Thanks, Joe

The joke about Joey, of course, was that he was turned up to eleven. He was everything a ferret should be, cranked up to ridiculous levels.

Ferrets like to chase. Joey could run the stairs of our apartment building, up to the third floor and down to the basement, until Mr. A and I were both red-faced and gasping, and then he’d turn around and look at us like, “Is that all you got, punks?”

Ferrets like to hide things. Joey would steal only one of my black ballet slippers, the ones I wear around the house, and stash it someplace different each time. Once I found it behind the refrigerator.

Ferrets like to eat. Joey just about ate us out of house and home when we first brought him back from the shelter. We had to get a second food dish for the cage because he’d elbow Fox and Stripe out of the way and stick his whole head in there, mowing away.

Ferrets are furry. This past winter Joey grew the most beautiful coat I’d ever seen on a ferret, long and sleek and silky-dark like the sable ferret he was.

Yeah. Was. Joey’s vet called us this afternoon. He took a turn for the worse overnight and his ulcer, which we’d hoped would be healing by now, was instead bleeding very badly. Left to his own devices he likely would have bled to death overnight. Given that possibility, the possibility of him dying alone in the vet’s office with neither of us there, Mr. A and I made the very hard choice to put him to sleep.

He was three and a half and we were his third owners. When we met him in the shelter we thought, how on earth could anyone ever give up a pet like this? He was like a fuzzy beach ball, all fur and whiskers and bounce and joy. When we brought him home we discovered why a) he was so damn fat and b) he’d been given up before.

He climbed. EVERYTHING. He used to climb up Mr. A’s pantleg and into his lap while Mr. A was on conference calls, just to be mean. He climbed the cords on the back of Mr. A’s computer and hoisted himself up on the desk, knocking over Diet Coke cans and pushing whole dinner plates (my wedding china, natch) off the surface before we learned to just never put anything up there that we cared about. We’d hear him banging about up there, go in, yell “JOE!” and he’d just look up, the most incredibly pleased expression on his fuzzy little face, like, “Hey, guys! Look what I did!”

He could not find the litter box for love or money. Eventually we had to put newspaper down in all the places he liked to deposit his little presents and change the paper out twice a day. Worse than that, he trained the other ferrets not to find the litter box anymore either. Once they discovered that Joey was allowed to pee merrily all over the floor, they joined in the party.

He was an instigator. Last summer when I took him outside for the first time, the first thing he did was make a lunge for the neighbor’s cat, which had to be three times his size. I couldn’t tell if he wanted to eat it or make friends, but the cat wasn’t sticking around to find out and took off. Joey just looked up at me like, “Pussies, man. What can you do?”

But all those things, which must have seemed like drawbacks to others, just made us laugh. There was literally nothing he did that did not crack us up. We would put him on the couch and he’d dance around so vigorously that he fell right off it. ANYTHING could be a toy: plastic water bottle, my car keys, ping-pong ball, a cardboard box. And his goofiness was only exceeded by his kindness. He cared tremendously for Stripe when Stripe was sick, cuddling and kissing him and nudging him to play. When I got sick shortly after Christmas, al he wanted to was to be around me, lick my hand, and make sure I was okay. He used to ride around in Mr. A’s sweatshirt, a better warmer-upper than a water bottle.

It’s hard to shake the feeling that we should have had more time with him, or that we should have done something, anything, other than what we did, in order to care for him better. Right now I’m wishing like hell that every time he wanted to play I’d indulged him. Right now I’m wishing he was here, sitting on my feet, looking up at me just knowing that if he stares at me long enough, I’ll give in, get him a treat, because I can’t resist and he knows it, the little brat.

He was turned up to 11. His brothers are confused as to why he’s not here. So am I.

A.

49 thoughts on “Thanks, Joe

  1. slim says:

    I’m so sorry, Athenae. Thanks for sharing what Joey meant to you.

    Like

  2. dancinfool says:

    The life Joey had with you was surely the best he’d ever had. I’m so sorry for your loss. 😦

    Like

  3. St Paul E Wog says:

    My condolences, A…I’m bracing myself because my 18-year old cat, Pandora is beginning to ail. She’s drinking too often, bad breath, weight loss. Kidney failure, I think. A good life she has had, though.

