded near a finger joint. While I have lidocaine and needles here the mere thought of blocking his hand with a 22 gauge tip was painful.
It was a bit of a rushed morning and not really planned until his throbbing finger woke him up early so I wasn’t prepared to see Phillipa unable to go more than 3 steps without toppling over.
She also wouldn’t eat any chewy treats.
Not even the raisin ones. (There was always a “reason for raisin!”)
Nor would she lap the sticky, sweet-tasting calorie supplement off my finger but she did sip some water when I laid her in my lap.
She and Luigi spent much of the day cuddling in either their hammock or pirate ship but it looked like it was a challenge for her to navigate the tunnels and tubes of Quebec, their cage. She never vocalized at any time so by the time Alistair was in North Dakota I let her out on carpeted flooring to see if that would help.
And it didn’t look like she was having fun anymore.
Alistair called from outside of Dickenson and he agreed it was Time. And he was so sad and sorry to not be with me to do what needed to be done.
He had left that morning knowing he would never see her cute little body wrapped around Luigi again. He would never feel something at his toes before she would tease him with a little chomp. And he would never get to pretend to be so surprised to “find” her in our hallway closet, her private little place she went almost every single time she was out and was obviously done playing with the boys.
It never ceased to amaze us how she got underneath that door. The boys never could. Just Phillipa. She has the odd kibble she has hoarded along with a little fleece bed as well as our box of newspaper for the wood stove that she has torn up to make a little nest for herself. Its her private place where the big boys have never been able to get to. Not Jacques, Cousteau, Calypso or Luigi.
Phillipa lived through the loss of 3 of her boyfriends over her 7 years as a Fyfe and came through it all with dignity despite some signs of depression. Which is why another ferret would be added. She always seemed to thrive in the company of her boys.
Ferrets are incredibly emotional creatures and they truly do mourn the loss of housemates. Like all species, there are differences but most owners who have bonded with their pets can tell from behaviors and facial expressions how their little ones are feeling.
Which is why I knew what I had to do Monday night, not quite one week ago.
Why I pre-medicated her and then let her cuddle up with Luigi for awhile as the drugs kicked in.
And then I sedated her but I’m pretty sure she didn’t even notice that. She gave in so quickly I felt as if her body was ready for some peace after such a fast-paced life.
And she laid, curled in my lap, blissfully unaware as my tears fell onto her body when I gave her the final injection.
And I kissed her one last time, which was more like 20 last times because you don’t want that kiss to actually be the last one.
A good life deserves a good death and even though I’m crying again I am honored to have been the one to give that to her.
And Luigi is doing very well. He hasn’t stopped eating or wanting to play and I’m giving him a bit more attention when he’s loose in the house. Luigi and Alistair bonded when he was just a kit before he came to Montana and he’s always seemed to be just as or more content with human companionship.
That’s not to say he wasn’t sad when we lost Calypso in March or now with Phillipa. I just think he has Luigi coping mechanisms that allow for a more gentle transition to being an only ferret in the house.
He’s the Italian Stallion who has his Luigi song and he’s going to be fine.
And I’m going to be fine. Not right away but eventually. Even if I start tearing-up thinking about Phillipa in the bright red Octopus.
Or in Papa’s housecoat.
I’m sorry to all of our friends who may feel some sadness, themselves, after having met our little Frenchwoman. The Fyfe Ferrets were terrific ambassadors for their quirky, spitfire of a species and they all have many fans.
But the sadness is great because the love has been great and I’m a richer woman for having had all of these spirits in my world.
And I’ve got my own coping mechanisms which include red wine, hot tubs and crying my eyes out and writing about the pain to let it out so it doesn’t build up inside of me and cuddling up with the dogs who seem a bit more clingy because they know I’m a bit more needy and loving up the kitties and talking with Alistair and scratching the horses. I’ve got my bling and my golf swing, too.
Here’s to losing your shoes when you come to visit us! I am fairly certain Luigi will keep up the tradition.
I can only imagine the hijinx going on across that Rainbow Bridge right now…
(Phillipa’s final bling-video prior to our August launch of La Vie en Rose and Petits Bijoux…. c’est magnifique. xo