Meet Audrey!

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Our newest family member, Audrey (formerly known as Alfie).

Well, we did it! My boyfriend Micah and I adopted a new ferret! I had posted two weeks ago about possibly adopting a female albino who shared the same name as our current sable boy (Alfie), but we were unsure of whether or not she would be a good fit for our family. Micah and I went to meet her on December 1st at her owner’s house. Her owner (a friend of Micah’s) wasn’t home, but he gave us the keys to his condo and let us go over and meet her ourselves. When we walked through the door, we were greeted by a handful of animals. There was a bird glaring at us from his cage, a cat sitting on the kitchen table, and a small dog in a kennel in the living room. We made our way upstairs to the room where Alfie’s cage was. The cage was absolutely huge, but appeared to be empty. I spotted a blanket at the bottom of the cage and pointed at it. We both knew she was in there.

As we opened the cage door and gently began pulling up the folds of the blanket, a small pink nose poked out from the bottom of it. Our hearts immediately began to melt, and continued to melt as a tiny white head followed the nose out from underneath the blanket. Alfie began to sniff our hands as we introduced ourselves, and it wasn’t long before she came out completely from underneath her blanket and made a home in our arms. Micah pointed out the two dots on her ear, so I knew she was a Marshall-bred ferret and that she was spayed and descented.

It took us less than a second to fall completely head-over-heels in love with Alfie. She was everything I didn’t expect- she was kind, cuddly, and very sweet! We had been told she could be a bit high-strung and mean, so we were concerned about how she would be with our Alfie, but those concerns were certainly put to rest within minutes of meeting her. She spent some time sniffing our faces and hair and climbing up our jacket sleeves, but all she really wanted to do was play. I could tell she spent all her time in her cage- she was full of energy and ready to run!

I could immediately see this Alfie living a better life in our home- a life where out-of-cage time is the only kind of time, and where her diet and general health would be better taken care of. She had the longest ferret nails I’d ever seen, and we could tell that they were affecting the way she walked. I was horrified to see that her food dish was filled with cat food, and her litter box hadn’t been cleaned in some time, resulting in other corners of her cage being used as a toilet. After a quick flea check (flea-free, thank goodness!), we packed her up and brought her home. Her owner told us we could keep her for a few days before making a final decision about whether or not we wanted to keep her, but we had pretty much already made the decision before we even got home.

When we got her back to our place, we locked our Alfie in the bedroom (where he was fast asleep) and gave our new Alfie some time to explore. Then, after a good nail clipping and a bath, it was time for her to meet our Alfie. They mostly just sniffed one another, but it didn’t take long before our Alfie began to shake. He then became very territorial and began wrestling with her and biting her to assert his dominance. Our new Alfie squealed and hissed, but would often go back for more. It was hard for me to judge whether or not they were fighting or playing, and I did step in and break it up a few times, but am trying hard now to stay out of it. There was no poop or blood, so I am taking that as a good sign and letting it be. We have been keeping our new Alfie in a cage at night and when we are not home, just so that she and Alfie don’t have any unsupervised “playtime.”

Forced family fun with Alfie and Audrey.

It only took Micah and me a few days to get completely sick of all the confusion having two ferrets with the same name caused, so we decided to rename our new Alfie since she didn’t seem very responsive to her name anyway. We renamed her Audrey, and already she seems to be learning her new name. Alfie has taken the transition pretty hard; he didn’t eat for the first few days, but is now eating (as long as Audrey isn’t nearby) and he spent a lot of time hiding in bed. We would try to get him to come out and play with Audrey, but he would just shake and retreat to the bedroom. He seemed sad and left out; almost as if we were replacing him. I made sure to spend plenty of time with just him, but it was very hard for me to see him like that. He has gotten better, but he is still wrestling and biting Audrey almost every time they interact, and she continues to squeal and hiss at him. We have stopped interfering when this happens, thinking Alfie would eventually assert his dominance and be done with it, but it still hasn’t stopped.

I began switching Audrey to a raw diet on December 3rd, giving her a few days to adjust to her new home before changing her diet. At first, she would just pick up pieces of the raw meat in her mouth, carry them off, and leave them somewhere as a surprise for me to find later. I eventually got her to lick the food off of a spoon, and now she eats pieces from both the spoon and the floor. However, I can’t seem to get her to eat from a bowl. I had been feeding her from one of Alfie’s bowls because they are much smaller than the bowl Audrey’s previous owner gave us. However, Micah suggested I try her usual bowl because it’s what she’s used to. Hopeful, I gave that a try, but it still wasn’t successful. She finished up that horrible cat food she’d been eating within the first few days of her living with us, so I ended up buying her some ferret kibble to help her through the switch. Now I am just giving her the raw diet in hopes that she will just get hungry enough and dive into it (which is what Alfie did when I switched him to raw several months ago). It’s now been almost 24 hours since I spoon-fed her raw meat, and she still hasn’t touched her raw food.

