Very sadly, on Monday we had to say goodbye to extra-special resident and star of our logo Starburst.
Starburst was a big orange French lop who came to the Rescue late in 2009. We all immediately fell in love with her because she was so bold, fearless and friendly. In fact my first memory of her was the day I met her - I needed to pick her up to move her and found myself being completely taken aback at how unfazed she was at being handled. Most bunnies freeze or wriggle with fear when picked up, but not Starburst, she didn't bat an eyelid, despite me being a complete stranger to her. As far as she was concerned, as long as she was getting some attention she was happy wherever she was.
We can't keep them all though, so she was bonded with another super-friendly bunny called Austin and made available for adoption. Both bunnies being so completely humanised, together they would have made perfect house rabbits and sure enough they were picked by a lucky visitor early on. But it wasn't to be - on their outbound check the vet found a growth inside Austin that could not be removed, so deeply connected to his stomach it was. With concerns that something would soon rupture, the vet gave him only a few months to live, so it was decided to find them a comfortable place for Austin to live out his days. Volunteers Nicola and Gareth were experienced in fostering terminally sick and elderly buns, at that time using the second bedroom in their house as a retirement space, so it was decided that there Starburst and Austin would go to be pampered for whatever time he had left. They lasted a week.
It turned out that Austin didn't consider himself fragile at all. Far from lounging with his feets up watching daytime soaps with an iced-carrot-tea, Austin saw himself more the Indiana Jones type. He would miraculously escape the confines of their room (out the pen, over/through the stair gate...) and be found roaming the house - an activity NOT approved of by the other fluffy-tailed residents. Starburst too liked to venture out, but rather than trying to pick fights with the others she preferred to surprise her human hosts by suddenly appearing beside them on their bed for some quality snuggles and TV time. But however much Nicola and Gareth fell for them, Starburst and Austin caused such unrelenting and uncontainable chaos in their house that they really couldn't stay and unfortunately had to be sent back to the Rescue.
Months passed turning into years and though Austin's lump slowly grew, he hardly seemed to care and kept going unabated. Where we had started off keeping them in a smaller, controlled space to monitor him, he clearly didn't want or need that. Eventually Caroline started just letting them out to roam the Rescue at will, much as Archimedes and Boadicea do now. So Starburst and her soulmate had many happy days of great freedom, going where they pleased, being fussed by the volunteers and visitors, lounging around and really enjoying themselves.
They were always so good together, completely loved-up snuggle-buns, the absolute perfect example of why we rehome in pairs. One day I caught Austin wearing Starburst as a hat and as luck would have it had my camera to hand - as a result, that image of their snuggliness was destined to become the Rescue's logo.
By early 2013, Austin's growth was big enough that you could clearly see it just looking at him and it was starting to affect his movement, so the pair moved to Caroline's house to live indoors. Eventually the growth became too much for him and a year ago today we had to say goodbye to our dear sweet Austin. Starburst soldiered on without him but she repeatedly turned down new suitors, including a recent attempt with special needs bun Marlon.
Although Starburst had always been fairly healthy throughout her life, she did have the odd weight fluctuation and recently had issues and swelling in her mouth. Despite expensive surgery to remove a problem tooth, her condition continued to deteriorate last week and she was clearly suffering, so Caroline was forced to take the difficult decision to let her go.
We will all miss you Starburst, our big loppy orange softy. We hope you enjoyed your time with us and that the love we showed you every day brightened your life as much as you did ours.