This will be a long one.
Love you and miss you little man.
Today was supposed to be a good day.
Mum and dad had said I could buy a new bunny and I was very excited. When I got up however, I went to say good morning to Rocky and the seed of worry was planted. When my first rabbit, Trio, got ill, the first major sign (other than a general slight change of disposition and mood) was when I went to stroke him and he was just sat still and wobbled when I touched him. And when I went to say hello to Rocky, he was similarly odd. I picked him up a little and saw his back half was caked in poo and wee. Immediately I was a little worried but was also excited to get out and pick up Yoshi.
So I went to the pet store, bought little baba Yoshi and came home. My friend had come with me and was there as we settled Yoshi in his new home, made sure he had plenty of food and drink, and left him to settle in. After that I thought it only fair to let Rocky out, a) so he didnt feel neglected at all, b) cos he hadnt had a run around since yesterday and c) I guessed he might be a little unsettled by Yoshi's presence to begin with. It was when I picked him up out of the hutch I started to worry again. Holding him against me I could feel his hindquarters were damp and he was very smelly. He's been more and more nibbly recently and a little more agitated when I hold him for too long, but I put it down to his hormones kicking up even more and the heat, but today he was different.
Now usually, he doesnt like my right shoulder. Sounds odd, but when I'm holding him he'd only ever be interested in my left shoulder, so interested in fact that the holes in my jumper say 'Rocky was here'. Today however, after a very short amount of time holding him and trying to placate him, he clambered over to my right shoulder and jumped off and out of my arms. I was sat down so he didn't have far to go but it was enough to worry me. Seconds later, he jumped up higher than he has to to get into his hutch and scrabbled at the fence. This worried me even more, as he never jumps higher than absolutely nescessary and when he did jump and scrabble there was definate contact with the fence. After that he ran to his usual hiding place behind the shed.
Now I knew something was up. Normally he'll hide there for 3mins max, then slink out again and start eating mothers prized flowers, but this time he did not reappear. Nor did the sound of the pole we use to hit the ground to get him off the flower beds and into his hutch stir him. He wasn't moving.
In the end, dad had to come home, empty the shed and move it out of the way for us to get to him. We put him in the box we had only just used half an hour ago to bring Yoshi home in, and went to the vets.
We're quite fortunate in that there is a vet surgery literally 3 minutes from my house across the road, so getting there wasn't a problem.
When we got there we explained what was wrong and the nurse said the vet was in surgery but could see us in half an hour, so instead of putting him through two more journeys we waited. Unfortunately my dad had to get back to work for an unavoidable meeting but my friend was willing to wait with me.
Shortly the vet was available and we went in. Rocky wasn't very receptive and was unusually calm when the vet handled him. There was that much poop all over his back half that it took nearly 10 minutes for the vet to clean him up enough to examine him properly. When he did, Rocky didn't flinch as much as usual when he checked his mouth, eyes and ears, nor when he checked his bum and stuck a thermometer up there. His temperature barely registered. The vet explained that he more than likely had diarrhea, which in rabbits is usually fatal. He said he thought Rocky could be too far gone but that there were a few things I could do.
Keep him warm and try and get him eating. If he was going to get better it would be in the next few hours, if not there were two options. Either bring him back to put him down or just wait. He wasn't in any pain so he would just slip away.
I took him home, wrapped him in towels and cradled him for hours. I tried, as recommended by the vet, mashing up some grass with warm water and getting him to take it via a syringe. The first go he had a bit of, but then started making pained noises so I stopped, not wanting to cause him more discomfort. I tried twice more but each time he wanted less and less to do with it. Wrapped in towels, I cradled him and shared my body heat with him to try and make him better. After a while my friend had to go, and I suddenly got even more upset. I rang my dad who said he would get home asap, and my brother said the same. Mum couldn't get away from work. A couple of times he twitched, but it was more likely involuntary muscle action. He'd look around occasionally but nothing more. At about 4pm, roughly 2 1/2 hrs after visiting the vets, he wasn't really improving much at all. He was barely opening his eyes and his breathing was short, fast, noisy and quite frankly, worrying. It suddenly hit me that he wasn't likely to turn the corner and that I could lose him, so I started crying rather a lot. I rang my dad asking him to get home sooner, and he arrived shortly. We took him outside and put him down on the grass, and opened up the towels to see what he'd do. He didn't move, just raised his head slightly. We wrapped him back up and then I put him in the box and sat and strokes him, talking to him. Dad cleared up the grass and water, and other various bits and bobs while I contemplated what to do next. Deep down I knew he wasn't realistically likely to make it and that it would be kinder to let him go, but I just kept saying, "he could get better, he could get better" and hoping against hope. I put it off as long as possible, and then after my brother arrived and comforted me, I agreed to at least take him to the vet and see what he thought. Still wrapped up and in the box, we made our way to the vets. This time Rocky seemed more alert and aware, but that could have been me hoping for it and so seeing what I wanted. He at least looked around more and while he was on the table reached up and gave me a nuzzle, which made me start crying. The vet took his temperature again, and it was still barely registering. I could practically feel my heart breaking as I clung to my little baby and stroked him and kissed him, barely hearing dad and the vet talking. I knew what they were saying and I knew it was right. If I took him home and he didn't get better, it would be traumatic. Or if I did and he took a turn for the worse in the middle of the night, finding a vet would be nigh on impossible. It was kinder to let him go. But I so badly didn't want to say goodbye. I couldn't do it. I couldn't say the words. Goodbye. No. I held him so close and cried on him, telling him over and over "I love you." I don't know how long I was doing this for, but I remember hearing my dad tell my brother they needed to get me out of there. I didn't want to leave him. I was holding onto that tiny chance. He was my little man who I'd fallen in love with all over again in recent months, my little man who, when I all got too much, would let me come outside and cuddle him, and who would amuse me with his little mischievous ways when he ran around. I knew all his hiding places, his favourite flowers of my mums that I'd let him eat if he'd been really cute and mum wasn't around. I knew where he rubbed his scent glands and where his favourite patches of grass were. We bonded again, after I neglected him for so long, as an impatient bratty child and teen. He started to love me and I couldn't stop loving him. His greying fur on the back of his neck was even softer than his gorgeous soft coat, and stroking him there, between his ears and on his jaw would calm him. I was learning him and loving him, and he me.
