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Would anyone want to trade a ferret for a cat?

April 16, 1997

I can't help but notice the Charles Town Races are down to 159 live racing days and plummeting.

Pretty soon if someone spots a wayward horse wandering out onto the field they'll send the cleaning out with a broom shouting "Git, you rascal!"

* Who'd have thought? Rasha the Ferret made it all the way to the Supreme Court.

Rasha, you remember, met an unfortunate demise at the hands of the health department after the pet bit a kid and had to be tested for rabies.

The only way to test a critter for the disease is to pull a Henry VIII, and heads not being reattatchable appendages as a general thing, it meant the end of the ferret.

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Of course you can understand the thinking of the family of the girl who was bitten. This an animal's health versus a person's health, and in such cases you always have to side with the person, unless the person happens to be a paid health-insurance industry lobbyist.

But the owners of the ferret believed the pet was seized with no review of whether it was even possible for Rasha to have the disease (it didn't). Therefore, they sought compensation for the seizure of private property. But the high court refused to hear the case.

But just that the Supreme Court had the opportunity to hear a ferret case. How cool would it have been to hear arguments for Rasha the Ferret vs. The United States?

My contract states that here I must interject the thought that this would be no big deal since the Supreme Court justices listen to ferrets arguing before them all the time. But the obviousness of the joke, coupled with the fact that I still feel remorseful for already picking on lawyers once this week, doesn't make me feel good about it.

* Continuing on the animal theme (a colleague recently said she likes it better when I write about animals then when I write about politicians. To my credit, I held my tongue), I was wondering whether anyone might wish to trade a ferret for a cat.

This after Bubba, the world's most dangerous cat, spent all of Monday night systematically and deliberately shredding piles of newspapers. I didn't care about the papers so much, but the noise made it impossible to sleep.

I threw at him shoes, books, a bottle of hand cream, a hair brush and a couple of candlesticks, but he just took this for applause and congratulations. In the morning I was totally zonked and he was proudly sitting in the middle of a mountain of tattered paper, like he'd been up all night playing tip jars.

But do I receive any sympathy? Hmph. To date, my mail has been 100 percent pro-Bubba. Two examples:

Jackie Renee Coblentz of Jefferson, Md., said that next to her cat Sambu, Bubba is, well, a pussycat. Sambu's trick is to wait until she's asleep, then scratch on the door to get out. Having that inner sense, as all cats are born with, of when a person has just gotten back to sleep, he'll then scratch to come back in. And of course this is just a warming up - a sort of light calisthenics before the real terrorism begins.

And Judy Russell of Ijamsville, Md., tended to agree. "Bubba is a real lightweight when it comes to being an alarm clock," she wrote. "Big Max, who weighs 19 pounds could give classes on awaking humans. Although Bubba demonstrates some fairly sophisticated techniques, you should give Bubba a treat for being reasonable about the whole thing."

After reading the rest of the letter, included vivid descriptions that I won't frighten your children with here, I agree she might be right.

But remember, Bubba is 14 months old. He's kind of like the Tiger Woods of the tour. No one can say how bad he has the potential to be. So to Jackie, Judy and the rest, let's give it a year and compare notes. Knowing Bubba, a predict a breakthrough year in terms of feline atrocities - and I'd be willing to make this case before the Supreme Court.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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