“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”

― Frank Herbert

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ragnar lived a full life.



In 2007 , my son and daughter were living in Jacksonville, Florida.  They had an apartment near the river.  One hot summer day, the Mexican gardener came up to my son and said that he had found an injured animal in the garden. The man knew that my daughter took care of animals and wanted her to help this one.  But, my son told him that he was not interested in any more animals. When my son got back to the apartment, he mentioned it to my daughter and she immediately went down and got the animal from the kind soul who was still trying to get some help for it.

The individual in need was a ferret. He had been out in the sun, and was hideously sun burned. He was badly dehydrated and his ribs were showing through his coat. Whoever had dumped him off hadn't been feeding him for awhile before they did so.

She got him nursed back to health, and it was our first experience with ferrets.  Shortly thereafter, she got another ferret from an animal shelter. They were about to kill him because they didn't keep ferrets.
That's how Ragnar and Faye joined the family.

When my kids moved a couple of years later, I took the ferrets.  They were perfect for this environment.  Both of them were clean, didn't make a mess, and had tremendous personalities. They were grateful for any little thing you did for them, and never missed a chance to show it. Both ferrets liked to climb up on the couch and watch television with me, and on cold winter nights they'd come get on the bed and curl up in their fluff blanket.

I enjoyed them so much that I started taking other ferrets that needed a home. Some were just old and the people who owned them didn't want to pay their medical bills anymore. Some were being cast off because the owners were moving and couldn't take them to the new place. Some were simply abandoned.  I had seven at one point and we all got along fine.

Then , about two years ago, Faye got sick.  The vet told me that there was little chance of recovery, that it was a respiratory problem they couldn't treat.  Rather than letting Faye go, I bought expensive medicine that the vet said might help.  As a result, the ferret lingered in misery for three more days before dying in the middle of the night.  I wanted to be sure that we took every chance to heal Faye, but instead the poor ferret suffered needlessly because of my decision.

Today, when I got down to the exotic pet specialist, Ragnar was in a very bad way. He'd only been able to take a little paste and oil mixed with water for two days. She examined him, and said he had a massive tumor in his throat. She said it was hopeless. I asked her if there was nothing that could be done, and she said they could remove his teeth, and part of his jaw, and cut out as much as they could of the tumor, then set him up with chemotherapy.

I personally made the decision for myself some time ago that I would not go through all that if I got cancer. I felt like it was the same decision Ragnar would have made if he had been able to. He'd been through enough pain already.

I honestly think he knew he was passing, because as weak as he was he crawled up off the examination table and climbed up my shirt. It took tremendous effort.

I told the doctor to help him on his way, but I didn't stay inside. I went outside until he was ready to go home.  As I always do when one of the ferrets dies,  I fixed him a nice place up on the top of the meadow, with all his favorite personal possessions, some shiny coins and costume jewelry and a few of his toys.

I will really miss him.  He had a wonderful personality, and really added a lot to life up here on this mountain. It will not be the same without him.  But it was good having him here and I appreciate the time I got to enjoy his company.

48 comments:

  1. I am so very sorry.
    Rest easy, Ragnar. You were well loved.

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    1. He's not in pain anymore. He's with his friends that have gone before him. Maybe they are all together somewhere, who knows?

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  2. Damn, man...I didnt even know him and I'm feeling teary-eyed.

    You did a great job with him and really gave him the most awesome life a ferret could have. He couldn't have had a better life anywhere else with anyone else.

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    1. He was a great ferret. He could communicate better than most people, and he could always sense if someone was not feeling so hot, he'd come over and just sit with you, watch a little tv. I was lucky to have him.

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  3. Hey Harry,


    (captaincrunch)

    I'll drink a beer in honor of "Ragnar the great" who now dines on his favorite treats in Valhalla.

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    1. You know, that's a good way to look at it. Who knows, maybe that's exactly where he is, and the other ferrets are there too. Nobody knows what happens when you die, and nobody knows that only human beings were chosen out for an afterlife. I can believe what I damn well please. Maybe it's true.

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  4. Sorry to hear of your loss but you made the right decision and Ragnar did not suffer. These little friends give us so much joy and only ask that we give them some attention (and lots of treats). I'll have a rum for Ragnar tonight.

