11.10.06

It was the best of weekends, it was the worst of weekends...

Like Shannon has already written, this past weekend started out wonderfully. My psychometrician coworker (don't ask me what a psychometrician does. It has something to do with statistics and probability and, from the occasional whiff of patchouli eminating from her office, the black arts) had given us her two tickets to the Member Appreciation event at the Lyric Opera on Friday night, so we got to see Renee Fleming for free! The Tchaikovsky was my favorite. Saturday we woke up early and headed for the Co-op Book Sale in Hyde Park with Rev and Evandebacle where we scored like Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting, only our high will last well beyond next years' sale seeing as we've barely touched LAST years' take.
Renton looking miserable for having missed the
Co-op Book Sale in favor of shooting skag.

After the book sale was bocce in Winnemac Park (Shannon was the big winner! Must have been the magnets in the palino and the green bocce balls...) followed by a dinner of Indian food at Passage of India with Shecky and Shivvs. Shivvs was practicing some sexy voodoo mojo during the bocce game that I tried to mimic to improve my own game only to wake up with sore thighs the next morning. We left the Square after dinner feeling tired, but content in a day well spent.

As soon as we walked in the door we knew something was wrong. Oscar never leaves a mess - not even when he's really REALLY mad that we haven't fed him in a long time - ie: over 4 minutes. As I was cleaning up, Shannon took him to the other couch to get him away from the stinky cleaning product only to realize Oz was really really weak and floppy. He asked me calmly if Oscar's vet was still open, and I immediately started calling around for an animal ER open at 10PM on a Saturday night. We found one not 10 minutes away on Clybourn off of Western and Belmont. Luckily, Clybourn STARTS at Western and Belmont, so I didn't have to decide which way to turn - there was only one way. Oscar started convulsing just as the technician brought us into the room. He was severely hypoglycemic - they couldn't even get a blood sugar reading. We were SO relieved about 5 minutes later when the tech brought us into the back to see Oscar standing up and looking for food. The vet, Dr. Klein, wanted to monitor Oscar overnight, so we had to leave him with instructions to the staff to refrain from feeding him anything but chicken - EVERYTHING else makes him puke, but he'll eat ANYTHING. Even mushrooms.

The next morning, I couldn't wait for the vet to call, so I waited until a reasonable hour - 10 AM ( I wanted to call at 7 - hey! They're a 24-hour facility!) - to call and check in. The vet said Oscar was still doing well but they'd discovered his stomach was distended, so they wanted to do some investigating. Turns out his tummy is full of fluid. They drew some off and Oscar's regular vet - Dr. de la Navarre whom we can't thank Evandebacle enough for introducing us to - drew some more (a total of 25 cc's!) on Tuesday to send off to the lab for analysis. Whatever it is, it isn't good. Best case scenario - we get to bring him in to be drained every so often. GROSS! But whatever it takes....! Worst case scenario, and the one Dr. Klein suspects, Oscar has FIP - a fatal kitty disease caused by a coronavirus that progresses rapidly once the tummy starts swelling with fluid. We are hoping like mad it's the former, but even though his appetite is voracious, he's weak in the back legs and seems a bit disoriented at times. We're trying not to hover too much, but for the first few days after we brought him home one of us would check on him in the middle of the night. We'll know more when the results from all of the tests come in - sometime tomorrow. Tests for FIP are inconclusive, but at least everything else can be ruled out, or maybe we'll be surprised to find something more benign! I can't help hoping!

Tuesday was a really really hard day, and I don't want to experience anything like it for at least... 10 years. For some reason it's hitting me hardest today, and I don't know why - could be the snow, could be the weight of it all. Shannon attributes referring to pets as "happiness time bombs" due to their relatively short lifespans to Rev, and I can easily see him making that poignant observation, so I'm crediting him with it, too. Unless you own a turkey buzzard or a giant tortoise, you're most likely going to outlive your pets. I've had a great many pets throughout my life, but I've never had to personally put one to sleep - until Tuesday.



Chart depicting the Riordan state 'o' mind
Blue:Oscar, Red:JoJo, Yellow: Shannon
If you continued the red line, you'd end up at 95th.
Seriously, I fully expect that line to be creeping upwards very soon.
Today's just, for some reason, kicking my ass. "UNCLE!!!"

I got Donnatella and Umberto from a friend at my old job when she found she couldn't take care of them and play with them often enough, what with work and her new college classes. I offered to take them, having owned ferrets in the past that I had had to give away upon going to college, so I could relate to her predicament. I'd always found ferrets to be delightful pets.

Donnatella sucking down a cold one.

Donnatella has been deaf since birth, and earned her name, Donnatella Versace, from her white blonde fur and serious attitude, exhibited most clearly when she wanted OUT!!! of her cage, and would grip the bars with her teeth and try to pry them apart by shaking them violently. Once out of the cage, she was calmer than her "brother," Umberto. She was content to poke around, eat from the cat dish and drink from the cat's water. My cat Earl realized early that you should never, EVER try to point out, no matter how gently, that the food is not hers. After their initial meeting, he followed her at a safe distance and watched her warily. You see, during their first encounter, Donnatella was lying on the floor with her little arms at her sides, stretched out full as if sunbathing. Earl came up to her curiously, sniffed her, sat down in front of her and curled his tail around his front paws. It was so cute. He sat there watching her, head cocked, and Donnatella reached forward with her head, seemed to yawn mightily with her mouth wide open, and clamped onto Earl's tail with her jaws. With her arms still flopping at her sides and without the slightest indication of distress or alarm, Donnatella clung to Earl's tail as he ran full-tilt from room to room, wailing from the diaphragm.

