Friday, October 23, 2009

Frankie and the Ferret Whisperer

First grader Jamie Johnson thought it'd be a fine idea to bring Frankie the Ferret to show and tell last week. Jamie's teacher, Frances Robinson, had brought her dog, Mr. Frizz, to class earlier in the year, and Jamie figured that if they liked an Affenpinscher, his classmates would love a ferret.

Jamie was right. About two dozen first-graders mobbed Frankie before Mrs. Robinson restored order.

And discovered that Frankie wasn't in his carrier.

And, apparently, wasn't in the classroom, either.

Mrs. Robinson, partly out of consideration for Jamie, and partly because the school had a zero-tolerance policy for unsupervised animals, called the office.

About two hours later a ferret whisperer arrived. By helicopter.

Actually, it was a wildlife specialist from the Minnesota DNR. He was under the impression that we had spotted a black-footed ferret.

I think I see how the false alarm happened. The DNR wanted, and got, a description of Frankie. Frankie's color pattern is the usual 'sable:' whitish muzzle, a sort of dark mask, and dark paws.

The black-footed ferret's an endangered species. Minnesota wasn't part of its old range. No wonder the DNR got excited.

And had asked that the school be evacuated. Which it was.

George Winters (he's the DNR ferret man) was a good sport about the false alarm, after he realized that they were looking for the sort of ferret you can get at a pet store.

He finally found Frankie: on Mrs. Robinson's desk, eating her corned beef on rye lunch.

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