Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Miette looking for a tasty spot to nip.

To all her fans, I just wanted to let you know that my gorgeous Miette has died last night She started to fail when the heat really hit us a few days ago. For the first few days of the heatwave our air cooler wasn't working properly and while I had her in a cage under a fan, she still had trouble dealing with the heat. Then one by one her little organs started to fail. Her liver gave out two days ago and she slowly turned orange. Her brave little heart was still fighting the good fight but Miette needed to sleep most of the time.

I kept her on my lap on an icepack wrapped in a towel at the hottest part of the day, even after the air cooler was fixed. She seemed to enjoy our time together and would crawl up onto my chest to get closer to me and we'd have a chat and a cuddle. I debated taking her to the vet over and over again, but she didn't seem to be suffering and the only ferret I've ever had to have put down suffered dreadfully when the vet couldn't find a vein in her tiny little legs. It seemed kinder to just let Miette fade away peacefully - which she did. I found her curled up as if asleep this morning.

Miette had a difficult start to her life. She was a rescued ferret who had been maltreated and just about starved by her first owner. Her determination and fighting spirit pulled her through that time and Miette's fighting spirit continued until her last breath. In her later years Miette mellowed considerably and while still ruling the rest of the ferrets with an iron paw, showed the gentler side to her nature more and more. She became totally lovable. I am so sad. I loved the little terror of the ferret world so much. I'm going to miss her dreadfully.

For those of you who haven't read all my Life At Spring Rock stories and don't know who Miette is, I've included the story of when Miette first came to stay here with us.

The Coming of Miette & Albus

I thought I'd tell you all a bit about how I find names for my pets. Miette and Albus are good examples of my methods so I'll tell you about them. Miette and Albus were both rescued ferrets obtained from the NSW Ferret Welfare Society. Miette, my little sable coloured female ferret, was starved during her growing years as she is the tiniest ferret I've ever seen. Albus on the other hand is an albino male and a giant among ferrets. When they arrived here as a Christmas present from my kids, they cringed at their names Umina (Albus) and Twinkle (Miette). If ever there was a less Twinkle like animal it was Miette.

Bec arranged to pick up the ferrets prior to Christmas, from one of the Welfare Society's volunteers who had a house full of rescued ferrets. When the “ferret lady” opened the door to Bec the floor seemed to be full of ferrets all running in mad panic. Behind the hoard of frenzied ferrets was one little ferret skittering along after them. The volunteer smiled at Bec, pointed to the little ferret and said, "That's one of your ferrets."

Just as Bec was beginning to think, "What a little cutie," the "little cutie" managed to catch one of the larger ferrets, wrestle him to the ground, grab him by the neck with her teeth and start to scream as if she was being murdered. The rest of the panicked ferrets were no-where to be seen - obviously hiding somewhere coward and shaking waiting for their turn. The volunteer separated the two ferrets with some difficulty, kept a tight hold on the little one who had immediately assumed the face of an innocent ferret, and looked around for the second ferret assigned to Bec. I imagine Bec was starting to wonder what my life was going to be like with this little critter laying into any other ferret in the place, but Bec knows I'm made of stern stuff and didn't flinch in her resolve to give me two ferrets for Christmas. By this time the volunteer had located an extremely large white ferret and scooped him up from his resting place (from what I know now about Albus I assume he was napping somewhere totally oblivious to the general ferret terror) where he greeted Bec with a huge ferrety yawn.

The volunteer then told Bec that the short, violent one was named Twinkle and the large, placid one was Umina and both were now her's. She must have seen some look of doubt on Bec's face because she explained that they always like to pair ferrets up when they go to new homes so they have a friend and that Twinkle was very difficult to pair up - what with her firm resolve to dominate or exterminate every ferret she met. She always used the same modus operandi - chase the targeted ferret, wrestle to the ground, bite back of neck and scream the building down! The doomed ferret then assumed a totally subjugated position, promised to call Twinkle Boss from now on and with a small gasping ferret equivalent of "Uncle" would squirm free or be freed by a human.

