Pet care: Who caught (the ferret) Miss Ellie? - Albuquerque Journal

Pet care: Who caught (the ferret) Miss Ellie?

Fourth in a series.

Following her uneventful spay procedure, and prior to her mysterious disappearance, our ferret patient Miss Ellie had been resting in a cage in the treatment room. Martha and Amos divided that big space, moving equipment and emptying cabinets. I slithered around the floor of the X-ray and dark room as I investigated the interior of the control panel and behind the film processor.

Next, we headed to the hospital ward and laundry. The pharmacy, exam rooms and reception office were equally upended. Was this a Harry Potter movie? Can ferrets disapparate?

It felt like hours but about 20 minutes further into our search I heard Martha’s gentle voice, “Well, what have we here?” On her hands and knees, slowly opening the rarely used space beneath the surgery scrub sink, she discovered Miss Ellie serenely peering at her from around a paint can. It was as though napping in a dark hidden burrow was normal for her. Which, of course, is what her species actually does during quiet afternoons.

A thorough exam revealed a healthy young girl ferret who Martha securely managed as I phoned the agitated pet parent. I worked hard to keep the overwhelming relief out of my delivery as I shared the good news. Davie’s response almost broke my brain all over again as he launched more salvos of derision. I should have worn a helmet that day.

I had mere minutes to answer the burning question. Slowly advancing, our little runaway’s head toward the cage door I found that her spade-shaped noggin was just a little too wide to pass. Then, by rotating her body 45 degrees, I was able to slip her head between the bars, followed by her supple shoulders and hips. Lesson learned; there would be no more escapes. We quickly modified that cage door for future ferrets in our care.

With Miss Ellie secured in her carrier at the front desk, Martha was ready. Davie barged in, veritably snatching his pet, and stormed out without a word. Our relationship was over. It was my lucky day.

⋄ For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website,

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at Post pet questions on or by mail to 4000 Montgomery NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109

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