One of my earlier blogs was about opening your heart to animals, and told the story of how Johnny the ferret came into our lives.
Just to refresh: Johnny appeared in our home, about a week after Mooch (a very special lizard) died. We were all very sad, but we had a call from a zoo, asking us if we could find room for one of their ferrets – the smile was about to return to our faces! At first we weren’t sure, but as we are generally unable to turn a deserving animal down, we said yes.
Johnny arrived, happy and bouncy and full of inquisitive mischief. He was playful, he had character, attitude, and a comical side that had us all rolling around laughing within minutes! I am not sure if all ferrets display these traits, but Johnny is one in a million – and doesn’t believe he’s a ferret. Well in those first moments, Johnny had us hooked – not only did he bring the smile back to our faces, he also brought the smile back to our home and our hearts. We owe him a lot!
Since that day, Johnny has become an integral part of daily family life. He is a house ferret (yes he has the run of the house until tea time), a ferret of distinction, and also very popular with the customers of Critterish Allsorts. I cannot stress enough how he brightens up our lives – guaranteed to make us giggle every day.
Over the months since he arrived Johnny has not exactly been trouble free – two particular instances were him succumbing to heat stroke in the Summer, and his decision to eat a full sized pencil eraser... WHOLE!
These events were extremely worrying at the time, as he came close to death on both occasions – it was only thanks to our timely intervention, and the skills of James our vet (Number 1 Vets Rugeley), that Johnny lived through. Even then things were touch and go with him, we had to stay up with him through the night administering food and fluids every hour or so, until he became well enough to do it himself. Expense, but expense that was worth it, no matter what the cost!
These troubles brought Johnny and us EVER closer and we really are quite inseperable a lot of the time. He is as attached to us as we are to him, and we share a true “family bond” with each other.
Sadly there comes a time with all family members, where that bond means that you need to care for family members in old age. Johnny is getting older, and is estimated at about 5 or 6, and his most recent trouble was a cough, and a bit of “weight gain” (or a pot belly). Again he visited James, and sadly he was diagnosed with heart disease – the cough was a combination of his heart working harder and as a result becoming enlarged, and impeding on his lung capacity; the pot belly was the result of a build up of fluid. Luckily it is treatable, with twice daily meds, keeping everything under control; the sad thing though is that this means Johnny only has 12-18 months left.
He is now retired from working with us on our encounters, and we will make his final time with us, the best he has ever had! He has his meds morning and night, and the rest of the time is free to do what he wants – play, relax, cuddle, sleep, eat, “dook” etc etc.
It's important to remember in life that someone else’s good deed to us, should always be paid forward – maybe not to them, but maybe to somebody else. This is also true with animals – its time for us to keep Johnny’s smile there, time for us to reward him for everything he has given, not just to us but also to the thousands of people he has met since he began life at Critterish Manor. As all animals do, he gives of himself selflessly, his love, adoration and devotion are totally unconditional – time for us to be selfless and give to him as he has given to us.
Too many people these days, are too wrapped up in themselves and their lives to give as selflessly as their pet has given. They would take the “easier” option with their pet, to save themselves the trouble of daily care – send it to a rescue or worse still have it put to sleep. There are also many many people out there who see things the way that we do, and help their pets through their twilight years – be it terminal illness, alzheimers type diseases, blindness, deafness etc.
It really is important, when your pet becomes elderly to remember EXACTLY what they have given to you as a family member – its only when you consider them in this way sometimes, that you realise just how much they have seen you through, and just how important they have been in your life.
When your pet reaches old age, give to them as they have given to you, unconditional devotion - nurse them through and be there for them – that is what their years of unconditional devotion have done for you, without you even realising it!
Critterish Allsorts undertake animal assisted therapy sessions, with their critters (who are all family pets), on an individual or group basis in your home, hospital, care home, foster home, or school. Visit their website for more information.
This blog is written by Dale Preece-Kelly from Critterish Allsorts, if you would like to find out more about them check out our previous article 'Meet the Critterish Allsorts'