Sunday the 7th of November '99 I was checking my e-mail when I saw a van pull up outside and a man and a young boy got out carrying a big box- a stray ferret they'd found. They'd kept him for a month trying to find his owner but didn't find him so they brought him to me. Just when I decided not to rescue anymore and only take strays in... And what made it even worse, it was an absolutely beautiful hob, this year's kit. I still can't say what colour and pattern he is. I guess it's a sandy mitt but there is another colour there so I don't know. But he is gorgeous! And guess what I told myself? No more ferrets! I wanted to go down to maybe 8 eventually. But now that ferret. Didn't want to give him away. So I decided to keep him. Honest, he is so nice and his coat is so soft and he doesn't bite at all. Rose and Jasmine are little sods, I've always let them play rough with me and didn't discourage them from "play attacking" me so they do nip. They're just spoiled brats. And I believe girls are more hyper than boys anyway but this rescue boy really is so laid back! And he gets on so well with Rose and Jas. ;-)
It really was love at first sight for me and I've had him for a month now and love him so much, he has got such a lovely personality... He's my Barney Bear now... He didn't have a name for quite a while and then I watched Casualty one night, it's a British hospital series and they had this new male nurse there and he was called Barney so I thought yes, that name is brilliant, it suits the ferret sooo much!
Pete did that picture of Barney "dreaming" of Jasmine, I think it's real sweet! :-)
I thought I would write a quick update on Barney. He got *fat*! Since I've been feeding raw chicken, he's just eaten and eaten. At the moment he is my heaviest ferret! I would feed Barney and his group and they would usually have some leftover chicken but Barney could not resist it and would eat everything that was left over. First he became plump, you know, a little overweighed. But then within 2 weeks he ate such huge amounts that he very quickly became obese! He wobbles when he walks, he doesn't play much. So this month he's been put on a diet. Spike is eating well so he's on a diet, too. Both get 2-2 1/2 tablespoonfuls of meat, it's watered down so it's not like they get 2 solid spoonfuls of meat. When they've been out, Spike is the first to go back in and eat. Then Rose follows and then Jasmine. Last is Barney. We've done this for 2 weeks and he still put weight on... I will now give him a little less and weigh him again in 2 weeks... He has got to loose weight. He used to be around 1.3kg on average, he was a nice slim ferret with an excellent body, now he weighs 2.375kg, he put on about 1 kg which is just over 2 pounds... He put on most of the weight in November last year, 600g in one month... From then on the weight went up more and more until I decided that he needed to go on a diet. Hopefully he'll loose weight soon...
Well, Barney lost a lot of weight, I restricted the amount he ate and he started to loose weight. Then we got Hobo and Gremlin and Barney loved Hobo and played so much with him so the more weight he lost, the more active he got and the more weight he lost as a result of increased activity... He went down to 1.575kg, I just weighed him on the 4th of May...
And now he's dead... It's Wednesday today and he was put to sleep. Saturday and Sunday he started coughing. It was like when the other ferrets cough, I don't know why they cough but they do it sometimes and I usually think that they've got a hair stuck in the throat or inhaled something. Except Barney was coughing more quietly. He only had about 2 or 3 coughing episodes and it didn't sound bad... Monday and Tuesday he started having problems breathing, he breathed with his abdomen and the sides were going in and out as he breathed. But he was still playing as well. Tuesday evening he didn't play much and you could see that he was breathing heavily and Wednesday morning he was even worse and didn't play. Though he still ate.
So at 2.50 p.m. we went to the vets and Louise treated us from then on until 5.00 p.m. She saw how badly he was breathing and first thing she said was that they get it when there's fluid in the chest. So Barney went to have an x-ray. He didn't want to hold still so Louise had to give him a bit of gas. When he came round, I took him back into the waiting room but he deteriorated in there and was in distress with the breathing, Louise was treating somebody else but Brenda the anaesthetist took us back into the operating room and we gave Barney oxygen which helped him and perked him up a bit. The x-ray didn't turn out right so while Barney was still feeling ill and was limp and quiet, they x-rayed him again and within 5 minutes we had the x-rays. It showed that his whole chest was full of fluid... The wind pipe was pushed up right under the spine and everything else was white. Louise said that there must be a mass in his chest that is pushing his wind pipe up, she also said that when she felt his ribs, she tried to push them in a bit because you can usually do that but his ribs wouldn't move inwards at all which would suggest a mass in his chest...
