In the summer of 2013 we seemed to have more unwanted litters (or unwanted pregnant does with litters inside them) come in than any year I have known previously. Many of the unwanted litters that we see have parents that are very closely related, perhaps where the owners failed to appreciate the breeding habits of their little fluffy babies, and perhaps because of this, it is not all that unusual to have a whole litter of delicate darlings with health problems. Simple things like diarrhoea and dehydration can quickly become fatal conditions to young rabbits, especially the weaker and more vulnerable ones, so in the case of a seemingly weak litter we take no chances:- they will move into the Rescues 'hospital' facility which is currently located at Caroline's home.
One of these delicate souls was Fajita. He and his siblings moved in with our Uncle Jefferson, whose laid back attitude and experience made him the perfect mentor for a little group of fuzzballs learning to make it in a harsh world of snuggles and treats. There Fajita grew up away from the main Rescue site, having his various waves of problems dealt with swiftly and under close supervision. Despite all his issues, it seemed like with a little care he might get to live a regular rabbit life.
But then, after a particularly nasty bout of snuffly infection over Xmas, he started to develop head-tilt and possible neurological problems. When regular veterinary care and treatment failed to cure it, off he went to see our problem-solving expert rabbit vet over in Cambridge. An investigation uncovered problems and a swelling in the bulla of his ear, possibly a result of the infection and sadly inoperable. It is very unusual for this particular vet to recommend euthanasia for one of our rabbits, so when he suggested it as an option for Fajita we knew the outlook was poor.
Caroline had seen Fajita fight back from bad illnesses before, so before we let him go she wanted to give him one last chance to tell us if he wasn't ready to give up just yet. In an unusual move, she decided to see how he reacted to having a friend. So she put him in with our other severe head-tilt (but otherwise very healthy) sweety Honour. Very quickly, magical things started to happen.
Firstly, although Honour is healthy, she had only fared well alone in her hutch. Until she came to us she had lived her life in a tiny 3 foot hutch, her jumbo 6x4 foot hutch at the Rescue was comparative luxury, but it seemed like the most she could cope with. When we had tried putting her outside or in any unfamiliar situation she became disproportionately panicky. But somehow she seemed perfectly happy with Fajita around, with him leaning against the walls of her new enclosure as he wandered by. Similarly, Fajita didn't mind her presence either. There was no tension. The only thing was, we weren't sure at first if they were taking any notice of each other at all or if it was improving either of their lives. But then this happened:
Suddenly we were finding them, with their opposite facing tilts, leaning against each other for support. And then grooming each other. It was like they had seen a part of themselves in each other and immediately fallen in love. I think most of us cried.
But the miracle didn't stop there. Against all predictions, Fajita's head started to straighten up. In just one week, he went from severely disabled and leaning on walls to looking like a perfectly healthy rabbit. We were stunned but very happy, especially as his love with Honour continued.
I wish this fairytale love story ended there, that the cinematic lights faded as the happy couple hopped off into the distance to live their 'happily ever after', while the credits rolled to uplifting music. But life is rarely like that. After another week, the head-tilt started to creep back in and then we think he may have had some sort of seizure, brought on from the neurological damage. For Fajita's last few days he would fall into periods of constant rolling, confusion and panic, especially during the night. Whatever damage had been done, it was now too severe to ignore, his time was sadly over and we had to help him hop off to the Rainbow Bridge.
Goodbye Fajita. You touched all of our hearts and shall not be forgotten. We are sad that you lived such a short life, but we hope that the magical love you found in your last weeks brought you as much happiness as you brought us. Binky free sweet boy.