On a personal and somber note, this week saw a lessening of my household - Slinky, Mustela putorious furo
or common ferret
of the aww-isn't-he-cute variety, hath exited the scene, stage left. Slinky was suffering from several common ferret ailments, including cancer
of the pancreas
, adrenal gland hypertrophy
, and diabetes
; when he stopped eating despite regular doses of steroids, I was forced to decide that since we couldn't make him comfortable, much less happy, it was time to send him on his way quickly and painlessly.
The vet at Angell Memorial hospital who saw Slinky for his final visit was quite compassionate, and didn't attempt to convince me into any final decision. He gave me all the information I needed, and answered all my questions, and pressed me to make sure (once I'd told him what I wanted to do) that I was certain. When I explained my reasoning, he agreed, and asked if I wanted to be present. I did, of course; only proper. If I'm going to make that sort of decision for one of my pets, I need to be there if I can. He had me take care of the paperwork for the visit while they put a catheter in Slinky's leg, which was a good plan - this precluded fumbling for a vein later, and ensured that once the deed was done I could immediately leave the hospital.
When I returned to the room, already starting to tear up, he handed my my ferret. Slinky had a tube on his arm but wasn't struggling; he lay in my crooked arm much more peacefully than was his usual habit, and licked his lips a few times. I bent down to touch noses, and he licked my nose several times (I'd like to think reassuringly, but that is most likely me anthropomorphizing and wishfully thinking- most likely licking the salt from my tears). The vet gave him a quick shot of saline to clear the cathether, and as I held him close and apologized, telling him that this was the last thing I could do for him, injected a sharp-smelling drug into the tube. Slinky gave one sharp shudder as I held him and licked my nose again. I kissed his little snout, but he was already gone. The vet gently took him to check his heartbeat, but his eyes were open and vacant, so I kissed the top of his head between his ears and handed him over.
The vet told me he was gone and placed him carefully on a pad on the exam table. He asked me if I'd like to be alone with him for a while, but I shook my head; Slinky was gone now, I said, and I had gotten to say goodbye. I shook his hand, shook the veterinary student's hand (he'd been assisting). The vet carefully scritched Slinky's small head affectionately, and smoothed his form out, and I left the hospital quickly.
It was a bright, cloudless, perfect summer day.
I cried for fifteen minutes before going in to work.