On the 8th of July I lost a friend. He had been in my life for 13 years, since he was a much smaller fluffy baby bunny. He came in to our family when my son Dee was a baby, and I remember trying to house train him, and not exactly achieving it. I loved him as family, he wasn’t just a “pet”, he wasn’t an object or possession, he was my friend. On the 8th of July we went to the vets, and the vet agreed that Patch had lost quality of life and a decision was made. I spoke to him on the way out, kissed him on the nose, and held his paw. The nurse left in tears, and the vet wasn’t far off either – I held it together until I was outside and then I was a wreck.
Towards the end of June Patch had started to decline, he was losing his personality, and his fur. He clearly was struggling to remember me, and at times seemed confused by Harry. Harry is our guinea pig, and was Patch’s best (and only) animal friend. You see I never seem to end up with the robotic, over trained, super obedient pets. Nope. I get the rebels! The ones with enough soul to choose to ignore you, or do as asked.
Our Patch was no exception – he hated every bunny rabbit I tried to introduce him to. Male or female, young or old – he’d growl and paw swipe at them all. I did things right, and introduced them slowly but it never worked out. About 3 years ago we adopted Harry the guinea pig and Patch didn’t hate him, in fact he rather liked him. Harry was (and still is) a shy lad but seemed unconcerned by Patch licking and grooming his fur so they became hutch buddies. They would curl up together and sometimes Harry would actually climb on to Patch’s back and sleep on him. They shared food, chewing from different ends of the same carrot, it was a sweet friendship. Please note it is Not recommended that piggies and bunnies live together* as rabbits often injure them.
Patch was great, to me he was always kind and sweet. But to others, well, he was mean! He pee’d at people, wanted to kill all other rabbits, and had a special hatred of human males. This I learnt even extended to very small Boys, as one time when I was pegging out washing on the line in the garden, with a tiny Jen sat by my feet, Patch went for him. Not a nip on the hand, or a moody stamp or something innocent – he tried to “take him out” Monty Python style. I saw Patch stalking as a cat does and thought “what is he up to” and then all of a sudden he jumped towards Jen, opening his jaw wide in an attacking posture. It felt like it was all in slow-mo. I knocked Jen over, there was no time to intercept the bunny-shaped-missile so I had to move Jen instead. Patch really meant to harm him, and ran back towards him for another go. From then on out Patch and Jen didn’t really get on!
After Patch passed Harry struggled to adapt to “single” life. He was clearly depressed and was massively over eating, and didn’t want to be touched at all. I waited a week or so for Patch’s scent to fade on him, and tried to introduce him to our other rabbits. It seemed promising, they didn’t attack immediately, and they calmly shared a pile of veggies. Sadly it all kicked off in the night and he was bitten and scratched. All were minor scratches and grazes, but the poor lad was terrified. Back to being alone. He cried and squealed the next night, and he woke us up.
Until a few days ago when I went to the vets to book our dogs routine vaccinations that is. Our vets is at the back of a pet shop, which is handy sometimes. This time Jen wandered off for a look about (as he often does, the staff know him) and he came running back telling me there was a beautiful young guinea pig in the adoption hutches, and no one wanted him. He went on to give a pretty impressive debate on why he wanted him, and then he said he would pay the adoption donation out of his birthday money. Jen said he wanted to stop Harry being lonely.
Marble is the baby guinea pig’s name, and for the first time in about a year I heard Harry “chattering” in normal guinea pig style. He sort of gave up chattering as Patch was a bunny, and they didn’t “speak” the same language.
We didn’t replace Patch, I don’t think I could ever find such a spirited bunny as him again, but we did help out Harry.
A good way to protect you fluffy family is to insure them, and you can find out about helping the RSPCA at the same time by following this link. Protect your dog or cat*.
Disclosure : this post is a collaborative post for the #RSPCAPetPeeves campaign.