My youth was full of animals—pets, strays, the injured, and the lost. We took them in and loved them all, but it a was goofy ferret that stole my heart and taught me the joy that comes from living life to the fullest. His name was Alfie, and he was a rascal—always looking for ways to liven things up!

Much to our dog and cat’s dismay, his favorite games were riding on their backs like rodeo bull riders, and hurling himself off a chair that was next to the front door when people came through it to land on them. If they were holding a balloon, he timed his launch perfectly so that he could chomp it on his way to the floor. It thrilled him to get a squeal when he came out from between couch cushions to nip an unsuspecting butt, and he’d wrestle with my mom’s feet as she made breakfast. You always knew when Alfie found something hilarious because he did his little happy dance and ferret giggle. You couldn’t help but laugh with him.

When Alfie was seven I noticed he suddenly was less energetic. He’d bounce briefly on your lap, then like a spent wind-up toy, he’d just fizzle. The vet diagnosed him with liver disease. It wasn’t curable, so I had to take him home and prepare to lose him, though, I couldn’t imagine life without him.

We tried to make Alfie’s last days as full of much life as he was able to take in—more scampering across the lawn and burrowing through ivy until he collapsed. He loved playing in that ivy, but there came a time when you’d set him in it, and he’d go to sleep.

One day, Alfie didn’t wake up. We were used to him resting more, so it wasn’t completely unusual, but, we found him lifeless, and though we had known it was coming, it was still devastating. We held a celebration of life, shared hilarious stories of being ambushed and waking up to the little scamp nibbling your toes. Laughed until we cried and cried tears of sorrow. We laid him to rest in his beloved ivy and imagined him running through a tangle of leaves and vines in heaven and teasing the angels.

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