The End of an Era
March 1, 2016
Tonight, I am writing about something very personal to me. I have not posted a blog entry in a year’s time, and I intend to make an effort over the remainder of 2016 to write at least one per month! But, I thank my loyal readers (if I have any left!) for your patience with me.
On February 29th, 2016, a lovely soul departed this earth. His name was Vegas Dice, and he was a five-pound rabbit full of attitude, or shall I say “rabbitude”. Many of you know that I have been involved in rabbit rescue and education for over two decades, and Vegas was a bunny I rescued from an area shelter on October 23rd, 2007. He was roughly 6 months old at the time. Vegas Dice was named thus because he had three black spots down the middle of his otherwise white back, and the shelter worker mentioned that he looked like a “dice” rolled on a three. She wanted to just name him “Dice”; I added the “Vegas” part (perhaps at the suggestion of someone else, I honestly don’t remember!).
Vegas stayed at my house for a couple of days, then went on to another temporary foster home for a few days. Following that, he was placed in the PetSmart adoption area where our group had cages reserved for this purpose. Some rabbits were not cut out to be in the noisy store and became overstressed by this, but Vegas was not really bothered in the least. He was content and happy there. (To the right, Vegas at a fosterer’s home, 12-26-2007 – just before going to his forever home).
Not long afterward, I was contacted by someone who was looking for her first rabbit companion. We met up at the store, and she hit it off great with Vegas. He had a minor medical issue that we needed to resolve before he could go to his new home, and my group had various steps in place before a bunny went to a new home anyway. On January 1st of 2008, Vegas went to his new home, with the human mommy he would have for the rest of his life. (Below photo was taken 10-23-2007, just after leaving the shelter. His paws were actually white, but the shelter had lined his cage there with newspaper and so they were horribly stained. After arriving in our foster care, he spent weeks grooming them until they were finally sparkling white).
At the same time, a beautiful friendship was born. The woman who adopted him kept in touch with me regarding Vegas’ care, and we became fast friends. I cannot thank Vegas enough for that. But, let me back up.
When Vegas came to us, he was not yet neutered. So, the first time I met him, he humped my leg incessantly and I could barely tear him off of me. And rabbits don’t hump quite the same as dogs do – when humping another rabbit, they use their teeth to “hold on”. Yes, Vegas did this to my leg as well – ouch! Even after his neuter was complete, and his hormones had time to settle down, he continued to greet me with – you guessed it, humping my leg. I would go to visit my new dear friend, and his mommy also, and Vegas would race out to greet me, grab onto my calf with his teeth, and hump away. This went on for at least a few years after he was neutered, and even after that he would do this once in awhile when I saw him. Much as the practice was awkward, not to mention painful (I could NEVER go there wearing shorts!!!), I still enjoyed knowing that I was the only person he did this with, and he and I shared a special bond.
Vegas had a huge personality. Sometimes I suspect that he fancied himself a puppy. He wanted to be in the middle of everything, including all of my friend’s daughter’s toys. He came out to see you when you walked in, just like a puppy. And he often wanted to be in your lap – especially if parsley was involved (ok, not as puppy like, but far closer than many rabbits I know!). He played hard, he loved hard, and his intelligence and creativity were astounding. He found creating ways to evade the most inventive bunny-proofing measures I know, and when his mind was set on chewing a particular cord, it took a 2 inch thick cover to prevent that – and sometimes, even that wasn’t good enough.
I’ve known more bunnies in my life than I can easily count. I don’t think I have ever met a bunny with a personality even close to Vegas’. Much as I always loved the bunnies of my own, I cherished every visit with Vegas and his mommy, never knowing what type of antics to expect from him. He kept me laughing every time I saw him, and every time his mommy called me to say, “Do YOU know what YOUR nephew did today?” – which always meant trouble. He was too smart for his own good, and despite having a human mommy of incredible intelligence, he outsmarted her regularly. To the right, Vegas is lounging out with his new human sister’s toys, after proclaiming himself “King of the Castle” – just a month after his adoption.
This past weekend, Vegas was very ill. We do not have emergency vets who treat rabbits in this area, which is terrifying if you’re a bunny mommy (or a bunny aunt), and your baby is ill. I desperately hope that this practice changes someday, and that all animal hospitals are equipped with at least one rabbit-savvy vet. But, as things are now, one has to get by the best we can with internet research and connections with other experienced bunny people around the country to learn what you can possibly do at home to keep them going until the regular rabbit-savvy vet is in Monday morning. Vegas arrived at the rabbit-savvy vet this morning and was treated gently and with honor. Unfortunately, his issue was far more complex than we imagined. It turned out that he had cancer, and it was quite advanced. This little 5-pound bunny had a tumour the size of a golf ball near his kidney. There was nothing that could be done, and the vet insisted upon euthanasia because of its advanced state.
I am sad that Vegas is no longer in his adorable little body. I am sad that I hadn’t seen him in some months, and that I could not say goodbye. I can talk to his spirit, and I am grateful for that gift. Tonight, I will sit and connect with him, ensure that he has found his way to “crossing over”, and talk with him. But, it’s not the same as petting his broad little bunny head or having him poke me insisting on more parsley. I will miss him in his physical form. But I am eternally grateful that I was able to be a part of his life for the past 8 1/2 years, and that I had the honorary title of “Aunt” to him – or sometimes called his “other Mommy”. Vegas, thank you for being you.