Friday, 19 February 2010

Gideon: 1997-2005.


The sixteenth of February used to be just another day for me. Five years ago, I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life. From my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) memoir, here is the sad story of how I had to end the suffering of my beloved long-eared friend.

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Eight days later, he wasn't any better and I was getting fed
up with the lack of success in treating him. The poor animal still
ground his teeth periodically and it made me wince just to hear
it. As another friend was kind enough to give Gideon and me a
ride, off we went to the vet again.

When Colleen and I arrived with Gideon in his carrier, the
clinic was running behind. Several people crowded the waiting
room with their large canines, including a man who had a huge
dog with a hurt paw.

"Why don't you leave Gideon here?" my friend suggested.
?We can wait at my place."

At her farm, Colleen warmed up some leftovers and we
passed a couple of hours watching TV. Then we went back to the
clinic to find out how my fur sir was doing.

Dr. Mechor examined Gideon that time. Along with more
antibiotics, he prescribed some ointment for him. Instead of an
infection, as the first doctor had diagnosed, Gideon had a
prolapsed rectum. No wonder he was in so much agony.

Colleen held Gideon on her left shoulder as I paid my bill
with the drastic plastic.

"He's so soft," she remarked.

Then she placed him back in the carrier as I made another
appointment for a week later.

"I'll be happy to give you a ride next week," Colleen
volunteered as she drove me home.

I gratefully accepted her offer.

The next week, I took Gideon out of his cage and put him in
his old purple carrier. He struggled more than ever and my
heart ached because there was nothing much I could do to ease
his confusion. As I waited for Colleen on the basement steps, I
spoke to Gideon through the carrier door. He was pacing and
pushing the rags around, clearly agitated. Though my little
prince seemed active, I knew he wasn't at all happy with life.

Since my ride was late and I hated wasting time, I took some
video of Gideon. I had a horrible feeling that my beloved bunny
might not be coming back home again.

When Colleen finally arrived, I loaded Gideon into the car.

"I was at the drug store earlier and some woman fainted on
me," Colleen explained. "When she started falling, I grabbed her
around the waist and let her fall backwards on top of me to
break her fall. Then I was downtown at the bank and I suddenly
remembered I had to pick you up."

She felt so guilty that she apologized all the way to the clinic.

Dr. Mechor was at the vet clinic when we arrived. A tech
ushered Gideon and I into the examination room and we had a
bit of a struggle getting him out of the carrier. Then the vet
examined my rabbit, noting that he'd lost a lot of muscle tone. I
had noticed Gideon's hipbones distinctly when I picked him up
to administer his medication each day.

The doctor's prognosis made my heart sink.

Gideon's health had steadily worsened and my beloved
bunny boy had an enlarged liver, jaundice and his prolapsed
rectum hadn't diminished.

No wonder he grunted each time I held him.

The decision I dreaded had come. It would be cruel to keep
trying different medications on Gideon without knowing if
they'd help him. As he was only getting worse, I knew what had
to be done. The kindest thing I could do for my companion of
seven and a half years was to let him go peacefully. It would be
cruel to keep him alive in such agony and he'd lived too long
that way already.

With a heavy heart, I gave the vet permission to euthanize
my dear bunny. When I was asked if I wanted to watch and hold
Gideon as he passed on, I declined. I was afraid I would burst
into tears as I held him.

One last time, I stroked Gideon's soft head and silky,
chocolate ice-cream ears; the ones I loved so much.

"Would you like to take his body home or have him
cremated?" the vet tech asked.

I allowed them to deal with Gideon's remains.

Then I walked to the waiting room and let the professionals
do their work. I felt numb as I sat and stared absent-mindedly
through the front windows of the clinic. It seemed inconceivable
that my sock-hurling bunny would soon be gone.

When the assistant showed up with Gideon's file, I walked
reluctantly to the front desk. Signing the papers brought home
the finality of Gideon's death and I nearly lost my composure.

Colleen tried to comfort me as she drove me home and I
appreciated her efforts. Still, knowing that I was returning with
an empty pet carrier felt deeply depressing. We didn't talk much
during the fifteen-minute drive, as I was too lost in thought. The
cold cloud-covered scenery outside the car window matched my
mood perfectly.

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Though this is a sad anniversary for me, I fondly recall the many hours when Gideon frolicked happily in my home. I learned much about rabbits by letting him be his inimitable self and giving him the freedom of my house. In my above-mentioned memoir, available through The Inscribe Writers group page, I wrote about the many things I learned as well as the hilarious mischief he got into. In the nearly four years that the book has been in print, I've received many complements from satisfied readers.