Sometimes the best way to love a pet is to let them pass away without suffering. I have had to put down two animals in my lifetime. One was a wonderful beloved cat named Ted that had a congenital heart defect and died at 9 months old. The other was my rabbit, Dunkin, who passed last night after his body failed him in old age. Neither choice was taken lightly, but it was easy for me to release my animals knowing that I loved them and cared for them enough to end their suffering. This is a tribute to Dunks: one tough little rabbit.
I got Dunkin almost nine years ago in a rebellion against my college’s rule against pets living in housing. He lived under my bed for the entire semester. He may or may not have had his water bottle spiked during one party, but I was never really positive and no one would own up to it. I named him Dunkin because his coat was the color of Dunkin Donut’s coffee. From the beginning, he was an active rabbit with an attitude. He was happy to hop around the room, and hide in his box-cave within his habitat. He would let you hold him, but was never really a huge one for snuggling.
After college, he moved with me six times to different homes. He was with me as I added Ted to our family, lost Ted to his heart issue, added Noah (cat), Lily (cat), Kenzie (cat), Barkley (dog), Girl (daughter), Boy (son), and rehomed Noah (cat). He was with me through lots of life changes. He never really became a love bug like the other animals I share my life with, but he was constantly happy to see me when I arrived to feed him and let him jump around his exercise pen. Surprisingly, he seemed very attached to my three year old. I don’t know if she held him just the right way of what, but he would happily hop into her lap and spend time with her whenever she demanded it.
Last night, I realized that Dunkin’s food wasn’t depleted the way it should have been. His coat was shedding heavily, but that’s normal for the season. I sat down to brush him out and noticed that he wasn’t hopping correctly. That’s when I realized his water bottle was full. I knew. He wasn’t eating or drinking. His legs weren’t working right. I told Hubs, cried for a little while, and put him in his travel cage. He and I traveled to the emergency vet together, and snuggled in the office while waiting for service for almost two hours. I would complain about the wait, but it was truly a gift. Dunks never really snuggled until those last few hours. He was burying himself in my chest, rubbing his head against me, and holding on to my fingers. He looked me square in the eyes. It was time, and we both knew it. I told him that it was alright, and when the vet came in to evaluate him, she suggested that he needed ICU levels of care. “I don’t want him to suffer. He is old. Would it be better to let him go?” I asked. She blinked and then looked at me and said, “That would be the most merciful way you could love him right now. He is an old bunny, and he is hurting”. I gave the bunny one last hug and handed him to the vet. Our nine year run together ended with two hours of snuggling and the act of relieving his suffering. We will miss you little guy. If bunnies go where people go, we will see you on the other side. Enjoy the happy hopping land until then :).