Rabbits are seen as having short tails, little puffball things. But that's not quite so. Their tails are longer than people imagine, because they start from very far down and they tend to grow long fur outward to make them look stubbier than they are. Columbo had a long tail, even for a rabbit. We're not sure, but it might have been longer than his hind foot even. The fur didn't grow long to either side, making it look longer still. But pay attention to him, look at him, and you realized that not only was he a big rabbit, but he was a rabbit with a very long tail.
And then thinking back there's all these recriminations and doubts and worries about how we treated Columbo. That we didn't give him more time with free run of the house, especially. He was that most rare of rabbits, the one that didn't go looking for wires to chew. We caught him chewing at a few wires, but only those that happened to fall across his face when he was sitting up. When they might be in his way. You can't blame a rabbit for wanting something out of his face. The mystery is that he didn't chew on wires that were just laying there out of the way. But we have excuses, or reasons, or sensible cause. Early in our time together he was incontinent, and we couldn't trust him not to urinate on things, even in short times out. We eventually learned he had a bladder infection, and we could treat that. And we learned of how distended his bladder was, and I started to squeeze him. We got that under enough control we could start to trust him out and about, and he got a couple of nights of free roam, in what transpired were the last months of his life.
bunny_hugger says Columbo loved me, and I hope he did. He seemed to pay attention to me. But it's impossible to really know a mind. He knew surely that I was the source of many, not all, of his meals, and many of the papaya tablets he liked and the joint support tablets he really liked. But I was also the creature that would at least one a day grab him and drop him into his litter bin and squeeze his midsection until his tail lifted up like a flap, and then kept squeezing until his thick, musky urine spat out of him. Did he then understand the association, between his going through that ordeal and that he wasn't dribbling pee behind him afterwards? He didn't like the ``expression'' of his bladder. He tried to escape it, and he squirmed when I was doing it, and he grabbed what he could in his teeth and bit down on that in a clear displacement behavior. And he demanded head-pettings in his quiet, insistent way afterwards. But he didn't need very long ones. And he took them, and raisins of reassurance, from me.
If he understood that, then, what did he make of the syringes of Meloxicam that I shoved into his mouth where he did not want them, the last month of his life? Rabbits are supposed to like the taste of Meloxicam. Stephen seemed to live for it, those last months when he barely seemed to live. Columbo hated the syringe, possibly because his first experiences with them, with us, were of antibiotics that notoriously taste awful. But I think he liked the Meloxicam, when he got to tasting it. His last couple days he ran less or not at all from the syringe, and he licked the goopy painkiller off the syringe when he had the chance. If he was in pain, and the Meloxicam helped, did he understand the link between this thing and the relief? What did he think of me bothering him so?
I would pet him each morning. He loved it so, and he asked for head-pets in this quietly insistent way that reminded me of how I show my emotional needs. He'd just sit there, waiting for you to notice, and I did, especially once we had the goldfish inside and I had to do something while waiting for the ammonia test to finish. And he seemed happy to have it, although he wouldn't always respond to my finishing with the little hop and shake rabbits give when satisfied. Maybe he needed more.