I had been working with a little albino named Vanna at the OFS for several months who had been left in a carrier with a "Free to Good Home" for three days in the middle of a Portland ice storm. She had no food, and only the water that poured in from the weather. Neighbors took her in to a shelter, but Vanna bit anyone who got near her, so her cage was labeled with the dreaded "Will Bite" sticker. It was hard enough finding people willing to adopt an albino, and the "Will Bite" sticker probably meant that little Vanna would stay at the shelter for ever. I knew better. I knew this little bundle of white fluff wasn't a biter at heart, so I began to handle her every week. She improved a little over time, but after biting me and another worker one day in 1995, I decided to take her home to give her more time with people. From the moment Vanna entered our home she became a different ferret. Vanna knew she had found her home (although we weren't thinking of adopting her up until that moment) and she became the sweetest of all our ferrets, with the most gentle disposition of any animal we have ever known. We quickly gave her a new name, Ariel, to isolate her from her horrid past. Ariel loved all other ferrets and people, and was our number one goodwill ambassador at public events.
Ariel formed a very close bond with her cage mate, Tris, and the two house weasels cut a path of destruction as they romped about the house with glee.
Ariel died of lymphoma, a form of cancer, on December 31st, 1996 after three months of fighting for her life. Her gentle, playful nature and indomitable spirit will live on with us forever. Elayne and I, and her cage-mates miss her dearly, and not even time has softened the painful blow from our loss. We buried Ariel in a shady spot next to our stream, among the ferns and lilies.
Ariel, an airy spirit imprisoned by Prospero in the Shakespearean play The Tempest, sings about being set free:
Where the bee sucks, there suck I; In a cowslip's bell I lie There I couch when owl's do cry. On the bat's back I do fly After summer merrily. Merrily, merrily shall I live now Under the blossom that hangs from the bough.In The Tempest, Prospero replies to Ariel's song:
Why that's my dainty Ariel! I shall miss thee,...
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