Je t’aime, Phillipa. Je t’aime.

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Papa and Phillipa a couple of weeks ago

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.

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Last month, bellying up to the bar (she liked the ice cubes).

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.

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Back at the bowl earlier this summer.

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.

It didn’t.

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.

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Phillipa cuddling with Luigi back in June.

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.

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Peeking out from her Phillipa-cave in 2014

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.

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“Peeking boo! Please keep the boys out, Mama!”

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.

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Classic Phillipa.

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.

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Never did figure out how she got on top of the freezer a couple of years ago…

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.

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Luigi, Calypso and Phillipa last year with Papa

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.

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“This thing ate my head!”

Or in Papa’s housecoat.

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They aren’t called ‘pocket pets’ for nothing!

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more housecoat shinanigans

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…

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Post shower a couple of years ago.

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An armful of ferrets… one of the only pics where all 4 are looking at the camera!

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Back in the day when we first brought our big albino boy, Cousteau home. 2013, I believe.

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Just a few weeks ago.

(Phillipa’s final bling-video prior to our August launch of La Vie en Rose and Petits Bijoux…. c’est magnifique. xo

Fun With Ferrets

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Alistair and the Trio-of-Trouble, Luigi, Phillipa and Calypso

As many of you know, we adore ferrets.

It wasn’t a species either of us knew anything about or had yearned for as a child. In fact, I didn’t have any pets growing up so I honestly had no pre-conceived notions of what they were like as family members.

When Alistair’s kids moved in with us in Watford City at the ages of 8 and 10, they had just watched a speaker/entertainer at their school with his pet ferret who did tricks and played around on a leash. The kids were mesmerized.

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Gareth with Koshka the cat and Marshall the ferret (and Alistair, after hockey practice, apparently)

Enter Marshall.

She was a cutie who lived a good, long life and made friends with our cats, our Golden, and our neighbors. She moved with us to Canada where she would join Oscar, Boomer & I as I did my farm chores out on our 30 acre farm.

They really are that smart! She knew how to get in and out through the dryer opening and that was that.

She moved back to ND with us to Hazen where we had to live in town for once.

Sadly, the neighbor brought 2 aggressive stray spaniels home who had something to do with our 6 year old girl disappearing in the snow one morning.

And that was the end of Fyfe Ferrets.

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Bonjour!

Until Jacques moved in.

A few years had passed but we never got rid of the ferret crate, (which Alistair and Gareth designed and built)- that was a good thing when the local fire crew here in Seeley Lake, Montana showed up with a homeless ferret and guinea pig. Their owner had become a ward of the state (who had been living under a false identity, no less… you can imagine it was going to be hard to find family members to take them) so the crew brought them to me.

Not everyone is into ferrets. I get it.

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Jacques: “Bonjour, Large Cat! ” Bebe: “Great. Nice to meet you. Don’t eat my food, okay?”

They are kind of weasely-looking, with long, narrow bodies and pointy noses. A lot of people have had bad experiences with their incredibly sharp teeth and, in general, most of the population hasn’t had any interaction with ferrets.

Ferrets are very personable and friendly. They are curious and playful and maybe a bit mischievous and the rest of the time they are eating or sleeping.

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Jacques, our new black-eyed white, on his first day at home!

I had become a veterinarian since we had had Marshall and I knew that “exotic” pets often did better with one of their own.

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Our new little sable ferret! The pet store said it was a male and, to be honest, I never questioned that. I never looked!

Enter Phillipe!

We thought our 2 boys were super cuddly, never once thinking he might be a she. It didn’t seem to matter, though, because they became fast friends and cuddle buddies.

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Just a few years ago, Phillip(a) and Jacques with Papa!

When running about the house for daily Play Time, Jacques would often disappear (typical for ferrets). One day I found his secret hiding place… in my drawer of sequined, sparkly figure skating costumes from yesteryear!

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Mama? Is that you? I was sleeping!

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Its okay to play in here, right? Je suis in LOVE with this drawer!

Jacques was older, though, and even though we medicated him for his adrenal gland issues for a year, he eventually, sadly succumbed to the disease.

Ferrets are one of the most emotional mammals that exist, rivaling humans in their mourning.

With me working and Alistair gone half of the time, and the cats all old enough to not need to romp around kitten-like anymore, something had to be done for Phillip(a).

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Enter Cousteau! A true albino!

