by John Heffley
(Columbus, GA. USA)
About a decade ago I had the sort of life that everybody dreams of. I had a beautiful significant other, a great job, and the most awesome pet ever - a cinnamon ferret named Max. He and I were bonded in ways that I never knew humans and animals could be bonded. He and I were, in every sense of the words, best friends.
Then, as can sometimes happen in life, things began to fall apart. I lost the beautiful significant other to a much younger man. After that, thanks to the depression from the break-up, I lost my job and things began to really bottom out for me personally.
I became a recluse and introvert - the exact opposite of who I had previously been.
But through it all, I had my Max.
When I had gotten him, as a baby, I named him Mad Max because that seemed like the right name for him. He was very active and playful. Over time the "Mad" dropped and "Max" evolved into "Maxie" and then "Maxie Staxers" - because of his habit of stealing plastic items from me and stacking them underneath my bedroom dresser.
As my life spiraled downward, Max picked up the slack. He really did. That little fuzzy guy knew when I was depressed or hurting and he would do everything in his power to make me smile. He had dozens of behaviors that he knew I enjoyed and he was smart enough to just which one would work to cheer me up.
Then, one day, Max got sick. He stopped eating. He acted as if he could barely move his lower half. In a panic, and near bankruptcy I found the only vet in my area who would treat ferrets. Sadly this vet was not a very nice person. She charged me nearly a thousand dollars just to half evaluate him and then told me that if I wanted him to live I would need at least ten thousand more.
I did not have that kind of money or access to it.
Soon Max got so bad that I had to water and feed him through syringes by hand. I know I should have had him put to sleep at that point. But I just couldn't do it. I was selfish and did not want to see him go. I kept lying to myself and telling myself that a miracle would happen and that he'd pep up and get back to his old self.
During this time I had to be awake every four hours to water and feed him - chicken flavored baby food as a friend had suggested. This went on for 28 days.
On the 28th day I woke up and went straight to the little bed I had made for Max after he had gotten sick. I picked him up and laid him on my own bed, heading to the kitchen to get his breakfast. I returned and gave him a small squirt of water.
He looked at me with his eyes full of love, spasmed a bit, and died in my hands.
I was shattered.
I buried him in a relatives yard because I know this particular house will stay in the family indefinitely, allowing me to visit his grave when I want to.
It's been four years now and I still think of my Maxie Staxers every single day. He was unique and touched me in a way I did not thing possible. He was like an angel who came to get me through the rough part of my life and I thank God I was honored with being his human.