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A Small Life In A Big World
By Don G McCormick
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Rated "G" by the Author.
She was just limp and warm and dead.
A story about ferrets with a happy ending.
In the grand scheme of this world, this life will have no impact. On me it had a resounding impact. I have watched my mother and father die and stood helplessly by to affect the outcome. I've seen 18 year old GI's zipped up in body bags. I've seen the birth of my daughters. I choose life over death.
Even a small life. You see, this life is one of a six week old baby girl ferret. One whose masked face, like that of the raccoon, is meant to steal your heart.
I had returned to my office and had been busy returning calls and doing paperwork, when I suddenly thought to check on the kids.
I had mated a beautiful cinnamon male with a honey colored female ferret early this spring and 42 days later, "Honey" presented me with eleven, inch and a half long, bald babies nestled around her on the morning check. They weighted two hundredths of a pound, not very big but there sure was a lot of them!
Honey had no problem feeding the eleven little ones on her seven teats and even managed to gain weight while nursing. She consumed huge amounts of fresh water and had free feed of ferret food, kitten chow and high quality cat food, plus special treats like fresh fruit or anything sweet.
Three days after birth the kits weight doubled. Four days later, it doulbled again. Needless to say, the kids were doing well, even getting a litte fuzzy cover on their long slender bodies.
At five weeks their shiny black eyes opened. They began to play!
This morning they had just turned six weeks old and were each developing into a little personality of it's own. They had been fed, litter box cleaned (at 6 weeks and not a single mistake outside of the box, better than your average teenager) and each had been played with and given a little check out. Kind of hard to pick a favorite, I liked them all.
As I opened the cage door this afternoon and placed the dish of milk and kitten chow on the floor, the living pile of fur started to come to life. Inside her cage, mom and the kits were all piled into a fifteen inch square cardboard box with one side cut out. When Honey decided it was time for the kits to go to bed, she would grab one by the back of the neck and drag it into the box, then go and get another and drag it in, usually as the first one was making good it's escape.
Now the pile was a jumble of pink noses, black eyes, fuzzy bodies and big yawns. Within seconds the cozy pile had come to life and was soon circling the dish of food.
All except one.
One was still stretched out in the middle of the box.
As I reached in to pick it up, I laughted to myself. As I would show the little ones to people, I often joked "Oh look, here's a dead one!" as I would pick up the sleeping kit, they would hang limply from your hand and then would pop back to life like someone had thrown a switch. They are like carrying in your kids from a drive-in theatre (remember them?), they are so limp, you just have to give them a little shake, just to reassure yourself that they are still alive and well.
This little gal was not alive and well.
She did not wake with a little start and give me a dirty look for disturbing her from her nap. She just hung down from each side of my hand. Not a bone in her little body.
She was warm. She had been in the middle and bottom of the pile of eleven growing bodies. She must have smothered to death.
I put her little chest to my ear. Nothing!
You can always feel their level of excitement as you hold them in your hands, even the adults, when you pick them up, you can feel their racing hearts. After running and playing, it feels like they might explode in your hands.
This litle gal had no thumping heart. She was just limp and warm and dead.
As I handled her and looked for any sign of injury, I felt a muscle twitch that shot through her entire 10 inch body.
I put her back to my ear, still nothing. No breathing, no heartbeat.
With her stretched out in the palm of my left hand, I thumped her little chest with my finger. I blew into her face. I took two fingers and pumped her belly up and down. I thumped her chest again. I put her back to my ear- nothing. Still no heartbeat or breathing. Just warm and limp.
Then another twitch!
I put her furry little nose and mouth to my lips and blew gently into her lungs. I thumped her chest, I pumped her belly, I blew air into her lungs. I pulled and stretched her delicate legs.
This went on for days or maybe sixty seconds.
Again I put her limp body to my ear.
To my amazement her little heart was hammering at a double beat, far to fast to count. I couldn't hear any breathing, but we had the pump running!
Another minute or two of gently blowing into her lungs and I could see and feel life returning to her limp body. The paws twitched, the heart raced and finally the shiny black eyes fluttered open.
"Well, good afternoon sweetheart, have a good nap? Welcome back!"
I was gently holding and warming her in my hands, when I looked down for the first time and noticed Honey standing at full height, anxiously staring out of the cage door with her complete attention on her baby that I held in my hands. She had been watching me the whole time.
As I brought the baby up next to her, she quickly gave it a complete but none to gentle inspection. She looked up to me with what looked like a masked man smile, grabbed the back of the little ones neck and dragged her, kicking back to the box.
Being a parent and having raised my share of critters, I know that in addition to a proper diet and a healthy home, one must add a heavy dose of love and commitment and lots and lots of good luck. Sometimes they live on only in your good memories. Sometimes you get lucky and you get to hold and love them a little longer!
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|Reviewed by Tracey L. O' Very
|Oh Don! Ths is a very happy story. Very informational too. I didn't realize they didn't see for so long and how small they truly are. That is so neat you did do the CPR to her and not just accept her not waking up. She was telling you though wasn't she? This is a story that all really need to read and would be great to tell in schools and such! Thanks so much Don you really touched my heart and brought a big smile to me. Thank you! you are a wonderful man! So that little one was your favorite after that I'll bet. Always believe in Miracles!
Tracey 42xoox(c :)