    Like

  4. Eli says:

    Aw, crap, A. I’m so sorry.

    Like

  5. lb0313 says:

    You know, I can see you two cracking up @ everything he did.
    Here’s hoping some of the laughs the two of you have for many years to come are gifts from him.

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  6. munkihaid says:

    Damn it! My deepest condolences to you and Mr. A. Keep the critters close. It’s good for all y’all.

    Like

  7. scout says:

    Oh A. I am so sorry. Joey was so lucky to have had you and Mr. A. And of course you to have had Joey. Damn I feel so bad for you guys. I’m so sorry. Take care.

    Like

  8. Ghost of Joe Liebling's Dog says:

    Oh, no. No.
    I’m so sorry. People and ferrets alike, the A family will be in my thoughts.

    Like

  9. hoppycalif says:

    I’m so sorry. Losing any pet is heart breaking, but Joey was obviously not just any pet. I worry often that my 13 yr old Golden Retriever will soon be in a similar no-win situation. And, only 3 1/2 years? I think he just lived his life at full speed and it ran out too soon.

    Like

  10. airycay says:

    Very sorry for your loss, Mrs. and Mr. A. Godspeed, Joey!

    Like

  11. As soon as I saw the title of the post, I knew what had happened. Athenae and Mr. A., I am so sorry. He brought you such joy, and I know that you will miss him terribly.
    He was blessed to have had you two to boss around. May Joey rest in peace. I send good thoughts your way.

    Like

  12. pansypoo says:

    damn. so sorry. you always wish you could have more time. i wish i had more time. but we can onl cherish the time we get.
    joey’s hair reminds me of my cosmo who went to soon. never seen a more beautiful tail on a cat.
    far too many pets have been lost recently.

    Like

  13. GottaLaff says:

    I’m so sorry. I cried when I read this post, knowing how tough this is for you guys.
    He was adorable, and he kept you laughing. What a gift!
    I hope and know that’s what you always remember.
    Hugs.

    Like

  14. Sandia Blanca says:

    Aw, first Teddy and now Joey–this has been a rough time for the First Drafters. I’m so sorry, Athenae.

    Like

  15. CatStaff says:

    A, I’m so sorry for your loss.
    The love you felt for Joey shone through every post. I have no doubt that he knew that he was loved, and that a benign hand brought him to you so that he would have the love and care he deserved. The time we have with our beloved companions is never long enough.
    I’ll be keeping you, Mr. A, and Joey in my thoughts.
    Peace.

    Like

  16. virgotex says:

    Oh damn. I saw the post title in my RSS reader and I thought it must be about Lieberman, so I didn’t check right away.
    Damn. I remember your first post about “Little” Joe and how he wasn’t little at all. I’m sorry for your loss, but it seems you and Mr.A made the best decision you could for him. And of course, that you two gave him the life of a little furry king. He was undoubtedly happy and shared it.

    Like

  17. Interrobang says:

    My deepest condolences on your loss, Athenae. Thanks so much for sharing your happy stories about him. Even though I’m not a fan of ferrets by any stretch of the imagination, I really enjoyed your vivid descriptions. I’ll chalk that up to a talented writer’s superlative rendition of an unforgettable personality.
    I feel like I’ve typed similar words of solidarity in grief far, far too often of late. I’m so very sorry.

    Like

  18. Jude says:

    I’m terribly sorry.
    Now let’s not have anymore First Draft pet tragedies for a while.

    Like

  19. Duckman GR says:

    Sorry for Joey, he did sem to have a pretty good build attached to that tail, if you know what I mean!
    The dude had it good in the A household, that’s a commendation on your general goodness and patience, I know Joey didn’t get to spend all the time with you everybody would’ve liked, but at least the time spent was quality time.
    That’s all anybody can really hope for, it sounds like you got lucky.

