December 24th, 2016

krazy koati

I look around that empty room

Let's see. How to talk about our pet rabbit's last days. After the flystrike in July that brought him so close to death things stabilized again. By October he was even doing tolerably well: alert, responsive, able to move a little bit. We had some dread suspicion this might be that ``final rally'', but after all, he'd come back from (last year) a GI stasis episode, (this year) arthritis, a bone cancer scare, ringworm, whatever his May crash was, a sinus infection, and the fly's terrible attentions. With nothing having gone wrong in a while, and with fresh pain medicine --- tramadol, applied daily to alternate ears --- why shouldn't he be doing better?

We had ambitions of doing better yet. We had been trying to build a wheelchair, a cart to hold him up so his useless hindlegs wouldn't keep him immobile. The first design didn't work at all; he fought to keep from getting put in it, and he could only make it roll backwards, as he tried that hard to get out of its harness. We tried to think of ways to modify the wheelchair a while, before finally giving up on that, without a clear idea what a good alternate plan would be. We tried putting baby socks on him, to give him better traction. That was adorable, but it didn't help his footing any. It did make it easier to keep his hindlegs clean, if we couldn't carry him to the litter box before he had to go. Everyone thought the bunny in socks the most adorable thing.

Come November we had an alternate plan in mind, that bunny_hugger dubbed a trolley. It's this four-wheeled thing, with a cross brace, and a hammock slung under it. Our rabbit was skeptical of this but came to accept it, especially after a little experimentation proved that he was able to move it. With help. We had set castor wheels on the base and they didn't turn quite so easily as we wanted. The trouble was that any floor smooth enough to let the wheels move freely on was too slick for his front legs to drag along. With a little nudge or a little lifting of the hindwheels he could overcome the friction and putter along. Or without he could shuffle sideways at least, moving three wheels at once. We tried to work out alternate ways of setting him or alternate wheels we might put in or other designs for the thing that might treat him better, and we did not work it out in time.

In November we realized he was sniffling again. And his eyes were moist. The vet suspected an ear infection, spreading to his eyes and nose. We started a fresh battery of medicines. This included two separate eyedrops and some ear drops. He would take the eyedrops in good order. The ear drops he hated, thoroughly, and resisted as he did little else. Once we put the five drops into his ears he would shake his head around, making this sloshing sound that was funny until you remembered he shook like that for how much he hated the experience.

And midway through this regimen I had to leave. My boss back in New Jersey wanted me in the office for a week or so. It seemed like a harmless enough week to go, conflicting with nothing essential around here and if it did chop up the Christmas season at least ... I don't know.

When I left town our rabbit was what we called all right, considering. He needed us to lift him into and out of his litter box, and he was getting all the more fussy and particular and fickle about eating. But he'd take his medicine, apart from the ear drops, all right. And if he were set up in his trolley he could move some, and seemed content to stand, which he hadn't been able to do unaided in so long. And if he was weak, he was at least still interested, watching, active.

I joked that he was excited to see me finally leaving, a throwback to the first days after I'd moved in, four and a half years ago, when I thought he gave me suspicious looks for intruding on his life with bunny_hugger. He wasn't excited, or if he was it was because he knew me bringing bags down implied we were going on vacation and he'd be brought to bunny_hugger's parents. Probably he was confused when that never happened.

But that morning when I left for the taxi I just assumed was arriving at the time I'd reserved for one was the last time I saw him in basically-all-right-for-him-anymore shape.