Bolton Ferret Welfare

Diary of a Highland Lady - June/July 2003

Ivy on her tartan - 4Kb View from the ferret pens - 5Kb IVY FERRET (pronounced Furr-ay) was found on a Grimsby building site. The tiny one-eyed albino jill now lives with Dr Jeff Lewis and Dr June McNicholas in a croft in the Scottish Highlands. Ivy's diary continues with her alarming encounter with the Lamb from Hell...

Spring arrived early and the main focus for us up here has been lambing. Dr June and Dr Jeff have been busy with their adopted flock of Cheviots, all of which were having twin lambs. I can't say it affected me much (apart from having to listen to the more disgusting details of sheep's internal workings) until the arrival of Dolcie, the Lamb from Hell...

Dolcie the Lamb I was happily snoozing in my favourite place by the Rayburn when Dr June came in saying that the tinest lamb she'd ever seen had just been born and that it had a very poor chance of survival. From the way she said it, I just knew she and Dr Jeff were going to do something silly. I was right. The next thing I knew my little hammock was moved away from the Rayburn and this lamb deposited in my place! The cheek of it! I have to say that I didn't quite understand the purpose of lambs in the kitchen, inside the Rayburn, maybe, but next to it? I did think at first it was part of a 'fresh healthy food' project but when I gave it an experimental chomp, I was actually told off! (And it didn't taste nice either!) Not only was I told off, I was told that I had to be an ordinary ferret for a while and go out and live in the ferret pens! I tell you, I nearly spluttered out my smoked salmon when I heard that. Would you believe I actually had to sleep in a ferret pen? OK, it had hammocks, pure wool blankets and all my favourite food, but it's the principle of the thing. I wasn't going to let them get away with that. It really was a case of: 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'.

My various pleas and submissions to people in power here and in Europe seemed to get results. (I'm not quite sure how it got to the Brussels Parliament and ended up with ferrets getting passports, but I'm sure that was my doing.) However, it wasn't until my dear friend Bedfordshire Badger came to rescue me that I was permitted to come into the house again for any length of time. Dr June and Dr Jeff said it was because the lamb was stronger and could walk on her own, but I know it was because they got a right talking to for putting me in a cage.

Anyway, I almost wished I was back in the cage when I met 'Dolcie'. Apparently she's terribly small for a lamb and needs a lot of special care but I can tell you she's a real thug. I've been chased, jumped on, nudged in directions I didn't think you could be nudged in and generally not treated with the respect I deserve. Not having another lamb to play with means that I am the 'butt' of all Dolcie's jokes in every sense of the word. It doesn't hurt, but, boy, does it make me mad! Still, maybe I shouldn't complain, the dog had it worse. Dolcie got a bit confused about suckling and nearly traumatised the poor hound. Luckily, she stopped that after a few days and just jumps on his back when he's asleep. Now she's on her feet, she's into everything. She's not eating solid food yet but that didn't stop her from chewing up a packet of biscuits and swallowing a chunk of the Radio Times. Everyone keeps telling me that it won't be long before Dolcie will be outside with the other lambs. It won't be soon enough for me. As far as I'm concerned, all the thugs should be kept together and Dolcie should be out with the Three Masketeers.

Those raccoons are getting worse. They are now big and strong with glossy coats and a worse sense of humour than ever. They've decided they don't want to be the Three Masketeers any more. After all they are Scots, not French, so they've started calling themselves the Royal Scots Raccoon Guards. They'll be playing the bagpipes next. 'Auntie Mary had a Canary...' on the pipes? It doesn't bear thinking about. On a happier note, they have moved into their big outdoor run. This gives them a lot more space to trash. Dr Jeff designed them a lovely little log cabin as a sleeping area but instead of being grateful, they've demanded a sign which says: 'We hate Davey Crocket' to hand over the doorway. If I wasn't blind, I'd go straight indoors and watch 'The Alamo' on principle.

Raccoon learning to march Speaking of watching things, do look out for me on BBC 1. I had a super film crew up from London for a programme about the sort of pets people keep. They were following a story about a lady who had a ferret and wanted advice so she rang Dr June and Dr Jeff. The film crew wanted to film this lady with her ferret coming up to see us all in Wester Ross. To be honest, I don't think I was meant to be the star. This would naturally have been an oversight on their part and I soon sorted that out. I let a couple of other ferrets have a little screen time but the real piece to camera was me against a wonderful scenic backdrop. Dr June was there somewhere, chattering on about people and pets, but I shouldn't think anyone would notice.

Remember I told you about Button and Beau, my silver help-hobs? Well, they did me proud when the film crew was here. I didn't think they were quite experienced enough yet to be in front of the cameras but they did a superb job of playing with the crew and keeping them amused off-screen. A really good warm-up job. They are such nice boys and they make a super double act. I think they'll have a great future in the media.

Now here's a thought - I wonder if I could train them as TV chefs? Roast lamb might be a good start...

From Ferrets First Issue no. 12 June/July 2003)

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