Alistair drove around in a snow storm on his way here and found Cousteau, an enormous albino who the pet store said was just young and sold him as such.

He settled in right away with his new friend- I mean REALLY settled in, which was when I decided to lift tails to see what the deal was.

Sure enough, Phillipe was Phillipa.

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Cousteau and Phillipa… you can just barely see her nose under his monstrous body!

Theirs was a short relationship, though, as not long after I noticed the dental tartar and put that together with his rather calm behavior, Cousteau became ill and I wasn’t able to save our big, older boy.

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Better, fun times with Cousteau & Phillipa

We felt awful for little Phillipa so during the long drive back to Montana again, Alistair showed up with a Cinnamon kit he had found at a PetCo in Great Falls.

Balance was restored and the frivolity resumed!

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Welcome home, Calypso Fyfe!

Phillipa and Calypso have been tight since day 1 and they remain snuggle buddies.

Calypso’s time as a Fyfe hasn’t been without its own share of drama.

He is the reason our guinea pig, Cadbury had 1 eye. (Blog from 2014 called One Eye Watching You details the gruesome events of the day). The whole thing was my fault for leaving the bathroom door to the guinea pigs open. The rest is history.

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Mr Innocent is underneath Phillipa in their Pirate Ship

Karma sucks, though, because a few months after the Guinea Pig Incident (which both girls survived) (and my Exotics medical knowledge skyrocketed), Calypso had a gait abnormality.

Basically, he couldn’t walk or stand well on his own.

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Stunts like climbing up the tall cat tree could be what led to the broken pelvis…

I x-rayed him at the clinic and thought I saw the tiniest of fracture lines in the tiniest of pelvises. (Pelvises were high on my mind that fall after Alistair had busted his up a few months prior).

He never stopped eating & drinking or having control of his elimination and he had feeling in his extremities so I never stopped trying to fix him. Its a vet thing but its also a Mummy thing.

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Twice-daily anti-inflammatories, vitamin supplement and PT including massage and ‘bicycling’ with Calypso

He didn’t give up so why the Hell should I?

He let us bathe him almost daily because he couldn’t really lift up to urinate and ferrets generally like to be clean.

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Just a little Fluff’n’Buff post bath

When he started to get more strength in his back and hindlimbs Alistair fashioned a John Deere cart for him to run around the house in. A quick video for your chuckles….

After about 6 months he was standing, playing and goofing around again! His legion of Facebook fans rejoiced along with us when I would post pictures of him standing on his own.

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Calypso: “Look at me, Phillipa! I can do this on my own!” Phillipa: “Sit down before you hurt yourself again. I’m not losing another boyfriend!”

And whether it was an act of celebration or a subconscious effort to make sure Phillipa was never without a boyfriend again, Alistair went to the new PetCo in Bismarck… repeatedly to check on a cute silver kit he saw there…

(You know where this is going…)

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Enter Luigi! The Italian Stallion!

Luigi joined in and immediately cuddled up with Phillipa and Calypso. Any given day at any given time I will find at least 2 of them snuggled up, and often its all 3 of them.

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Phillipa, Luigi, Calypso and Papa… a real handful!

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The boys… when you’re a ferret, every part of your body doubles as a pillow for your housemates

They are good with the cats and naughty with blind little Loki, darting in and out at her. I swear I can hear them giggling when she barks at the air in front of her.

They are hoarders who steal shoes from houseguests. They are class clowns who love to play the Chase Game. They are inquisitive to a fault- wherever they can fit their face into the body can follow.

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Petite little Phillipa fits under the hall closet… for when she needs to get away from The Boys. Every girl needs a little Moi-Time.

Ferrets aren’t for everyone and they require your time for playing, cleaning, interacting, and making movies together. You should research them if you are considering one as there is a lot to learn.There are also ferret adoption agencies for surrendered ferrets needing forever homes if you don’t want to buy one at a pet store.

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Luigi being inquisitive. A new bucket must be explored!

I will do my best with my fantastic little companions (who really try to commit to their French or Italian accents!) to be a ferret ambassador. They are the only creatures I’ve known who can always, without fail, make me laugh.

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Well, maybe not as much laughter finding Luigi with the sub-woofer’s insides on the outside…

We will share more from the Sing-Song Saddle another time. For now, much love from the Fyfe Farm Ferrets!

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Bonjour! Hope you have a happy summer!

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We’re innocent! Honest!