Living with ferrets

Some days I wonder why I love them.

Vesper finds her way onto my bed, and dares me to take her off again.

These are the days that Vesper throws herself against the gate to the kitchen, over and over and over again, hurling all pound and a half of herself as high as she can, looking for a crack anywhere to catch her claws and haul herself over.

These are the days she somehow knocks that gate over, escapes into the kitchen where injury is waiting, or the days she digs a hole in my rug, just for fun, or leaps unto the door screen and climbs to the top, level to the doorknob, and I have visions of her learning to open the door.

These are the days Alaska steals used chewing gum from the trashcan, runs off under a bookshelf to chew the leftover minty-ness, and I take it from her and wonder if she’s swallowed any pieces to block her intestines, and watch the litter box for evidence of a healthy digestive system.

And together they knock every DVD off the shelf; steal bags of dice and hide shoes under book shelves and dash underfoot when I open the bedroom door and dance with legs splayed wide and mouths open when they find their way in. They push unlatched doors open to hide in closets, dump over the bathroom trashcan to steal used floss (Alaska does like her mint), steal the toilet brush, try to tunnel in backpacks, stash mouthfuls of food in couch cushions.

Alaska explores the desk drawers.

And when I have to sweep every day because of the dust they drag out of corners while they dive for the broom, biting and dashing and backing up to pounce again; and when I’m vacuuming couches yet again, or running like crazy through the house to reach the bedroom door before they’ve caught up and slipped in with me; then I wonder why I have them.

But even while I’m scolding, Vesper puts two tiny paws up on my leg, and when I pick her up she licks my nose and curls close to my warmth and hangs her head over the crook of my arm to watch the world go by; and Alaska balances on her wide behind, paws curled close to her white chest, and sniffs some new scent on the air, and I can’t imagine how I lived without them.

There’s nothing like a ferret dance, chasing golf balls across the floor, catching and pulling them backwards in a scoot, then letting them go again for another pounce. There’s nothing like watching a ferret tail open full into a bottle brush at a new scent, or watching them roll and wrestle and cluck across the floor.

And there’s nothing like gentle ferret curiosity, walking across the pages of my journal as I try to write or flipping the pages of my book, sniffing at my feet and begging to be picked up at dinnertime.

There’s days I wonder why I love them; but then they always remind me.


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