Ricky the ferret coiled contentedly around Rich Dyer’s neck at the Real Change offices just before New Year’s.
Ricky, named after Rich by his wife, has white fur with darkened tips around him and little bits of yellow here and there. Stretching up from Rich’s shoulder, Ricky stretches and lets out a tiny yawn before laying back down again.
Lots of Real Change vendors have pets, but mostly dogs and a few cats. Rich adopted the ferret about a year back after he observed Ricky’s previous caretaker treating the animal badly.
Rich offered to take care of him.
“I wouldn’t stand by and watch it,” Rich said.
His customers love Ricky, who travels around comfortably in a small animal carrier with a towel inside. Rich sells at a PCC in Issaquah, where he’s amassed many customers over his eight years at the post. Rich has been selling Real Change for about a decade.
Caring for a ferret is similar to caring a cat, Rich said. But he doesn’t have a cat; he’s allergic, but not to Ricky.
“I don’t like cats, but some people say they’re a lot like cats,” Rich said. “He’s litter-box trained.”
Ricky’s also kind of like a dog. When he wants attention, he’ll jump up on Rich’s leg and paw at him. When he’s excited, his tail bushes straight out.
Ricky has a sister, of sorts: a Shih tzu named Missy. They rest together comfortably, Rich said.
“He loves me to death,” Rich said with Ricky sitting in his lap, taking a few turns before lying down curling into a ball. “I need a service animal for a companion. He calms my temper. I have a real bad temper, so it was suggested for me to get a ferret or a companion to help with that. Pills don’t help. They make it worse.”
Ricky clearly makes it better. Rich leaned back in an office chair and calmly explained how he and the ferret get along.