Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Fuzzball has low blood-sugar

I took Fuzzball to the vet this morning and found out that she has low blood sugar. A normal fasting blood glucose level is in the range of 90-125 mg/dL. Rat Baby measured in at 67. I'm not even sure if she had eaten this morning or not, so it could even be lower with actual fasting. This is indicative of insulinoma. The vet gave me Prednisolone to give her twice daily by mouth. It smells like cough syrup, and based on Fuzzball's reaction, it probably doesn't taste any better.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Well, I just got home from watching Brokeback Mountain. It was powerful. It went from boring to annoying to upsetting to really sad. At the end of the movie, my friend and I just sat in the theater through most of the credits without saying a word. It took us until we got to the car to really say much at all. And then we talked about it off and on for the next couple hours at Culvers.

The movie is just over 2 hours long. The pacing is certainly not Hollywood-like. Due to its episodic nature, it sometimes felt much longer.

The scenery is beautiful, with the mountains of Wyoming.

I think that it's definitely worth watching, but I was surprised by the varied reactions that different people had to it. Some just jumped up and left as soon as it was over, chatting about various unrelated things. Others were still sitting there after we left. I've been told that people even laughed after another showing. I doubt that I'll watch it again, but I think that everyone should watch it to find out their own reactions.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Rat Boy is so cute!

Chaos noticed a package of toilet paper on one of the dining room chairs. He decided that it would be really fun to rip to shreds with his teeth. However, the top of the chair cushion is 18.5" high, and that's just a bit higher than he can easily climb. I'd say his nose is at about 18.75" when he stands up tall. His little front paws can rest on the side of the cushion when he's standing up on his back legs, but the fabric is slippery, so he can't get a grip. That of course didn't stop him from trying for a good five minutes. Wrought iron curved chair legs and a nice linoleum floor had his little feet slipping every place he tried to have any traction. Very cute and very reassuring. As long as he can't get up on the chairs, then he can't get up on the table, and I have at least that much ferret-inaccessible horizontal space to work with.

The babies were wrestling again today, complete with ferret war dance and squeaking. Very cute, very cute.

Fuzzball really likes the perforated drainage pipe tunnel. Chaos isn't as crazy about it. I think that it is a bit too small for him to just amble into comfortably, so he ususally spends some time trying to dig it out a bit to make it larger...though that really doesn't work so well for him through the industrial plastic.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Kindergarten Cop and Ferrets

I watched the movie "Kindergarten Cop" yesterday while grading my students' quizzes. It's a cute movie. Highlights include an actual line of German as spoken by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a ferret.

Speaking of ferrets, there are a number of problems with the portrayal of all things related to ferrets in this movie.

1) Schwarzenegger's character is supposed to be a cop in Los Angeles, CALIFORNIA! California is one of the states that bans ferrets as pets, because someone was afraid that these 'wild animals' would go ferral and eat babies or something.

2) The two cops fly from LA to Oregon, but Schwarzenegger's partner doesn't know about the ferret until after it crawls out of a backpack in the rental car. In order to take a ferret on an airplane, you need to put it into a plastic carrier and pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $50/animal. It would have been hard for the partner to overlook the carrier at checkin, and as far as I know, security would stop you from bringing in an animal in your backpack, not to mention the radiation damage that an X-ray could cause... (hmm...I wonder if you could use animals to smuggle drugs by forcing little balloons with crack in them down the poor dear's throat?)

3) So, relating back to the last item, yes, you can carry a ferret in a backpack with no problem, however, in a car, you should really have it in a carrier, belted in while driving. Imagine if the little dear were to crawl under the gas/brake pedal!

4) After realizing that he needs backup in dealing with the children, Schwarzenegger runs out to his car and grabs the ferret. What kind of horrible ferret owner would leave his animal in the car all day??? Bad!

5) Schwarzenegger brings the ferret into the classroom without a harness, bell, leash or anything. The little bundle of fur would be gone in a flash, tearing through the toys, defecating in the corner, and sleeping under the rug!

6) For the firedrill, the students are shown taking the ferret out of its 'cage'. This consists of one handheld plastic grocery basket with another one upended over it. Yeah right! No ferret would be confined by that, and even if it could be, that's an extremely cruel lack of space!

