A Sad Update From The Rabbit Nation
Hello, everyone. I apologize for not updating this blog. I had the best of intentions but life sometimes just gets away from you like that. It's been 2 years since I wrote anything. I felt it was only right that given what has happened, I should finish what was started here as King Kirby's Rabbit Nation.
- In 2013 Toby and Annie were bonded for 30 days, then unbonded. They dated on and off all through 2014. We finally decided that it just wasn't going to work out. Annie has grown into a very strong-willed alpha girl and she remains a lovely human companion, but has trouble playing nice with other bunnies.
- - At the close of 2015, Kirby was 9 years old, Toby was 6 years old, Penny was 7 years old, and Annie was 2 years old.
- - On December 24, 2015, Kirby was diagnosed with a thymoma in his chest after we noticed he had difficulty eating.
- - On February 5, 2016 (just 5 days ago), King Kirby crossed the Rainbow Bridge peacefully.
My sweet baby Kirby lived very happily right up to the end. He had some rough days the last 2 years with various health problems, but he was a fighter. In December when we got the diagnosis, we were stunned. We drained a lot of fluid from the thymoma in early January and he bounced back very quickly. He was on medication that also helped his quality of life. He lived comfortably and enjoyed the company of his wifebun Penny and his humans very much in his last month or so, though we didn't know it would be his last days.
I honestly thought we had much longer with him. His condition worsened in a matter of 36 hours as we noticed he was having increasingly labored breathing. Our vet, who is very well-trained in rabbit medicine and trusted by the HRS chapter in New York, gave us the news on Friday Feb. 5 that it was near the end and that there was not more that we could do. Kirby would not recover from this. Her opinion was that Kirby would not have another week, and that if we waited, he would suffer. It came as a shock to me because other than the rapid breathing and slowed appetite, he seemed to enjoy doing all of his normal things. It didn't seem quite so dire, but my vet assured me that though he seemed ok now, he could deteriorate quickly.
Rather than putting him to sleep right then, we brought him home so we could have at least a day with him while he was still feeling ok. I am glad that I did. That morning that I brought him to the vet, he hadn't even spent much time with Penny. I wasn't ready to say goodbye. I haven't even given him his favorite treats in several days because I was afraid his slowed appetite was a developing stasis episode. My husband was at work and he wouldn't get a chance to say goodbye. He rushed home after I called him from the vet's office so we could spend time with Kirby together as a family.
Kirby seemed tired and sleepy at first, but he snuggled with Penny for a few hours. We got him to eat his favorite things: kale, parsley, banana, Oxbow biscuits, pumpkin mash, rolled oats, willow leaves. He ate them one by one, and slowly over several hours, but whenever he worked up the energy to eat them, he ate them heartily.
I pet him on and off for hours. Whenever I paused, he would get up and slip his head under my hand, asking for more. This was how it always was with Kirby. This was how he told me he loved me. He trusted me. And he didn't want to be away from me. He even followed me around when I got up a few times. It all seemed so normal, like it was just another day of Kirby and I enjoying each other's company as we have for the last 7+ years. He was as beautiful as the day I brought him home from the shelter. His eyes had aged and lost a touch of the luster but none of his warmth.
The issue that weighed heavily on me was when I should bring him back to be put to sleep. I knew my baby was not well. I knew that he would not get better. But right now at least, he seemed ok and stable. It was killing me to think if I made the wrong decision, he could suffocate overnight and there'd be nothing anyone could do to help. The flip side would be that I'd always wonder if he had more time and we let him go too soon. My vet told me I could bring him back over the weekend. I initially thought that I would give it until Saturday and see how it went, but I was scared that Kirby would take a nosedive. I cried and cried because I didn't know what to do.
For years, I have said to Kirby, "you would tell me if you were not feeling well, wouldn't you?" I like to think that he silently agreed. On that day, I begged him to tell me what he wanted me to do. I needed to know what he felt. Was he ready or did he want more time with us? Was he hurting a lot, or did we have it all wrong? Suddenly he looked up at me, as if giving me a reply. Something I promised him the day that I adopted him popped into my head. That first night, I held him in my arms at home and whispered in his ears that he'd never hurt again, never be alone again. I'd always give him everything he needed. And that's how I knew that I shouldn't wait overnight. I didn't want to wait until he was hurting to let him go. I had promised that he would not feel pain and helplessness again. So then, at 5:00 pm, we decided that we would bring him back to the vet later that evening.
We said our final goodbyes at home as a family. I had resisted hugging him in my arms all day because he didn't like to be held. When it was really time to scoop him up to his travel carrier, however, he did not resist the way he usually did. He just sat up in my arms and tucked his head into my neck while I kissed him and whispered, "I'm sorry. I love you."
Penny came with us because I didn't want him to leave without being with the ones he loved most. We stayed with Kirby while the vet and vet tech administered the anesthesia and barbiturate. Penny gave his ears a lick while I stroked his face and told him we were here with him and that he would be fine soon. Kirby went peacefully in the presence of all those who love him immensely.
We are all so devastated with the loss of Kirby. The house feels empty. My heart feels empty. Looking at Penny now makes me feel the worst. She was visibly confused for a couple of days, sleeping in all of Kirby's old napping spots. I'm not really certain she knows or understands what happened. She seemed to be waiting for him to return, but as of yesterday she seems to just be sort of bored and lonely. We gave her a bunny doll but she wasn't interested. She licked it and when it didn't do anything, she walked away. We intend to try to bond her with Toby. They're around the same age and they might just be what each other needs right now.
I am filled with grief and I don't know what to do with it. I question everything repeatedly from the last several months wondering if there was anything I could have done to change the outcome, give him more quality time. Give us more time. Something. Anything. All I have left of him are the memories of our time together. We had tons of happy moments. I cherish the thousands and thousands of photos I took of him. I recorded a lot of video of him from when he was a younger, shyer and sillier bunny and I find myself smiling watching the playback. When I snap back to reality, it hurts all over again. My only comfort is knowing that he didn't endure a painful, drawn out death.
There are rabbits, and then there are rabbits
. Kirby was an incredible one. He was always there for me and I thank him for every joy he has brought to our lives. He inspired me to volunteer and help bunnies. He taught me that patience is the first ingredient of everlasting love. He showed me that unconditional love not only exists, but can transcend just about anything.
I hope that the Rainbow Bridge is real. I hope he is playing and binkying around with new bunny friends. I hope that he gets to eat all his favorite things and never have to worry about being sick. I hope he is up there having fun and waiting for his Rabbit Nation subjects. I hope that I get to see him again someday. Until then... goodbye, my little love. I will keep you in my heart always.