The Great Ferret Known as Whiskers

Today, we were going to post about everything we have been doing since our last update and since the end of the Michigan Renaissance Fair, and our upcoming sales, and all of that businessy things. But life as always, got in the way. And in this case, life had a name. And that name, was Whiskers. 
Whiskers has been a part of Gentry Jewelry for the last 6 years. He was there when the days were long and the money was short. When, we didn't have a house to call home, and made do with what we could afford and lived in rooms no bigger than 10 X 20 space. Through tents, through cabins, through falling out of windows, through the cold, the rain, and the good times and bad times. He was there. 
He was not always part of our family. He came to us from a loving owner that had part ways with him, but we were so happy to welcome him to our Business. We were worried he wouldn't fit in. We were worried that he may not be accepted. But those worries were unfounded. He took to the Business like a fish takes to water.
In the time he has been with us, we have had a few cross the Rainbow Bridge as they call it. For those that don't know, humans have the Pearly Gates, but our loving pets, get a rainbow bridge to cross over. Some say, they wait for us so we are not scared when it is our time to cross; others say they run and play and enjoy all the things they enjoyed in life until we show up to continue to be together.
Whether or not that is just human fantasy or sweet little lies we tell ourselves; we believe in it. Moose, Cyrano, and Weezer, all have crossed over. They were loved as much as one person can love a beautiful little creature known as a ferret. 

This year, will be Whiskers' 9th birthday. For a ferret, that is like being 99 years old. So to say he has lived a long life is no understatement. When we had no heat in our tent during a ren faire one year and it got cold. We all huddled together to keep each other warm. For the customers old enough to remember, you used to see him and a few others scamp around in our booths in Michigan. 

Two years ago, he was diagnosed with adrenal disease. Which is very common for ferrets to get. It is so common, that most vets that see ferrets, check that first anytime some strange things are happening. Back in the day, you only had a few options to treat it. Most had to be put down once the symptoms got too severe. But these days, since it was so common, they can now get an implant that let's them live much longer and with a much better quality of life. 

Our little boy, cause he is a good boy, went in for his procedure and got his little dooky dooky back. He continued to run and play, and do all the ferrety things his heart desired. His favorite thing was to steal your slippers and run away to stash them. The way he ran, you could almost hear him say, "Ha-HA! I have your sandals." He loved shoes, he loved gnawing at them, pulling out the insoles, pulling your socks off, and loved making a pile as high and as big as he could. 

But this year, things took a drastic turn. Earlier in the year, his back legs became harder for him to move. We did what we could but the decision was made that, the implant had to be replaced. The Austin Griffith Animal hospital was amazing. They replaced and he perked up again, but the writing was on the wall.We got back another diagnosis, he had insulinoma as well now.

We did our best as we headed to Colorado to get his meds. We made sure we were able to start giving him them twice a day and to make sure he got them as prescribed. But then disaster struck. The refill order was delayed. And we were going to be out of meds for a few days before it got all sorted out. We were panicked and fraught. We saw our little boy deteriorate. He went from walking around and playing to dragging his hind legs to him being unable to hold himself properly to use the bathroom all the time. 

We parceled out his remaining meds until the new ones came. To see a loved one suffer and not being able to do anything for them is the worst feeling ever. The helplessness, the shame, the guilt. We pressed on as best as we could. But it was not with a small sense of relief when the meds finally came. He was in a torrid state. He perked up once again, but he was peeing a lot and started to dribble anytime he walked around. 

We made the choice to take him to the vet as soon as we could and have him checked out. We got the information, he had developed a UTI. Now, let us pause here, ferrets, don't get old. They die pretty young before they get old ferret problems like cataracts, UTI's, or brittle bones. So, most vets are shocked to see a ferret with an UTI, but the vets did an amazing job. 

Some antibiotics later, Whiskers got his pep back, but already, you could tell he was struggling. He was not playing as he used to. He was sleeping more, and he found it hard to chew kibble. He still climbed but his legs were giving out more and more. And his sight seemed to be going out. But with these new meds and him bouncing back; we were sure he would make it to the end of the year. 

But already then, we were discussing, what to do about him for the 2020 season. The drive to the mountains had been hard on his little aging body. We hoped he would get better enough to make it one more year. And thusly, we left Colorado, to home. To Michigan. 

Whiskers seemed to have bounced back. He started to climb more, run around, and even play again. Our good little boy, through all his issues, still sought out the puppy pad to use the bathroom as he was trained. Even when he couldn't brace himself so well, he still did what he knew was the right way to do things. 

