Friday 3 September 2021

Pebbles and Peanut. Our beloved bunnies.

I haven't used this blog in a long time, but I am using it today as I need to put down my thoughts and feelings into words. It's my way of processing.

I was a reluctant pet owner no doubt about that. My husband also. We have three children, now 30, 28 and 15. Our first two children would have loved having a furry pet when they were young, but we never succumbed. It never felt like the right time for us. There were always more than enough other things to cope with. We let them have fish, but lets face it, fish are not particularly cuddly and their personalities don't tend to impact your day to day life. 

Our son since leaving the nest is on his second and third dog and now knows the joy of having fur babies. Our older two had been out the house for sometime and our youngest daughter had been begging us for some bunnies. We fought against it. Too much inconvenience. Too much expense. She even presented us with an essay on why it would be a good idea to have bunnies. Lets face it 2020 was not the best year for anyone. After much discussion, we began to look for a reasonably priced hutch and run as a first step towards becoming bunny owners. 

An advert popped up in our local Facebook pages. Free hutch and run. Well, you can't get cheaper than free can you, so we responded to the advert. The lady quickly got back to us and informed us that she actually had two little bunnies also looking for a home for a very reasonable price. She had young children, and the bunnies were not getting any attention. My husband said lets go for it. So we organised a day for collection, and off we went. My daughter knew we were getting the hutch and run but not the bunnies. When she first saw the hutch she was pleased, then when we told her to look inside she was absolutely thrilled to find not just one bunny but two. It was love at first sight for sure. 

So on the 23rd September 2020, 2 of the most beautiful bunnies entered our lives. My daughter named them Pebbles and Peanut. They were kept in a small hutch with a small run attached. They had only known a tiny garden with a little astroturf in their run, so we placed them on the lawn where they were ecstatic nibbling at the fresh greenery and enjoying their new surroundings. Such sweet natured bunnies. Peanut very friendly from the start and Pebbles a little more cautious. My daughter quickly built up their trust and used to go lay in the run with them and play with them. It soon became clear that we needed to build them something with a bit more space, so at quite a lot more expense than ever intended, we had a lovely 6ft by 9ft shed custom built for them which we then insulated and lined. 

It was beginning to get chillier by this point in the year and so the bunnies really were mostly shut in their shed with the occasional outing in their run outside. It was getting to around November and there was talk of another Covid lockdown. My older daughter decided that all things considered, she'd be as well moving home to the Highlands from Edinburgh as she could work from home with the new job she had procured. We were  thrilled to be blessed by her moving home again. It was something we never expected to happen, and it was going to be wonderful for her younger sister too. Our older daughter had always fancied having a bunny when she got her own place, but now she was getting to come home and share in the care of two gorgeous bunnies. She was delighted about that and very quickly loved them just as much as her sister did. 

The bunnies seemed to train themselves, They used a litter tray in the shed and only occasionally peed on anything else. Pooping is another story, but anyone who has had a bunny will know just how innocuous bunny poop is, so you don't really mind at all. The weather was getting colder and colder. One evening the girls went to check on the bunnies and their water bowl had frozen solid. It was decided then and there, they were moving into the utility room in the house until the cold weather passed. All their little bunny  bits and bobs were duly moved in to the house All my paint pots and other junk had to be very quickly stashed elsewhere. Ah well, it's only temporary I thought, we can make it work. 

The bunnies loved being in the house right away. During the day they stayed within the confines of the utility room with occasional supervised trips to some other part of the house. After our evening meal, we opened their gate and closed off the hall giving them freedom to come and go into the lounge. They loved it. And so did we. They never pooped or peed in the lounge. It was like they realised this was our territory, and they were always so well behaved.  They very quickly settled into a little routine. They lounged on the corner of the rug by the tv while we watched. Somehow they were happy to stretch out and sleep while shoot 'em ups and car chases and explosions were playing out in front of them on the screen. 