In the interest of preventing confusion I will now refer to Twinkle by her new name, Miette and Umina as Albus. Miette's wicked little plan for world domination was thwarted by Albus. Did he fight back? Use his superior size and strength to turn the tables on the little warlike ferret? Run faster than her??? Nope. Albus simply didn't run so was the first to be caught. As Miette's teeth sank into his neck (she looked rather like a flea holding on for dear life), Albus would give one of his signature yawns, roll over and go to sleep. It was the rolling over that was the real killer. Miette would then find herself pinned underneath this oblivious ferret with no other ferret inclined to come to her aid - funny about that. So she decided that Albus was OK despite his name and they became firm friends. She still terrorised all other ferrets, but Albus had immunity.

The volunteer also promised that Miette came with a money back guarantee not to bite. She'd been put through anti-biting counselling and was considered cured. Yeah right. She is the nippiest little ferret I've ever met. Totally incurable and I've cured quite a few ferrets of biting. In her defence though she doesn't bite to hurt, she just can't resist nipping.

I've wandered from the subject of pets' names haven't I? Sorry I'll get back on the subject now. When they were handed over at Christmas the first thing I decided to do after welcoming them to the menagerie was re-name them. I still had Theodore the ancient ferret. He was the reason I wanted these two (to keep him company in his old age) and I didn't want him sniggering at their names. After a lot of deliberation and wading through on line baby name sites I found Albus meaning white man - perfect for Umina. Then I found the perfect name for Twinkle - Miette - it meant small sweet thing. I was hoping the new name would take effect and she'd turn into a small sweet thing, after all she already had the small part down pat. So Albus and Miette they became.

For those of you who have started to worry about how Theodore coped with this little warlike ferret in the winter of his life ... there was a problem for the first few days. Miette had to sleep in separate quarters because she bullied poor old Theodore mercilessly. Albus was just pleased to have the attention taken off him and caught up on some much needed sleep (making twenty three and a half hours a day in all). I had the ferrets in the house on supervised visits and spent quite a bit of time removing Miette from Theodore's throat. Theodore's old mate, Isabella, was a pretty little grey ferret of peace who loved the world and never uttered a ferrety squeak in anger. He was therefore totally unprepared for this little bundle of spite and teeth. After a couple of days of being rescued Theodore took matters into his own paws. On this fateful day Miette moved in for the kill, Theodore refused to run this time - fine by Miette, all the easier to grab his neck and make his life hell. As she opened her mouth ready to munch some Theodore he did a neat little twist, grabbed Miette by the throat, lifted her off her feet and shook her like a furry little rag doll.

This time Miette's shrill scream was in earnest! I think she thought she was done for and realised it wouldn't be ferret heaven she was heading for either. I sat on the lounge not knowing what to do for the best. Should I intervene and let Miette think she should go back to her evil ways because I wouldn't let any harm come to her or should I sit still and hope Theodore didn't in fact kill her? While I was still debating the matter and Albus had slunk off under the lounge to keep out of the firing line, Theodore dropped her and wandered slowly over to me for a chat, without a look back at her. Theodore climbed up on my lap (a very clever strategy here, Miette couldn't exact revenge immediately). Miette sat on the floor and thought for a while and realised a new day had dawned and she would never again be Boss Ferret. When Theodore finally climbed down onto the floor again she crept up to him and kissed him on his nose. He told her wasn't one to hold a grudge and kissed her nose in return. The three of them became best friends and were inseparable until Theodore's death a few year's later.

Now did you notice the actual bit about pets' names in all that? You didn't!? Maybe you'd better go back and read it again because I promise you it's in there.

1 comment:

Lindi said...

Oh, Rosemary, how sad. I am still grieving for my beautiful cat, who died last November, so I know how much you will grieve and miss her. And Albus will too. At least she was able to feel your love in her last days.
Tears and hugs