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A Rescued Ferret Now Spreads Joy As A Therapy Ferret

Snicker Doodles the ferret can be a champion for people because of the woman who saved him.

Rebecca Stout
Posted: November 19, 2015, 9:10 p.m. EST

Snicker Doodles the ferret sleeping amid balls
Courtesy of Vikki Miles  
The ping-pong ball box is a favorite resting spot for Snicker Doodles.

While I was searching the animal community for animal champions to share with our readers, Vikki Miles contacted me about her ferret Snicker Doodles. She said that Snicker Doodles was a champion because he happily helps the less fortunate by bringing light into their lives as a therapy ferret visiting various facilities. And so I set out to write about Snicker Doodles.

Soon afterward, I found out that Miles doesn’t just work with Snicker Doodles to provide ferret therapy to those in need — she also happens to run a ferret sanctuary. That’s quite an accomplishment to mention only as an afterthought. With further research, I found out that Miles also is a pet chaplain and conducts pet blessings! She does all of these things and more for small pets and those who care about them, yet it was this wee ferret she continually pushed to the forefront of the story. Yes indeed, Snicker Doodles is a champion. But so is the champion behind this champion: Vikki Miles.

Snicker Doodles being held by different people
Courtesy of Vikki Miles  
Snicker Doodles brings his furry therapy to people of all ages.

The Woman Who Gives Ferrets Top Priority
I will abide by Miles’ wishes for me to write about her little Snicker Doodles; she is so proud of him. But before we meet that little, furry wonder, let’s meet Miles. She is an active ferret advocate and rescuer. She founded the Paws Ferret Sanctuary in Interlachen, Florida, back in 1996. 

"We have a sanctuary privately owned and operated,” Miles said. "We do not adopt out our ferrets. They are usually older, abused, sick and neglected when we get them. The ferret sanctuary is a tranquil environment to assist in helping ferrets have a happy, loving home forever. Our numbers range from 20 to 30 ferrets on the average. We have about 12 senior ferrets that are all on medication.” 

Miles has always funded the rescue out of her own pocket. In March of 2015 it officially became a non-profit organization. This was done so Miles could get help with the vet bills that have been mounting for the ferrets who require specialized care.

Diane D. Reeves is vicar at the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Interlachen, Florida. She met Miles when the ferret rescuer came to a Blessing of the Animals service, and they have been friends ever since. 

"Vikki is an honest, compassionate woman who cares deeply for the correct treatment of animals,” Reeves said. "I have observed her dropping everything and travelling miles day or night to rescue an animal. I am amazed at the lengths she will go to rescue and care for a ferret.” 

Miles seems to always go the extra mile concerning animals and those who love them. Miles is not only a pet chaplain, she has started a pet ministry through the church. Reeves said that she admires the fact that Miles continually brings awareness to the public that animals need to be treated with respect and dignity. 

What does a pet ministry do? Miles’ Paws And Hearts Pet Ministry serves people and their pets with God’s directives in mind. Reeves says that Paws And Hearts Pet Ministry provides specific services to the congregation and their pets, including: 
  • Assistance with pet care, or placement if needed, to individuals in times of crisis.
  • Grief support to members who have lost pets. 
  • A resource center for information regarding care of household pets. 
  • Crisis support for limited emergency care of a pet. 
  • Opportunities for pets to visit nursing homes and day care centers.
  • The Blessing of the Pets service and memorial services. 
  • Encouraging fellowship through charity events, educational opportunities. 
Snicker Doodles and woman with birthday cake
Courtesy of Vikki Miles  
Snicker Doodles helped one special senior celebrate a birthday, and the cake had a unique decoration!

The Ferret Who Gives People Top Priority
Now let’s take a look at the tiny champion that Miles champions. Snicker Doodles came from a family that could not keep him. Miles gladly took in the chubby 3-pound boy with the happy and easygoing temperament. Upon seeing how much he thrived on being handled and pampered, as well as how socialized he was, it became obvious to her that he’d make a perfect therapy ferret. After a thumbs-up from the veterinarian, he became a certified therapy ferret and was free to visit nursing homes or wherever else Miles wished to visit with him. His first therapy visit was documented on the Paws Ferret Sanctuary Facebook page.

Miles said he works regularly. 

"He goes to nursing homes, senior centers, schools and libraries, and he helps with the cancer kids camp every year,” she said.

Snicker Doodles is a natural for the work, as Miles explained.

"He is very laid-back,” she said. "You can dress him up in costumes and he doesn’t mind at all. He will pose for pictures, the little ham. Anyone can hold him and cuddle him. At the nursing homes he loves to lay on the senior’s laps. At the schools he doesn’t mind the children holding him.”

Some of Snicker Doodles’ duties include visiting the local library and schools to teach children about ferrets and their proper care, along with the responsibilities that are required of pet owners. Snicker Doodles also visits a local Cancer Kids Camp and a hospice camp. He brings smiles and fun to the children when they dress him up and play with him. At the same time, they are being educated about ferrets as well as taught about human and animal connections. 

Read about more pets or people who are champions 

The elderly have a special place in Miles’ heart, so she and Snicker Doodles frequently visit nursing homes. 

"It really calms the seniors down, lowers blood pressure and gives them memories of pets that they had,” Miles said. "They like to talk about their pets while they hold Snickers.” 

During his off time, Snicker Doodles is busy being a ferret. Phyllis Elledge is a regular and crucial volunteer at the Paws Ferret Sanctuary. She said that Snicker Doodles is truly a vivacious soul and ready to both give and receive love. 

"In the mornings he can’t wait for his ‘soup’ and his banana treats,” Elledge said. "Even though he takes Lasix for a heart condition he’s always ready to snuggle!” 

When not following others around for treats, Snicker Doodles loves to play in the ping-pong ball box. 

"If he is not there, he likes to hide in the sleepy sacks but the ones closer to the treat box,” Miles said. "He is blind with cataracts, but he hears really well and knows when the bag rattles.” 

Snicker Doodles will do therapy visitations for as long as he likes to play dress up and cuddle up in people’s laps. Meanwhile, it is in the works that two other ferrets will carry the torch the day he decides he doesn’t want to do it anymore. Elledge says that she will be there for the sanctuary as long as it exists. And Miles? She says she will care for what she refers to as "God’s clowns” as long as she is able, and she will continue to champion her little champions.

Posted: November 19, 2015, 9:10 p.m. EST

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