Homer Glen’s Ethel Rodriguez loves ferrets so much that she has eight. It wouldn’t be surprising if she picked up a few more.
But, for now, eight it is and after careful study of each ferret’s behavior, Rodriguez gives them suitable names.
There’s Bradley J. Barrett, Buddy Hart, Esmeralda Farnsworth and Daffodil Darling among them.
Rodriguez has taken her love for the unique pets to a level in which she is the treasurer for the Greater Chicago Ferret Association and chair of the Woozlefest, which she brought to Lockport for the 11th time April 23.
The fest was held at the Lockport American Legion Post 18 and brought ferret lovers from as far away as Niles, Mich., and Urbana.
It was Shelby Altman, who came from Urbana for her first Woozlefest. Though she wore a “Dog mom” hat, she opens her heart to other animals as well.
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“I’m a crazy ferret person,” she said. “I love their energy. They have a very high energy level. They love to play.”
And, play they did at Woozlefest.
There was a kissing contest, tube races, a paper bag escape, a blessing of the ferrets and a costume contest. Some were not so thrilled to be subjected to grooming and ear cleaning, but their owners were delighted.
There were also raffles, vendors, food and bingo for the humans to enjoy.
But the stars of the show were the ferrets.
Rodriguez said she enjoys her ferrets because they all have unique traits.
“Every ferret has its own personality,” she said. “Every ferret has its own abilities. Scent — being able to smell — is their most prevalent feature. Their vision is not that great, their hearing is not that great. But they are totally inquisitive.”
Having eight ferrets means that there is always some fun time at Rodriguez’s home.
“There is always someone up when you have eight of them,” she said. “They sleep about 20 hours a day but there are always a few of them up playing around.”
Unlike dogs and cats, they are not common pets.
“Ferrets are not for everyone,” Rodriguez said. “Ferrets are for people who don’t need instant gratification. If you come home, don’t expect that ferret to come running to the door to come welcome you. They operate on their own time.”
Rodriquez notes their larceny and laughs.
“They are extremely inquisitive. They steal. They are little thieves,” she said. “They take stuff away and bring it to their stash. Then when their stash gets full, they take out what they no longer want and they dump it.”
Their maintenance also is not cheap.
“They are an expensive pet because in order to keep them healthy, you have to buy them quality food and, if they do get sick, you need to take them to an exotic veterinarian,” she said.
So, what are woozles, the namesake of the fest?
According to Winniepedia on the pooh.fandom.com website, they are “deceitful, weasel-like animals that seemed to originate from Baltic mythology,” which steal honey and scare Pool and his pals.
Woozles travel with wizzles, according to Pooh in the 1926 “Winnie-the-Pooh” book written by Alan A. Milne.
The greater Chicago Ferret Association in a nonprofit educational, rescue and adoption organization that has been around for 30 years and is the only ferret shelter in the Chicago area.
Woozlefest: A page right out of Pooh