Many families include their pets when giving gifts for the holidays. In our house, the dogs, cats, and ferrets always get some sort of extra gift or treat, especially for putting up with all the travel and visitors that Thanksgiving and Christmas usually entail (plus a special bonus for any pet who hasn’t stolen food off a table or tried to knock over the tree).
But there are a lot of less fortunate animals out there that are just as deserving of something special this season. Every year, I visit the Ferret Giving Tree, where shelters from all over the US and Canada have posted fuzzies who could use a Santa of their very own. It’s a great way to help out ferrets who are waiting for forever homes, or who can’t be re-homed because of their age or health, by sending them a small gift.
On the Giving Tree, shelters will usually include a few things that the individual ferret enjoys, along with a list of supplies that the whole shelter needs to keep running, like brands of food and litter. Many also include the name of their veterinarian if you’d like to make a monetary donation, because shelters incur lots of medical bills!
I always check every “tree,” looking at all the names and pictures and reading the ferrets’ stories, waiting for one that “speaks” to me the most. In the past it’s been a ferret that reminds me of one of mine already at the Rainbow Bridge, maybe because of his or her name or adorable little face, or one that loves the same toys or treats as mine do. There’s a simple form to fill out for the ferret(s) you’ve chosen, followed by an email confirmation. This year, I chose a ferret named Pumpkin (because Halloween is my favorite holiday!).
Then I put together a small package, this year including some N-Bones, plush toys, and a gift certificate, and sent it off with a card from my own ferrets. In past years, I’ve often gotten a card back from the shelter, sometimes with updates on my chosen ferret.
Of course, shelters for any animal can always use your help. The holidays can be a stressful time for humans and pets alike, so think about donating to a shelter and sharing the joy and love of the season with a pet who really needs it.