I am happy to say that we’ve had a new addition to our household, namely a polecat ferret hence forth known as Flora.

In brief, being a single parent, working full time and desperately in need of help with my four-legged family, I have enlisted the assistance of a wonderful company called Paw Pals.

Every day while I am at work, my gang receive a visit from a member of the Paw Pals team, who are happy to serve lunch, administer the Brigadier’s medication, and even send me updates in the form of text messages and photographs of the Cavaliers, who don’t even have the good grace to look as though they are missing me just a weeny bit.

Well, it was a member of the Paw Pals team who, while out walking another client’s dog, came across little Flora, who was lost, disorientated and very relieved to be found.

We think that she had probably been out rabbiting and lost her bearings in a warren and, contrary to popular belief, although they belong to the same genus as the weasel, these particular little mustelids are not adapted for life in the wiId.

Despite extensive inquiries, Flora’s owner could not be traced and because her rescuers offer holiday accommodation to rabbits and guinea pigs, she was unable to stay with them. After all, would you want to stay in a hotel knowing that Hannibal Lecter was lodging just a few doors along the corridor?

Therefore, as I already have a small colony (or to use the correct terminology a “business” or “busyness”) of ferrets, Flora has ended up at mine.

My association with ferrets goes back to when the children were young and we had two male polecats called Choccy and Mij. These little polecat brothers took happily to walking on a harness, they made us laugh out loud with their “wild weasel war dances” and were an absolute joy to live with, most of the time.

Choccy’s claim to fame was winning best ferret in show at Stokesley Agricultural Show, which I understand is still quite an accolade to this day. One of his less illustrious moments, however, was going missing on my son’s 10th birthday.

James’ birthday falls in June and this particular year it was a Saturday. A party had been arranged for that afternoon, to which the whole of his class had been invited. Somehow, and to this day we do not know exactly how, but in the excitement of opening presents and cards, Choccy’s cage was left open and less than two hours before the guests were due to arrive, we noticed that he was awol.

My heart sank, I felt sick to my stomach, and James’ birthday was ruined.

After a quick reconnaissance of the garden, the search, we realised, needed to be widened, but in which direction? Behind the back garden was a housing estate and to the front of the house was a field, stretching down to a wood.

As a family, we decided to head off in different directions and that James would accompany me. Together, James and I thought that if we were ferrets, we would probably head towards the wood, but how lucky it was that we stayed at the top of the hill and did not go down toward the beck.

If we had, you see, we may not have heard the screams from the kitchen of the old people’s home on the corner and it was here that we found Choccy skipping around in the open kitchen doorway. The kitchen staff, armed with sweeping brushes and a mop, were looking on in horror as Choccy, tossing his little head, skipped back and forth, having a whale of a time.

Apologetically, I assured cook that Choccy did not bite, nor was he a wild animal and yes, it was quite safe to allow James to “cuddle him like that”.

So, thankfully the birthday party did go ahead. Everyone had a lovely time and once again my mother was proven right, in that yes, one day we did laugh about it, after all.