Thursday, July 16, 2009

Heartbreak, Again

See that cute little bunny in that last post down there? I'm glad I got that picture, because she died last night, and I'm mad.

I'm mad at myself, because I should have known better than to buy an animal from a pet store in the mall. I would never buy a puppy from one of those stores, why did we think a rabbit would be ok?

I'm mad because the store said to save my receipt, in case...if she didn't survive a seven-day period, we could get a refund. We would, of course, have to bring in the body. Allie lived for 11 days after we bought her.

I'm mad because almost everything the store told us was wrong. After talking to the doctor at the pet emergency hospital last night, and the rabbit expert at the Humane Society, and reading everything I can find online, I know a lot more now.

The woman who sold us the rabbit told us that for the first year, the diet should be entirely rabbit pellets. The ER doctor, the rabbit expert, and countless others all say, wrong. A rabbit's diet should be about 70% Timothy hay, 20% leafy greens, like kale, and 10% store-bought pellets.

She also told us that rabbits were best in a cage by themselves. I guess that's why in the pet store, they have about a dozen of them in the same pen. According to the experts, rabbits are social animals. They like companionship.

But none of that is why Allie died.

Last night, while we were making dinner, Shannon said there seemed to be something wrong with Allie. She had been sitting in the same spot for a while. Her eyes were open and she was breathing, but she hadn't moved.

I told her to take the rabbit out of the cage and put her on the floor, and see what she did. My hope was that she would start hopping around, and everything would be fine. Unfortunately, what she did was flop over onto her side.

We called around and found a place to take her. It was almost 7pm by now. Allie laid in Shannon's arms the whole way, still, but breathing.

When we got there, we found out that her body temperature was only 92 degrees. Normal for a rabbit is about 101. She was pretty much comatose. She was only 13 weeks old.

The doctor told us that they could try and save her, but she was so far gone that it would be a long, and very expensive road, and even then, there was less than a 10% chance she would make it. She was very thin and dehydrated. She had been thin since we bought her, 11 days prior. I thought it was normal, since she was only 12 weeks old. I know Shannon had refilled the large water bottle at least once, so we didn't know she was dehydrated. We didn't know anything was wrong, until last night.

The doctor said that was very common, that it's often hard to tell with rabbits. They're furry, so you can't tell if they're underweight, unless you're very familiar with rabbits. Which we are not. Tuesday, she seemed fine. I held her. She crawled up my shoulder, and I petted her. I put her on the ground, and she hopped around some.

But now that I think about it, she was always extremely mellow. That picture of Shannon holding her on her back, like a baby? She wasn't mellow...she was sick. According to the vet last night, it's most likely that she was sick when we bought her. But we had no way of knowing that.

I'm mad that I had to watch my daughter break down as she walked to the back to say goodbye to her bunny. I asked her if she wanted me to go with her. She said no. I'm mad that she had to go through this.

We agreed to have her put down. But before they could, she died on her own. Had we waited about an hour longer, she would have died at home. Had we noticed a few hours earlier, maybe they could have saved her. At great cost, I'm sure. Or maybe not.

I'm mad that I had to pay $165 for the privilege of watching my daughter's heart break. $95 for the office visit, $70 for the ... um... disposal of the body. But I'm not mad at the hospital for that. They were only doing their jobs. They were very compassionate and wonderful, and I'm grateful for that.

I'm mad, because it's easier than crying. And I can't talk about this without crying. There are a lot of things that are tough about this whole parenting gig, but watching your child hurt is at the top of the list of the hardest things. Whether it's over a boy, or a girl, a fractured friendship, a lost pet, or mean's hard. When they hurt, you hurt for them.

We've been on the phone with the Humane Society today. They have several Lops that all came in together, rescued from a "breeding house." They're all about 6-7 months old, all neutered and spayed, and all thoroughly checked out by a vet. We're told that they like to place them in pairs, because rabbits really like having a friend. In fact, some of them are already in pairs. The best match, according to them, is a spayed female and a neutered male. Like a married couple, but without the possibility of babies.

Steve and Shannon went down there when Steve got home from work. I have a feeling I know what will be coming home with them. And I hope, for Shannon's sake, that we get it right this time.

P.S. This was never meant to be an ad for the Humane Society. But please...if you are going to adopt a pet, please look into shelters and rescues, instead of pet stores. I wish I would have. And the thing is, I knew better. Or at least I should have.


Dawn in Austin said...

I'm so sorry. I know how easy it is to become attached to the little furry friends, and how quickly.

I hope Shannon will be feeling better soon and that they found a nice married couple of bunnies.

All the best.

Peterson Family said...

I am so sorry. Losing a petis never easy, and it doesn't matter how long they have been a part of your family.

I hope that a nice married couple of bunnies find a new home with all of you! They will certainly be loved and well cared for!

Jen said...

OH, Shelley. I am so sorry that you had to go thru this with Shannon. How is Ky taking it?

Hope Steve and Shay come home with a cute, healthy set.

Fannie said...

OMG that's terrible! I'm sure she WAS sick when you got her. I'd be plenty mad at the mall people too! Hope your girls will be OK. :(

JennyMac said...

This is just so sad...I am sorry! But don't be mad at yourself, you had the best intentions. And that bunny was beautiful.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm sorry--that's so tough.

If the vet says the rabbit was sick when you got it, I'd be tempted to try and have the store reimburse you for the vet bill. That's a lot of money.