Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lessons Learned:: Good-Bye, Hopper

 It pained me to type these words yesterday on my Instagram account: "Buie & I are mourning the loss of our sweet Hopper tonight. We think she may have had a heart attack after being chased by our dogs. Rescuing animals, whether dogs or rabbits, means so much to us. We take it hard when one of ours passes, especially before it's time. This time, it was avoidable and we take full responsibility but it doesn't make it any less devastating. It make us more aware. It reminds us that taking care of these rescued animals is a full time job. One gate left open or one time I forget to check one thing and it could be a fatal mistake. In Hopper's case, it was. I'm sorry, Hopper. We'll never forget you. I'm sorry you had to sacrifice your life for me to learn a lesson."

This was definitely a tough mistake to make. It's easy to say accidents happen but the truth is, this situation could have been avoided. I was giving our baby bun bun a bath so I put all of the dogs outside. B went to the bathroom so he wasn't watching the dogs and neither was I. The other three rabbits were safe and secure on our sunporch (so we thought). The only thing separating the rabbits from their natural predator was a flimsy screen door which we have been meaning to replace for months now. Our dogs have been outside a hundred times with the bunnies on the porch. They whine like they want to play and scratch on the door as if to say, I want to come in. In my naive mind, I have even thought..."maybe they could be friends one day...just maybe." But we didn't dare let them alone in the same space. 

When I was finished bathing baby bun bun, I walked into our living room and saw our sunporch screen door wide open. My heart sank. I ran back around to our bedroom back door to call for the dogs and surprisingly they came immediately. They came bounding in muddy and sweaty and extremely hyper. I shut them in the bedroom and closed the door.

I hesitated inside as I RAN to the sunporch to account for all four bunnies. Tiana, Mr. Bun Bun, and baby bun bun who was still in my arms and wet from her bath, were all accounted for. At this time, I screamed for Buie who was coming out of the bathroom. "I can't find Hopper! The dogs got in the sunporch and I can't find Hopper!" Buie was, of course, calm and collected as I became more and more frazzled. For such an optimistic person, I expected the worst this time. Three hyper, playful dogs don't just leave a bunny (a live one) and come inside when called the first time, not even the most obedient dogs, which mine are not. I knew that the only reason they would come inside so quickly is that they thing that they were playing with...was not so much fun to play with anymore...and there was only one reason for that. I shuddered at the thought of it.

Buie was the first to find her in the lower part of our yard. Lifeless. She was dead. I immediately started crying. He checked her out, assuming he would find her mangled. Besides some loose fur scattered around the grass, Hopper looked the same, just she was asleep. Our best guess is that our dogs wanted to have a romp with her and they literally scared her to death. Rabbits are delicate little creatures and they are known to have heart attacks if they get scared. Poor Hopper. 
Buie found a nice spot to bury her on the other side of the fence, so that the dogs wouldn't disturb her. We both shed a few tears and said a few nice words about her. We let the other three rabbits smell and examine her lifeless body. We thought this would help them understand what happened and if not, then it at least helped us.  Tiana and her were buddies. I'm sad her friend is gone. 

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