This is the story of Bishop. She came to us in July of 2003 with her cagemate Peanut. They were on their way to a shelter that does not provide veterinary care when they crossed my path. One look through the door of their carrier and I knew she was in trouble. Thankfully her owner was convinced she’d be better off with us than any where else. That decision saved her life.
After several days of intensive care at the FurpeopleWeyr, she was still barely holding her own. She made several trips to the vet’s office, each time coming back little better than when she had gone in. We could find no reason she should be so ill. Finally the doctor decided to keep her for 3 weeks of intense supervision, medications and tests. At the end of the 3 weeks we still had no answer to what was wrong and she was still just hanging on. Then suddenly and in the middle of the night, she got worse. First thing in the morning she under went a risky surgerical procedure we had been hoping to avoid. Biopsy’s were taken, more tests run and we finally had an answer. Lymphoma.
Every one involved in ferret medicine hates that word. We call it the silent killer. By the time a lymphoma diagnosis is made, it is usually too late to treat. Lymphoma is usually a death sentence. Bishop had it throughout her entire digestive tract. She came home to die. But then a funny thing happened. Bishop met her soul mate.
On an afternoon while she was getting her mid day soup and medicines, a gentleman walked up and seeing what was going on, asked what was wrong with her. I told him the sad story, and he asked to hold her. He picked her up gently and held her close to him. Their eyes locked and I swear to you, I saw the lightening strike.
The light came on inside that little girl’s eyes. She looked around and saw her surroundings for the first time in days. She ‘tested the wind” to bring the world in closer to her. After having no appetite for days, she hungrily finished her soup and medicines. Then contented, she quietly went to sleep in his arms. Tip toeing up behind them I heard him cooing to her while stroking her disease ravaged body, “Grandpa’s little girl” as she slept. When she came home that evening, she came home cuddled around his handkerchief.
That night was a turning point for her. For the first time since she joined the FurpeopleWeyr, she ate on her own, and not just snacks. She ate. She became inquisitive about her room and the things in it. She found Peanut and cleaned an ear. For four days she kept getting a little stronger. Then she started to slide again.
I talked to “Grandpa” about the impact he had made on her and the difference seeing him made. I didn’t have to talk long or hard for her to begin seeing him regularly on the weekends.
I could count the days by her ups and downs. Four days up, getting stronger after a visit, followed by 3 days down until the next one. So we got bold. Bishop began overnight trips to Grandpa’s. The four days up became 5 or 6 days up and only 2 days down. Time between trips to see Grandpa were lessened and she continued to improve. Instead of expecting the disease to take her in days, I began to think she might have a couple of weeks. The couple of weeks have now become eight months and she is still with us.
Of course she has good days and bad days that not even Grandpa can make wholly better. Some times she can’t go for the whole weekend because of medicine schedules or she’s just too sick. But nearly every weekend they spend time together. And every time she looks at him, you can still see the fire burning in her eyes from that one, instantaneous lightening bolt the day she looked into his eyes and found life.