So next thing Louise suggested that she drains the fluid off, she said they sometimes have this in cats and draining the fluid and keeping it under control with diuretics sometimes gives cats another few months. She said the tumour didn't grow overnight and wouldn't kill him today. Well, we were waiting in the waiting room and she came in and said his chest is full of blood. They put the drain in on the one side and she said sometimes they hit a blood vessel or something and get blood out but she put the drain in on the other side and more blood so his chest was filled with blood. So Barney was put to sleep... :*-( Pete stayed with him and Barney died as soon as Louise put the lethal injection into his kidney, before she even started to inject it all. With Hope and Igor, Louise had to give them 2 injections before they died, Barney went right away. And a minute after he was dead- his tail fluffed up... Like people sometimes notice... Louise will phone tomorrow and let us know what she found during the post mortem...
He was only 2...
And he didn't act sick at all, he was such a happy ferret, played a lot with the others and was so hyper, all he did was run and play and enjoy life. A week ago I was still thinking that he was one of my healthiest ferrets! Even when the coughing started- he was still playing, I had *no idea* how sick he was and how soon he would die... I've been told that with juvenile lymphosarcome the tumours can grow rapidly, sometimes practically over night... I just wish I knew why Barney developed the tumour...
This is the last picture of Barney:
The post mortem and pathology report...
Well, Louise phoned me after she'd done his PM, the tumour filled his whole chest... She thinks a third of his blood must have been in his chest. No other organs were involved, just one massive tumour.
This is the PM report:
History: Anterior thoracic mass post mortem samples
Diagnosis: Lymphoma (Lymphosarcoma)
These two samples from an anterior thoracic mass are histologically similar. The mass is characterized by dense sheets of uniform, intermediately differentiated, lymphoid cells with scant cytoplasm and medium-sized nuclei (c. 1.5x RBC diameter). The mitotic index is very high (frequently in excess of 25 per high power field). The histopathology is pathognomonic for malignant lymphoma, probably lymphoblastic. Since no normal tissue remains in the samples I cannot identify the organ in which the tumour has originated: mediastinal lymph node or thymus, most likely.
Malignant lymphoma (lymphosarcoma) is the commonest malignancy of the domestic ferret. It most commonly arises spontaneously, although there is increasing evidence of a transmissible form. Several variants of the disease exist: a small-cell type is more commonly encountered in older animals while the lymphoblastic form is seen more frequently in younger (less than 2 years old) ferrets. This latter form is commonly associated with tumours in multiple organs, causing multi-systemic disease. The prognosis is always poor.
We had Barney cremated on Monday 14/05/01. I had been really, really unhappy with Igor's cremation and didn't want this crematorium to do another one of my ferrets. Igor's urn looked ugly like a plant pot and the cremation cost a lot, £65.00! Plus when the urn came back, it was wrapped in toilet paper. I'd never felt so angry and upset as when I unpacked the urn... So after Igor died, we phoned a few crematoriums but they were all very expensive plus a long drive away. But when Barney died, I had to phone around again. Luckily Pete found a piece of paper with the number of a crematorium that I had written down so I phoned them Monday and asked how much the cremation would be and they said £25.00. The place was about 85 miles away so another £25.00 petrol cost but still cheaper than the other place! So I phoned them and asked when I could bring Barney and they said any time so I decided that we might as well do it the same day so we picked Barney up from the vets where he was on ice and we drove him to the crematorium and when we got there they said it would take 2 hours. I chose a beautiful wooden casket and asked for Barney's ashes to be put into a clear cellophane bag in case the casket falls and opens up or anything and I was surprised how much ashes there were. The place where we took Barney is called Royvon Petcare Centre, they do boarding kennels, dog training school, cattery, grooming salon and a few years ago they added a pet crematorium. So it's specially made to burn pets so I could be sure that they'd do a good job and that I'd get pretty much all ashes back. Some pet crematoriums are ex waste disposal places but at least now I found a crematorium that is good. They have a web site as well, Royvon Petcare Centre.