If you lost track of Donnatella, and she wasn't in her cage an hour after you'd let her out, all you had to do to find her was look for any article of fabric - a rag, shirt, or blanket - on the floor or low couch. Shake out any clothing lying on the on the floor, and see which article she fell out of. I'd set these preferred articles about as 'Donnatella traps' so that she'd be easier to find after her hour of play time. Umberto always outlasted her at playtime.

When I attained Max from another coworker after moving back home, Donnatella would often act as a decoy, distracting me from where the real trouble was taking place. Max and Umberto would stealthily run up the stairs and get into, well, everything, while Donnatella made a holy racket on the first floor. You see, if you own ferrets, or you live with Shannon, you learn quickly that when it's quiet, they're up to something. Something bad. Or they're asleep, but you can't take that chance. Donnatella would make sure Umberto and Max had ample time to check out whatever they had to by making the racket of three ferrets. Donnatella made up for this ability to raise such a commotion by sleeping like the dead. Literally. I can't count the times I had to poke her because I couldn't see her breathing, and the position she was sleeping in could not possibly be comfortable..could it?? Like the countless times she'd be sleeping on her back in the hammock with her head flopped over the side at an impossible angle, or in the CuddleCup underneath Max and Umberto with no visible access to air.

Donnatella was my parents' favorite ferret - maybe even my mom's favorite pet. My mom could be in the foulest or mosty unhappy of moods, and within seconds of letting the ferrets out, she'd be laughing out loud at their antics. Especially Donnatella. She had a gift for making my mom giggle, and she often caught Donnie and tried to snuggle her for as long as she'd let her. I once bought a ferret sweater with an egg embroidered on it for Donnatella to wear on Easter. I was going to dress her in the sweater and put her in Momster's basket. I believe the sweater lasted, oh, 14 seconds before being shred to bits by Donnatella. It apparently was a Versace knock-off.

A ferret that was obviously paid a LOT of raisins to look this happy in a sweater.
Donnatella's lasted about 14 seconds.

Donnie developed adrenal tumors - benign or cancerous, it's hard to tell without a biopsy - that almost all ferrets develop if they live long enough. We brought her to Dr. de la Navarre - one of the few exotic pet vets in the city. She was at least 9 - remarkably old for a ferret (they usually live from 5-7 years). We treated her with monthly Lupron injections which worked STUNNINGLY well for almost a year, but the tumors came back and either grew so large that they were pinching her nerves, or she had developed diabetes as well which caused her to completely lose the use of her legs. Whatever the case, she couldn't walk - couldn't do much of anything. Umberto took care of her best he could by making sure she had food and using himself as a blanket to keep her warm (this was the most heartbreaking part - thinking how much Umberto would miss her), but we had to make the heartbreaking decision of putting her down. Shannon and I stayed with her throughout the process, which was as peaceful as it could be, though I hated, HATED having to make that decision. I would be a totally SUCKY god. The planet would be overrun with ferrets and cats, yet wonderfully mosquito-free....

I want to thank Shannon for adopting my crazy pets and loving them as much as I do, and for making sure I wasn't alone during any of this. You've taken excellent care of our pets, not to mention of me! I also want to thank Rev, Momster, and Papa Schuetter for all the extra time you spent with Donnatella, and Dr de la Navarre and Mitch for the excellent care you've given Ms Versace, and thank you, Sandie, for the hug.

4 comments:

Shannon said...

My favorite Donnatella story:

We let the ferrets out (who let the ferrets out?!!?) and proceeded to allow their usual brand of chaos to occur without much supervision. After an hour or two, we did the usual ferret round-up, putting Max and Umberto away. But we couldn't find Donnatella. She had simply vanished. I tore the apartment apart, looking of the dopie little ferret. Finally, being a good Holmesian, it dawned on me that, having eliminated the impossible (that Donnatella had created a Jolene robot and was inside controlling it), whatever remained, however improbable, must be the truth. I gazed upon the trash can in the bathroom. Being the trashcan in the bathroom, you can imagine what sort of nasty stuff goes into it at times. Surely, I thought, Donnetella wouldn't hide in there. But surely she'd KNOW I'd think she'd never hide in there, thus ensuring that she'd hide in there. But surely she'd KNOW that I'd know that she'd think that...after a couple minutes of pondering the mind of a ferret (forget it, they don't really have one - just a loose federation of ganglia that exists to cause trouble), I looked in the trash can. There she was, curled up asleep. In. The. Trash.

rev transit said...

Stop the Presses: Shannon Once Out-Thought a Ferret

I'm going to miss that little white girl.

OrangeMoJoJo said...

Donnatella was awesome! The boys are going to be quite a handful without her keeping them in line.

To be fair, Rev, Donnatella had Shannon stumped for a good half hour. My lazy butt was waiting for the giveaway claws-on-hardwood, but Shannon was determined figure out where her hiding spot was.

It would have been easier to spot her if A) the liner bag wasn't also white and B) the swinging flip-lid hadn't closed behind her.

Laura said...

My heart goes out to you and Shannon. The unconditional love you receive from pets is like no other. The only bad thing about having one is they are never around long enough.

With sympathy,
Lala