With perfect disregard for her vet’s vacation schedule, my rabbit, Autumn, became inexplicably lethargic on New Years Eve. Since she retained some mobility and accepted food and water, we watched her overnight, bringing her to the emergency vet the following morning when she did not appear to be improving.
The rabbit specialists were all off for the holidays, of course, but the vet we saw was very thorough as well as upfront about her lack of rabbit experience. A few hours and a good portion of my weekly income later — and having successfully written my first “13″ in the year section of the date — I drove a terrified critter home with three medications which the vet hoped would cover all likely suspects (protozoal infection, URI, and injury/inflammation) for her apparent difficulty moving her hindquarters.
I am an animal lover. My husband imposed a three-cat limit on our house in self-defense. The cats are our shared pets, and we both look after them, although poor Thor got stuck with the sh***y end of the stick when we started having babies. Any extra pets are the sole responsibility of whomever adopts them. Since abandoning dorm life at the age of 20, I’ve kept a succession of hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs (“brothers” who surprisingly multiplied), and now a rabbit.
Thor has fish.
Autumn is my first rabbit, and I adopted her less than a week before learning I was pregnant with Owlet. We had just decided to start trying for a baby (yes, we are those mythical people who had only one “two week wait,” I know, I know, and I’m sorry) and I’d done my research — rabbits were the only pet for whom a pregnant woman could perform all aspects of care.
Her position on the family totem pole has obviously moved around these past few years, what with babies stealing the spotlight, and once we got our act together after moving into our new house we made her an outdoor playpen, followed more recently by a sturdy outdoor hutch within a corral to grant her an all-access pass to Hoppington. We lined the hutch with hay for warmth from our frigid Californian nights (quit laughing, my snow-encrusted contingent — we totally have frost and icy windshields some mornings — twice this winter I’ve even worn gloves for goodness’ sake) and she seemed happy with the move. So she wouldn’t be lonely, I began scanning shelter listings for a suitable neutered male companion rabbit.
During what appears (fingers crossed) to be a recovery period, I’ve evolved in my relationship to our “amimals,” as Owlet calls them. Medication twice daily and close assessment of food and drink intake have resulted in a lot of attention for our little rabbit. Her semi-immobility also means Owlet can stroke her for minutes at a time, when she once struggled to deliver a momentary pat. They both seem pleased with the new arrangement, Autumn’s hopefully temporary infirmity notwithstanding, and I have been given the opportunity to relearn a good lesson: doing a job well is always a better use of energy than stressing out about not doing it properly. After an initial upwelling of guilt while waiting to see the vet, the dissipation of that feeling followed by a deeper connection to my gentle pet has been delightful.
So I was sitting on the couch a few days ago, contemplating the above while trying to avoid petting the cat writhing pathetically in my lap. I am allergic to cats, dust, hay, and some tree pollen, and three of the above are seldom lacking in our household. I have been pregnant and/or breastfeeding for nearly three and a half years, and for the duration have managed to avoid taking any unnecessary medication. Frequent hand washing goes a long way most of the time, but unfortunately, my allergies have not responded kindly to a rapid increase in hay handling, and that means no cat petting if I can help it to avoid triggering an explosion of sneezes.
Suddenly it no longer felt right to withhold affection from my beloved felines. Platypup is beginning the slow but inevitable transition from milk to solids, and my body is similarly on a glacial path back to being just mine again one day. Several over-the-counter allergy remedies are approved for use during lactation, and it feels like the right time to try one.
I’m not big on resolutions this time of year; I prefer to allow change to follow as a natural consequence of my own observations and assessments and have found, personally, that such organic growth is like making lasting nutritional refinements gradually over time, whereas resolutions are often akin to crash diets. Even sculptors get to chip off chunks occasionally, however, and this feels like one of those moments. I am done turning inward, hoarding all of my resources for myself and my babies. It is time to open outward again, channel energy back into other arenas of life and nourish the connections therein.
Autumn is up on her feet a bit more each day, bolstered by a feast of carrots and hay. I can breathe through my nose. My cats have clamored into my lap with glee.
Peace on earth seems as unobtainable as ever, but there is, at least, peace in my little menagerie.
Happy New Year to you and your amimals!