It’s been eleven days since we got Audrey, and she has settled right in to our home and our hearts. She and Alfie, however, have not exactly become best buds as we had hoped. At least not yet. I am trying to be patient, but I am getting a little worried. Audrey spent her first night out of the cage last night, and she spent it in bed with me and Micah. Usually that’s where Alfie spends the night, and I was hoping that maybe they would both sleep in bed with us, but instead, he created a nest on the floor out of one of my cardigans and a pair of my leggings and spent the night there. I am at a loss of what else I should try in order to get Alfie to accept Audrey as part of our family.

Do you have any suggestions about what I should try next in order to bring harmony to my family? Any suggestions on how I might get Audrey to eat her raw diet on her own?

Happy Ferrenting!

-Melinda

Double the Alfies, Double the Fun…Right?

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Last week, my boyfriend Micah gave me the best birthday present ever: permission to get a second ferret. I have been wanting a playmate for our ferret, Alfie, for quite some time now, but Micah has been a bit hesitant. However, it’s time to take the plunge!

I really want to adopt a ferret rather than buy one from the pet store this time, and it works out nicely because Micah has a friend who is looking to re-home his white albino female, which is exactly the gender and color we want.  And, of all things, her name is Alfie. It’s fate, right? It sounds perfect; almost too good to be true. And it just may be.

Our Alfie.

I think it’s hilarious that this ferret’s name just happens to be Alfie, but it could also be a bit confusing. My Alfie knows his name, and I’m assuming the other Alfie knows her name, too. I wouldn’t want to change her name if she knows it, but I foresee  issues with having two ferrets with the same name. Getting them mixed up could have its problems. However, my Alfie’s real name is Alfalfa, and he knows that name, too, and it’s on all his vet records, so we wouldn’t have to worry about mixing those up. We may just have to make the extra effort to call him Alfalfa more often and Alfie less.

Micah’s friend has also mentioned that his Alfie is a bit high-strung and can be mean at times. I certainly don’t want her to be mean to our Alfie, since the main reason for getting another ferret is so that he has a companion. However, she doesn’t get out of her cage much (which is the main reason why her owner is looking to re-home her) and she doesn’t get a lot of playtime with humans or any other animals, so maybe that’s why she’s high-strung and mean. But I don’t know if we can change that about her, and I’m worried that if we take her home thinking we can, and we can’t, we’ll be stuck with a ferret that we’re not happy with, and our Alfie will be unhappy having to deal with her every day.

When I think about the situation this ferret is in, I get sad. She is stuck living in her cage almost 24 hours a day, her nails aren’t clipped, and she needs a good bath. I think it’s a tough decision to decide to give your ferret away because you don’t have time to take care of it, and I certainly applaud Micah’s friend for making that decision. When I think about the life Alfie could have with our family, I get excited; it’s the whole reason I want to adopt a ferret in the first place: to give a ferret a better home and life. She would (eventually) be a free-range ferret like our Alfie and have access to the whole apartment 24/7, and she would be able to play and nap with Alfie all the time (that is, if they like each other!). She would also have two ferrents that would love her to death and play with her on a daily basis. She would be put into the same routine and feeding regimen as the other Alfie: nails get clipped every two weeks, baths monthly, and raw-fed diet every day (after we train her to eat raw, of course). Our Alfie is a happy, healthy little ferret, and I want the other Alfie to be happy and healthy, too, wherever her home is.

Obviously, the best way to tell if she’s a good fit for us is to go meet her and to introduce her to our Alfie and see how they interact. We are going to meet her on Saturday, and I’m sure we’ll get a feeling as to whether or not she’d be a good addition to our family. I am both nervous and excited, and I’d really like her to be a good match for us!

Do you have any experience with ferrets with the same name, or do you have any tips/advice for us? Do you think that the other Alfie could potentially fit into our little family?

Happy Ferrenting!

-Melinda

The ABC’s of Autumn

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My 26 favorite things about autumn, inspired by the alphabet:

One word: yum. Photo courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.

A- Apples
B- Boots
C- Cider
D- Daylight Savings Time ends
E- Egg Nog
F- Football
G- Glogg
H- Halloween
I- Irish coffee
J- Jack-o-lanterns
K- Kettle Corn
L- Leaves
M- Mums
N- New England
O- Oktoberfest (both the beer and the festival!)
P- Pumpkins
Q- Quilts

Ahh, autumn in New England! Photo courtesy of leafpeepers.com.

R- Rugby
S- Sweaters
T- Thanksgiving
U- UFO Pumpkin
V- Vegetables
W- Windy days
X- Xanthophyll (the pigment that makes the leaves turn different colors!)
Y- Yardwork
Z- Zip hoodies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Melinda

Dookless

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It’s been a year and half since my life was changed forever (and for the better!) when I brought home my first ferret, Alfie. It only recently occurred to me that in the time that I’ve had Alfie, I have never once heard him dook. Since I’d never had a ferret before, or ever really been around one before I got Alfie, I had never really thought about it much. As most of you already know, a dook is the clucking noise a ferret makes when it’s excited and happy (watch the video below to hear a ferret dook).

A ferret dooking. Video courtesy of YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40CVvVDVWVM.

Is that not a happy ferret or what?