But if they heard a rustle of a bag or someone got up to go the the bathroom, they were up, circling you like vultures in case you had brought them a little treat...which of course we often did. Sometimes they were up on your seat before you could get to it trying to get the snack from you. If you dared to  try to eat an apple, then you would have two bunnies on your lap with tickly whiskers in your face trying to get a bit of apple from your mouth. It was one of the loveliest experiences. We really got up close and personal with our little bunnies.

Peanut was the real sweetie of the two. She was willing to be held and was so patient. She always had one ear up and one ear down which was just the cutest thing ever. She had learned to hop up onto my daughters back whenever she went down on hands and knees and would then take a ride on her back around the room. Our very own circus. That's not a cushion she is sitting on in the picture below, it is my daughter's back!

Pebbles was a little more fiesty, but we loved that about her. If she didn't want a head rub, she would do a funny little head move which told you that she was not a willing participant, but on other times when she felt like a head rub, she literally melted onto the carpet like a flat bunny, relaxing as you petted her. 

 And  they were just so very beautiful. I think they got more beautiful every day we had them. We got them when they were 6 months old and looking back on older pictures we can see that they had little baby faces back then. So many happy , happy memories. Below Pebbles is looking rather pleased with herself that she managed to hop up onto the piano stool.

 Watching both my daughters playing with them and laughing at their silly antics. So much joy they gave us all. This reluctant pet owner here grew rather attached to them. 

When the weather improved we all decided they would not go out to live in their shed all the time. On nice days they were out in the shed which by this time I had customised further by building them a nice platform with bunny steps up to it to increase their space to play. Also I added some good ventilation and most recently ( completed only in the last couple of weeks)  a nice new safe outside run area which I was just about to add a roof to. So, the bunnies still came in and sat with us every evening and then at night they slept in the utility room. They knew the routine. When the girls went to get them from the shed, they didn't usually run off too far and just came hopping into the house straight to the lounge. The  girls would then bring all their bits and bobs in the from the shed daily, putting them out again the next day. It was a bit of a palaver, but we all enjoyed having them with us so much that it was worth it. We enjoyed a very nice life with our bunnies. 

Watching them interact was beautiful. Pebbles was the dominant rabbit. You would often see Pebbles dashing about and Peanut lolloping behind her with her ears flippy flopping as she bounced about. Watching them groom each other was adorable too. Pebbles could be quite demanding, putting her head down flat under Peanuts to demand a good licking. When Peanut tried she often just got a couple of licks and then Pebbles would attend to her own fur. They were happy to stretch out beside each other often mirroring each others position. They were just an absolute joy to look at. I don't think I have ever smiled so much. 

