The other day I was patting Leroy, my rabbit, caressing his snout, which he loves. My fingers brushed something rough, so I picked him up and looked at his mouth. His lips were scaly, almost scabby. I was worried that he'd eaten or chewed something that had caused a reaction, or something poisonous. I scheduled an appointment with the vet.
So yesterday morning we arrived at the vet. She came in, gave him a physical, wrapped him in a towel, flipped him over, and looked at his mouth.
She smiled at me. "He has syphilis."
I stared and then burst out laughing. "Of COURSE he does. Because that's just perfect. HOW?!?"
"He probably had it when you got him but didn't have any symptoms," she explained. She also assured me that if he'd given it to Amie, it would not have been what killed her.
"Wait. So if he's had it for a year," I said, "am I going to come home to find sunflowers all over my wall and a long, velvety ear on the floor?"
She explained that it doesn't affect rabbits the same way as people, as far as they knew, and that three injections of antibiotic should do the trick. She also assured me I couldn't catch it (I had visions of THAT doctor's appointment).
As I was paying the bill, a small, lean Basset Hound on a leash moaned and wailed with ecstasy at the prospect of someone who could pat her. She kept scooting across the floor, groaning and wagging her tail. I went over, crouched, and gave her a hug. I scratched her back and the base of her tail. She wooed and groaned and was in heaven. She was very pretty.
"She lost the use of her hind legs," her person said. "She's only now getting it back, slowly. That's why she was pulling herself towards you."
"Well, she's so adorable it's hard not to come to her, so she's got that worked out," I said, rubbing the dog's ears (her tag said her name was Lily). Lily tucked her face into my armpit and sighed with pleasure. Her tail beat a dull rhythm on the floor.
"Whoa Lily, you sure got that hound aroma going on," I said, as the musky doggy smell wafted over me.
"Yeah, she needs a bath but I wanted to wait until she could stand better," her person said. She looked toward my carrier. "Is that a cat in there?"
"It's a rabbit," I told her. Then, relishing the anticipation, I added, "with syphilis."
"Yep. Not contagious. Easily addressed."
"How does a rabbit get syphilis?!?" she asked.
"The usual way," I explained. "He was rescued in a raid on a place that had about 70 rabbits. He was neutered and adopted out, but it seems that until that time, my Leroy was a Travelin' Man."