Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jelani the Mighty (and a bit odd)

When I was a kid, we had this ferret named Blizzard - Blizz for short. She was this absolutely adorable, mischievous, albino ferret who proceeded to curl up in my dad's fleece coat when he picked her up, and she was ours. Several years later, she escaped from the family room while her cage was being cleaned, and well, a dog got her. Needless to say, she didn't make it. But the love for ferrets never left me.

So as a Junior in High School, what did I want for my birthday? A ferret. What did I get? Well, he looked like a ferret, smelled like a ferret - at first - but he certainly rarely ACTED like a ferret.

I was looking for a specific color ferret - that really nice Dark Chocolate Masked variety. Preferably female. And with lots of spunk. But I went to the store, and found this little teeny ferret and was in love. I dragged mom out to the store and said "this is the one." A cinnamon sable, male, runt of a ferret, who would go on to change my world.

Neither one of them truly enjoys baths...
Here's how life with this little guy went:

Ferrets love baths.
He hated water. I don't think I've been glared at more, than when I said it was bath time and tossed him into a tub.

Ferrets love running around and doing their "war dance"
He slithered just about everywhere, like his legs were broken. Similar to a snake, but covered in fur...

Ferrets dook constantly when they're excited.
He never really made a peep in his life.

And the list just goes on. He took just about every stereotypical ferret behavior you could come up with and threw it out the window. He acted as tough as he could though, and - after much research into where ferrets probably originated - I named him Jelani which is Swahili for "mighty."

Jelani was my baby boy - my baby Je. But now my baby is gone.

He was never a healthy ferret. Even when he was little. Some nights he would just start vomiting. And if you're unfamiliar with the way ferrets vomit, it's a scary thing to witness, as they truly define the phrase "projectile vomiting." His weight constantly fluctuated for no apparent reason.

But he was never the same after he and I took the long trek to South Carolina.

When I moved to Columbia, I thought I was going to lose him, he lost a lot of weight, his fur started to thin, and he started getting lethargic. He was thought to have a tumor, but eventually, the idea was dismissed, and we continued life as normally as we could.

But he played with Eeva, although, admittedly, a bit roughly. He loved to tumble around with her, and chase her all over. After separating a tumbling pile of squealing fur, Tristan of course always defended the Christmas Kitten, and I always took the side of my mighty warrior. They were the topic of many arguments. And as he seemed to have a good bit of energy, we continued on, with the continued idea that it would be awhile before I had to say goodbye.

And once again he saw life throw me a curve ball, and he took another 10 hour drive with us back to North Eastern Ohio.

Jelani (bottom) and Majivu (top) Chillin' together
He began seriously losing weight, and sleeping more often. So, when a ferret at work stole my heart, I brought home Majivu, with the intent to give Je a companion, as well as make him more active. It was working, for quite some time.

After a couple of months things quickly took a turn for the worst. He lost a lot of weight, extraordinarily quickly. He wouldn't and almost couldn't play for that long, and it was obvious something was wrong. I watched as slowly his weight loss turned from "Senior animals just tend to be bonier as they age" to "his eyes have begun to sink in, and I haven't seen him eat more than a couple of bites in a couple of days..."


Kidney failure was the diagnosis. The prognosis? "...just make him comfortable"

So that I did. I bought - or more like had Dad buy - bottles of Pedialyte, and warmed up baby food chicken, which I fed to him through a syringe. I put wet ferret food slurry in the cage about once a week, and things looked up a tiny bit for him.

But not enough to change anything.

A few weeks later, I came home from a dance, to find a stressed Majivu pacing the front ramp of his cage, and every once in a while, frantically trying to warm up his best friend. I've never seen a ferret more worried in my life. I watched Je's body for the sudden heave of his abdomen - ferrets will commonly look like they are not breathing when they are asleep, and then will suddenly have a deep intake of breathe before breathing normally for a few minutes, it's almost like they forget how to breathe temporarily - but it never came. I shifted the hammock he had himself curled up in, and the whole body shifted awkwardly, the ears never twitched, his head never popped up dazed and confused, and I realized suddenly that I had lost my beautiful baby Je. We proceeded to move, placing him in a box, digging a whole in our backyard near where my beautiful Batik rests, and buried my handsome warrior.

But that's not how I will remember him. I won't remember his lifeless body, curled into a ball against the wall of a hammock at midnight. I will not remember him as a box in a hole in the ground in the ivy of our backyard. No. Surely, that will not be the case.

Adventure time outside
I will remember my Mighty Warrior scuffling around the living room of my old 2 bedroom apartment. Slithering his way through the grass of our big backyard. Bouncing around Azael, confused, because the spiky ball didn't want to play with him too. Stuck in his big blue ball, unable to properly move around in it, and walk anywhere, so he just sat there, looking at you pleadingly to let him out. I'll remember how the vet swung him like the pendulum on a big grandfather clock, to calm him down so they could check him out. The way he used to hop around silently, afraid of the paper towels being shaken in his face, proceeding to attack every roll of paper towels he came into contact with. I will look back and remember the dozens of squeaky mice I've had to buy from the cat toy sections of pet stores because they were his favorite, and he always tore them open, ripped out the squeaker and bit down hard enough to prevent it from squeaking - of course proceeding to get bored of the mouse, and walking, or slithering around continuously sighing in boredom, until I was guilt tripped into buying yet another mouse.

I will remember the night before he died, when he actually chose to cuddle me, before choosing to play with Majivu. Sleeping in my lap, and on my shoulder, while I cleaned his cage, and played tug with Maji.

I will forever remember the joy this little boy brought to my life. And know that he was there for me, during all of the high school heartbreaks, deaths of other family members and pets, through my successful graduation from high school, and my failures as an academically inclined college freshmen, though the pains of moving away from home and starting a life far from anything you've ever known. He supported me, whole heartedly, through fights with a fiancee, the stress of moving once again, the heartbreak of being dumped, and the feeling of defeat as I packed up a truck to move back home.

I'm just glad he was able to see me happy again. That he left us, knowing that he took fantastic care of me. There are many times where I believe he did more taking care of me, than I did of him. I gave him what he needed, sure, but he gave me so much more. And for that I am so grateful, and so glad he was a part of my life.

 I will forever miss the little stinker, but he was my baby, and I'm simply glad my baby feels better.

Glad he can finally be at peace.
My baby, the day we brought him home. 

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