Last April, a Giant Chinchilla rabbit arrived at the shelter. She barely fit in the cage. She had once been well taken care of - they opened her up only to find that she'd already been spayed, and she was very friendly. It had been two years since our first rabbit, Nancy, had passed away of old age. We had said that we would never get another rabbit, but I fell completely in love with her. It took some convincing, but eventually my mom agreed.
Alice lived a cage-less life, free to roam around half of our apartment. She spent many summer days out on the balcony, and sometimes took trips to the park. She stuffed her face with greens everyday. Only a few months after she arrived, she got very sick and had trouble standing up. We were afraid we were going to lose her, but Alice didn't let anything hold her back. After many tests, we never found out what had happened, but she recovered remarkably. She was always a little shaky and off-balance after that, but she hopped lopsidedly around. She never seemed frustrated at her slow speed, always content to lay by our side.
A year later, Giles arrived at the shelter after being abandoned in a dog park. Feeling sorry for him and believing him to be quite old (ha), I took him home. I knew Alice wouldn't mind - she liked everybody and was quite used to fosters. I didn't expect them to become best friends overnight. They slept together, ate together, played together. They were inseparable.
Two days ago, Alice began to breathe strangely after a short trip in her carrier. Worried (she'd never been the healthiest rabbit), we rushed her to the emergency vet. Alice was brilliant at carrying on despite all illness - she even fooled the vet, who initially thought she could go home for the night until we could get her to our regular vet. An x-ray, however, showed that Alice had fluid in her lungs, chest and abdomen. How had it gotten so bad? She panted a bit in the last week, but other than that, she was running around, grooming Giles and stuffing her face like normal. As heart problems are common in giant breeds, we feared it was congestive heart failure. She spent the night in an oxygen tank - we came to visit at 3 am as they were going to draw some fluid out and weren't sure she would survive the procedure. She did, but another x-ray showed a mass in her lung. It probably wasn't heart failure, but it was ruining her lungs. The next morning we transferred her to our vet and finally faced the bad news.
There was a mass in her lungs and fluid all through her chest and abdomen. Every option had little hope - the only possibility that might have resulted in a cure required a surgery that would've been insanely high-risk. And while cost was not at all the first thing in our minds, we had to admit that it would've been thousands of dollars to prolong her suffering and probably only buy a little time and a very small chance. We decided that we would rather have her die with us comforting her, after she'd only been hospitalized and suffering for a day, rather than make her continue on. We stroked her and held her and told her we loved her, as she passed away at far too young an age.
Everyone who met Alice loved her. She spent many days this summer at the camp where I worked, eagerly getting petted by a crowd of children. The vet at the emergency clinic was almost as heart-broken as us - all the techs told us how gentle she was. She was the most laid-back, sweet, friendly, loving bunny I've ever met. The minute you touched her, she sank down to the ground and began tooth-purring, always thrilled to be stroked and loved. She put up with everything - neurological problems, foster rabbits, baby rabbits, birds (including one who liked biting her on the nose), being picked up. Even in the oxygen tank, she was trying to get to us to get another scratch behind the ears. She was a part of our family as much as any dog, any cat, or for that matter, any human. The whole thing happened so fast - a roller coaster of emotion in two days. We only had a year and a half but I wouldn't trade it for anything - I just wish we'd had 10 more. I am always, always going to miss her.
Rest in peace, my beautiful girl. My Alice.
We love you.