Bolton Ferret Welfare

The PR Challenge: Show Classes

by Bill Beck

I have been inspired by June's article in the last Newsletter to add a little more about what you can expect on the PR circuit. In the same way that certain classes of ferret can be expected at every show, certain classes of human tend to turn up at country shows, carnivals and other events which you might attend. Here are some of them, in no particular order....

The Expert. This guy knows all there is to know about ferrets because he was bitten by one belonging to his uncle in 1948. 'They bite, they do,' he tells you, smiling knowledgeably.

The Little Madam. This is an exceptionally irritating little girl of about ten. 'I've got two gerbils, a hamster, sixteen guinea pigs, a pony and a llama at home,' she declares. 'Now I want to cuddle a ferret'. Then two minutes later, 'I've cuddled that one, I want to cuddle the white one now. Then I want to cuddle the one with the white paws.' etc. etc. Unfortunately the clip round the earhole which is so richly deserved can't really be administered because the parents are watching.

The Bimbo. She is wearing high-heeled boots (very practical on a muddy showground), plus 'genuine' Gucci wraparound shades and blingy handbag she got 'down the market' for twenty-five quid. She has a huge mobile encrusted with imitation diamonds permanently glued to her ear. This is even there when she is driving her bubblegum pink Mini with it's personalised registration, T4RT. She looks at the ferrets briefly, says 'Eurghh, they stink!!' in a very loud voice and walks away. It is almost impossible to resist the overwhelming temptation to deliver the well-aimed slap across the chops that would send her cart-wheeling into the pen of Gloucester Old Spots next door so that she could learn what the word stink really means.

Ramboman. He is six feet four inches tall and weighs twenty-seven stone including beer-gut. He is wearing camo gear and is covered head-to-toe in tatts. He wants to 'get a ferret off you' so that he can let it run round his outbuildings where it will live off the rats it kills.

The Cringer. This woman (usually) observes you and the ferret you're holding very carefully indeed from at least thirty feet away. She gives you a look composed of equal amounts of fear, disgust and pity. She turns to a friend and makes an inaudible comment before they laugh and move off together with a theatrical shudder.

The Family. The boy and girl run up to the display cage and immediately poke their fingers through the bars, ignoring the sixteen signs Sellotaped, glued, riveted, nailed and welded to the bl**dy thing. 'Mum, can we get...?'
'NO!' comes the immediate response. Dad hangs about in the background. He's not getting involved: his dad was The Expert who got bitten in 1948, so he too knows all there is to know about ferrets.

The Little Sod. This is an obnoxious, hard-boiled scumbag of about twelve who rolls up to your stall on a stolen BMX bike along with his three mates. His sole intention is to nick stuff while you're being distracted by his chums. You need a lot of helpers and/or eyes in the back of your head to cope with this little git. Whilst removing the collection tins from temptation's way and simultaneously watching him like a hawk you make a mental note to see how much tasers are on eBay when you get home.

The Nice Little Girl. Believe it or not, you do get these. She approaches very quietly and says nothing. She stands in front of the display cage, eyes as round as saucers, without moving or saying a word. You ask, 'Would you like to hold one?' She nods. You take out a ferret like trusty cuddler Bertie. She holds him in her arms and sits down on a camping chair at the back of your pitch. They stay there together for the next two-and-a-half hours without moving.

So, apart from the occasional normal person, that's a fair cross-section of what you can expect. But as June says, when you get someone who says 'I didn't know they were so lovely,' it makes it all worthwhile.

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