|Amie, giving Leroy a smoochy grooming session.|
By the middle of August Amie had been eating just fine but was losing weight at an alarming rate. Blood tests showed nothing conclusive, and she was put on antibiotics just in case. At one follow-up appointment, I felt a ping-pong-sized lump under her chin. This was brand new, and I was startled when my fingers found it.
When my vet came in, she felt it and nodded. She looked grim.
"The kind we'd talked about? The kind we can't cure but can only maybe manage?"
She lanced the abscess to drain it. Rabbit pus is the texture of caulk for various reasons, so it takes some work to clean out a rabbit abscess. Amie was very good about it, wrapped in her Bunny Burrito towel. Her weight was down to under three pounds. She'd lost a full third of her body weight.
More abscesses appeared, and I tried to address them. I flushed out her poor neck every night, marveling at the cavernous pockets that had appeared under her jaw. She ate like a pig but felt bony and frail. She wasn't healing despite changing to another antibiotic. We were pretty certain she was geriatric, and surmised that there may have been cancer at play as well to account for the weight loss.
After another evening putting her through abscess torture, I decided it was time. I'd given her a chance, but she wasn't getting better, and her quality of life was not great. She still loved to eat, was chipper and sweet, and hopped to the front of her hutch to lick my nose or hands when I knelt down to say hi. She was so adorable, which made her condition so much more sad. I'd snuggle her or pat her back, and wince at how skeletal she felt under my fingers. The vet warned she was in danger of cardiac arrest from being so thin.
So in the beginning of September I took her in and had her put to sleep. I got to hold her and the nose cone for the gas that was used to knock her out so that the euthanasia solution could be administered directly to her heart. I rubbed her head and kissed her ears, and once she was out I held her little paw while the vet administered the solution. The vet was as teary as I.
I'd brought Leroy so that he could see her after. It sounds morbid, but rabbits bond and I've learned that it's kinder to let them know when the other is gone so that they don't look for them. I brought Amie to Leroy in the exam room. He sniffed her, then froze, staring at me. His look was terrible.
"I think he knows," said the vet.
"Oh, he knows," I said. "Thing is, he's wondering what I had to do with it." I talked to him and patted him, but his eyes never left my face.
So now it's just one of each species in my house: rabbit, cat, human. I believe that pets should have one of their kind to keep them company, and have always had at least two of whatever was under my roof, but money issues prevent me from doing this right now. I give them both a lot of attention, but I am an inadequate substitute, and I know George misses Harry and Leroy misses his girl. I've always been surrounded by a crowd of animals, and as their numbers diminish I feel like I'm watching the ending of a story. It's a good story, full of lots of happy moments, but the ending is heavy and bittersweet.