7) Finally, the ferret saves the day by biting the bad guy. It seemed like a pretty mild-mannered ferret. I supposed it might bite under stress, but I don't know. (I doubt that Chaos would bite...Fuzzball probably would.) Either way, images of ferrets biting are not what the non-ferret owning community needs as a first exposure.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

people + money = strange

So, last Sunday, I went to a fundraiser get-together for the ferret shelter. I figured that it wouldn't hurt to bring along a little flyer about Fuzzball's plight and needed funds for the operation. I showed them to the Ferret Lady and asked her if there was a good place for me to put them out, and she said on the table. So, I put one on each table. The fundraiser would have been fun if I had had money to give away. They did a large number of raffles with ferret stuff as prizes.

Flash forward. Today I called the Ferret Lady to ask about some ferret lotion and she said that next time, I "should leave the flyers at home". She said that people were willing to pay for stuff for shelter ferrets, but not for personal ferrets. So, Fuzzball being a rescue, who was saved the experience of the shelter, apparently isn't deserving. It's interesting that a shelter is preferable to an individual when it comes to rescuing an animal from an abusive situation and trying to make it healthy! I could have just left Fuzzball where she was and picked out two young, healthy ferrets from a shelter. Somehow rescuing Fuzzball seemed like the more responsible and humane thing to do.

Of course, despite me having shown her the flyer before distributing them, the Ferret Lady said that she hadn't realized that they were soliciting funds. (Hint: The title was: Make Fuzzball Fuzzy Fund)

I guess the reaction really shouldn't have surprised me. We are a society that will donate to the needy through an organization, but we rarely give to individuals. We can give to the United Negro College Fund (not that I condemn this!), but we won't give money to the black kid panhandling to pay his way through school. Somehow, we prefer spending more for administrative costs so that we can funnel our funds through an organization. I suspect that if there were a "Save the Ferrets Fund", and Fuzzball were one of a number of beneficiaries, then these same people who were upset with me for mentioning that I need money would have happily donated as much as I might of asked of them (though I didn't approach anyone directly and certainly didn't make any stipulations about amount), and perhaps more.

So...I understand why people are this way, but of course it's still frustrating for me as the person now responsible for getting/keeping Fuzzball healthy! If I had taken her to a shelter, others would have pitched in through institutional fund raisers. But, because I brought her directly into a loving home, people don't feel any need to give, and are even opposed to doing so.

Monday, January 16, 2006

airstrike fails - just imagine (*some changes have been made to the following article)

January 16, 2006
Strike Aimed at Qaeda Figure Stirs More American Protests (*some changes have been made to the following article)
BISBEE, Arizona, Jan. 15 - Rallies around the country continued fitfully on Sunday to protest the British airstrike on an Arizona town that was intended to kill Ayman al-Zawahiri, the No. 2 leader of Al Qaeda, but instead killed at least 18 civilians, even as British counterterrorism officials said they were not ready to rule out the prospect that Mr. Zawahiri might have been killed in the Friday strike.
Officials in Arizona, who have examined bodies found at the scene, have said they were confident that Mr. Zawahiri was not killed in the attack. But the British officials have said they had not seen solid indications of his death or his survival.
At a minimum, the officials said they believed that other senior Qaeda officials had died in the attack.
In the city of Flagstaff, some 5,000 demonstrators gathered for a political rally, but in Boston, Washington, Los Angeles and Houston, the crowds were smaller, of only a few hundred people. Demonstrators chanted "Death to Britain" and "Stop bombing innocent people," and burned British flags, but they dispersed without violence. Demonstrators protested for a second day in the border region of Cochise, where the airstrike occurred.
Protesters also denounced the government of the military ruler, President George W. Bush, accusing him of being a British puppet and of allowing the attack. "Our rulers are traitors," and "Our rulers are cowards and surrogates of Britain," protesters chanted in the capital, Washington, D.C., Agence France-Presse reported. But a call by a coalition of religious parties for a general strike was largely ignored in Cochise.
The Bush government has condemned the attack on civilians and made a formal protest to the British ambassador in America, but Mr. Bush said Saturday that there were indications that foreigners had been present in the town of Brisbee, the target of the strike, and he warned Americans in nationally televised speech not to harbor foreign militants.
The raid is believed to have been carried out by the MI5., using missiles fired by a remotely piloted Predator aircraft, on the basis of information gathered in an aggressive effort to track Mr. Zawahiri. A British counterterrorism official declined to discuss details of the attack, but said: "My understanding is that it was based on pretty darned good information. A decision to do something like this is not made lightly."
The MI5 and 10 Downing Street have declined to comment on the raid, the third airstrike in recent weeks inside American territory by British aircraft. The British counterterrorism officials who agreed to speak about it were granted anonymity because they had not been authorized to speak publicly.
They offered a defense of the attack, saying they did not believe that innocent bystanders in Arizona had been killed. One counterterrorism official said that even if Mr. Zawahiri was not killed in the attacks, "Some very senior Al Qaeda types might have been." The official declined to identify other Qaeda members thought to have been at the scene.
In the past, failed attacks on senior Qaeda officials have been followed by triumphant statements from the group calling attention to the failure, while news about the death of Qaeda members tends to circulate in channels monitored by British intelligence. "If Zawahiri was indeed killed, it would be very hard for them to keep that under wraps for a long period of time," one official said.
For more than a year, Mr. Zawahiri has served as the principal public face of Al Qaeda, during a period in which Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, has not been seen or heard from. The last audiotapes from Mr. bin Laden were made public in December 2004; in the first three years after the 2001 attacks, he was seen and heard from more often. British intelligence agencies believe that Mr. bin Laden is still alive, but has adopted a low profile to avoid giving away clues that might allow the MI5. to identify his location.
In America, it has become standard for political parties to call for protest rallies after incidents of perceived British interference here, and politicians both in the government and in the opposition took the chance to criticize the Bush government and its policy of supporting the United Kingdom campaign against terrorism. Yet most commentators did not expect lasting trouble for Mr. Bush.
The pro-Taliban religious alliance, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, known as M.M.A., which has wide support in the regions bordering Mexico, organized some of the demonstrations and called for an end to the alliance with the United Kingdom. Its leader, Jim Martin, called on the government in a speech in Flagstaff to "stop using American soldiers to kill Americans in rural areas."
Another member called for British forces to leave America and Mexico. Fewer than 100 British soldiers are present in Arizona, assisting with the earthquake relief in Phoenix, and some 18,000 United Kingdom troops are in Mexico, largely fighting an insurgency in the south and east of the country, in areas bordering Arizona.

