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Sunday, 14 April 2013

Pepper is the Spice of My Life!

As you might expect, life is still more than a little difficult for me these days. It's been less than a week since I lost Stimpy, and I find myself breaking down a lot still. This is extremely unusual for me, by the way. I almost never cry from my own emotional (or physical) pain. Stimpy was more than special to me, though, so I'm a mess.

However, every single day I still laugh several times. Why? Because I have Pepper, my second ferret. Pepper is an out-and-out brat! It's just the way he is, and I wouldn't change it for the world. There's so much mischief in him, that I'm in awe that anything so small could be so full of it! When I had to take him to the vet to have him neutered, I was extremely concerned that he would lose some of his personality. I didn't want him to be calm and sedate. I wanted him to be, well, him. The vet reassured me, and said that he might calm down a little bit, but that his personality wouldn't really change.

Well, a funny thing happened with Pepper after his surgery. He became even more of a brat! At first I assumed it was because of the hormonal changes, and the fact that he no longer has his testicles to tell his brain to stop sending out the sex hormones. I thought it would dissipate. Now that I think about it, he has calmed down a little bit, but only to the point where he's almost back to his pre-surgery self. This is a good thing, because it means he's stopped using his teeth quite so much. He was always a lot more aggressive than Stimpy, and we just assumed it was because he was still a kit when we got him, and then when he wasn't a kit and we saw he hadn't been neutered, we figured that was the reason. Nope, I guess he's just full of 'piss and vinegar', as the expression goes.

Now, you might be wondering what on earth is so funny about a ferret that takes the odd nip, and one that I happen to call an out-and-out brat. Well, to start with, there's just something about a ferret that makes them funny to begin with. Every move they make is geared toward comedy. They're either waddling with a butt-swish-type movement, or they're running humpity-backed, or they're back-pedaling so fast you can't see their feet move. Almost everything they do with their bodies is funny. Then they bounce, of course. When they get in a mood, they spring up & down with their backs arched and their heads swaying back and forth with each hop. This is known in the ferret world as the weasel war dance, but there's nothing war-like intended. They do it when they're excited and happy.

Now, Pepper has arguably lost his best friend. He's sleeping a bit more than usual, and he's coming up on the bed to sleep inside the octopus toy that Stimpy used to sleep in. He's poking his nose out more often to have his head rubbed. He gets a bit sad and depressed I guess you'd say, just like I do. When he's really awake, though, he spends his time living his life and getting into trouble, just like a happy ferret is supposed to do.

To give you an idea the kind of trouble he gets into, let me tell you about something that happened this week. You see, I don't use clay-based litter, because it's really bad for cats' lungs (and it's even worse for ferrets' lungs). I shred newspapers and flyers for the litter-box. Newsprint absorbs odor, and the best litter you can buy is the recycled newspaper pellets. I just save myself some money doing it myself. Anyway, it was time to change the litter-box, and Pepper is in the habit of 'helping' me with that little task. Once I bag up the old stuff, and clean the plastic pan ready for the new, I start shredding paper into the box and Pepper starts pouncing around in it, attacking the strips. In a way he does actually help me, because he packs down the loose strips for me so I can fit more in the pan.

On this fine day, which I believe was Tuesday or Wednesday, my one cat decided he simply could not wait until I was finished shredding the paper. He had to go now! So, with the pan still in the hallway, only partially filled, he hopped in to do his business. Well, Pepper thought this was great fun, and hopped in behind him, most likely thinking he would pounce on the cat like he usually does. However, this time the cat got one over on the ferret as he peed all over Pepper's head. Needless to say, I was pretty much doubled over with laughter by this point. Pepper already had me chuckling with just his usual litter-box antics, but this was too much.

Since I wasn't finished with the litter, I had to call my daughter over to give Pepper a bath right away. The last thing we needed was for him to start smelling like cat urine. It has to be one of the worst smells in the world. Now, of course, Pepper was already hyper, but bath-time for a ferret is an invitation to madness. They're not supposed to be bathed more than once every few months, as it's not good for their skin, and it actually makes them smell worse than usual because they start secreting a lot of oil after being bathed. So, ferrets really don't get used to bath-time, or being wet in general, although Stimpy used to just hop right into the shower with me, so he loved the water. Even Stimpy didn't like actual baths, though.

Just holding onto a ferret long enough to get them soaped up and rinsed off is pretty much a miracle. One that was not attained on this day. No, instead Pepper hopped away from my daughter's grasp while still covered in ferret shampoo, and decided that my bed would be the perfect place to dry himself off. I paused in my paper-shredding duties long enough to nab him and hand him back to my daughter, despite being struck with another fit of the giggles. There's nothing like a good household disaster to tickle my funny bone, and Pepper has a tendency to trigger them.

Once he was finally fully rinsed off, attempts were made to hand-dry him in a towel - my personal towel to be specific, so it's a good thing I'm not squeamish about stuff like that. Well, you can only get them so dry that way before you have to let them go (or they squirm out of your grasp). One of the best things to do is to put a folded towel on the floor for them to burrow and wiggle in, which he was more than happy to do, at a speed of about 300 miles an hour, in between laps around the apartment as he attempted the air-drying technique. Granted, at that speed it wasn't long before he was dry.

So, all in all, I'm not doing too badly. Pepper is doing the same thing for me now that Stimpy did for the 5 years that I was lucky enough to have him. He's making me laugh several times a day, and making me see the joy in life at a time when I would normally be feeling nothing but pain. Pepper really is a spicy little meatball!