    Like

  20. Mr. A says:

    Mr. A here…
    I will really miss my kissy, furry wrecking ball. Though it was my office he trashed most of the time, he really was sweet. He was the Ur-Ferret, the one that you would show others who had not heard of a ferret, un huron, un furet.
    Putting him to sleep was the hardest thing to decide, to do, to watch.
    The doctor tells you “it’ll be quick”. At that point, you still hope that he will show the spirit, the drive, the spark that sprang forth from him when he was happy, excited or even scared.
    He was tired, though. His ears, nose and feet pale, pale pink from blood loss; his sleepy, non-fighting behavior when held… he’d had enough. Yet, when the injection to his catherer (which he had to keep him hydrated and medicated the past 4 days) started, he bolted up in my arms… Was he startled or was he fighting? I need to think the former.
    A took her turn to hold him, to calm him… and the anesthetic was injected… and he was gone like/that. That’s not quick; that’s flipping a switch. His eyes were still open but no one was home.
    He went home. Just not to our home.
    We set him back into his favorite pet bed, curled up like he was in life, the one eye still open and still warm to the touch. I pet him a while longer (we’d already held and pet him for an hour before making this decision). I cried. Me and the Ms. held each other. We covered him with a blanket and said goodbye.
    He is being cremated. We are not taking any ashes. He will be sprinkled over a pet cemetery. His body will join the friends he’ll make wherever he may go. (Something that sweet should get an eternity of rest and joy; he earned it.)
    Was he “only an animal”? Physically, sure. Emotionally, no.
    As any pet owner will tell you, the love and joy from a pet is so basic, so unconditional and so thorough, that it builds such strong, pleasant memories. My time with him was very fun. Sure, he was destructive, had poor restroom navigation and danced badly (if only we had recorded one or more of those dancing freak outs! But you can see him alive in Friday’s post), but he was joy and love and many other warm, pleasant feelings made solid in fur and bone and real in the experience.
    So, yeah, I miss him. And I’m going to be OK. But not at the same time.
    Not right now.
    Goodbye Little Fuzzy.

    Like

  21. Awww, guys, I’m so terribly sorry for your loss.
    Making that decision is the hardest thing you can do, but the most loving, kindest thing also. Cherish every memory you have of him, but remember he’s somewhere where there is no pain, just endless treats and fun things to climb on.
    Peace to both of you.

    Like

  22. Monkeyfister says:

    Joey will be missed by all of us, Athenae. I’m terribly sorry for your loss.
    Your obituary for him is beautiful.
    Take care of those other two kidz of yours. Let them bring you joy.
    –mf

    Like

  23. Ray says:

    I’m sorry, Mr. & Mrs. A.
    All that funny stuff will stick around, though. And he’s in heaven right now knocking their best china off the shelves and Gabriel is yelling, “Joe! Jesus Christ…”

    Like

  24. G in INdiana says:

    As soon as it warms up a bit here, I’ll be planting a tree for your Joey. I do it for all my pets and I think Joey deserves one too. A nice white oak, I think… they last a long time and make lots of acorns for the critters.

    Like

  25. mmmm ... sultry says:

    oh, guys, I’m so sorry for your loss – those darned furry little children become a such part of our day-to-day lives – despite their small size, they leave a mighty big hole in their absence.
    do take care – and know that there are people out here keeping you and your fam in our thoughts.

    Like

  26. Condolences. After the NOLA school photos post, I had tears in my eyes, and now this post … stop doing that!

    Like

  27. Athenae says:

    Thanks, everybody, for the comments. It helps to know so many people cared about him. 🙂
    A.

    Like

  28. nobozos says:

    I’m so sorry for you. I thought for sure he would get better. It’s so sad to lose, not a pet, but a friend.

    Like

  29. VictoriaB says:

    I’m late to this event, but I must add my condolences, Mrs. and Mr. A. Thanks for sharing Joey. He was a delight from the first picture you posted, the first stories, the negotiations with Stripe and Fox over how it was all going to work in the family — he was very special. I never had a ferret (except yours, by proxy) but I had cats for 45 years and I know how it feels to lose a beloved pet. My heart aches for all your family, four footed and two.
    Peace, V.

    Like

  30. Trillium says:

    So sorry for your loss – I look forward to ferret blogging every week. Joey’s mischievous face will be sorely missed. . .

    Like

  31. Maitri says:

    Through the tears, I’m so sorry. You just told us about him when you were down here. He had a good life with you, the ones who took him in and laughed despite his boisterousness. I wish I were there to love and squeeze Stripe and Fox extra for their loss.

