It was a pretty tough day, almost 20 years ago, as we returned from having our 6-week-old, all-gray, cute-as-a-button dwarf bunny put to sleep. The experience not only made me profoundly sad, it also exposed me as a fraud. I don’t think I ever regained my tough-guy status with my kids.
Dad had an endearing habit of going to the pet store for guppies or birdseed and coming home with something small and furry in his pocket. Through it all, I have been the hard guy.
First he brought home birds, and I calmly snagged the cockatiel ffound a new home forwhen we realized she was lonely. Later, I got to fish the baby finches out of the pond. Then there was the guinea pig that was “too young to breed.” After she delivered three healthy babies, I found homes for them all. Then Dad arrived home with Dust Bunny, and we prepared to learn what a dwarf rabbit needs to be comfortable and content.
Who knows what makes one animal among many steal your heart. He was a charmer. He remained a happy rabbit as he was handled, petted and passed around. We carefully kept him indoors at night, trying to acclimate him slowly to the outdoor aviary that would be his home. But just two days after his arrival, his breathing became labored and his sweet bunny nose began to run. We hustled off to the vet, presuming (despite my adult instinct about these things) that we would get some medication and hop on home.
It seems, however, that bunnies don’t recover from thfffis particular bacterium. I braced for a storm of protest from my children when I realized what the doctor was saying and that we faced the decision to put the little guy down.
Both kids turned large but dry eyes to me and quietly watched as I dissolved into tears. I was mortified. I was failing as the adult here, but, boy, was I proud of them. Even my complete lack of self-control did not ruffle my children. They both consoled me and we agreed that we certainly didn’t want Dusty to get worse and suffer. I cried some more.
It was a hard but important life lesson for us all. I know we did the right thing and we soon got another bunny but I still rather miss that funny little rabbit.
Jean Gillette is still working hard on her chip-proof exterior. Contact her at [email protected].