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Sage and Candace
Elizabeth Maua Taylor
found out that our daughter Danielle has a penchant
for saving unwanted pets. She would come home
dragging a cage, some twice as big as she, her
luminous blue/violet eyes at the ready to burst
into tears while making her appeal. We've taken in
pet rats, fish, mice, turtles, etc. from folks who
for one reason or another could no longer keep
One day, looking out the window, I saw two giant
cages gliding towards the driveway. I couldn't even
see Danielle. Now what, I thought. The cages were
on casters, they were so big.
She looked up at me with her freckles and long
lashes and deep baby blues ready to spill, and she
pleaded their case. It seemed one neighbor was
moving out of state and the animals were too old
for traveling, and this neighbor was thinking of
taking them to the pound. Can we, pleeeeease?
The cages were custom-made, well-built, and
immaculate. Inside each one was a corner litter
box, a hammock, an impressive fleece "sleeping
bag," and food and water bowls on the second level.
I looked inside. Peeping out of the sleeping bags
were the cutest, most adorable ferrets I've ever
seen. I said yes without thinking.
I immediately called the neighbor. She told me the
ferrets were already five years old (their life
span), and won't survive traveling cross-country.
She said she looked for ferret rescuers but was
unable to find any, so the last resort was the
pound, which meant death for the fine creatures.
They couldn’t be adopted. They were illegal in
California. Oh. Right. Well, I already said yes to
my daughter so it was pointless to tell this
neighbor exactly what I thought of her. I asked for
the rest of the ferrets' food, and, uh, thanks a
Now I had to sell the idea of owning illegal
animals to Tom. So I set to work, getting the house
polished, cooking a great dinner, and making my
award-winning cherry pie. I got dressed up and wore
perfume. The kids even tried to coach me on what to
say. He walked in the door, put his briefcase down,
and just looked at me.
Turned out I didn't have to do anything. The
ferrets sold themselves. It was Tom who cleaned the
cages and bought the special food and vitamins. He
came home one day with a sheepish look on his face,
and held up a pair of what looked like designer
fur-lined sleeping bags for morbidly obese snakes.
These had hooks on both ends, to hang from the roof
of the cages. Well, he'd said, those sleeping bag
thingies have been laundered so many times that
they're not soft any more...
The ferrets, male and female, were named Sage and
Candace. Their cages were in the patio in the
summer, and the laundry room in the winter. We left
their cages open and they had the run of the house
during those winter months since they were
completely litter-trained, curling up anywhere they
pleased; we just had to be watchful of where we
sat. Candace’s favorite spot was on anyone’s lap.
She jumped up on my lap while I sat in front of the
computer. She would curl up and sleep, or curiously
poke her head under my hands while I typed. Sage
loved to curl up on the drapes, under the area rug
by the front door, in between the couch cushions.
Danielle carried Sage around her neck as if she was
wearing a fox stole, and Sage loved it. She took
him outside carrying him like that, and it freaked
out people who didn't know what they were. They
wore bell collars, and they came running when they
heard the rattling box of their Bandits treats,
their collars loudly and happily jingling. We kept
them in their cages at night, but one of us would
invariably sneak into the laundry room 'just to
check on them.'
We found a vet who specialized in ferrets. First
thing she wanted to do was put them down for being
old, even though they were in excellent health.
Besides, she said, they were illegal. I yelled at
her; since when did old age become a disease? And,
it might be illegal to own them but it wasn't
illegal to care for them! She gave them their
shots, I paid, and never went back. We took care of
them on our own thereafter, and they lived four
It was difficult when they died. Sage had a stroke
and died in my arms. Candace died within a month,
also of a stroke. For a while after their deaths,
and during certain times of the day, we kept
expecting to hear them scampering about or poking
around in my kitchen shelves. But eventually the
pain of losing them subsided, and was replaced with
warmth by memories those two cuddly, innocent
fuzzies gave us.
It's been years since we gave away the cages. But
one day, while going through old stuff to give
away, Tom held up a pair of hooked little sleeping
bags, then went into the laundry room. I followed
him. He was sizing up the area. Then he turned to
me and said, that if I knew of any ferrets in need
of rescuing, he knew where to get the custom-made
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