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Ferret Helps Fix High-Tech Problem

October 2, 1999 GMT

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AP) _ The U.S. Space Command has millions of dollars worth of all the latest computers and other electronic gear, and plenty of highly trained employees.

But when it ran into a problem at its new Year 2000 missile warning center, the solution didn’t come from an engineer, a computer wiz or a physicist.

Instead, Misty saved the day. Misty is a ferret, a four-legged, furry, inquisitive relative of minks.

To connect new computers at the center, wires had to be threaded through 40-foot-long, narrow conduits that already contained other wires.

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The job would have driven a human loopy, but Lt. Col. Randy Blaisdell, who supervised the building of the center, volunteered Misty, his pet for six years. He recalled that ferrets had been used to pull wires through tight spaces in World War II-era airplanes.

Blaisdell tied a piece of yarn around the one-pound ferret’s midsection. Misty dashed through the conduit, towing the yarn, and then the yarn was used to pull a wire. Misty made several trips and her work was done in an hour.

All it cost was a promise of strawberry Pop Tarts, Misty’s favorite treat.

``She really enjoys going through the conduits,″ Blaisdell said. ``And she definitely works cheap.″