I knew in advance that this particular Monday was going to be crappy. My daughter was booked in to have two teeth removed, in advance of getting a brace next week. Considering she has had hysterics in the past over a splinter in the finger, I didn’t have high hopes for the dental visit or its aftermath. But then on Sunday things got a whole lot worse:
After much begging, for her sixth birthday my daughter got a big lop eared bunny. She named it Charlotte for no discernible reason. The rabbit was rather lazy, didn’t like cleaning itself, hence mess and fur knots that frequently had to be dealt with. I bought it a walking harness, thinking it wouldn’t go near the thing, but from the minute I did up the buckles and attached the lead it was off, delighted with the access to weeds on the lawn. So every morning my daughter walked the rabbit before school, I made her for years, until middle and upper school started too early for rabbit walking.
Gradually the novelty of having a rabbit wore off for my daughter, it was boring: it didn’t do anything. I had to admit, the rabbit gave no sign of affection towards humans, though it was a gentle thing. Then one day on a trip to the vets, the vet approaching with rectal thermometer, Charlotte leaped into my arms and buried her head in my coat: in the end she had become my pet. So for the last nine years I have daily cleaned her hutch, fed and stroked her, and yes, in the slightly mad way that only those who work at home all day will understand, talked to her.
Recently she has had trouble walking which I put down to the cold weather and arthritis. But then yesterday we started the monthly job of cutting away the knots around her tail and cleaning her we found the lump, horribly infected and causing huge pain no doubt. So this morning I rushed her to the vets. Certain things could be tried, said the vet, but a cure, no. I should think about her ‘quality of life’. As any pet owner knows, when you hear that phrase it is all over. Or at least if you put humanity above your own emotional needs it is. Seeing my distress the vet said I did not have to be there, I could just sign the form. But Charlotte felt safer with me than any other human being, so I stayed with my little friend until the end.
Barely was I home from the vets when I had to accompany my daughter to the dentist. In the end she was far braver than expected, but it is hard to watch someone pull your offspring’s teeth out with pliers. The teen recovers well and only looked slightly sad when told of bunny’s fate. I however, being well known for being resilient and unsentimental have been crying all day. Just like people, we only realise how much animals mean to us when we lose them.