Over these last few months, I've had so much shit to contend with. It's just been one thing after another, but he was always there. He couldn't give me advice, obviously, but he excelled at being so soft and cuddly, and even managing to SMELL cute, that being with him cheered me up. I could cry and he'd look up at me with those dark eyes, then nuzzle me breifly, more of a nudge as if to say "Oy stop crying you, I love you. Now why have you stopped stroking me?" when I went to wipe my eyes. I could just sit there and watch him for hours, exploring places he already knew but still found fascinating. I could rely on him to make me smile.
Sure we had our moments, like when he had to have his claws trimmed so for a day or two he was a bit grumpy, or when he'd nibble my jumper just a little too much or too hard, and I wasn't in the mood for it.
But overall, these last few months he's been my gorgeous little man, my baby, my shoulder to cry on and my rabbity island of calm.
And now he's gone.
I left the vets and cried. I wanted to go back in. "I want him back." I knew it wouldn't be fair on him but I was already missing him so hard. I went home and just sat and cried.
Then I realised, I had Yoshi to look after now. He needed me.
I went and showered then got something to eat, then went to introduce my brother to the new addition. I think I was more nervous picking him up that he was about being picked up. He struggled on first attempt and I let go. I was scared. He's so little and I didn't want to hurt him. I got myself in better position, took a breath, then picked him up. He kicked a little, but was calmish. He's so small and soft and delicate, but already inquisitive. He was sniffing my face and tickling me with his whiskers, and his head was bobbing all around, looking and listening. I didn't hold him for long, as I wanted to let him get settled and take it slow, so I put him back in. My brother left and I sat and tried to watch tv and take my mind off Rocky. My lovely twitter friends were, of course, so kind and caring, and I had a momentary nap too.
Then my other friend came round, who I called in tears when I was cradling Rocky, and she hugged me and then met Yoshi. I didn't get him out again but had a little stroke. Then mum came home and met him too.
So now I'm sitting in my bedroom chair, missing my little rabbit, and knowing another one needs me.
People keep telling me not to blame myself but I can't help it. I keep thinking that I didn't do something right or that I missed something or that I didn't do enough to try and help him get better. I guess part of this grief is also regret that I didn't get to know him better any sooner, that I left it so late to love him this much. But I'm also so grateful for the time I did have, as contrived as that sounds.
I hated seeing him so down and uncomfortable, hated the scared look in his eyes whenever he could manage to open then, and the scared noises. I know it was fairer to let the vet put him down, but I just miss him so much already. It hurts.
It hurts so much more than when Trio had to be put down because although I was younger then which was hard, I hadn't been as low as I have recently. In some ways Trio was 'just' a pet (although I'll always miss him and love him and remember his funny half-lop DNA that meant one ear would flop and the other stand up and lots more) but Rocky was my friend and my crutch by the end. He needed me, but not as much as I needed him I'm sure!
And now there's Yoshi. A helpless little baby bunny that needs me.
As I said on twitter, although it might sound cruel, there's a part of me that can't feel so attatched to Yoshi yet because I'm missing Rocky so much. It's not Yoshi's fault of course, it's just how things go in my life : one good thing is followed by shit. I just don't understand why Rocky had to suffer for whatever I'm clearly being punished for by some higher being.
I know it'll take time, but I'm hoping that soon enough I will love Yoshi, at least nearly as much as Rocky, if not more. I already get a big cooey when I'm with him, it's just when I'm not all I can think about is this huge Rocky shaped hole.
His hutch is empty and it won't be filled.
You'll always be my baby, Rocky.