Guest Blog: How to Say Goodbye

Posted in Memorials at 4:08 am by ACR&S

Guest blogger Jhondra returns with a sad update…

Last Thursday, I said goodbye to the oldest friendship I’ve ever had, to a entity I saw every day for over a decade. I euthanized Seaby, my 11 year old rabbit. Back in 1997, when I was significantly less jaded about pet store animals, my mother bought me a pair of boy bunnies. They were a pair of eight-week-old chocolate Dutch bunnies whom I dubbed “Seaby” and “Split”. After neutering, I paired them with a little Netherland Dwarf mix named “SF” whom my mother also bought me. Obviously, my mother is a key violator of the “no pets as presents” rule.

If I knew then what I knew now. Those rabbits changed my life.

These three were the first pets I had as an adult (as much of an adult as an undergrad can be) and I knew nothing about good bunny care. They didn’t get timothy hay or veggies until they were 3 years old. For the first three years, they lived in a tiny cage in my living room. SF wasn’t spayed until she was 4 years old, much longer than any good rabbit owner would ever wait, given the risk of uterine and ovarian carcinomas in intact females. I hasn’t even heard the words “bunny-savvy vet” until 2000. As years went on, I learned more. I built bigger and better cages, started yearly bunny wellness exams, and bought high-end veggies at Whole Foods. It was a labor of love—I was enamored by them and their antics. I loved the love they felt for each other. They only wanted each other; my attention was tolerated, at best.

In 2005, SF developed a middle ear infection. In 24 hours, she went from normal to ataxic with a severe head tilt and stopped eating or drinking. For 6 weeks, I completely ran my life into the ground giving her what she needed: force feeding her, giving her fluids, rotating her in her cage. She eventually recovered. In 2006, I decided to go to vet school to practice companion exotic medicine. I can’t say that my decision was BECAUSE she got ill, but I know her illness played some role in my career change.

Then, the difficult decisions started. I said goodbye to Split in 2006 (renal failure) and SF in 2007 (advanced pulmonary neoplasia). Even after 12 months, losing SF still breaks my heart. Finally, last week, it was Seaby’s time. He had been sick with a chronic upper respiratory infection that was untreatable. I tried to make him comfortable for over two years with low dust hay and humidifiers. This summer, it was clear that he wasn’t as comfortable. Still, I held out, waiting for him to tell me he needed to go. He kept eating and drinking; I kept waiting. Finally, it came to me two weeks ago. So, I said goodbye to a huge chapter of my life.

Losing Seaby was actually easy. I prepared myself, since I knew it was coming for two weeks before it came. I had to delay Seaby’s appointment until after my Farm Animal Medicine exam. Honestly, the hardest part about vet school is having to rearrange the rest of your life around it.

But, I am back in the saddle again. Several days later, I picked up two new (rescued) rabbits from a rescuer in IL. I have a lot to learn about the new buns—I’ll keep you updated.

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