Our oldest and first ferret, Malachai, decided it was time to leave this
morning at about 6:15 a.m. It was about a month after his initial cancer
diagnosis. He had no pain and little discomfort up until the end. At 3
a.m., Juliana was wakened by the bell chimes we put up over our ferret
Billy's grave when he died. We think Billy was trying to tell us to check
on Mal. His breathing was labored, he wouldn't take food or water, and he
couldn't really move. We held him and comforted him on the bed with us,
after consulting with Charlie Weiss and determining there was not much else
we could do. About six, he started having small seizures (extention of the
forelegs, etc.) At 6:15 he lifted his head, his eyes cleared, he looked at
Juliana, made a noise, looked at me, made a noise, put his head back down,
let out a big sigh of pain and relief, and quietly expired.
As I said, Mal was our first, and the most people-oriented ferret I've
ever seen. He helped Juliana through some pretty rough times with his
companionship and good-natured disposition. He was definitely the alpha
male of the family, but established dominance through cunning, rather than
brute force, preferring to pretend to submit to a head-on attack, and then
totally subduing his opponent by ambush 5 minutes later.
He cared for the other ferrets when they were sick. One early warning sign
of a sick ferret was that Malachai would wrap himself around the sick one as
he rested. He stayed with Billy during Billy's last days in this manner.
He was about six when he died of lymphoblastic lymphosarcoma. We feel
privileged to have known him, and to have been able to make his last month,
and especially his last three hours, as comfortable, pain-free and full of
love as possible.
Bob and Juliana
[Posted in FML issue 1332]