We finally got home. The house was unpacked and was getting ready for company. The three little guys had a whole room to themselves. When they started to act funny. Low energy, sleeping all day, and just hiding all day. We thought it was a long trip and coming down the mountains and changing time zones affects us all. But then they stopped eating and drinking. 

That set off all kinds of red flags. As soon as the vet opened that Monday, we rushed all of them as soon as we could. At the vet they had told us that they had contracted some virus and had we waited much longer, they may have not been anything they could have done for them. With some emergency powder protein and syringes and meds, we were sent home. 

Our poor sweet, good boy Whiskers. Without an appetite, he didn't want to eat his medicine for his insulinoma. We did what we could just for him to eat. That day and night was the first long night with our sick family member. We discussed that we may lose him that night. Only if he wanted to stay with us, would he come back. We made him comfortable as best as we could and just hoped and prayed to any of the Gods to let our good boy pull through. 

Then there was a second long night, and finally, one the third day of hand feeding, antibiotics, and praying, he ate his medicine. It was a time of joy and celebration. He was not done yet. Our old man had beaten back death one more time. He was not going to go gentle into that dark night. 

He perked up once more,but his legs no longer were working that well. He couldn't support his weight to hunch to poop or pee properly. Now let us pause. Just in this year alone, we have taken Whiskers to the vet many times. And he has been on death's door before. You may ask, we did you do all this? Is it selfish hubris? Why spend so much money, time, effort, and make your life harder when you could have just let him go. 

The answer is because he is family. You don't abandon family when you can help just because it is inconvenient or too much of a hassle. You don't leave your older family members to suffer just because they got older and need more help and attention to do things. And more importantly, when you love someone, you give them all you got. In the good times and in the bad times. And the good times, had long since passed, and the dark times were upon us. That is the least when you abandon someone you love and can help. 

So Whiskers, came back, but he was a shell of himself. But he was still Whiskers. He was still curious and full of vigor. We bought a new wheelchair from a great person to help him get around since his hind legs were not working anymore. Once we strapped him in, you was off running around again.  He was still curious about the upstairs and the downstairs access he now had. He still loved to eat his medicine, Ferrevite, and wet food. He ate and drank heartily. But then, we come to 2 days ago. . 

These last few weeks, has been spent taking care of him almost 24/7. Every time he poops or pees, we clean him by hand, and add some ointment to his feet and legs. He grunts with aches and pains. His cataracts have robbed him of his sight, but he can still see shapes and enjoys to be picked up and petted. We strap him in his wheelchair and monitor him as he rolls around with the other ferrets. This has caused us to base everything around him. 

Six days days ago, he started to go down. Not moving well, hard to breathe, hard to settle down and sleep for the day. He has had droopy eyes and just no energy to do anything. We have given him as much as care as we have been able to. This being our off season now, money is much tighter. We swallowed any and all pride and asked for some donations to take him to see the vet, one last time if that was the case.

And you can still donate if you wish via Pay Pal at or Cash App at $JenniferVanSwol. All funds raised will go to his care and medical bills.We will fight with him as long as he wants to be here with us. Normally, this is where the tale would end. A hopeful plea that there will be many more tomorrows coming for our stricken family member and good energy and thoughts toward him. 

But this tale of Whiskers continues a  a bit longer. On Thursday night, he started to have what looked like a small seizure in addition to his legs swelling up and starting to burn because of his acidic urine. On Friday 15th, we were able to take him to the vet in Birch Run, MI. There, with tears and a lump in our throats, we asked, what could be done. Was this when we said goodbye to Whiskers? Was this going to be a one way trip?

The vet, checked his heart, no heart failure. She saw him as he had a seizure. Hypoglycemic she said in nature up his Predinisolone meds. For his burned and peeling legs, continue using the silver sulfate cream until healed. We asked before we arrived if replacing his implant would be smart since they can maybe last from 6mos to 14 months. He is still eating, drinking, and takes his meds, and even puts up with the placement of the cream. She said, he is still very squirmy and very energetic for a man of his age. Replacing the implant would be a very good idea. 

So here we are, at home, wary, worn, and still fighting the good fight. He still has been having the occasional seizure episode, but they don't last too long. He is moving around much better and his energy levels have dramatically increased. We still ask for your helpful prays, well wishes, and good energy if you have any to spare. He is a fighter, this little guy. And we will fight for him and with him every step of the way until the end of the line. We will post updates as time goes on and let everyone know if his tale ends in 2019 or in 2020. But we love him 3000 and to the moon and back. 


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