Since ferrets dook when happy and excited, that got me thinking like the over-worried and first-time ferrent that I am. What if Alfie doesn’t dook because he’s not happy? What if I’m not stimulating his mind enough? Does he need more excitement in his life? But after much thought, I figured that can’t be so; Alfie is a happy guy. He has free reign of the apartment 24 hours a day, has more socks than he knows what to do with, he gets plenty of time outside (including an escape last night when he went and visited the neighbors), and he’s completely spoiled by two ferrents that love him very much (and let him sleep in their bed with them at night). I’d like to think he’s a happy little woozel.

So why doesn’t my fuzzy dook? The only noise I have ever heard him make was a high-pitched whine (the absolute worst noise you’ll ever hear!) when he got hurt once. Can a ferret lack the ability to dook? Or maybe my Alfie is just a soft-spoken guy? I thought I might have heard him dook yesterday, but I think I was just imagining it because I want to hear him dook so badly. It’s just such a funny sound, and I think it would reassure me that my Alfie is, in fact, a happy fuzz.

What about your ferrets? Do they dook, or are they like my Alfie and follow the “silence is golden” rule?

Happy Ferrenting!

-Melinda

Expanding the Business

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A business of ferrets. Photo courtesy of PaiwaYunder7 on deviantART.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about expanding my business–my ferret business, that is. As many of you probably already know, the technical term for a group of ferrets is a “business.” Although I can’t actually say that I have a business of ferrets since I only have one, I have been putting a lot of thought into getting a second ferret.

There are a lot of things to consider before getting another ferret. A lot of them are the same things you consider when you get your first one– do I have the time to train it, give it sufficient play time outside the cage, and spend time with it? What gender should I get? Am I prepared for the responsibility that comes with having a second fuzzy to tend to?

Of course, getting another ferret also means more expenses–more food, more litter, and more vet bills. With my new job, I am not worried about the financial aspect of getting another ferret. I’m worried about the ferret I already have.

My ferret, Alfie, is, without a doubt, a stereotypical only child. He gets my and my boyfriend’s full and undivided attention 24 hours a day, and he is the center of our universe. And he knows it, too! He’s a spoiled little brat and he’s got his ferrents eating out of the palm of his paw (do ferrets have palms?).

Will King Alfie get along this well with a new ferret? I sure hope so! Photo courtesy of www.critteristic.com.

However, when my boyfriend and I are gone to work during the day, I feel sad leaving Alfie alone. He usually follows me to the door in the morning when I go to leave for work, and sometimes he’ll even run out the door and I have to pick him up, place him back inside, and close the door as fast as I can before he sneaks out again. The look Alfie gives me when I close the door just breaks my heart. I hate leaving him alone, but unfortunately, I just can’t take him everywhere I go (I think every place in this world should be ferret-friendly!). This is one of the main reasons why I’m considering a second ferret (aside from the obvious more fun and more love!).

My biggest concern is that Alfie won’t feel as loved or as cared for as he does now. Of course, I will still love and care for him just as much as I do now, but I will obviously have to give our new addition love and attention as well, especially as I am training it during those first few weeks. I don’t want Alfie to feel less loved, not even for a second. As my first fuzzy, he holds a very special place in my heart, and he always will.

My other big concern is if Alfie and a new addition don’t get along. I’ve read about ferrets not getting along, and I’ve even heard of some instances in which two ferrets absolutely hated each other. I know if I buy a second ferret, I will have a hard time giving him up if things should not go well between it and King Alfie.

Will the stork leave another ferret on our doorstep in the near future? Guess we’ll have to wait and see!

How have your own ferrets handled the addition of another fuzzy? Do you have any tips or advice for me and others thinking about expanding the business?

Happy Ferrenting!

-Melinda

I’m Finally Back!

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Ferrets are a huge passion of mine, and I’m hoping my new blog will help me establish a voice in the ferret community.

Hello Readers! After a four-month hiatus, I am finally back to my blog! I thought that I would be less busy after graduating from college, but that certainly wasn’t the case! I have been very busy with my new job at SPIRAL International, where I work as an administrative assistant and student services coordinator, working to place Chinese exchange students in local schools and homestays. I’ve also been busy updating the Burlington Book Festival website for this year’s festival, which is just a month away, and re-building a website for a local social worker in the area. Summer has been crazy, and I can’t believe it’s almost over. I hope you all have had the chance to get outside and enjoy the amazing weather we had.

I have decided to retire the short-lived “A Blog a Day” blog that I had, simply because I just can’t keep up with writing a blog every single weekday. Instead, I am launching a new blog that will cover some of the same things as “A Blog a Day,” along with some new stuff. The new blog, which does not have a title yet, will focus a lot on ferrets, but will also include articles on local places of interest throughout New England (especially Vermont), local breweries and wineries, and any other random bits and pieces I pick up along the way. I hope you’ll decide to join me in discussing these interesting topics!

Amazing Kayaking Videos

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Hello Readers!

I’m finally back! My apologies for my recent blogging hiatus; my last few weeks of college have been overwhelmingly busy!

While I still haven’t had time to write any posts, I would like to share a couple of awesome kayaking videos that I have come across. Both videos are courtesy of YouTube.



Happy Outdoor Adventuring!

-Melinda Gray