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Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sweetheart 

We're all feeling sad today because Sweetheart, J's rabbit, died unexpectedly last night. It's difficult with rabbits because - in a similar way to birds - they hide their illnesses as long as possible, so it's often too late before you know.

When we first bought Sweetheart (about 2 years ago, along with Patch, the guineapig), we were told he was a girl. During the first few weeks we had him he was very sick and nervy, and had been sold in poor condition, with developing mange. Jill bonded with Sweetheart after nursing him to health and he settled in well with us after that. As he was a house rabbit, he was allowed almost full run of the house during the day, and was happy to go into this cage at night. The Petshop also said Sweetheart was a dwarf/lop x rex, but he grew towards rex size!

We were all delighted by just how much personality a rabbit turned out to have! As a house rabbit, Sweetheart trained well into the rituals of our daily life. He used a kitty-litter tray (they're house-trainable, unlike rodents - rabbits are distant relations of deer). A big problem was his chewing: he gnawed and even ate quite a few books (including Being and Nothingness - I didn't know rabbits liked existentialism). Early on, he chewed a couple of electrical cords (alarming!) and bit through the telephone wire for the computer. I tried to keep some apple-tree branches around the house, as rabbits need to gnaw, but old paper and coloured brochures are apparently very tasty :). A fair number of our clothes got holes chewed in them too, if we weren't careful. This all settled down a bit after he was neutered, as did his biting and the "hoomph hoomph" courting noise he previously made.

Sweetheart will be missed by all of us. He was constantly around the house - a beautiful animal who looked a lot like Durer's hare. He always sought to be near either Jill or J, often sitting on the chair next to Jill at the computer, or on the end of the bed (like a cat), or near someone's feet or the children playing on the floor. He let J pick him up without resistance, but didn't like anyone else doing it, and he always enjoyed being stroked and licking whoever of us was patting him. Sweetheart would come out to see us when we came home, unless we were gone too long, in which case he could be snooty. He was very social, not just with us, but also with Patch, and Percy the cockatiel, who used to sit with him at times.

Yesterday morning when I let Sweetheart out of the cage I thought he was behaving a bit distant. From what I can figure out, he probably died of enterotoxemia, as right at the end he seemed to have some digestive twitching and did appear a bit bloated. He'd gone to ground under L's bed while we were having tea and we pulled the bed out to check around 8.20pm - when I rang the vet - and somewhere in the next 5-10 minutes he appears to have died, though his feet twitched for a while after (we did still rush to the vet to be sure). He was a bit overweight and we sometimes gave him treats that we shouldn't have (the odd bit of oatmeal biscuit, as he would appear when the kettle boiled) - I don't know if this contributed to the problem, but if we ever get another rabbit, it's not going to happen. The recent changes to grass and hay (due to drought conditions these are poor quality) food were probably also contributing factors.

I'm taking this afternoon off work to bury him. I don't know whether we'll consider getting another rabbit - like Percy, Sweetheart is quite probably irreplaceable, and another one might just be really disappointing, but rabbits do make wonderful pets if you invest in them and care for them.

Comments:
Sweetheart would be bouncing around in some clouds with our Fluffy who was a rex sized dwarf. Oh look there they go hopping towards Percy :)
 
Thanks, Anonymous! Actually, I think Percy's still alive somewhere (at least it would appear so), but we have no chance of getting him back. That's a whole other story though...
 
We understand here what it is like to lose our furry children ... hopping or not :(
 
Thanks, well put - it is hard, you feel very protective of these little members of the family.

Part of the Percy story is here: http://www.geocities.com/Ian_Thomas_Graphics/Cockatiel.html

The really nasty bits are related in the early parts of this blog.
 
Doing a little surfing today trying to find link partners, Blogger. In fact, I was surfing the search engines for rabbit related websites using the keyword rabbit cage and found your page with the title Sweetheart. I am looking for ideas on how to improve my own site using different keywords and was amazed how easy it was to find your site using the keyword rabbit cage. Perhaps we could do a link exchange at some point. Anyway, thanks for your time and I’m glad I found your site.
 
Thanks, Rabbit Hutches! Sadly, we don't currently have a house rabbit, but if you email I can give you some indexing tips.
 
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