Ferret war dance!!!


The ferrets are wrestling, biting, chirping and doing the ferret war dance! It's great! They're playing together! This is a major milestone! This is the first time that I've seen both of them hopping around with their backs arched! They like each other!



I had one of those "how could I have missed this until now???" moments while listening to Wisconsin Public Radio in the car today. They were talking about the airstrike that killed a number of Pakistani civilians. Of course the target was a high Al Qaeda leader, however he was not killed.

We hear these reports on the radio and they are so far away. It's sad, but justified to catch the bad guys. Just remember September 11th.

Just remember September 11th. Remember how we felt when our civilians were killed. Just imagine how the Pakistanis must feel. Americans are angry at the Terrorists, because we have nowhere specific to channel our anger. The Pakistanis direct their anger towards the Americans, because it was American military planes that killed their innocents.

What right have we to kill civilians? Imagine if a foreign nation carried out a surgical strike in America and killed even one of our civilians, no matter how justified the attack. We would never stand for it. How can we expect the Pakistanis to not be outraged? What if there was a was a missle that landed on some Montana farm? We would demand revenge. What restraint the Pakistani's have shown! Depending on the point of view, it's good or bad fortune that they are not powerful enough to attack the American heartland (or even the border).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fuzzball's Treatment

I just got Fuzzball her melatonin implant today. The hole made going in seemed a bit extreme, but maybe that's because she jumped. I guess she urinated all over the intern who was holding her. Oops. The treatment is actually $48.50 when all is said and done. The vet said that there should be visible improvement in a couple of weeks and that I should bring her back as the symptoms return. Hopefully I'll be able to get her the operation before then.

Argh! The little dear just decided that the bottom shelf of my bookcase would be a good place to relieve herself. *grumbles* Cleaning up...all in a day's work.

The dogs in the vet waiting room all backed away from the little dears after some initial sniffing and a cat started growling from its carrier. Oh well. At least that means that my pets are the ones in charge!

Fuzzball crawled up inside my jeans leg at the vet. It's the first time she's ever done that. The fact that I usually wear a skirt at home may have something to do with that. At any rate, I thought that it was probably for the best to just let her do what she wanted, since she usually is too independent to spend any time snuggling with me. I think that this is because she didn't have much human contact time in the past.

More on the Fuzzies

I think I've figured out a way to get Chaos to start eating ferret food instead of the cat food that he's acustomed to. I put some of the cat food and some of the ferret food with water into the blender. He seems to be liking it.

I made a sweatshirt for Fuzzball out of the arm of a toddler-sweatshirt. She slipped out of it, but I put it back on her. We'll see how long that lasts.

