Rabbits/Mourning

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Question
Hello-  Yesterday was one of the worst days of my life.  When I got off work yesterday morning I came home to find my lil boy Eli (aka cuddle bug) had passed away.  I feel like my whole world has fallen apart and if only I had come home earlier I would of been able to say goodbye.  It seems so unreal still.  I took him to the vet and they said it was possibly a heart attack.  He was only 4 years old--he had a lot of life to live still.  He had some rough times dealing with an abcess due to a unqualified vet leaving a broken tooth but thanks to all your help my new vet and I followed your advice and Pen G saved his eye and his life.  I have tried to do everything possible to keep him healthy and happy.  He endured several surgeries when abcess came back but even right after the surgery he was feeling the need for love with my lil girl mini lop.  I had to give him Pen G shots about twice a month to keep the abcess at bay but other then that I thought he was healthy.  Just the night before he was doing his cow jumps and begging for treats.  I will never forget how much he made me laugh--he had the most amazing personality and I know that sounds weird but he was just like my lil furry boy.  I feel guilty that I have been taking my little girl to the vet for what appears to be allergies after the 3rd visit.  Do you think he felt neglected cause I was always giving her medicine and not bothering him for once or always taking her to vet and not him?  I just thought he deserved a break from all the vet visits.   I wish I would of kissed him one last time before I left for work but am always running late.  I miss him so much my heart hurts.   I am sorry to write u this email I guess maybe I just needed to get it all out to help to move on.  I do have one question though.  What do I do to make sure I don't lose my lil girl now because her buddy is gone?  My vet said not to let her see him and I don't think she has realized he is gone but he was the strong one and I can just see losing her now too.  Any advice would be appreciated.  My lil boy is getting cremated today and that was the hardest thing in the world to leave him at the vet never to see him again.  I hope he is jumping around and kicking some where up above. Thank you so much for your time.  I hope I didn't bore you with my story.

Sincerely,
Broken hearted Melissa

Answer
Dear Melissa,

I'm sorry I couldn't answer sooner.  I was away at a conference without access to email.

I am so sorry about this heartbreaking news.  There is just no way to know why he died without a necropsy including histopathology of major tissues. And it is too late for that now.

I totally disagree with the vet about letting the girl see him.  I hope they were bonded and together, because that very likely means she *did* see him after he had died, and had a chance to know what happened.  Rabbits do understand death in some way, and they need closure as much as we do.

If she is acting normal, and not looking for him, then we are lucky and she had a chance to see him and say her goodbyes.  Let's hope she did.  But I hope that vet will realize that it is critically important to let a partner animal see and visit with a deceased friend so that she can get past the grief and move on.  I'm sad that the vet doesn't give your bunny credit for that.  I have seen so many grieving bunnies and observed such amazing behaviors from them that I have no doubt they understand death.  Perhaps not as clearly as we do.  But they know it is an end.

The only thing you can do to protect your girl is to keep a close eye on her and watch her for any signs of illness, as you always have.  This might help:

http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare/sickbun.html

Once you and she have had a chance to grieve and love your missing boy, the healing will begin.  At some point, it will be good for your girl to meet new boys and maybe form another bond.  Don't bring home a "surprise".  Let her meet rescued bunnies from your local rabbit rescuer and let HER do the choosing.  Bonding is a picky thing with rabbits, and she will help you.

No one will ever replace the beloved baby you lost.  But a loving bunny home is rare.  I know your little boy would be happy to know that--eventually--you might be able to give a needy, abandoned bunny a loving forever home.  It would honor his memory.

I am sending healing thoughts.

Dana  

Rabbits

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I've lived with companion rabbits for more than 35 years, and consider them members of my family. I can answer any questions about the biology and health of rabbits, from the commonplace to the unusual. But please note:

RULE #1:
THE INTERNET IS NOT THE PLACE TO SEEK HELP IN AN EMERGENCY.

...it is an EMERGENCY.

Find a rabbit vet at www.rabbit.org/vet for immediate help, and don't risk your bunny's life by spending time asking questions online! If you can't get in touch with your vet, read these Emergency Sick Bunny Instructions.

If you have found a wild baby rabbit, please read these EMERGENCY INSTRUCTIONS FOR WILD BABY RABBITS and then use this link to FIND A LOCAL WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR who can give you the right advice.


RULE #2:
Help me help you! Please make your subject line informative if you have an urgent question. then LET ME KNOW IN THE SUBJECT LINE so I can give your question highest priority over non-urgent questions. If you don't do this, then I can't guarantee timely assistance!

For all the best, most accurate rabbit health, care and behavior information, visit The House Rabbit Society.

Experience

I have been rescuing and rehabilitating domestic and wild rabbits for about 30 years. I have written articles for many rabbit rescue publications, as well as for the veterinary journal, Exotic DVM. I own EtherBun, the internet's largest listserve dedicated to health, care, and behavior of domestic rabbits.

Organizations
Houserabbit Adoption, Rescue, and Education, Inc. (H.A.R.E., Inc.) president National House Rabbit Society (Board member)

Publications
Exotic DVM
Warren Peace (Journal of the House Rabbit Society of Miami)
Various newsletters of the House Rabbit Society, nationwide

Education/Credentials
Ph.D - Biology
B.S. - Biology
B.A. - English

Awards and Honors
Lightspan Academic Excellence Award for web site on rabbit health and biology
(http://www.bio.miami.edu/hare)

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