Friday, August 28, 2009

Rest in Peace Baby Rosco

I have saved the death of our little ferret Rosco until last to blog about this week. Not because she isn't important, but because she was very special to me and it is sad for me to write about her. Noah and I adopted Rosco when she was a baby ferret, spring of 2004. We were dating and in college and decided we wanted to get a pet together. I had always liked ferrets and we decided that would be a good pet that we could bring back and forth from home to college. We fell in love with little Rosco at Petco and rushed out to buy a cage and lots of ferret supplies. We thought she looked like a little raccoon and was much smaller than all the other ferrets. She also climbed up on the toys in the cage to sniff us through the top of the cage. She was so sweet! We brought her home and quickly learned how mischievous and playful ferrets are! A few hours after getting her home, she ran into an open air duct much to our dismay, but luckily we were able to coax her out. We originally name our little ferret Gizmo, but soon decided to change it to Rosco. Although she was a girl, Noah not so secretly wanted her to be a boy, so named her Rosco....a boys name. It wasn't long before we adopted a brother ferret for Rosco. We named him Duncan. He was so tiny and Rosco would beat him up and drag him around. It wasn't long until he outgrew her though and began returning the beatings. A year later, I fell in love with another ferret at the Petco in Ann Arbor. I kept going back to look at the little guy over a couple weeks and he still hadn't sold, so we added another baby brother to the family and named him Wiz Pigger (we will save the story of how he got his name for another time). Pictured below are lots of pictures of little Rosco over the last few years.

Rosco, Duncan, and Wiz Pigger spent two years with me in an apartment in Ann Arbor as I was going to the University of Michigan. Many days were spent scrambling to stow their cage under the bed and hide them in their travel cage in the car when maintenance needed to come through our apartment since we weren't allowed to have pets. On the weekends and during the summer, they would come home with me to my parents. Over the years, they also lived in our apartment after Noah and I got married, with us when we moved in with my Aunt and Uncle for a few months, and then ended up at the farm with us where they have their own bedroom with lots of toys and fun things to do.

It has almost been 6 years since we adopted little Rosco and she has really become a part of our family. Ferret's life spans range from 4-10 years. Most people consider ferrets old at 4 or 5 and ferrets rarely live to be 10 +, so we know our ferrets are getting up there in years. Despite their age, they are still as active and playful as the day we brought them home. They remind me of a mixture between a puppy and a kitten. Two weeks ago, I cleaned their room out and had Noah give them a bath (we usually give them a bath every few months). After the bath, I noticed Rosco was acting strange. She was standing funny and bobbing her head up and down. A few weeks earlier, I had a difficult time waking her up and had started really noticing how grey her fur had been getting. Noah cuddled with her for a few hours, but her symptoms did not seem to improve. Her eyes weren't as bright as normal, she was bobbing her head, she had a difficult time walking, and she seemed to have lost coordination in her back legs. She mostly just laid in Noah's arms without moving much (which is not like her....she is usually all over the place and never sits still). I was very sad and thought she was probably dying. We brought her outside and showed her around the farm. We showed her the barn and alpacas and laid with her in the grass in the sunshine. Despite her symptoms, she appeared to be hanging on. We spent the next week caring for her and making her comfortable. She was losing weight despite Noah hand feeding her chicken baby food and holding her at the water bowl so she could drink without falling in. Her eyes were also getting puffy and weren't bright like normal. Sores were also forming around her mouth. She slept a lot, but would try to walk around now and then, usually falling over every few steps. Surprisingly, she almost always made it to the litter pan to go to the bathroom. Our boys are lazy and sometimes refuse to use the little pan, but our little Rosco has always been a lady and dedicated to using the litter pan. I was so proud of her for continuing to use the litter pan even if it was a struggle. I don't mean to be grotesque, but her poos were not looking normal either. They were black and tarry and smelled funny. I researched what may be going on with our little girl and looked like she may have been suffering from kidney failure if not additional diseases. There was really no treatment for our little girl and I did not want to bring her to the vet to have them put her to sleep. I thought she would want to cross the rainbow bridge at home.
The week was very difficult. I think I was still experiencing some traumatic feelings from when our last dane Sephiroth passed away and I was often tearful. It was so difficult to see her go from a spunky, playful bright-eyed little girl to wasting away as I looked on feeling helpless. Last Friday, I snuggled with her before bed and told her how much I loved her and that she was an amazing ferret and that I was so proud of her for hanging on for so long. I told her that she didn't have to be strong anymore though, that she could go and we would be okay. As I petted her, I promised her that Sephiroth would be waiting for her at the rainbow bridge and that he would take care of her and let her sniff his eyes and ears (she always loved to do that!). I tucked her into her sleeping bag and told her how much I loved her. She looked at me and then bowed her little head down to go to sleep. I know it is strange, but I felt like she understood what I had said to her. I went to bed and woke up at 3:00am and could not fall back to sleep for the rest of the night. I laid on the couch with Rozalyn and read for the rest of the night. I woke Noah up early the next morning to go pick our new puppy Lola up. I told him that I felt like Rosco had passed away in the night and asked him to check on her. He said that he had dreams that she passed away and that it was all okay. Sure enough, she had gone to be with Sephiroth during the night. That evening, under a beautiful sunset, we buried our little girl Rosco under Sephiroth's Weeping Willow tree. I found this quote in one of my poetry books and read it during her burial. I really like the images it conjured and it reminded me of our little girl.

