First Words or Compassion for All


I am so proud and happy, one of my ‘babies’ said his first ‘words’ today. Kiefer, one of my big, de-scented male ferrets, rescued from a horrible, cruel, abusive breeder 2 years ago, made a ‘chuckle’ today. Most people won’t know what this means so I’ll explain. Ferrets make a wide variety of sounds and some ferrets are very ‘vocal’ while other are less so, for whatever reason. They ‘dook’ ie make a dook dook dook dook dook sound, chuckle (like a happy ble ble ble ble ble sound), hiss (kinda a cross between a cat hiss and a snake hiss), scream (loud, sudden, piercing fright noise), chirp( a short, sharp bark almost), and quack (yes, like a duck), among others. Well, neither of my rescued boys (brothers) ever made a sound.

They are both ‘pyschologically damaged’ from their expereince with the breeder, and are not like normal, happy,  easy-go lucky ferrets. They are very tense, nervous, shy, scared ferrets. I got them when they were three. Seven  brothers and sisters were rescued from this guy, who used to power hose down their old wire outdoors cages with them in it, among other things. They had spent 3 years in this cage, never held, pet, or talked to.  They were quite wild when I got them, both  fear biters. Since then I have been trying to reverse the damage by giving them love, love, love, and slowly over the years they have started to relax. Before, they never played or danced, and they were scared of visitors or any noises,  especially the sound of water, even being spritzed on a plant. They will run and hide when they hear water or spraying of any sort.

They now have become a bit braver, they don’t slink around the edges of a room anymore, and will even occasionally come out of hiding to inspect a visitor. The best thing is they will often play now, chasing each other in circles, bouncing up and down the hall, wrestling, it is so wonderful to see. But, still no noises! I believed they were too tense to make a noise.  BUT, TODAY KIEFER CHUCKLED!!!!! Of the boys he has always been the slightly braver, and today, as he was playing with his brother, I reached down and tickled him and he danced and went ‘ble ble ble ble bble’. It was so wonderful.

Many people think that only the suffering of people is important, that animals are ‘less important’, we should spend our energy, time and money to alleviate peoples’ suffering only. But, I say, suffering is suffering, and any creature that undergoes suffering deserves help, regardless of what species it is, 2 legs, 4 legs, fur, flesh, or feathers.  The suffering of a ferret is just as terrible and painful to their minds and spirits as it is to ours, no more, no less important. Suffering should be alleviated WHENEVER it can be.

Animals recognize the pain and suffering of other animals and try to help: a wolf brings food to a downed comrade, a cat quietly grooms a sick friend, a ferret kisses your face and looks into your eyes when you are crying, snuggling close. If a cat or dog or ferret can realize and care about those who suffer, then for us not to is positively…inhuman, and inhumane.

“A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as that of his fellow men, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.” Albert Schweitzer

“Certainly it is wrong to be cruel to animals and the destruction of a whole species can be a great evil. The capacity for feelings of pleasure and pain and for the form of life of which animals are capable clearly impose duties of compassion and humanity in their case. ”
John Rawls

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