Friday, September 05, 2014

A Tale of Two Ferrets And A St Bernard

 Pandora and Loki (Loki is the large male ferret on the right)

Just before I started dinner last night I realised I'd forgotten to bring my two ferrets, Loki and Pandora inside for the night so I headed down the yard (with Cleo in tow as usual) to bring them in.  Loki, also as usual, was excited to see me.  He ran up and down inside the cage pointing out I was late, it was getting dark and he was feeling a might chilly.  I apologised profusely and pulled him out of the cage. 

The outside cage lives under our apricot tree where the ferrets get wonderful shade in summer and warm sunshine in winter.  The cage is long, made of wire and stands about four and a half feet off the ground on wooden stilts.  It's the perfect height for a St Bernard to stand at the front, look in and beg for cat food or chicken meat to be tossed out onto the ground.  The ferrets usually comply with these requests.  For once I have ferrets and a St Bernard who actually seem to like each other rather than declaring war to the death on sight.  That doesn't mean I let them up close and personal though because Cleo is what my Nana would have called a gop.  Nana called me a gop all my younger years.  A gop is an uncoordinated, happy go lucky, overly friendly person who tends to bump into things because she doesn't look where she's going, not take things seriously enough or just plain gets on a Nana's nerves.  Nana was right, I was a gop, so I'm well and truly qualified to recognise another gop in the world and Cleo is definitely one.  Cleo's goppiness means that she is likely to squash a little ferret with her huge paws if she gets close enough to play.  She's also inclined to place her head on top of them and rub, which might be a sign of affection but will certainly mean the ferret coming off the worse for wear after such behaviour.

Anyway, now that we have the gop term sorted, back to the ferret cage last night where Loki was last seen dangling from my hand in the twilight.  I put him on top of the cage as usual so I could retrieve Pandora and their bedding.  I have to bring the bedding in each night so the dew or fog doesn't make it damp for the next day.  I had Pandora dangling in my hand ready to place her on top of the cage when Loki started doing "the ferret thing".  Some of you might remember my description of "the ferret thing" in the past.  It involves dancing backwards with your mouth open and twisting your body from side to side while you are doing it.  It's much more fun if you have another ferret to do the ferret thing with you, but Loki took the pragmatic view and did "the ferret thing" solo and kept doing "the ferret thing" right off the side of the cage!  He hit the ground with a thud and sat there dazed for a few seconds.  I bent down as quickly as my poor back would allow only to be beaten to the ferret by an over excited St Bernard.  Cleo had been observing "the ferret thing" with great interest and thought she'd like to join in the game despite her lack of ferretness.  Now that Loki was on the ground where she could get at him a game was definitely on the cards.

I made a grab for Cleo's collar while Loki, ignoring Cleo in preference to exploring sites unknown, headed down the yard.  I had Cleo's collar in one hand and Pandora still dangling in the other hand trying to work out how I was going to retrieve Loki while still holding a ferret in one and and Cleo in the other when Cleo bounded off after the retreating ferret, taking me and the attached Pandora with her.  We were dragged along the ground for a few steps while I was yelling at the top of my voice for Graeme (who was still inside thinking of nothing but computers and his dinner) to come to the rescue.   Cleo realised something wasn't quite as it should be.  Usually when she bounded off she made much better progress.  She turned her head and actually looked surprised to find me attached and lying on the ground behind her.  Things weren't all bad though, I had the other ferret clutched tightly in my other hand.  Cleo now tried to turn herself into a doughnut shape to gain licking access to Pandora while Loki continued his exploration of the yard, paying no attention to the drama unrolling behind him. Not being able to reach the ferret I held as far from her as possible Cleo made do with licking my face instead.  A dog has to make do after all.

Meanwhile Graeme was coming down the back steps.  He blithely walked past the questing Loki with little more than a glance at the retreating white form, and headed for me.  I knew there was no point in shouting, "Catch that ferret!" even though the words hovered on my lips (between groans of pain and frustration).  Graeme is anti-ferret and will not have anything to do with them.   I've told my children if I get run over by a bus the first thing they have to do is mount a mercy dash to the farm and give the ferrets political asylum at one of their houses.  Graeme watched Loki meander past him without so much as raising an eyebrow.  He muttered things about animals, and wives who loved them, as he bent down to take Cleo's collar so I could get up and hobble off after the disappearing ferret.   I still had Pandora dangling from my hand as she had been when all this stared.  I rearranged her more comfortably, told her to behave (huh!) and limped off in search of the recalcitrant Loki. 

Thankfully both ferrets are albinos so Loki wasn't difficult to see in the fading light.   Loki increased his speed from an interested meander to just faster than his pursuing owner and headed around to the side of the house where the aviary is located.  The galahs, who enjoy a daily chat with Cleo without a thought, decided that this small white creature was a predator worth panicking about and set up a very satisfactory screeching and wing flapping - making Loki feel that he truly was top of the food chain a (fact every ferret knows from birth).  He had been heading in a different direction until now, but this pink and grey blur of noise and feathers was well worth a ferret's time to investigate further.  He did a circuit of the cage and wonders of wonders found a plastic above ground tunnel around the other side of the cage!  This is a Cleo deterrent I set up to discourage her from sitting on my garden plants around the aviary while she talks to the galahs. In a ferret's mind tunnels top nearly everything else in the world, screeching galahs included.  Ferrets can't resist tunnels so of course Loki had to run in one end and out the other.  Knowing ferrets as well as I do I just waited at the other end and nabbed him as he came out.  Words were exchanged about badly behaved ferrets while Loki just yawned in my face and said he was ready for bed now thank you.

With both ferret in tow I returned to the house, noticing the laundry door was closed with a sad Cleo on the other side, and put the ferrets in their inside cage.  Graeme was back at his computer trying to pretend he didn't live with a woman who owned such animals.  I realised the dratted ferret bedding was still outside so went out to retrieve that too.  I came inside once again and told Graeme he would have to get dinner.  My back was just a ball of agony by now so I spent the rest of the night in my chair working on my cross stitching and thinking dark thoughts about ferrets and goppy St Bernards while poor Graeme once again had to get us our dinner.

Cleo spent the night on the back porch wondering what all the fuss had been about.  She just wanted to play with a ferret when it presented itself to her.

Pandora and Loki spent the night swapping exciting stories of being dragged along by a St Bernard while Mum screamed her head off and things you can see in the yard from ground level, noisy pink and grey birds and a wonderful tunnel hidden around the other side of the house.  I think Loki's stories top Pandora's by a mile and live in dread that she'll try to find her own adventures one day.

Cleo investigating interesting smells - on our walk a few days ago.