Figures of Death
by H.W. Beecher

You cannot find in the New Testament any of those hateful representations of dying which men have invented, by which death is portrayed as a ghastly skeleton with a scythe, or something equally revolting. The figures by which death is represented in the New Testament are very different. There are two of them which I think to be exquisitely beautiful. One is that of falling asleep in Jesus. When a little child has played all day long, and becomes tired out, and the twilight has sent it in weariness to its mother's knee, where it thinks it has come for more excitement, then, almost in the midst of its frolicking, and not knowing what influence is creeping over it, it falls back in the mother's arms, and nestles close to the sweetest and softest couch that ever cheek pressed, and, with lengthening breath, sleeps; and she smiles and is glad, and sits humming unheard joy over its head. So we fall asleep in Jesus. We have played long enough at the games of life, and at last we feel the approach of death. We are tired out, and we lay our head back on the bosom of Christ and quietly fall asleep.I know that Rosco was just a ferret, but she was like one of our many children. She had her own little personality; innocent, sweet, pure, and playful. Baby Rosco, we will always remember your bright little eyes. We will always remember how sometime you stopped moving and would just stare off into space. We will always remember the way you loved to sit on our shoulders and sniff our ears and lick our eyelids. We will always remember how you loved to run through the ferret tube and slide down it when we would hold it up like a slide. We will always remember how you loved to hide everything including pens, pencils, erasers, the computer mouse, remote controls, toys, kittens, ducklings....pretty much anything you could carry.....and you were surprisingly strong for such a little thing. We will always remember how you loved to crawl up our pant legs. We will always remember how you clawed your way through the window screen and jumped out the window to the ground 3 stories below...somehow you survived without a scratch and Dwamus found you when she was mowing the lawn (Grandma was ferret sitting you and you gave her some major grey hairs on that one!). We will always remember how much you loved squeaky toys and would come running every time you heard one calling you. We will always remember how you loved to sleep under the couch cushions inside the couch. We will always remember the time we thought we lost you when you had a horrible reaction to a vaccination at the vets office, but you were strong and pulled through. We will always remember how much you loved Whisker Lickin's Chicken and Cheese snacks. We will always remember how much you hated baths and would float in the bathtub with the bubbles around you. We will always remember how scrawny you were when you got wet during your bath. We will always remember how crazy you would get after your bath; your tail would look like a bottle brush and you would run around rubbing all over everything trying to dry off. We will always remember the little chirping sound you would make when you got really excited. We will always remember the way you loved to chase anything that moved quickly. We will always remember how you loved piggy-back-rides. We will always remember how you were our little Princess. We will always remember how you loved to curl up in your hammock or sleeping bag. We will always remember how you loved to crawl all over Seph's face and sniff his eyes and ears. We will always remember how you would stand on your hind legs to ask for a treat. We will always remember how you loved to play in the leaves in the fall and the snow in the winter. We will always remember how you feet resembled those of the children's book Little Critters characters. We will always remember how your ears smelled like Alyssum. We will miss you baby Rosco and always hold you cherished in our hearts!

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