So you want to get a dog. You’ve put months of thought into the decision, maybe picked up a few pet toys, a sparkly collar – you were ready.
You jauntily trot down the street to a nearby outdoor market. “Today is the day, today is the day! I just can’t wait to meet the adorable puppy that will fill the warm fuzzy space in my heart.”
Maybe you even hummed a happy little song.
You get to the market, and suddenly you see him. Your eyes lock from across the crowded walkway. His fluffy white fur, his pointed snout, his limpid gaze – he is perfect. He is the perfect toy poodle to join your family.
Except that he is actually a giant ferret, a fact that you somehow don’t realize until you and your new best friend take your first trip to the vet.
This is a true story.
An elderly man in Argentina got “the shock of his life” when told that the pair of poodles he bought at a bazaar in Buenos Aires were actually ferrets (aka overgrown weasels).
According to The Daily Mail, a veterinarian informed him the ferrets “had been given steroids at birth to increase their size and then had some extra grooming to make their coats resemble a fluffy toy poodle.”
He paid $150 per poodle, which should have been a tip-off that something was amiss, since toy poodles typically sell for upwards of $750. (Ferrets can be purchased for around $75.)
But was that the only red flag? Hmm. I think I would like to ask this gentleman whether he has ever seen a dog before. Because unless you’re looking through a kaleidoscope, that “dog” doesn’t look anything like a dog.
For Pete’s sake, I can see whiskers – weasel whiskers – from here.
Anyway, just to keep this kind of thing from happening to any other unsuspecting pet owners, The Daily Mail also gave readers some guidelines for figuring out whether you own a puppy or a ferret:
Lifespan – Ferrets have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years, while toy poodles can live as long as 20 years. (This will not be helpful at point of purchase, but if your pet is still alive after 10 years, it’s probably not a ferret).
Weight - Toy poodles weigh around nine pounds, ferrets weigh around three pounds. (Can steroids cause animals to triple in size? Unclear.)
Height – Ferrets are around 51 cm in length, which includes a 13 cm tail. Toy poodles are around 25 cm tall. (Does your “poodle” have a really freaking long tail? Surprise, it might be a weasel.)
Personality – When happy, ferrets may perform a routine known as the weasel war dance – which is characterized by a series of hops and frenzied attempts to bump into things. Toy poodles are described as sweet, cheerful and perky and lively and love to be around people.
Personally, I do not know how that last one is useful. Maybe offer your pet a treat and see if it bumps into you or barks?