Our old rabbit, Moo-Moo, died today. She came to us because her previous owner, a 5-year-old boy, had an allergic dad. That was particularly sad because it was his dad who had gotten Moo-Moo for the boy to begin with.
They named her Moo-Moo because she was black and white and reminded the boy of a Holstein cow.
My daughter called me, hoping that I would be able to take the rabbit in. The request came at a bad time. I was minimally employed. The thought of taking on another expense twisted in my stomach. These were the pre-bulldog years, but still we had Susie the Welsh Corgi, Moon the part-Siamese cat, and a yellow parakeet named Buddy.
The boy’s father had checked with all the local shelters. No one had room for even one more bunny. My daughter said that the dad had built a three-story “condominium” for Moo-Moo (that’s bunny stories, not human stories -still pretty impressive). And the rabbit was litter box trained.
I was on my way home from one of my part-time jobs when my daughter called. I told her I would think about it and get back to her quickly, one way or the other.
The boy didn’t want to give the rabbit up. His heart was probably breaking. That’s all that I could think about on the drive home. How unhappy that would have made me. How he might be tempted to be angry with his father even though it wasn’t the father’s fault. How he might worry about where Moo-Moo would end up and what would happen to her.
What was the current price of rabbit food? Could I commit the room for a 3-story rabbit hutch? Did I need to take on another pet?
I did not know the father or the boy. I had never met either of them and I never have. I had no personal obligation to take on the animal or solve their re-homing problem.
And then I saw myself as the small, stingy, doubt-filled person I had become. If I couldn’t commit to take in a rabbit, a litter-trained rabbit with a 3-story condominium no less, what could I do? Before I even got home, I called my daughter back and told her Moo-Moo could come live with us. But, I added, be sure and bring the condo.
Being a rabbit, Moo-Moo was quiet though, early on, we almost renamed her “Thumper”. She expressed definite opinions about my volume level in the house. If I laughed too loudly at a comedy show or sang aloud, she thumped the floor of her condo violently. It was her rabbit version of an old-fashioned librarian putting her finger to her lips and shushing an unruly patron.
Among the bulldogs, Miss Sweetie had the closest rapport with Moo-Moo. They touched noses and carried on silent conversations. Miss Sweetie circled the rabbit condo with Moo-Moo keeping pace inside of it, a bulldog-rabbit race that went on until one or the other of them tired out.
Eventually Miss Sweetie would collapse with her back against the outside of the condo and Moo-Moo would skip up to the third floor of her rabbit home to take a rest.
It was Miss Sweetie who let me know that something was amiss this morning. I had given Moo-Moo’s water and food a cursory look as I went about morning chores. Moo-Moo was stretched out as she usually was in the morning, right next to her nesting box on her condo’s third floor. About an hour later, Miss Sweetie had placed her paws on the condo and lifted herself up to sniff at Moo-Moo who had not shifted her position at all.
Miss Sweetie never reached up to the third floor because Moo-Moo always came down to her level to play. It was as though the bulldog was asking why her friend had not started their playtime.
And that’s when I knew.
I carefully picked up Moo-Moo’s body with Miss Sweetie watching. “She’s left. That’s all.” It was the only thing that I could think to say. Miss Sweetie looked at Moo-Moo and then walked away.
No one who lives on this earth avoids facing the fact of death.
Animals are sensitive to it. When my Corgi, Susie, died in our utility room while everyone was out of the house, our cat, Moon, would not walk into the room for the next 6 months. When one of our chickens died suddenly last spring, Snoopey, who always stays right beside me in the yard, would not approach the chicken run with me. She stayed far back, just watching.
That’s why I made sure that Miss Sweetie saw Moo-Moo as I took the body away. Moo-Moo was gone, but she didn’t just disappear. She left.
If I could, if I knew where the father and son who had to give up Moo-Moo were, I would let them know these things:
She lived a good, long time.
I think, I hope she enjoyed herself.
That 3-story rabbit condominium was genius and it held up well. She got lots of exercise jumping up and down the levels. It helped her stay healthy.
She had friends and at least one of them was a bulldog.
She laid down one night and peacefully went to sleep. She showed no pain. She felt no fear.
She will be remembered and she will be missed.
She helped me take a tiny step of faith which helped me take others.
And someday, we won’t experience death anymore.
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” Revelation 21:5 KJV
Copyright 2016 H.J. Hill All Rights Reserved.