Comment on Grieving the loss of a rabbit by Cheryl Wells.
I just lost my gorgeous little bunny Barno this afternoon. He was over ten years old and after his bunny partner died in 2016 I tried to bond him with other rabbits but he just got stressed, so instead we moved him into the house where he lived happily amongst us as a single but much loved house rabbit.
During his long life he was prone to occasional unexplained episodes of gut stasis which we always managed to get him through with help from the vets, and more recently two operations to have his teeth burred. He had been slowly going down since Christmas, just going off some of his old favourite treats but still having his pellets and hay, so at his age it seemed okay to allow him to decide what he does and doesn’t want. Then this week he suddenly stopped eating entirely, a visit to the vet found nothing obvious but I took home some critical care to try to get into him. Oddly he wasn’t given any pain relief or a jab for gut motility which he’s had in the past as the vet thought his digestion hadn’t stopped completely. I’ve syringe fed him many times before but this time it was just so hard, he wouldn’t swallow much of it and it was getting so messy and distressing. This morning he was hunched up with eyes half closed, grinding his teeth, passed a few poos but not touched any hay. Two difficult syringe feeds later I didn’t want to let him suffer any longer, he was starting to wet himself and just looked so unhappy so we took him back to the vet. They couldn’t find anything obvious other than a painful gassy tummy from the lack of regular food and said there were perhaps other options to try but my heart told me it was time to let him go rather than prolong things or put him through anything else, so we had him euthanased and buried him in the garden.
There’s no relief or feeling I did the right thing, just grief, loss, guilt and doubt. I know he could still be alive now if it wasn’t for my decision. He was alive six hours ago. That’s what I find so hard, it would be so much easier if he had passed away peacefully at home and I could accept it as nature’s way. I try to tell myself he had the best life I could give him and was so loved, that I was lucky to have him for so long, but I suppose it’s early days, all I want to do is cry. I don’t think I want to go through this again and probably won’t replace him now, but as we’ve had rabbits for over 15 years since our boys were children, it’s embedded into my routine and I’m going to feel it so much every day – morning feed, hopping around time, clean out time, cuddles, run time outside while I do some gardening, bedtime veggies. I can’t bring myself to go into his room, sort out all his things, toys, food bowl, favourite treats, I’ll have to summon courage for that in due course.
He was the best bunny, a total joy and a wonderful companion. Every ounce of effort I put into his care he repaid and more, it was a privilege to have him.
Thank you for reading this, it’s nice to know there are others who know how this feels. It’s true that people in general empathise over the loss of a dog or cat, but a rabbit – there have been times in the vet waiting room I would be told how someone’s dog had killed a wild rabbit on a walk that very day or that rabbits don’t do anything but look terrified. You need to have a rabbit and love it, care for it, go through good times and bad to the very end to know just what affectionate, endearing companions they are when they are happy, just like any dog or cat. So I am truly heartbroken at the thought that, apart from my numerous photos and videos over the past ten years, I’ll never see him again.
Goodbye darling Barno, I’ll see you on the other side some day. X
Cheryl Wells Also Commented
Grieving the loss of a rabbit
They truly are angels Melly. I am so sorry for your loss. My Barno is buried in the garden with our other two bunnies and I think of him and them whenever I walk down there. Grief is such a sickening feeling, it comes over in waves but does start to lessen slowly with time. I’ve been two weeks without him and can now go into his room and start to tidy up, but it still makes me cry. If I have a brief cheerful moment I feel guilt as if I’m starting to forget him. It’s always the way, that feeling starts to go away eventually too. They are all waiting for us, hang in there, you are not alone x