We knew it was coming. We've been telling ourselves this for a while now.
"You know, he's an old boy."
"Eight's up there for a ferret."
"The day is coming..."
Last night was that day. I think Gabriel had a seizure -- maybe a stroke? It left him really "not there" and his body just twitching away.
He'd been sick about a week ago, doing some similar things. I thought maybe we were seeing insulinoma and began doing Karo syrup cotton-swab rubs on his gums when he looked "dazed" or "spacey". I spent about a full day with him, when he was not doing well last time. I gave him sub-cutaneous fluids as the veteranarian's people taught me. Randy has said those fluids probably saved Gabriel's life.
I say I just did what I had to do. I try not to think about the process too much -- it squicks me out. The actual doing doesn't -- maybe because you only do it when you must and that means a ferret's in trouble and there's no time for the squicks?
So, back to last night. Similar signs of not doing well. I had Nick haul out the bag of fluids and the container of sharps. We warmed the fluid in my heating pad -- that's one "home appliance" which has been really busy lately (more on that in a later post). Once it was warm enough, I gave him enough to create a lump about the size of a medium gumball, right between his shoulder blades.
Meanwhile, he just deteriorated as the night progressed. I spend so much more time with the furbabies that I think I come to The Decision more readily -- I 'd say it's perhaps because I hate to see them in pain, but that has reverse implications I don't agree with. I knew, watching him in Randy's arms, what we'd be doing on Saturday. But I waited for Randy to speak first; I just hate sounding so "blood-thirsty" and ready to "kill".
"Parents" of furbabies understand what questions and doubts go through the mind when The Decision must be made. It's easy to fool myself and think, "Oh, a little longer and he'll snap out of this."
I sat up with Gabriel all night. Randy took turns cradling him as he could, but he's been through a lot this week too -- and not had as much opportunity to sleep as I have, so I let him sleep when he did. I should have slept. A smarter person would have -- there was nothing I could do.
Except keep him from being alone. And that was what I did. I knit and listened to an audiobook. I read from the paper version of the same book, when I was cradling him. When I thought he might slip towards sleep, I laid him in our "quarantine cage" and went to spend a little time with Rowan and Nick. When I returned, he was just as I'd left him and I cradled him to me again.
I watched the clock. The vet opened at 8am. At 7:30am, I asked Randy if he wanted me to go in alone or to go with me. We arrived at the vet's at 8:04am. Dr. Funk remembered Gabriel -- he's the one who neutered our big boy when we adopted him in 2008. Dr. Funk agreed it sounded like a seizure. He saw the continued signs of how it had ravaged our furbaby's body and agreed Gabriel has had a good and full life. Why put him through more? I adore Dr. Funk for being so kind-hearted and caring so much about what's best for the animals -- sometimes aggressive treatment isn't the best answer.
Gabriel slipped into peace and across the Rainbow Bridge this morning, in my arms. We brought him home for the remaining five to say good-bye to. We also gave the cats a chance to recognize a change in "the roster" -- and for the humans to come to terms with the new loss.
We'll have his ashes back in a week or so and then I'll have nine little ferret urns on my desk.
goes away to cry a little more