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Lue Sampson Swett is one of the most beautiful ferrets I know, inside or out, and he's now been diagnosed with heart issues that need care.

Lue Sampson Swett is one of the most beautiful ferrets I’ve ever seen – inside or out. And sadly bad things do happen to the best of us; his new Veterinarian, Dr. Anne Bazilwich of the Grand Isle Vet Hospital (who was recommended as ‘the ferret guru’ of Vermont) found a mild heart murmur and an arrhythmia in his heart.

I got my little albino princess, Faeri, in July of 2009 when she was four months old. Being a baby, she had more energy than we knew what to do with and though she loved playing chase up and down the halls of our condo indefinitely, my energy level only kept up with hers for about fifteen minutes at a time. So we decided she probably could use a friend.

I kept an eye out, and eventually saw an ad in the Burlington Free Press for a sable named ‘Balue’ – his Mom, Sarah, was moving and wasn’t allowed to keep him at her new place so she was looking to rehome him. So I contacted her, we hit it off, and decided he and Fae should have a sleep over. Fae had been rescued from fleas and living in trash, and she carried with her more of a sense of wonder and happiness at her new situation. Lue on the other hand at first seemed to say a lot, “You aren’t my Mom! You can’t tell me what to do!” and was just a little hellion. But we loved him instantly, as did Fae. She’d follow him around, nearly endlessly, with a most obvious crush.

He was initially rescued in a sense as well, having spent his first year or more (no one is really sure how old he is) in a cramped pet store display with ten other ferrets of his age and size. One of his ears is stubby and thick with scar tissue, perhaps from his time with so many brothers and sisters. Sarah told us that when they first got him he was a pretty bad biter, which is understandable as he was likely not handled all that much in the pet store – but when she saw him, she couldn’t leave him and had been thinking of getting a ferret for her Chihuahua Diego anyway. Diego was Lue’s first best friend, so he can’t really understand why our 80lb chocolate lab is afraid of him, but he tries very hard to be her friend. But for somebody who started off as a biter, he’s been extraordinary. He’s only ever bitten three or four times – once when being dragged out from under the dishwasher during ‘The War of the Gates’, and the other times when he was showing his displeasure after being scolded and put in time our for digging the carpet or whatever other mischief he was up to. When we play Fae will often nip at me, but Lue will roll onto his back, grab my hand with all four paws, and pretend he’s going to bite me, but his teeth never do more than lightly brush my fingers. Who ever would have guess ferrets could learn to have a soft mouth like Retrievers do?

When living in Colchester he was so much fun, but he was always finding new ways to threaten out likelihood of getting our security deposit back at the end of the year. When I moved to Columbus, I was moved by what a compassionate and understanding little creature he is, as he seemed to sense that it was just us three and I was already stressed without him adding to it. So he never once dug at the carpet or the wood floors, he didn’t even try to climb the gate into the kitchen, took his meds without complaint and even was so cooperative as to let me cut his nails without the help of a second pair of hands. He followed me everywhere in Columbus, and gave me kisses at –least- whenever I’d let them out in the morning and put them back to bed at night, if not numerous other times throughout the day.

Now that we’re living at home with my Mom and Pop, who have unexpectedly fallen for them both as well, he’s put on a little more of the tough guy act and only gives me kisses and takes naps with me when he thinks no one is watching. Can’t let the cat know he’s really just a big softy after all!

Some fun facts about Lue:

- He loves all things made of foamy or rubbery material, and so my Dad no longer has any Vermont Trophy pens on his desk anymore. They have all been stolen, carried off with his teeth around the rubber grip, and hidden around the house.
- He caches his toys and food – I woke one morning to a friend saying, “Jessie – am I sleeping on kibble?” and after investigation, yes, it was kibble. About a bowl’s worth, on the far side of my bed.
- He loves to play ball, but doesn’t do the whole bringing it back part of fetching very well. He will bound after a tennis ball of any size, grab it, and run off to hide it.
- He is extremely agile, and can hop 5-6 ft vertically or horizontally. Anywhere the cat can go, he easily can go too, so Fluffy is safe nowhere.
- He is a very snuggly kissy boy when no one else is watching.
- We have taken naps together on multiple occasions. If he’s still sleepy after taking his meds in the morning, I’ll bring him to bed and sometimes he’ll decide to curl up against me under the covers and go back to sleep.
- He loves feeling like a wild animal and adventuring through our kindling boxes out on the porch where it’s always a bit chilly this time of year. He comes back in dooking and ready to jump at the legs of anyone who gets too close to his ferocious self.
- Unlike Fae, he thinks the vacuum is fascinating and something to either conquer or make friends with depending on his mood at the time.
- He can puzzle out how to open many different kinds of containers and doors.
- If I’m not paying attention to him, he sticks like glue and follows me around like a puppy, just to sit and stare up at me when I stop to look at him, but the moment I try to lavish affection I get the ‘Ew! MOM!’ reaction, and he’s off doing other things since he checked in properly.
- He knows how to ‘sit pretty’ for treats.
- The list gets longer every day…

So last night (12/15/2010) Dr. Bazilwich heard a soft murmur and a definite arrhythmia in his heart – at one point while she was listening she said it just stopped completely for a few seconds, which is probably the kind of thing that caused his seizure last march. So he may not be insulinomic at all, since his glucose has always been in the grey area. So tomorrow he’s having a CBC done, having his blood glucose checked, a urinalysis performed, an ECG and radiographs done as well. The bill for that’s going to be around $315, and then he needs to go to a Cardiologist at Essex Veterinary, who will ultrasound his heart and discuss the results with Dr. Bazilwich, which will run another $300-$400. From there, depending on the type of heart issue he’s having, and the severity, they may want to do an exploratory surgery during which they’d also work on his back teeth which have always been a bit shabby, and shorten his tail a bit to remove a chordoma. A chordoma is a painful tumor containing a bundle of nerves that sits directly on the spine. It can be debilitating and life threatening if it develops on the spine higher up, in the back, but since it’s in his sacral vertabre in his tail, it’s just a matter of pain but not life threatening. But he has off and on through his life shown signs of being in pain intermittently (rubbing his face on the carpet, dragging his hands over his head, etc.). I am not sure yet how much these procedures will run, and then after these he’ll still need medication and continuing care.

But to anyone who knows him, could we do any less?

I’m looking into Care Credit and other options, but I would really love it if people would donate in some fashion for Christmas and such, rather than get me material things. This little guy needs the gifting much more than I do.

Even if you can’t donate monetarily, I’m sure he’d appreciate any good thoughts, energy, or prayers. Or new blankies or toys – Sadly most treats are off the menu because of the sugar they contain. He’s such a generally happy boy, I think he’ll pull through just fine, and continue being a funny lovely critter to the end, regardless of prognosis.
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