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Dear Prudence

By Audrey Pavia, Urban Farm contributor

Monday, January 07, 2013

black and white rabbit

Photo by Audrey Pavia

Prudence, when she was young and before severe arthritis took away her quality of life.

Yesterday, I had to do one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; I had to say goodbye to my sweet bunny, Prudence.

At the age of 10, severe arthritis had rendered her nearly unable to walk. For the past month, she’d spent most of her days huddled in her bed, only leaving to get a drink of water and nibble on some hay. She was so uncomfortable, she didn’t even want to use the litter box, so she soiled herself. Despite my daily washings, urine scalds appeared on her legs, making her pain worse.

I tried everything to make her better: I bought yoga mats to give her more traction on the floor of her pen. I cut down the litter boxes so she wouldn’t have to jump to get in them. I had her examined by a vet, X-rayed and put on painkillers. I ordered a special joint supplement that I’d heard could perform miracles.

But no matter what I did, her symptoms seemed to worsen. When she finally stopped eating the “miracle” joint supplement only two days after I started giving it to her, leaving me no choice but to force-feed it to her, I had to stop and think. What was her quality of life? Was she enjoying being alive? Her existence had become one of pain and fear. She hated it when I washed her bottom and when I forced medicine into her mouth. And now I’d have to hold her down and pour the joint supplement into her, against her will?

morning, I found her sitting in her urine-soaked bed. I took her out and put her on the floor. She pivoted around in circles, unable or unwilling, to walk. That’s when I decided it was time to let her go.

Prudence was a precious little creature with an amazing gentleness about her. She had a sweetness that was almost hard to comprehend. She was so innocent and tender. She seemed almost too pure for this earth. Could such goodness even exist on this deeply flawed planet?

For all these reasons and more, it was so hard to say goodbye. I have never been good at making The Decision when it comes to an ailing pet, but no matter how hard it was this time, I had to find the courage so Prudence wouldn’t suffer anymore. She could no longer be a bunny. She couldn’t hop, jump or groom herself. She couldn’t play with her toys. Her spirit needed to be set free, and she needed me to have the guts to do that for her.

Today as I cleaned up the pen she had shared with my other bunny, Smokey, I truly felt her loss. I kept seeing her out of the corner of my eye, but of course she wasn’t really there.

I am not alone in my grief. I’m also sharing it with Smokey, who just lost his best friend. Somehow we both have to find a way to go on without the love of our sweet, dear Prudence.

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About the Blogger

Audrey Pavia

Audrey Pavia
Keeping farm animals in the city can be a real hoot. Follow freelance writer Audrey Pavia's adventures in Southern California with a yard full of urban livestock, including horses, chickens, a Corgi and an urban barn cat. She somehow manages all these silly critters by herself while working full-time. And you thought "The Simple Life" was out there?

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