My final tribute to my old friend, Charcoal who passed away peacefully this morning aged 11 years, 8 months.
A much younger, happier Charcoal with full vision and free reign of the yard.
Lots of dandelions to munch on
Curious days - table top meandering?
I have watched Charcoal go downhill gradually this year until this past week I noticed that he wasn't eating and drinking as much as he normally would. Almost as if it was instinct, but it was painful to do so. His droppings were irregular - sometimes small, sometimes runny, sometimes clumped and sometimes normal. That had me puzzled.
He was also not being his usual adventurous self - not wanting to leave his box at all. Normally he would hop around the kitchen and head butt everything in his path (due to blindness).
This morning I noticed him resting his head on the side of the box, and his head would tilt to the left. Very unusual for him. I decided to take some photos of this (I'm not posting those), and made an appointment to take him to the Vet to see if there was anything we could do for Charcoal - whether he had a urinary tract infection (I had noticed he was a little swollen 'downstairs' and looked sore), or whether he possibly had mites (he had some flaky skin starting to come back and tilting of the head can sometimes indicate a severe case in bunnies ears, but again, another puzzling situation - the symptoms didn't add up).
Off to the Vet we went. I gave him a cuddle and a gentle rub before I put him in the car. Charcoal didn't like the car ride at all, and decided to keep his head firmly in the corner under his towels in the washing basket. He was doing okay when we said hello at the Clinic but when it came time for him to be examined, he was okay for the first 5 mins then for some reason completely freaked out. The Vet realised he wasn't happy and put him in his basket whilst he started to explain the symptoms to me, but I wasn't listening, I was watching my bunny's eyes roll back, the breathing slowed down and then he went limp. I interrupted the Vet to say "I think he's gone", pointing to Charcoal. The poor Vet picked him up and listened to his heart as Charcoal's heart stopped. I think mine almost did as well.
The Vet apologised and explained Charcoal had cancer of the liver. Over the next few days and possibly weeks his skin would have turned yellow as the toxins would have circulated around his body. In a way, it was better that Charcoal passed away quickly like that than to have a painful drawn out death. The combination of the pain he was in and the examination was enough to put him in shock. For a bunny who was used to being showered, kids picking him and previous vet visits, shock was unusual but I understood today was different. I knew he had been in pain, hence the Veterinary Clinic visit in the first place.
I made the hard decision of leaving his body at the Vet's rather than bringing him home and showing the kids and having to find somewhere to bury him. The ground is all clay at the moment and I just don't have the arm strength to dig a hole big enough. Phil would have gladly dug a hole (after he got home from work in the dark) but I thought it was better this way. The Vet kept the towel that Charcoal came in, was very respectful and patted him, said "Goodbye old boy" and carefully wrapped the towel around him. I think I was still too much of a stunned mullet. I did pat his head, and he still felt warm and soft - just like Charcoal.
I'm still in shock. He was such a trusting, sweet natured bunny. A personality like that in a rabbit is hard to find.
I did get a bit teary in the reception area as the receptionist looked up at me and then realised I was carrying an empty basket. I explained "He just died". The Vet quietly came out and whispered that there would be no charge for burial. I did pay for the consultation (sounds weird, but I have no problem with that - I needed to hear what Charcoal was dying from - it means closure for me).
I am relieved that I didn't have to make the decision whether or not to put Charcoal to sleep via injection though. I was really hoping I wouldn't have to do that. Charcoal made that decision on his own.
I came home and called Phil and explained what happened. He said he patted Charcoal goodbye this morning. In my morning prayer with the kids we prayed that Charcoal would be able to find relief from his pain at the Veterinary Clinic. He certainly did that although not quite in the way I expected.
All that's left to do now is remove his home from my kitchen...
Goodbye my old friend. You will be missed but lovingly remembered.