Fast forward to the weekend at the end of August this year. Just this last weekend. As usual at around 8 o clock in the morning it was time to bring a little bowl of leaves for their breakfast. The usual scenario was that when you opened the door , you had to be so careful not to trip over them as they circled you desperate for you to put the bowl down so they could tuck in. If you were not quick enough, Pebbles would give a little thump or two to show her displeasure. This morning something was clearly up. Pebbles dashed for the leaves as usual, but sweet little Peanut was hiding in her favourite cardboard box and would not come out. I tried to tempt her with a leaf, but she was not interested. Knowing that GI Stasis can start like this, we quickly phoned the vets and took her in. Initially we took Pebbles with her as it is always best to take bonded rabbits together, but they were going to put her on a drip so thought that Pebbles would try to bite it and pull it out, so we decided it was best to take Pebbles home with us. Our hope was that we caught the GI Stasis quickly enough and that the medication would soon help her to do better. She seemed to be perking up during the day a bit and at 6.30pm, the vet rang and asked us if we would like her home. We decided that would be best as she would be with Pebbles and we could continue to give her medication orally and feed her with special critical care food in her own environment where she would feel safe. When we got her home, she was so sleepy and listless. She would barely take any food. We managed to get a little bit in her mouth but not much. Pebbles gave her some really good grooming. She licked and licked at her to get all that nasty vet smell off her. She was being well loved and attended to by Pebbles. During the night we went into her to see if we could get her to take some more food. She would not take any. The last time I went in to see her was around 4 in the morning. She had moved and was now sitting in a favourite spot beside the water bowl. I thought this was a good sign...perhaps she had been thirsty and had a little drink. I had taken in a leaf for each of them, to try tempt Peanut to eat. This time Pebbles wouldn't touch her leaf either. This was very unusual. The next time we went in to check on them, Peanut had passed away. Pebbles was sitting looking very sad with her back to her. She must have by this time spent time with her trying to get her to move and realised that she had gone. We were devastated. Our older daughter was away for the weekend and not returning until monday. We did not want to tell her while she was away as that would have been horrible to have to travel being so upset. That morning my husband buried our precious little Peanut. She is now in the field next to our home where wild bunnies hop and play.  Our focus was now on taking care of Pebbles and making sure she was OK. Pebbles would not eat. Initially we thought perhaps it was grief that was causing it. We spoke with the vet who said that it would be ok to give her some of the same medicine just to keep her guts moving while she was not eating properly. We managed to get her to take some water, and later on that day we managed to get her to eat a few leaves from a willow tree - we had hope. We talked about finding her a new companion for company, we thought she might make it, but she would not touch her hay and was clearly very upset. We stayed with her all that day, we didn't need the gate on her enclosure as wherever we put her, she did not venture away. That night our younger daughter took her and her things up to her bedroom so that Pebbles would know someone was with her. She made it through the night. We had a little glimmer of hope. After that though,  she clearly went downhill. She became very tired and listless. For the last couple of hours of her life, we held her on our laps and loved her. We stroked her and sang to her and prayed for her, and told her how much we loved her. She slowly slipped away. It was only in the last few moments she was clearly in discomfort and we cried out to God to take her quickly. She went shortly after that. And then it was over. They were both gone. 

Talking to the vet afterwards, she wondered if perhaps it might actually have been a virus, so there was nothing more that could have been done for them.  I never imagined what a huge gaping hole I would feel. I had a dog when I was a child. A cute corgi cross with a lovely bushy tail. Her name was Mitzi. She was a sweet dog. I can't remember when she died but |I must have been a teenager at the time. I was sad at the time of course, but I got over it fairly quickly as far as I can remember. Nothing prepared me for the way I feel right now. We had to tell my older daughter when she arrived home on monday afternoon. That was pretty awful . She had left behind two beautiful little furry friends and came home to a very empty feeling house. My husband came home and he and our younger daughter laid Pebbles next to our little Peanut. 

So many things in this house remind us of them and pull at our heartstrings. A favourite stool, a preferred cushion, the curtains where they liked to play behind. We joked that we need to move house now. Our younger daughter was an absolute rock, clearing out the utility room and moving many of their things to the shed because we just couldn't bear to do it. She has been grieving in her own way. We each do I guess. It is hard to look at the tv and see the corner of the rug where they used to lay. In time I guess it will bring a warm happy memory, but for now it is just so painful. It is like a agonising empty feeling inside. I feel guilty for it in a way. So many people I know have been through so much and experienced real grief of losing a loved one. This time of Covid many people have lost someone special and are struggling with moving on. Here am I feeling so awful for the loss of two little bunnies. It feels a bit pathetic really.  But they were,  I am convinced, the most special and precious and beautiful bunnies that ever there was. I know anyone reading this who has loved a pet will understand , and I know that time will heal and it will get better, but at the moment it is really hard. I hope that by writing this out, it will help me to get some closure and maybe help someone else who has lost a pet. 

I think I am not just grieving because I loved them so much and feel their loss, but also grieving for the life we had, and knowing that all those happy times watching my daughters interact with their bunnies has ended. I think I am feeling just not grief for myself , but for them too. 

I am so thankful to have had these beautiful creatures in my life, even if it was just for a fleeting time. I was so blessed by their presence. I got to experience so much beauty at such close quarters.

The plan is to at some point get another pair of bunnies for my daughter. Too soon just now, but we have a lovely shed and all the bunny gear and a loving home waiting for them for when we are ready. 

But no bunnies will ever be as special or as wonderful as our precious Pebbles and Peanut.