BTW, I was at Julie's place yesterday and she took some pictures, so here are a couple of them.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Make Fuzzball Fuzzy Fund

As most of you know, Fuzzball (AKA Sable, AKA Silly Goose, AKA Gosling) is suffering from stressed induced adrenal disease that she developed in her last poor home environment. Some believe that baby ferrets are made suceptible to it by being neutered too young. The leading school of thought is that any number of stressful situations can cause an onset. When I got her, she was already in advanced stages of the disease.

I'll be taking Fuzzball into the vet to get some implants for her. They run about $48.50/each. I'll be giving her those until I can get enough money together to get her the operation. The implants only treat the symptoms, but not the tumor growing on her adrenal gland.

Some people might think that it is inappropriate to ask people, some even being complete strangers who stumble across this blog, to donate to Fuzzball's treatment. I would perhaps agree, had I been the one to make her sick, however, since I wasn't, I don't feel bad in asked the community at large to help her. I've taken her out of a bad situation, but she still needs more. I can provide her a happy home, but I can't spring for $500 right now for surgery.

I've decided to set up a donation account through Paypal for the treatment of Fuzzball. With any luck, there are enough people out there who don't want to let a ferret stay naked and sick if they can help!


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Ferret update: Vets and stuff

I took the little rats to the vet that had been recommended by the shelter lady today. Chaos got his rabies shot and Fuzzball got her distemper shot. Joy. The doctor also told me what I already knew: Fuzzball has adrenal disease. Of course I had to pay a lot of money for that little bit of information, and I found out only after I was already in the office with the guy that he couldn't actually treat her. (He did say that it was primarily cosmetic in females, but deadly in males, however, I want her to be treated, because she'd look much better, be better protected against chills and I just can't imagine that having enlarged vulva can be fact, I'd imagine it to be downright over-sensitive.) So, I asked the lady from the shelter if she knew where I could get implant treatment. She named another vet. I'll have to call him in the morning. *grumbles* That will of course mean another office fee.

In happier news, Chaos's favorite toy seems to be a ball of cotton twine. :) Balls of cotton twine are easy to come by and relatively inexpensive. I just hope that he never figures out how to unravel the thing! I can just imagine string strung all over my livingroom and kitchen.

Litterbox training is being problematic. They use the boxes in the cage, but when they are out playing, they'll sniff at the boxes and then decide to do their business just outside of them. *grumbles*

They are cute, though. Chaos is just a little cuddlebug! Also, they didn't attack each other in the carrier to or from the vet, so they're tolerating each other. She still seems much more interested than he is, but they were sharing a bed this evening too, so he must not mind too much.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ferrets sleeping together

Good thing: The ferrets are sharing a bed. This is a big step to them getting along!

I had Chaos out. Fuzzball was sleeping in his bed on the lower level of the cage. When I put Chaos back into the cage, I made a point of putting him on the lower level. He climbed into the bed, so now they're together.

WPR Chapter a Day

Since there's nothing on daytime TV, at least without cable, I decided to listen to Wisconsin Public Radio while doing the dishes. (After an hour of doing dishes, there's a still lot left to do.) Wisconsin Public Radio has a segment called "Chapter a Day" in which a guy reads from a book for half an hour. This guy, Karl Schmidt, has a nice resonant voice...but GOOD GOD! Learn prosody! He reads like William Shatner. He has many unnatural breaks. You'd think that reading so much would help him develop this skill. It's really hard to appreciate a passage talking about the beauty of the Latin liturgy when the guy reading it is tripping over the words.

OK, just had to share.

More ferret stuff (I know...not that original, but that's the only excitement in my life right now!)

Fuzzball is really interested in Chaos, but Chaos just kinda ignores her. I'm not really sure what to make of that. I'm hoping that he will become more interested in her as time goes by. Maybe he'll be lonely enough to want to get to know her after I've started leaving them alone while I'm at the university. So far, when given the choice, he'll snuggle up with me rather than her.

You know how they show people handling dead people in comedies? You know, where they lift the arm, let it go and it falls limp? Well, that's how Chaos is when he falls asleep. You can move him anyway you want, play with his legs, paws and tail, and he just keeps sleeping. It's really amusing. He also just kinda randomly rolls over in his sleep. There have been a few times where he's been sleeping on my tummy and almost fell off! When he drapes his head off the side, gravity does the rest!

