In early March of this year, the Rescue took on 12 medium-sized rabbits in one go and promptly named them all after cheeses. Wensleydale, Dairylea, Stilton, Halloumi, Roquefort, Edam, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Brie and Camembert were all beautiful, beautiful creatures with neat, soft, short fur in wonderful colours and with distinctive markings. And then there was Red Leicester. Who was brown.
And yet, instantly, he became my favourite of the cheesy dozen. Rabbits arriving at the Rescue will usually be very nervous at the sudden change in their habitat so it takes a while for their personalities to come out, but not Red Leicester - his was, from the start, somehow written all over his face.
Friendly though he always was, he never appreciated strokes like the other bunnies. If you tried, he wouldn't move away but he'd dodge his head out from under your hand and glare back at you with a look that told you it was time to stop that nonsense and get back to the nice conversation (or snacks) you'd been having.
People tend not to be interested in the agouti (brown) rabbits, so Caroline paired Red Leicester with Alabama, a similarly sized and coloured girl. If I remember correctly, we were a bit unsure if they were getting on at first, but they soon showed us that they were made for each other and a great couple. They were even featured as our "Bunnies of the Week" at the end of May, perfect, healthy and ready for re-homing.
But sadly, the couple never found their forever home together. On the 20th June I was volunteering at the Rescue when I spotted a strange swirling shape inside Red Leicester's left eye. We suspected some sort of parasite and treated him, but it turned out to be the first of several probably related problems that his treatments never seemed to be able to get ahead of. Over the summer he steadily lost weight, finally succumbing to kidney problems earlier this week.
Red Leicester, my dear friend. I have never before met a bunny quite like you and I suspect I never will again. I will always treasure the memories of our little conversations. I wish you peace and pray you have found relief from your suffering. Binky free Red Leicester.