Tuesday, 1 February 2011

A FEW MONTHS OF HAPPINESS IS BETTER THAN NONE.

Losing any kind of pet to death never becomes easier. Friends periodically tell me that they've sworn off adopting future animal companions due to their all-to-short lives. They say the pain of loss feels too great and it rips open old heart wounds. I empathize with them, having lost many beloved pets during my lifetime.

In my When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies) memoir, I related several tragic tales of my beloved rabbits passing away. The Story of Zacchaeus began with the confident hope that I could give him a long and happy life in my home. This is how it actually ended.

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Perhaps it was good that my rabbits amused me that January because poor Zacchaeus was getting thinner by the day. I finally made an appointment with the vet and my friend Shirley agreed to take him to the clinic without me. Although I loved Zacchaeus, I was behind in my search for writing work.

The next morning, I put Zacchaeus in the large carrier. While we were waiting for Shirley, I gave him a small piece of carrot and some lettuce, both of which he ate. I wondered if he had problems with his teeth because his pellets remained untouched.

Shirley arrived early, just as she promised and I handed Zacchaeus over to her, feeling a bit sad that I wasn't going with him. I comforted myself with the knowledge that Shirley was
reliable and that the vet would send back my little guy with good medicine to cure his trouble.

I had just begun working on my new computer when the phone rang.

"Your rabbit has a large tumour in his belly," the vet said.

My heart sank as she continued. "We tried to draw blood, but he was so weak that we couldn't get any. Would you like him to be euthanized?"

As I pondered my options, the vet said, "He's an old rabbit and there's not much we can do. An operation would most likely kill him anyway."

Recognizing the futility of trying to extend Zacchaeus? life, I gave her permission to ease his misery. I wept periodically throughout the afternoon, especially at the thought that I hadn't built a pen for him as I had hoped. People on PetBunny comforted me with sympathetic e-mails and said that I had given Zacchaeus five months of love and security, which he might not have otherwise known.

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When a Man Loves a Rabbit contains many more fascinating stories of life with house bunnies. These range from the tragic to the hilarious. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.