Ferrets often do not get their due respect in American society because, well, they are far out numbered by cats and dogs in the world of pets. While this may be true, it does not take from the fact that they can make interesting, to say the least, companions, who are able to provide comfort and love just as well as any 'traditional' pet. Ferrets are often mistaken with pets such as mice, hamsters, even guinea pigs who are part of the rodent family. Ferrets are actually part of the Mustelid (or weasel) family, and have been domesticated for, roughly, over 2,000 years. Our ancestors did not acquire these charming pets simply for companionship, however. In fact, ferrets were working pets, much like other animals at their time of domestication, and were used to hunt rodents, or even to pull wires through impossible to reach places. There is an urban myth that a ferret was used to wire the room for Princess Diana's and Prince Charles's wedding! Regardless of their roots, the trend of pet ferrets not only stuck around, but prevailed, due to their curious natures and endearing personalities. Indeed, ferrets make wonderful pets and, because they require a little more attention than their feline and canine counterparts, they often inspire more emotion from their owners with their clever natures and silly antics. That is why when they are gone, a great sense of grief is felt, and memorializing them properly becomes an important consideration for many a ferret owner, from an emotional point of view. While that is true, it is an unfortunate fact that the pet memorial industry, while vast, is still constantly evolving, and ferret memorials are often scarce, to say the least. Below are a few tips on different ways to capture the memory of a companion ferret, and honor their life and everything they brought to ours.
One of the first things to consider when memorializing ferrets is a plan. Ferrets live much shorter lives than many other pets (roughly 7 - 10 years, although most live to be no more than 4 years old), and largely due to their curious and relentless natures, they are much more accident prone as well. (One of the leading causes of ferret death is being crushed in a reclining chair. Many ferrets also die from being trapped in refrigerators or dryers and falling from window ledges.) So, even while a ferret is living, owners would do well to have a plan for properly memorializing their beloved pet, in the event of a sudden death. Having a plan will assure that the family memories left behind by a ferret will remain alive for decades even if the pet should pass unexpectedly at an inopportune time, when the temptation might be to simply dispose of the body haphazardly and build a less-than-fitting memorial (or no memorial at all). It is truly unfortunate that ferrets are not memorialized nearly as much as, say, pet dogs or cats are, simply because they are a smaller, and somewhat unconventional, companion animal. Moreover, there is already a stigma against mourning a pet loss, because some find it inappropriate to grieve over the loss of an animal. In reality, any pet that we become close or bond with is deserving of a befitting tribute, or at least a few final words, as they are important parts of our own lives and memories. Why not pay respects to a creature that brought love, comfort, and joy into our lives? Just as with the loss of any pet, it is important to create a small remembrance in their honor, not only for the sake of paying respects to the living creature, but also to help us through the long run of the mourning period.
The next thing to consider is that - as stated before - even though ferrets are not as popular as other animals in the United States, their loss can evoke the same feelings of grief and sadness as any other type of pet. So ferret owners should not be ashamed to build the memorial that their heart desires. The ever expanding memorial industry, while not flourishing with ferret memorials, still offers specially-themed remembrances to honor the life of a treasured ferret. Among the most common pieces are pet cremation urns created especially for ferrets, such as the two images in this article. These vessels will not only protect the earthly essence of the ferret, but also provide a visual remembrance of them as well. While these urns are, admittedly, small in size, they can still be a powerful remembrance of that lost companion, and will provide a great comfort in knowing that the pet was laid to rest in a respectful manner. Another option is that of a pet grave marker. Most pet grave markers are commonly seen made for cats or dogs, but that does not mean that one cannot be created to honor a pet ferret. There are a few markers that are small in size, which make them all the more ideal to memorialize a small, yet unforgettable, companion. Some markers can be personalized with an image, which allows ferret parents to create a truly befitting tribute to their lost friend. This type of memorial is especially comforting to mark the burial site of a lost ferret, and will create an everlasting tribute in their memory, where the bereaved can visit, or simply sit to reminisce of the beautiful memories the pet left behind.
Ferret owners may feel pressure from others to downplay their ferret’s loss and to not show their grief publicly. This pressure comes about simply because ferrets are not as commonly thought of as “real” pets and because ferrets have shorter lives than “real” pets. But the loss felt by a grieving ferret owner is the same as that felt by someone who owns a cat or dog. In any case, even cat and dog owners are scrutinized for grieving the loss of their companion, so to all grieving pet owners, we say this. Grieving the loss of a companion is a normal and healthy process that is necessary for healthy living, so grieve as you see fit, regardless of what anyone says. (Of course this does not condone destructive or unhealthy coping, such as violence or drug use, which will only worsen the grief and can possibly lead to more emotional disorders).
The most important thing to keep in mind when memorializing a ferret is that , as with any pet, your ferret is like a member of your family. Losing such a beloved figure is difficult, regardless of their species, and grieving their loss is not only appropriate, but necessary. Building an honorable memorial can be an important part of the healing process, and will also acknowledge everything that the lost ferret brought to our worlds.
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