In 1968, living in England, I could recall how many steps it took to walk from our school to
our neighbors house, some 2,300 or so steps. I would think of just what I would do when I
My neighbor, an elderly gentleman Mr.Toby, lived at a nursing home next to our home. He kept
in his small room a sable coloured ferret name "Sugar". His only companion since his wife
Sarah had passed away. He never really talked with any of the people at the home. For most
of them did not like his ferret. But he would let me in a to play with Sugar. I alway's
dreamed of one day owning a pet. Being military we seem never to stay put too long in one
place to even have roots more or less a pet.
Daily I counted my steps to be with Sugar. I would clean her cage, water, feed & play with
her. Kiss her on the head then hand her back to Mr Toby. Slowly I walked back to my house,
turning back every few steps. Hoping to catch one last look at Sugar and Mr. Toby.
I was celebrating my twelve birthday. Not have been living in one place to long, I had few friends. I asked Mr. Toby and Sugar to join with me my last year as a child. For the next year, I will be a teenager and be grown. My mother baked a smaller cake just for Sugar. As I open each gift, I was ever so grateful. Mr. Toby turned to me and said, "I didn't wrap your gift; Because I wouldn't be able to keep it in papers." I didn't expect a gift, because I knew Mr. Toby couldn't afford one. He slowly kissed Sugar on the head and layed her in my lap. With all the brightly coloured paper and dolls with the fancy dresses and bows. Nothing could have been greater than the touch of Sugar's little cold nose. Sugar was Mr. Toby's only companion, I could not take her from him. I remember his eyes as he slowly walked away, And I could here him say, "No Sugar is here to stay." Then he walked and never turned back.
I wrapped Sugar in a blanket that I received for one of my new dolls. And carried her to my room. I wondered all that night why Mr. Toby gave his only companion to me. Mr. Toby alway's kept to hisself and without Sugar he was now alone. Days passed and Mr. Toby would not answer or come outside. I wondered if Sugar thought he had left forgot she was left behind. I wrapped Sugar up in her blanket and thought I was just going be a surprise visit for Mr. Toby. When I had knocked on the door with a small bow on Sugar, I thought then he would have to visit with us. How could he turn Little Sugar away? Soon the lady that cared for Mr.Toby told me that he had been real sick and had passed away that same day.
I wrapped Sugar up and carried her back inside. This was the first time I had to accept death in my life. And I wonder if even little Sugar had cried. I held her close to me and promised I would alway's be by her side.
I remember Mr. Toby telling me Sugar was over seven years old. The years had passed quickly. She was wrapped in her doll blanket, and curled up in my arms. She looks so peaceful, what joy she has brought me as I watched her fall to asleep. I held my friend in my arms and said good bye. Sugar died in her sleep at age ten.
Thirty years now have passed. The other day when talking to one of my friends, Donna, she was so upset. She told me it was going be so hard to say goodbye. Some of her ferrets were sick and some were old. She loved her ferrets, she has 17, they are her babies.. Her voice quivering, "She asked me if it got any easier when we had to say goodbye." Seeing ferrets come in sick or old. I finally had to stop sit down on the floor and cry. "It never gets easy." I had to reply. I wanted to hold all my ferrets, my friends and tell them how I loved them and how I felted inside. We all know that one day we will all be saying goodbye and will never be easy.
Well I am Forty-three now, and I guess I am finally grown. My dreams of owning a pet has turned to many. Most of my days are spend counting the steps to pick up a ferret or two in need. And to keep myself going thinking of the Greatest Gift, I have ever received... Mr. Toby's love and Little Sugar.
I want to say to Donna and all my friends, The love we receive from these Little Ones it never ends...
The Ferret Mama's Haven
I run a small rescue/shelter here in Louisiana, this has been my 31st year of having ferrets.
Sugar was my first ferret when I was twelve. Presently I take in ferrets from our local pound,
they do not house ferrets or small pets. I also take in exotics and place them quickly. I keep
a wish list of people wanting ferrets or small pets. I have been rescuing ferrets for around
20 years. I run a non-profit shelter and rescue.
We work by volunteers and food and medical donations. I accept no money for my ferrets, but I do require that an adoptee volunteer and be screened for any crimanal record for abuse. My list is long for ferrets, which I fill quickly after a week quarantine and a vet visit (paid for by adoptees). I try to educate my adoptees and also run a welfare system to those who can not afford vet care, from donations funds to my vet. I do not advertise because I am well know in my area through the volunteer work I do. I try as much as possible to help others go through through hurt be bringing in the bright side. I think of life daily as a treasure, a gift from God. God offers no promises on how long we live, or our loved pets. I am very grateful for all I have and the people in my life. I am blessed, and to have had these little ferrets touch my heart as they have. I only wish others could also. They live such short lives, but it is amazing how they can warm a heart or break you into laughing or make you cry.
Original Graphic used with permission.
Original Graphic used with permission.