I meant to post about Bunny Foo-Foo a long time ago, but I'd been avoiding it. But I know it will help me move on to blog it.
We lost Bunny Foo-Foo yesterday.
A little more than a month ago, I noticed Bunny Foo-Foo had this strange bald spot on her left hind leg. When I picked her up to take a closer look, I realized there was a giant knot on her leg. I was worried it was broken, but I couldn't afford the after hours vet. She didn't seem to be in distress, so I waited until first thing in the morning.
The vet said it was tumor. Cancer.
At the point she was diagnosed it was possible leg amputation might have saved her. It depended on whether or not the cancer had spread. But I couldn't afford amputation surgery. (Still unemployed.) Even if I had the money, should I really put a nine year-old rabbit through amputation surgery? I know they adapt well after an amputation, so I might have made a last ditch effort to find the money if she were younger. But she already had a swollen lymph node and "quiet lungs," according to the vet. Because I couldn't afford surgery, I skipped the testing and x-rays that would have determined if the cancer had spread. But I suspect it was already too late.
We made the most of our time left together. We had a Bunniversary Party on Labor Day. My family came. I made Taco Soup for the humans and Bunny Biscuits for Bunny Foo-Foo. We talked and played board games and the bunny came out so we could all pet her. And we took "family pictures."
(I don't know how to use the camera timer, so we took another picture with Aaron.)
It was right before Labor Day in 2001 when the Evil Roommates found Bunny Foo-Foo.
In 2001, I was getting back to college after taking a year off. I had just transferred to Texas State, and I had just moved into off-campus student housing in San Marcos. I ended up three people I would eventually dub The Evil Roommates.
One evening the Evil Roommates and a couple of people from a neighboring apartment came in with two baby rabbits with agouti colored fur. They proposed that each apartment take one of the rabbits.
At first I was concerned because I thought they might be wild rabbits. Eventually I heard that they had belonged to someone else in the apartment complex. He'd let them run around on his patio, and they'd escaped. He didn't care about getting them back because they "were only $5." (Sometimes I wonder if the Evil Roommates made this up so I'd shut up about the wild rabbit thing. Either way, she was domesticated pretty quickly.)
For the record, I sort of named her. We had a big meeting on what to name her. Eventually they came up with "Akira." Nothing against fans of the anime, but I thought this wasn't a very good name for a rabbit, but it wasn't worth arguing about.
However, I never witnessed anyone call her Akira. Every time they passed her they would say "Hey Bunny Foo-Foo."
The Evil Roommates had intended to keep her in a storage tub with slats cut in the lid. I was the one that ordered a cage on eBay, read up on rabbit care, bought her proper rabbit food and got her spayed.
By the time I took her to the vet to get spayed, the Evil Roommates had lost interest. She was mine and she'd been Bunny Foo-Foo in my mind for a while. So I put it on her paperwork and made it official.
You can probably guess by my nickname that the Evil Roommates and I didn't get along. (Never go potluck roommates.) When the bunny went through her "teenage years", they were done with her, and wanted to release back into "the wild" (aka the grounds of our apartment complex.) I was done with them, so I told them if they'd help me get out of my lease we'd both be gone.
I have no idea what happened to Bunny Foo-Foo's sister.
I attempted to hide her in my dorm. That lasted less than 24 hours. She and the ginormous cage I built for her stayed with Mom and Dad until I graduated. I came home every weekend to see her and clean her cage.
She went to Florida with me by car. It was just the two of us. Every time Mom brought up something about how I'd be alone on the road, I'd tell I wasn't going to be alone. The bunny would be with me.
This is a picture of her in a Motel 6 on the way there. I think this was Tallahassee.
We had a lot of fun in Florida, but there were some tough periods, especially in 2006. I know I didn't always give her the attention she deserved or kept her cage as clean as it should have been. But she was always there. And she would lick away my tears.
Eventually we drove back to Texas together. I've talked a lot about my last few years with her on this blog.
(I'm glad she decided to stick her nose in this picture.)
Over the last few weeks I've watched her gradually deteriorate. The tumor got bigger. She got tired more often. She got more and more "sideways", since the tumor threw her balance off. She lost the use of her left hind leg completely. (I can see how bunnies can adapt to amputation now. Even when she wasn't using her bad leg, she still managed to get around.) She slept more. Eventually, I think she started falling asleep standing up.
Before the diagnosis, I had posted some pictures of her hanging out in her litter box on Facebook because I thought it was funny. Dad said she was in there because she wanted to lie on a soft surface. He bought her a pet bed. After the vet visit, I put towels in all her favorite bunny spots and over most of the cage floor. The vet said the tumor probably started to grow right before she started seeking soft surfaces.
Her pain medicine made her do weird things in her sleep. It scared me before other bunny owners and the vet explained that she was just dreaming. Some bunny owners told me their bunnies twitched in their sleep all the time.
I went to a House Rabbit Resource Network spa day, where I learned that Bunny Foo-Foo loved parsley and cilantro and that I could put diaper cream on her tumor to keep the skin from getting dry and flaky. It kept losing fur as it grew.
Eventually I had a routine at night where I turned her over in my arms, used one finger to rub Desitin on her tumor,used another finger to put Neosporin on the scabs on her tumor, made sure her butt was clean, gave her pain meds, put her back down and gave her a treat. Once we got the news, we quit worrying about her weight. It was nice because after she got mad at me for making her take her medicine, she would come back to me for her treat and some petting.
The end wasn't what I had expected. I had braced my self for incontinence and loss of mobility. I watched her carefully to see how she felt. I had been looking at The Three A's, Appetite, Affection and Attitude. Yesterday, she was eating, pooping (that's important) and coming to see me when I passed the cage. But when she came to see me she started breathing really hard. She'd been gradually breathing harder and faster, but this was different. She would calm down, eat some hay, drink her water and lay around. She wasn't lying in her bed. I think she didn't have enough room to sprawl out.
It was the look on her face. She wasn't having fun anymore.
I find my self wondering if it was too soon. Although I wanted to keep her, I just wanted the whole thing to be over with. I don't think she was truly suffering yet. Then I remember the whole point of euthanasia was for her not to experience that suffering.
Mom picked me up and Dad met us at the vet. I wasn't quite sure if this was "it" until we got her on the vet table and we didn't try to struggle or hop away. The vet said he thought it was a good decision.
I'm not going to go into too much detail about the event itself. It took longer than I expected and there were a few effects I didn't expect. Mom, Dad and I stood with her and pet her during the whole process.
The staff at Westgate Pet and Bird Hospital is great. They made a point of giving us plenty of time, having us pay ahead of time so we didn't have to stop on the way out, letting me carry her into the back room and giving us a room where we could be alone with her for a while before we left.
This is weird, but I have to mention this. After it was over, I asked Mom and Dad to leave for a minute so I could be alone with her. They had swaddled her in a blanket, but I wanted to take her out of the blanket and hold her one last time.
Strange things happen to your body when you die. Everything relaxes. Including your bladder.
When I put her back down, I realized Bunny Foo-Foo had peed on me.
I was glad. You have to laugh. She made some trouble one last time.
We buried Bunny Foo-Foo in the backyard at Mom and Dad's house, under the Pecan tree. I plan to put a small marker there and have more of a "memorial" for her later.
When I was growing up, I wanted a rabbit. I used to read The Little Rabbit over and over again. The book was about a white rabbit named Buttercup and her seven babies who were named after days of the week. I tried to convince my parents to get me a rabbit like Buttercup, but they said a bunny would be too much trouble, especially the large hutch the rabbit would require.
I got my Buttercup, and it was worth all the trouble.