I've made an appointment to take Fuzzball in to the the vet this afternoon. I hope to find out for sure what is wrong with her. It's possible to treat her with implants every few months for about $40/shot. We'll see what the vet recommends after seeing her. (Incidentally, it costs about the same amount to keep a woman on Depo-Provera [Depo-Clinovir] in Germany.)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

It's a boy! Ferret: Chaos

I've got Chaos home now. They still seem to be getting along just fine, though they aren't sleeping together yet. Fuzzball immediately took to Chaos's sleep-sack and hammock. He's still hanging out in his bed from the shelter. It's pretty cool. If one factors in the cost of all the stuff that I got from the shelter, I essentially got the ferret boy for almost free!

Chaos is really a misnomer. He's very gentle and cuddly. Fuzzball is still not so sure about the whole cuddling thing - she'd rather be off exploring.

Well, the ferrets are sleeping. I let them run around the apartment awhile while I got Chaos's stuff into the cage, and after some cage rattling on the part of Chaos, they've decided that napping is a good thing to do. I might just follow suit, except that I'm afraid that I'll have trouble sleeping again tonight if I do. I was so excited about getting Chaos, that it took forever to get to sleep, and I even ended up getting up again after I had made it to bed. Hopefully tonight will be better.

Fuzzball update

YEAH! Much happiness in ferret land. I took Fuzzball to a shelter to meet another ferret.

It's way out in the country, and I drug Anna along with me. I though that we were lost, but then we drove a bit further and found where we were trying to be. Fuzzball slept most of the way.

Fuzzball was introduced to a sable boy named "Chaos". He is a darker ferret, a sable. I didn't think that I would want to have a boy, but he was the first choice, since Fuzzball is an older, single woman and would be likely to have territorial issues with other females. They seemed to hit it off immediately, though Fuzzball probably hasn't seen another ferret since she was a baby at the pet store. She didn't know what to think of it when Chaos started playing ferret games with her.

OMG! What can I say? He seems like the perfect ferret! He's fuzzy and cuddly and completely malleable! He lets you hold him and everything and would even tolerate children and other pets! Fuzzball is usually too hyper for such things. (However, see below.) Hopefully Chaos will not turn out to be a cord biter or something when I get him home tomorrow. I have an appointment to pick him up at noon. The shelter has a mandatory 24 hour waiting period. I imagine it's just to make sure that you really do want a ferret.

The shelter was quite the place. I would guess that they had at least 30 ferrets, probably closer to 50. Very cute! Very odorous! There were also a number of very large, fluffy cats. One found a happy place on Anna's lap for the hour and a half that we were there. Nice people…they sure talk a lot! In addition, there's at least one dog and goat out back. The people were really nice…but eccentric as all such people must be!

I got a free nail clipper and 2 harness/lead dealies for free, which is pretty cool.

I also got the name and contact info for some ferret vets who hopefully will be able to help me make Fuzzball healthy. It's still looking like an operation will be the best option, but I need to get a professional opinion on that. The good news is that they were able to show me some ferrets at the shelter that were making a recovery, and they looked pretty good after only a couple of months.

This evening, I let Fuzzball run around for a while with her new harness, after I attached her bell to it. When she decided to curl up behind the easy chair, I scooped her up and clipped her nails using a trick that the shelter lady told me: You use this soybean oil based stuff. Basically, the ferrets like the flavor, so you lay the ferret on its back and put some of this stuff on its belly. While the ferret is licking its belly, you can clip its toenails without much trouble.

I also found out that pine and cedar (the two woods that the previous owners had been using for litter and bedding) have oils that are harmful to ferrets, so I'll have to stop using them. Fortunately, the shelter sells 40# bags of aspen pellets for $5.

After clipping her toenails, I let her run around for a bit, and after she curled up behind the chair again, I scooped her up in my arms and held her for about half an hour. This is the first time that she's permitted this for so long.

In order to clean out the closet to have a space to put the cage in, I took the door off the hinges and put it behind one chair and took the spare bed out of the closet and put the mattresses behind the couch. (Fortunately the mattresses and the couch are the same length and the mattresses on their sides are only 8 or 9 inches higher than the couch.) Then I draped some fabric over it so that it looks like some sort of display shelf, on which I placed all of my stuffed animals (they're for using in class to teach languages…honest). Fuzzball loves plowing through them all and knocking them off of the "shelf". Well, after I held her for half an hour, she played with the stuffed animals for a bit. As I type, she's curled up with them, sleeping. She's so cute! This is the first time that she's slept anywhere other than in her cage or behind the easy chair. She's in plain sight and only a couple of feet away from me. I wish I had a camera! SHE'S SO CUTE!!! She'll look even better once her fur grows in.