• Opposites attract: A USC student and her nontraditional pet

    by  • April 24, 2017 • All Stories, People • 0 Comments

    Micaela Wendell drying ferret FizzgigUSC student Micaela Wendell wanted a pet she could hold. She’s never been one for the traditional, but she couldn’t get a snake. So she opted for something just as wiggly but a little more furry: Fizzgig the ferret. Watch as these opposites attract.


    By Debbie Clark
    April 24, 2017

    Fizzgig has tiny eyes, a snake-like body, and a face only a mother could love. So it was love at first sight for Micaela Wendell when she saw Fizzgig the ferret six years ago.

    She found him at a chain pet store right before going on a family vacation and says spent the whole trip anxious he wouldn’t be there when she got back.

    But, “Fizzgig walked right up to me, almost as if he remembered me,” she says. “I know it sounds corny, but I think it was meant to be.”

    Fizzgig the ferrret

    Fizzgig has the standard coloring most ferrets have, and he turned 6 years old on April 2, 2017.

    Wendell originally wanted a snake – as she puts it, an affectionate pet she could cuddle. Mom vetoed snakes and rabbits. Wendell says a guinea pig just wasn’t her.

    But her father, Tom Wendell, had owned three ferrets in college, and the cute, wiggly – and decidedly different – animals seemed the perfect compromise.

    But not so fast, her father said. You need to buy this book on ferrets and make sure you know all the work and health concerns that go into owning a ferret.

    Fizzgig playing with a toy

    Micaela Wendell’s father says watching Fizzgig play is like watching a little clown.

    “I read through the entire book in a couple hours, and I sat on it for a couple days, and

    I told my dad ‘I’m ready for this,’” Wendell says.

    So Wendell became one of the 334,000 ferret-owning households the American Veterinary Medical Association estimated owned a ferret in 2012, the last year for which statistics were available.

    She named him Fizzgig after a sassy, puffball-like creature in Jim Henson’s movie “The Dark Crystal.” Fizzgig’s no puffball, but he has the same sassy attitude.

    Wendell and her parents were excited about this just-this-side-of-weird pet. But Fizzgig isn’t as cuddly as Wendell thought he’d be, and he had to be nip- and litter-trained.

    “A couple times my parents asked me, ‘Do you want to give him back?’ because it is really tough to start out with a ferret,” Wendell says. “But I toughed through it, and here I am.”

    Links

    • Learn more about ferrets
      from the American Ferret Association’s FAQ page.
    • Discover from this Huffington Post Canada article why ferrets are banned in certain states.
    • Find out what it takes to own a ferret from the American Veterinary Medical Association’s
      pet care page.

    Wendell’s friends and family weren’t surprised she started out with a ferret and not a cat or a dog.

    “Your stereotypical Southern girl you’d find in a country song is not Micaela,” says Spencer Jones, her boyfriend for the past three years.

    Both Wendell and Fizzgig have strong personalities, but Jones says they’re complete opposites. Wendell is caring and compassionate. Fizzgig is mischeivious and cunning.

    But everyone agrees that these opposites attract.

    “My heart bursts every time I see him,” Wendell said. “He’s my baby boy.”

    Fizzgig being washed

    Click on the photo for a slideshow showing a slice of Wendell’s life with Fizzgig.

    About

    The intermediate reporting and production class at the University of South Carolina.

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