Those of you who follow me on Facebook or read my blog regularly already know that on Tuesday we helped our Woodstock (Woody) cross Rainbow Bridge.
He entered our lives exactly eight years ago as a neglected rescue rabbit. An Easter gift that the family quickly tired of, he had spent the first eighteen months of his life in a small metal cage shoved under the front porch where he was fed once a day and let out to play for thirty minutes a week. When Woody arrived here as a temporary foster, he was two pounds underweight. His ears were so infested with mites the vet thought he was a lopped ear rabbit; when the vet cleaned off the scabs, his ears popped upright. (For the rest of his life, Woody would have one ear standing up straight and one sticking out to the side. We used to call him Helicopter Ears.) At the time, no one gave him much of a chance for survival. What no one counted on was his fighting spirit and zest for life.
I’m sitting in my study as I write this, which used to be the room him and his girlfriend Cinnamon shared until he became crippled by arthritis of the spine and confined to a small bed, and we moved him upstairs to be closer to us. The memories came back like a flood. The way he used to hop around my feet when I would bring him his breakfast and dinner. The way he would race across the floor to get his treats, squeaking like a dog’s chew toy in his excitement. The way he ran up and down the hallway with his girlfriend, hopping with joy. The way he would sit by my feet while I wrote, patiently waiting for me to finish and get on the floor to pet him.
Sure, sometimes he would get impatient with me when I spent too much time on the computer, and would show his displeasure with an act of rabbit rebellion. Once, when I ignored him for several hours because I was absorbed in my writing and then went upstairs to have dinner, he retaliated by ripping open the bag of Carefresh I used in his litter box, digging out the entire contents of the bag, and spreading it across my study floor. When I came down to write some more, I found him sitting in the middle of his mess, proudly taking credit for his handiwork. I spent the rest of the night playing with the little guy, and all was forgiven.
In his final months, when arthritis robbed him of his mobility and prevented him from running and hopping, and cataracts blurred his vision, Woody still enjoyed life to its fullest. He perked up every time someone entered the room, knowing he would get a treat and a pet, and thanked us by licking our nose or face. In November 2010, the vets had warned that he would never make it to Christmas. Woody lived for another eight months, and would probably still be with us today if he had not developed a tumor in the right leg that consumed his femur and eventually his strength.
Even in his last few moments, as the vet administered the shot that would send him to Rainbow Bridge, Woody thought of us more than himself. His last act was to groom my arm, saying goodbye and assuring me that everything would be all right. Woody passed away in my arms, surrounded by the ones who loved him most.
Woody had the most patient, loving, and selfless personality I have ever known. I miss him dearly, but will always remember him fondly.