Its been a rough week around these parts, especially today. Remember Bill?
A little over a week ago he started acting funny. He was limping around pretty bad and starting to favor one side of his leg, and falling down a lot. He hasn't been hurt outside of his cage, so we think that he probably fell inside his cage while climbing around, which apparently is a common issue for ferrets. He eventually stopped using his back legs and was dragging them both behind him instead. We were hoping that he had hurt his muscle or something that he would be able to power through after a bit of time and R&R, but that did not seem to be the case as he was not improving.
Long story short - his visit to the vet on Saturday yielded not-so-hopeful news. The vet gave him an anti-inflammatory shot, hoping it would help with his back issues (which explains why he couldn't use his legs); otherwise there wouldn't be much else she could do for him. Sadly, his health has declined rapidly in the last 24 hours. Late last night Lance and I made the decision to have him taken in today (rather than at tomorrow's scheduled appointment) to have him put down. Since Saturday's appointment, we've been debating on how to handle the situation with the kids if it came to euthanization, and we finally decided it would be better to let them know that Bill would have to be put down.
The kids took it rough, especially Alex. Bill was Alex's ferret, and she has such a soft heart as it is, especially with animals (she's been a vegetarian nearly 4 1/2 years now). Lance Jr was sad as well, but he always looks to Alex for "guidance" on how to feel during things - he watches her cry, then he cries. If she cheers up, he feels better. They both understood the situation, and agreed that it would be selfish for us to keep Bill around because we don't want him to be "gone," but that never really helps our grief anyways.
We put Bill in a big box to sleep in last night and let him stay in Alex's room, where both kids camped out to spend their last few hours with him. When I was headed to bed and snuck in to steal a sleeping kiss from the kids, this is what I found laying on Alex's computer chair
Its her ferret handbook - that broke my heart. This morning Alex said she stayed up and read the chapter, and I guess it helped her a little. We hung out with Bill for a few hours until the appointed time came, then they came with me to the vet. Alex tends to be a little dramatic with her emotions at times, and I was expecting a full-blown mourning session once we were there. I had fully anticipated leaving them in the truck while I took Bill in to the vet's office to be dropped off, but she insisted on coming in. I told her she had to keep her composure the best she could while we were in there, and she really came through. She held Bill the entire wait, and we were allowed to go into a room to say our last goodbyes. The kids broke down when we were in there, but they gave him their last hugs and kisses, and pulled themselves together long enough to let me take one more "happy" picture of them with Bill
And then we left. I admit I stayed parked in the parking lot for a few minutes hugging the kids and crying, both for Bill and for the fact that this is my children's first real experience with death and mourning, and how I can not protect them from everything this world has. I hate how their hearts are hurting, but at the same time, this was a very important life lesson for all of us.
And I couldn't be prouder of how they reacted. They were very sad, but I reminded them to not always be sad when they think back on Bill - for them to cherish all the good and funny moments too. And the rest of the way home, we all laughed hysterically with sobs mixed in as we swapped crazy stories of how Bill will be received in heaven, and all the silly things that he will probably do in Bill-style.
We love you, Billybob.