CHINOOK the FERRET: My Last Day With My Best Friend
by Tim Smith
(Phoenix, AZ USA)
Click on each photo to enlarge.
Chinook was my pet ferret and he was my best friend on 4 legs. We found Chinook 8 years ago on a cold winter night in Phoenix, AZ. He was lost, cold, and hungry. We immediately took him into our homes and into our hearts. Because of his size and he was well trained, we expected him to be at least 2 years old when we found him and had him for 8 wonderful years. I have built my life around my ferret more so after we got him a companion named Nikomi and he died at a very young age of cancer at 1 and half years old.
Every waking moment, I spent with my ferret besides the everyday routines, as shopping, going to work etc. All my free time was spent with him and now he is gone.
He got sick around October of 2011 right around Halloween. We felt something hard in his side and knew right away he had cancer just like Nikomi. Chinook displayed the text book symptoms of cancer. There is no way we were going have his remaining months extended with needle injections or treatments that would make him sicker just to extend his life a few months.
In the end, Chinook had no strength in his back legs and whimpered a lot. We had to lay him down in certain positions for him to relax peacefully. Within the last 48 hours, he took a turn for the worst. He could no longer make it to the liter box, and would not eat. I immediately took the week off at work and knew his time would be soon.
I made the decision to put him down Tuesday afternoon when Peter came home. He was going to take him to the vet because I did not have the strength to do so. I spent the day with him on the floor cuddle in a blanket listening to the sounds of ocean waves, seagulls and harps trying to relax him for 8 hours. I noticed his breathing was getting very shallow and he was not whimpering that much but had no strength and decided to let him go on his own. So I told Peter I wanted to hold off on the vet. I knew what Nikomi’s death did to me, almost destroyed me handing him over to a stranger to put to sleep. We did not want to go through that again so we decided to give him one more day. Peter definitely did not want to do this either but would if he had to, that was his promise to Nookie.
Chinook’s last meal was a snack, 3 small pieces of dry food and a couple of licks of ferrettone. He had a couple of licks of water and that was his last. His last day, I spent the whole day petting him gently, crying, telling him it was okay to go, praying to God, Jesus, my Dad that passed away 8 months ago and St. Francis anyone in Heaven that would listen. I wanted Chinook to go on his own not us playing God and making the decision for him but was willing to do it if he did not go within 24 hours just because at this point there was zero quality of life for my fuzzy friend.
I kissed him good night and put him in his bed when I could no longer keep my eyes open at 11pm Tuesday night, at this point only having 4 hours of sleep in the last 24 hours. I got up at 5am as I always have for the last 8 years. I always got up early in the morning so he could have his morning play time before I went to work even though this last 5 months, it was me taking him out of the cage and lie him down on the floor petting him. He enjoyed the time and after an hour or so, he would attempt eagerly tried to crawl to his cage to get his morning treat and have his food bowl and water changed. He would never make it but would flop down exhausted but once I picked him up and put him in his cage, he would eat with joy, then crawl in his bed, flop his blanket around and snuggle for a day’s sleep while I would take a shower and get ready for work.
Wednesday morning, I found Chinook had died; his eyes wide open but his upper neck stiff but his lower body was very limp. I let out an anguish yell of grief and called for Peter and he came out. He picked up his body and he was still very warm so was told Chinook must have just passed away moments before I came out in the living room. I woke up at 5am but didn’t go into the living room where his Nations ferret cage was. I just missed his passing. When I came in the living room, Peter asked me if I wanted to hold him and I did. His body was so warm and I mourn and wailed. Chinook was like my kid and I have forever been altered, forever changed. I held him I am not sure how long but when I gave him back to Peter his eyes were closed. Whoever is reading this may not believe this part of Chinook’s passing but I felt like he knew we were there for him, holding him and letting him know how much we loved him. His body died but I think his mind was active long enough for him to know we had him in our arms before his eyes gently closed. When I found this dark color sable ferret 8 years ago, cold, shivering in my arms, hungry and scared, I promised him, we promised him, we would protect him, give him a good life.
Chinook had a life of lots of playtime, a ferret playmate even though Nikomi’s time with us was short; I helped him out of his depression of his loss for Nikomi and his first family. He had lots of toys, and never displayed any cabin fever type behavior in the cage. He never bit his cage or paced back and forth so I knew he had a lot of “we time” outside his cage.
Most importantly, I promised him I would protect him and I knew he must have missed his original family and I would give him a good life. Fast forward 8 years later, on 2-22-12, I held my Chinook, old, faille, and gray with age. I felt the warmth of his body heat against my body and held him until his body went cold. When I handed him to Peter to gently wrapped him in one of his favorite blankets that is when Peter noticed his eyes were closed. He closed his eyes while I held him and I didn’t even know it. That was Chinook’s last gift to me. I love you Chinook and I am crying hysterically as I write this, My home is filled with ghost memories of you and I, WE will never, never , never forget you.
God Bless you Chinook. You and Nikomi are now in Heaven, dooking and playing among the clouds and beyond the grassy hills of the Rainbow Bridge, free of pain, free of restrictions, and surrounded by the love of our loved ones and the Good Lord.
Rest in Peace Chinook
We love you.
Tim and Peter Smith
"This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head." Ephesians 1:10
"Wolves and sheep will live together in peace, and leopards will lie down with young goats, calves and lion cubs will feed together, and little children will take care of them. Cows and bears will eat together, and their calves and cubs will lie down in peace. Lions will eat straw as cattle do . . . The land will be as full of knowledge of the Lord as the seas are full of water." Isaiah 11:6-9