    Like

  32. demetri says:

    I’m sorry. I’ll miss Joey too. I know you were wonderful for him and he for you. The time they can spend with you is so worth it, but when they have to leave…
    All the creatures under your roof have the our sympathy.

    Like

  33. GentillyGirl says:

    My sincere condolences on your loss folks. I’ve had to have my little friends put down over the years… It’s painful, but over time the pain goes away, and the only things left are the good times.

    Like

  34. TJ says:

    So sorry to hear about Joey, A. I’ve always loved the ferretblogging. Hugs and warm thoughts to you and Mr. A. and Joey’s little ferret brothers.

    Like

  35. shayera says:

    So sorry to hear about Joey.

    Like

  36. Scorpio says:

    So sorry to hear this.

    Like

  37. Oh, no.
    I am so sorry.
    May Joey run forever in the summerlands and climb everything in heaven.

    Like

  38. dan mcenroe says:

    Just returned from an extended sojourn in meatspace and saw this – I hope it’s not too late to extend my condolences. Damn. Joey sounds like he was a blast.
    My best thoughts to you and yours.

    Like

  39. Paida says:

    Sorry A – that just sucks. I loved your Joey stories. Take care of yourself and let yourself make a couple extra trip to the chocolate store at the mall.
    big hug to you and the ferrets

    Like

  40. BuggyQ says:

    I kept it together, sort of, till I read Mr. A’s comment. I went through the same thing with my Clio–the wondering if it was time, holding her in my arms as she went, and her brief struggle, like she was trying to stay just a little bit longer.
    I’d been through the loss of a pet before, and it was always hard. But with Clio, it was different. It was like I was losing a part of me. And I know all the second guessing–did I do enough, did I let her go too soon, was there something I could have noticed that might have saved her? God, it hurts still, and I lost her two years ago–May 17, 2005.
    This is a lot of blathering about me, but the point I’m getting to is, you both loved Joe. That’s crystal clear to me, and anyone reading this. Whatever else you may think, whatever else you may wonder about, you can be sure of that. And that’s enough. It’s enough for any pet, any friend.
    My Clio will kitty-quack at him when he gets to the Rainbow Bridge, then run to her scratching post. That’s how she says hello to people she likes.

    Like

  41. WitchWay11 says:

    I’m late to the thread, but I just wanted to express my condolences. Good thoughts to you all.

    Like

  42. dammit. First Teddy and now Joey.
    There are any number of politicians who shall remain nameless that I’d rather hear just-up-and-croaked, especially knowing the amounts of death, stupidity and misery they’ve brought with them, but these beloved pets actually brought some measure of happiness not just to their humans, but to those of us out here in the audience as well…
    damn.

    Like

  43. Roadmaster says:

    Awww…Late to the news, but sharing the sadness with everyone else. My condolences.

    Like

  44. Stephanie says:

    I’m late with this but wanted to add my condolences. I know how hard it is to lose a furry member of the family. I can also relate to your challenges with Joey – I’ve had some canine challenges and somehow the “problem children” end up being the ones you bond with the most.
    I do believe our animal companions understand and appreciate what we do for them. Joey knew you loved him and that you did everything you could for him.
    Stephanie

    Like

  45. mothra says:

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. It’s always so hard to say goodbye to our friends.

    Like

  46. prozacula says:

    I had 2 ferrets, once.
    I can only imagine you will be finding his ‘cute’ little piles of poo in every corner that exists in your house for years to come!

    Like

  47. shanks.n says:

    Hot tears, people; just hot tears.
    Shanks

    Like

  48. It’ s also a pretty good example of why you never see cats trained to do tricks. And just to make it fair, here’ s a redneck with his equally lame dog training. Is there are problem with the sound syncing, or is this guy telling his dog to do the tricks after he’ s done them? Odd.

    Like

  49. Modulator says:

    Friday Ark #134

    We’ll post links to sites that have Friday (plus or minus a few days) photos of their chosen animals (photoshops at our discretion and humans only in supporting roles). Watch the Exception category for rocks, beer, coffee cups, and…? Do link to the …

    Like

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