Kiva arrived early in 1994, nearly six months after we had moved into our house in southeast Portland. Kiva also heralded the first of many ferrets that would arrive in quick succession, and proved beyond all doubt that ferret math had struck Elayne and Leonard.
I picked up Kiva from a person who posted a "ferret for sale" article on the net. She was kept in a small cage and seldom got out to play, which was one reason she was being sold. Her previous owner insisted that she didn't like any sort of treat and didn't really play that much, but within a week after moving in with us Kiva showed a great lust for any sort of edible item, and would keep Moki, Binky, Elayne and I busy for hours chasing her about. Like Binky, Kiva was the essence of sweetness, although she had a tendency to use her scent glands whenever she was relaxed or happy, which was most of the time. Kiva liked to play with other ferrets, but she idolized Bongo, and the two became fast friends. Kiva was deaf, but that did not appear to limit her abilities to play or scavenge for treats.
A few months later Kiva was in serious trouble: she had eaten the erasers off of two pencils and was suffering from intestinal blockage. We took her to a 24 hour emergency vet clinic where the erasers were removed. A few days later, after Kiva was showing great signs of recovery, she burst her intestinal sutures and was in critical condition once again. Kiva was still in bad shape when she came home from her second operation, and we thought we had lost her a few days later, but she made a remarkable turn around just when we had given up hope. She was down to 400 grams and very sick, but she was going to make it. If it hadn't been for Elayne's constant attention, feeding, keeping the IV in place, and antibiotic injections every 6 hours on the hour, Kiva would have died. Kiva blossomed to 1150 grams, where she remained for the rest of her life. She quickly became our "most spoiled ferret".
Kiva passed away in August of 1998. Her enlarged spleen and herniated diaphragm continued to cause health problems for our special girl throughout her life, and they finally proved to be too much for even her brave heart. She was the mascot for the Oregon Ferret Association, Moki & Bongo's dearest friend, and the darling of our lives.
Kiva thought that a tussle with Bongo was long overdue -- it had been a really long time since they last played together -- so she ambled over to her cage mate and gave him a firm nudge. No response. Another nudge. "Come on Bongo," Kiva quipped, "I'll race you down the tube!" Bongo snored on. "Well be that way," she snorted, "see if I let you share my soup tonight." Kiva had never let any ferret share her soup before, but she figured Bongo had a poor enough memory that the threat might mean something to him, but apparently it didn't and he continued to sleep.
Kiva's second choice was Moki, and while she was a bit uptight at times Kiva knew Moki could bounce with the best of them, which was just the sort of thing she wanted right now. Moki was snoozing on the top level of the cage and muttering in her sleep, "One of these days I'm going to be big and powerful and then you'll all pay." Kiva was about to give her a nip on the ear to wake her up when she realized that she had actually heard Moki's muttering and Bongo's gentle snoring. Kiva had been deaf all of her life and the sensation of sounds were quite new to her, although understanding all of these new noises came naturally. Kiva accepted her new condition with a quick shrug, then nipped Moki hard on the ear and barked a quick "Wake up!" Moki shifted in her sleep for a moment and then slowly opened one eye and looked about. "Tag, you're it!" chirped Kiva as she bounced about in anticipation of a frolic. Moki glanced about the cage, looking right past Kiva, sniffed the air for a moment then curled up tight and went back to sleep. "How rude," thought Kiva, "but typical for Moki. I guess I'm on my own."
Halfway into the living room where all the toys were usually stashed, Kiva paused for a moment and thought how odd it was for her people to leave the cage open while they weren't at home. "They must have been preoccupied with other things and forgotten to close the cage door," she decided. Certainly her two people had been running around a lot these past few days, in and out of the house at all hours with no regard for the regular schedule. Kiva herself had usually accompanied them on these trips, but hadn't felt well enough to pay much attention to what was going on. Just earlier today there had been another rush out the door with her burrowed into her snuggle sack. She much preferred the calm of this afternoon to all of the poking and prodding, but a little action would be nice. She nosed a ball about, and pulled a few socks from a pile in the middle of the floor to a nice stash beneath the futon, but she really wasn't into it -- what she wanted was to somebody else with which to play.
Just then the door opened and Kiva's two favorite people came in. Kiva ran up to them as they closed the door and pranced a bit in front of them so they could tell her how clever she was for being out of the cage on her own, but they ignored her. They moved very slowly and appeared to be very sad and distraught about something. Kiva had always been able to get her people to smile in the past so she pulled out all stops as she rolled across the floor in front of them and then paused and peered up at them. There was no response.
Kiva was beginning to feel a little concerned about the way things were going, and very lonely because everyone had ignored her this afternoon when she felt a familiar nuzzle against her whiskers.
"It's time to leave, Kiva," said a small sable ferret whom Kiva hadn't noticed before.
Binky! Kiva hadn't seen Binky in an awfully long time, but she was delighted Binky was here now when everything else seemed all wrong. Before she could form a reply she was knocked over from behind.
A white ferret with a silver tail danced eagerly around her and shouted, "Come on Kiva, we need to go and play!"
Tegan too? It had been quite a while since Kiva had last seen Tegan, and so she quickly bounced up along side her and returned Tegan's pounce. "This is great!" said Kiva, "Let's go wake up the others and play like we used to."
"Later," said Binky, "we can't stay here any longer, but you can come with us and we'll play and frolic until the others can join us."
"But how will they find us?" Kiva asked.
"Binky and I will show them the way, just like we're doing with you now, and you'll help us," Tegan reassured Kiva. "It's really fantastic where we're going," exclaimed Tegan, "You'll see lots of your old friends like Raven, Ariel and Ruby, and meet lots of new ones like Magellan and Zule."
The three ferrets turned to leave, but Kiva held back as she looked up at her people. "But what about them?", she asked, "Will they be upset and forget me if I just leave."
"Of course not", said Binky, "They've already let you go, but they'll never forget you. Some day they'll join us like other people we've seen..."
"And then we'll really dance!" interrupted Kiva, as she made her way across the Rainbow Bridge with her dear friends.
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