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Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Effect of Ferrets on Blood Pressure

It is a widely over-cited fact that "pets decrease blood pressure," however before I wrote an entry making any recommendations to switch out a ferret for HCTZ I decided to check my facts. When I searched some online journal databases for studies on animals and BP, the results were disheartening. All of the studies were older than five years ago, and none of them mentioned ferrets.

In the past few minutes, on a related note, I have had to stop typing and put my laptop down in order to prevent Rascal from eating the following things:

1. My leather bound copy of  The GLOBE Illustrated Complete Works of William Shakespeare
2. A roll of duct tape
3. My left foot
4. The other ferret 1

So, I can now tell you from my own qualitative data, that ferrets have a negative effect on hypertension in acute stress situations. Which is fine. I don't need lower blood pressure anyway.3

 I haven't been a pet owner in years.  And being a ferret owner is a very, very specific type of pet owner. 4 
Ferrets are simpler than frogs or dogs but way harder than say, my Mom's beta fish, Ceviche. (Although come to think of it, my Mom has never claimed the title of "pet owner" per se, but she technically has been ever since that fateful Mother's Day when Brian and I decided a Japanese fighting fish would be an excellent gift. )

I get up early and go to bed late so I have time to clean their cage before I leave and when I get home. Ferrets need exercise but you can't walk them or go jogging with them at Fresh Pond, so they have to be allowed to run around and play. Playtime has to be supervised though. Unless you happen to enjoy the types of games that my college roommate's ferrets taught me: What's the Ferret Choking on Now?,  How Did The Ferret Get Behind the Shower Wall? and my least favorite - Find the Poop With Your Bare Feet at 2am.
All this supervised exercise time means skipping the gym, dashing home between work and evening commitments, and coming home a little early. Sometimes it even means staying up way later than you expected to, writing a rather pointless blog entry so that the ferrets can play.

But now as I sit on the couch watching Weasel and Rascal slowly curl into one giant ball of Ferret and fall asleep, I do feel my heart rate normalize and my breathing become regular.

Having an excuse to come home has actually been really nice. Having a justification for hours spent relaxing instead of running around from place to place has resulted in some seriously peaceful evenings recently. I actually made dinner one night. And watching them play, and trying to get them to play with me makes me laugh out loud like a crazy person in a really good way.

So although I am (obviously) allergic to them, and although they smell like the locker rooms at the MDC skating rink where I used to hang out as a kid, the little monsters have taught me some valuable lessons about taking a step back from the grind.

My amazing friends are returning home from their two weeks of saving lives in the Dominican Republic. And Weasel and Rascal will get bundled up and get to go back to their triple decker ferret condo. I'm going to really miss them. I'll miss the weird noises they make when I come home, and the way they jump up and down to get my attention when I'm reading. I'll miss playing fetch and tug of war and watching them scratch their backs on the carpet like landlocked otters.  I'll miss Weasel curling up in my lap for a nap and Rascal climbing up the wall and dive bombing pillows just to give me a heart attack.

I will not, however, miss them enough to agree to keep them. Don't you even start, Amy.

1.Seriously, where is the other ferret? 2
2. Just kidding. Weasal is inside an old Hawaiian shirt in the closet. Duh.
3. Last time I checked it was 109/70. The next time I touch a therapy dog I'm going to need IV fluids STAT.
4. Keep the D&D and Comicon jokes to yourself please. I'm just a ferret babysitter.
5. Sorry, Mom. We like to drink together.
6. Keeping it classy, West Roxbury. Actually, I prefer the smell of ferrets. Sorry, Parkway Youth Hockey.

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