At the shelter every cage has both a clip on water dish and a water bottle. This is something I have done for a long time. Family and close friends will tell you I can worry about that 1% that may never happen. That’s mostly true, but, once in a awhile I am proven right.
When my dear friend Helen was killed instantly at 10:30 at night in a car accident; her cousin contacted my mid morning the next day when they went to Helen’s house and saw the large poster in her ferret room that I had made for her and insisted she hang up. I went so far as to “bully” her standing there with push pins and tape. I wasn’t leaving until she hung it up. Then we could have our tea. Because of this poster, her cousin knew who to call to take care of Helen’s ferrets! Helen was not close to her family as they did not like any of her pets so know one would have known whom to call if not for that poster.
When Jeanne and I arrived to collect the ferrets that morning; several of the cages had no water. Like most of us, I am sure Helen told herself that 1/3 of a bottle would do till she got home after work and then she would top up all the bottles (she had 13 ferrets housed in 5 cages). She was probably running late to get to work. We will never know the circumstances for the empty bottles but the fact was she was literally 5 minutes from home when she was killed. From 10:30 pm till 10:30 the next morning is a long time before I arrived at her house.
None of the ferrets were in distress because of course it was only 12 hours or so hours. But, it reaffirmed my being anal about having both the water dish and the water bottle in each cage. We expect to return home. We expect to fill dishes or top water bottles but we just have to run one quick errand. Even in larger families, during an emergency/tragedy everyone is focused elsewhere and the animals can be overlooked.
Having said all of the above, sometimes, a ferret will defy your perfect logic. Meet Buddy. Buddy is an un-socialized ferret living in the playpen in my living room giving me access to him till bedtime. He is coming along. He no longer hides under the blanket. He used to only come out under the cover of darkness to eat and drink. Now he will eat and drink even as I walk by, he will play with the stuffies. He will run through the tube in his cage. He will even sleep/rest on top of his blankie and watch me as I walk back and forth from the kitchen into my living room.
I have a water bottle hanging from the playpen. I also have a small dish clipped at the bottom. I keep topping up the dish. I have seen him drinking from the bottle. I have seen him at the water dish. He must be a very thirsty ferret! The water dish seems to be empty every time I go by. This morning I was working on my laptop minutes after giving Buddy fresh water in his dish.
I hear the sounds of splish splash and look up in time to see Buddy happily paddling in his water dish. The floor mat is soaked and so is the Christmas sleep sack. Heh, stop that Buddy. He slunk off and crawled under his towel in the nest box. Hmmm, not a thirsty ferret at all. Just a water baby! When he is a little easier to handle he is going to have fun playing in the bathtub!
So for Buddy, it now means I will hang two water bottles for that “just in case something happens and I can’t get home in time”. I’m leaving the water dish and yes I will top it up! Can’t deprive Buddy of the joy of splish splashing in his water dish!