We had to say goodbye to another beloved family pet yesterday.
Annabelle’s little bunny, Snowfluff, began exhibiting some unusual symptoms on Saturday afternoon. She had her little head turned slightly to the side, like our dog Toby used to do when he got an ear infection. As the weekend went on the tiny bunny got progressively worse, to the point where her furry head was turned almost upside down on her body. In just a few short hours she was so unbalanced that she couldn’t eat pellets out of the purple dish she shared with Batman’s bunny, Princess, and she hopped in dizzying circles around the cage trying to eat her hay.
Yesterday morning I searched for a veterinarian to take a look at the bunny, starting with our usual small animal vet and progressing through the three other valley clinics they referred me to. Each of the four phone calls went the same; they did not have an exotic animal vet available until later in the week. For some reason I got an inspiration, and remembered reading a newspaper article about a small veterinary office right near us, with a single practitioner who treated all sorts of small animals. I looked her up and with one phone call we had an appointment for right after school.
The kids and I rushed home after class to get the bunny, and Annabelle held her wrapped in a towel in a little plastic drawer on the drive to the vet, talking to her and trying to calm her down. She sat on the wooden bench in the small office and answered the questions asked by the receptionist bravely, but I could tell she was really worried about her bunny.
Poor little Snowfluff was so disoriented that she would occasionally just start spinning in the towel, her entire body thrashing in an effort to right herself. It was heart wrenching to watch.
The veterinarian was very kind, and it didn’t take her more than a minute or two to diagnose the problem. Snowfluff had a grievous infectious disease that causes lesions of infection inside a bunny’s head. Because the infection was deep in the skull it was impossible to treat effectively, and the only kind thing would be to put the bunny to sleep. Many bunnies from pet stores (like Zamzow’s, where we got ours) are carriers of the disease, the vet told us. Some bunnies develop the lesions and some do not.
Soft-hearted Batman was inconsolable at the news, and the vet gave Snowfluff a sedative to quiet her (which got Batman’s attention, as he asked in a snuffling voice “Is that the killing shot?”), then left us alone in the examining room for a few minutes to say goodbye. After only a few minutes more the vet walked out and handed us a small cardboard box with Snowfluff’s body inside. Batman insisted on opening the box and stroking the bunny, tears falling on her soft fur as he reached inside and kissed her one last time.
We’ll bury Snowfluff outside, next to Batman’s departed bunny this afternoon once the ground dries up a bit. The vet told us that we should not acquire another bunny as a pet while Princess is still alive, since while she might never develop the disease herself she was surely a carrier of it after living with Snowfluff for the past few months.
We talked a lot about Snowfluff after we got home, and about what happens when you die.
Batman said he prefers to think that Snowfluff is a wild bunny now, living in heaven with Batman/Blackie, the bunny that Winston the Maniac Dog dispatched last fall.
As for Miss Annabelle, she is using the opportunity to lobby for another hamster.