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    1. He would appreciate that , Sgt. He wasn't above taking a drop of cherry cough syrup from time to time himself.

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  5. Sorry to hear about that. You made him comfy for a lot of years and as you said he had a good life.

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    1. I'm relieved he isn't hurting anymore. The last two days were really rough on the poor guy. Honest to God, I couldn't imagine subjecting him to all that surgery and mutilation, and that with no hope of any real quality of life thereafter. Two tumors in a few months, it would have just happened again. I think he was ready to go.

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  6. Harry - I'm so very sorry for your loss. Animal have such a special place in our lives and hearts - I'm sure Ragnar was aware of the love you had for him. Thank you for caring enough and not allowing him to suffer.

    Take care Harry - take comfort that Ragnar is just there in the meadow when next you need a chat.

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    1. Hey, Dani. You're right about animals, they are good friends and make life less lonely. Rangar and I were good pals. He always knew if I was feeling ragged and he'd some around and cheer me up. I'll sure miss him.

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  7. Never an easy thing, to lose a family member.

    Sorry to hear about this, but we all come to an end. All of you have been lucky to find one another, and it's a good thing you're doing for those little guys, Harry.

    RIP Ragnar, good job.

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    1. My daughter is going to get two more ferrets from a shelter up there and bring them down when she comes to visit in September. I'll be glad to have them.

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  8. Harry, i can't add anymore to whats been said already. Sometimes its better to remember the good times and not dwell on the bad. He knew you had a tough choice to make.

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    1. Rob, I expect you are right. I do wish I'd had the courage to stay with him at the end, but he was so weak and tired I doubt he knew I left the room. I hope he didn't know.

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  9. Replies
    1. He's up there on the mountainside with his friends who passed before he did, so he's not alone. And, most importantly, he's not in pain.

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  10. His suffering is over. You made the right choice, given the situation he faced. Sometimes true love involves bring able to make tough decisions and let go for their best interests.

    All these little guys you've rescued have had far better lives thanks to you than they would have otherwise.

    You have a big heart, Harry. Good job.

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    1. I'm actually a pretty selfish person, in that I hate to let them go when it's time. I get so accustomed to them being around. The middle of the forest, on the top of a mountain, can get to be a lonely place without them.

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  11. Replies
    1. I appreciate the kind words. Life certainly has it's ups and downs.

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  12. My condolences sir, it sounds like you and Ragnar had a great relationship. I'm sure he will be missed by you and your wife.

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    1. He was a good friend. He had more sense than most people do, and not a mean bone in his body.

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  13. I am sorry, and I've been there myself with the Shepherds so I know how it feels. But you gave him a better life than most ferrets likely have, and it is my belief that when we die, we'l be reunited with out loved loyal friends in Heaven. It really couldn't be heaven without them, could it?

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    1. I have raised a good many hackles with that same sentiment, but it makes sense to me.

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  14. Very sorry for your loss Harry. It is my belief that you will see him again someday. --Troy

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    1. Well, I don't pretend to know what happens when you die, but I have hopes that you are right. If anything about an afterlife makes sense, that would.

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  15. I'm sorry you had to make the choice, but it's the same discussion we've had on this end. Sorry for your loss. I'm glad you have great memories and photo's to think/look back on.

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    1. Didn't want to repeat the mistake I made with Faye, which was a selfish one. I was sure , after his last operation, that he would not want to go through anymore. He was blind, getting on in years, and not getting around like he used to. This was the best thing for him, and that's the important part.

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  16. It's the decision that hurts so much to make. You did right by Ragnar, though. So sorry for your loss.

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    1. I recently quoted Euripides , "only the dead have seen the end of woe." to someone , can't remember who. The quote comes back to me now, though.

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  17. Harry - i am so sorry for you loss of little Ragnar. i don't want to come across as nagging, and i know that you won't take it that way - but make sure you give yourself the time and space needed to grieve. he WAS a family member and losing a family member is never an easy thing. please be kind to yourself.

    i can't add to what everyone else has already said, except to pass on my condolences to you, i know how much you loved that little guy. but as for the question of do our pets go to heaven, please read this beautiful story from my very dear friend:

    http://thelastrobin.blogspot.ca/2009/12/our-dogs-and-cats-alive-again.html

    it makes me happy every time i read it. much love, Harry, to you and yours, always!

    your friend,
    kymber

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    1. I'll read that Kymber. You aren't nagging, you're quite right. I just need to relax for a bit, stop watching the news, and concentrate on things closer to home. My daughter is coming in September to visit, and she said she would get two ferrets from the big ferret rescue up there, and bring them to me. I told her that would be great, and to be sure and pick ferrets that nobody else would adopt, because they need a home the most. It makes me feel good to take care of the ones who are old, or have some injury, or just aren't pretty.

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  18. I am so sorry to hear this. I was hoping against hope that Ragnar would be made well. It is hard to let our animal family go when the time comes, but it shows great love and compassion to let them slip away from pain and suffering. My heart goes out to you for I know how you feel. Ragnar will always be in your heart.

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  19. So sorry to hear about your little buddy, Ragnar. Bless you for taking him in and giving him lots of love and the best life as possible. I know from experience how attached we get to our animals. Love them just like one of the family. Memories of each one are always there. I think the best therapy, is doing what you've planned, and helping others who need someone to love them and care for them.

    Also, I used to follow your old blog and really missed it when it left. So glad to have found you again last week. I can relate to your lifestyle. You know...great minds think alike :-)

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  20. That's so sad. You really did the right thing. I couldn't imagine having my teeth gone, jaw tore apart, and tumor cut out. You did what was best.

    That's so good you have a memory spot.

    It's never easy loosing someone, or a pet that you love.

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    1. Well, if I get cancer down the road, I don't plan on any extreme attempts to prolong my life. If there is a chance of beating it, or having some quality time, then yes. But all that potential agony offered Ragnar nothing in return that I could see. I figured he and I would think alike on that.

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  21. Harry,
    I have been following your blog for quite some time, but I have never commented before. I am so sorry to hear about Ragnar. I have four rescue dogs and several cats, and would rather be around my animals than I would most people. I admire you for being such a good, compassionate man. When I look around and see all the evil in this world, I am encouraged to know that there are still good people, such as you and your wife, who care for animals, especially those that are not wanted by others. Ragnar was so blessed to be part of your family and I know he felt your love and commitment to him. God bless you!

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    1. It's kind of you to write. As a young man I got alone fine with people, but around age 32 I just lost the ability to be good company. Had no patience and got angry very easily. Moving up here was a good thing for me, and animals were good companions because they don't have bad traits. They are completely honest in their dealings and they don't scheme and plot, they're not motivated by greed. I've enjoyed all my animals friends but the ferrets in particular are dear to me, probably because they are in the house and their personalities are so pleasant. I have always been given more by the animals who come to live here than I ever gave .

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  22. RIP Ragnar. Making that decision is never easy, but in the end you know it is the right one. Prayers for you guys.

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    1. Hey, Glock Mom. Thanks. I wish I had stayed in there with him, but I think he was not really conscious of what was happening by then.

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  23. I'm so sorry Harry, but I suspected this bad news when there wasn't another post yesterday. I'm sure you know, the midst of grief, that it will take awhile for you to see all the good you'd done for Ragnar & the other ferrets. Those of us who take in other folks' throw aways surely get the better end of the deal. Peace to you and your family. Jan in NWGA

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    1. Hey, Jan. I am just really tired. I miss the old guy, he was a bigger part of my daily life than I realized, but now when I do this or that, where he used to come around and see if he could cadge a snack, or get picked up, he isn't there and I miss him.

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  24. I am so very sorry! I can't even read all the comments because I don't want to cry before I leave for work. So sad but I am glad he isn't suffering.

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    1. Don't feel like the Lone Ranger. I couldn't stay in the examination room once I knew what was going to happen. I haven't cried since I was 12 years old, couldn't start then. Now I feel guilty and I hope he didn't know I left at the end. I don't think he did, he was not really conscious because he was just worn out.

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  25. hi. crying here. you did right, no doubt.
    paradise is full of animals.
    as someone already said, it would not be paradise without them.

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    1. There just wasn't anywhere else to go, Deb. He was in a lot of pain. I made the decision for him that I would have made for myself, and that's the best I could do. But it didn't make it one whit easier to lose him.

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