This is an epilogue to my living with 4 rabbits for eight years. Unfortunately it describes too much the landmarks of terminal events which are the counterpoints to happy and wonderful lives.
Abby was the center of my rabbit household. She lived the longest of my first group of lagomorphs and was the one the others came to lay beside. She was quiet and reserved compared to my other rabbits, but always the gathering point for the others. She had an active & healthy life except for her last two days when something caused her gut to shut down. As is typical in rabbits, this is often a result of a deeper cause. At this point, toxins quickly back up into the bloodstream and it is difficult to recover, especially at the age of 10.
Her first mate from the time of her original capture by animal control was Jon. They were a pair that were completely devoted to each other & wouldn't separate until his death two years prior to hers. They were a perfectly bonded couple, taking turns, sharing things, & always enjoying each other's company. He would explore, Abby would sit back & wait for his return. I decided another rabbit would add to the happiness. I came to question that when it took 3 months of careful bonding with Cece. Jon quickly welcomed the newbie, but Abby asserted her territorial side & attempted to put the youngster in her place. Abby acted tough but was not a fighter & always came out on the short end of the stick in fights with Cece, who had tiny very sharp teeth and quick jaws. Abby healed quickly and had no permanent injuries from the scuffles. Although a trip to the emergency vet was in order when I discovered one of Cece's bites had torn open her lip.
Abby eventually accepted and loved the new addition but asserted territorial control by urinating outside of the litterboxes in familiar spots. She stopped doing that when Cece passed away. Domestic bliss followed for five years until Jon died suddenly in the middle of the night from a presumed heart attack. Abby groomed Jon's ears as part of her final farewell to him. Part of the logic of having a trio was to have a backup friend so the survivor wouldn't be left alone to grieve. It seemed to work. There was not much change in appetite or activity with Cece and Abby. They did seem a little nippy at times and perhaps Jon was the moderating presence in the relationship. Full hostilities broke out when I I had to separate Abby & Cece four months after Jon's death. Cece developed a lower jaw abscess and had to be kept separate from Abby to recover after surgery. Attempts at reintroduction after Cece healed did not go well and the girls fought fiercely. Cece was probably irritated by her stitches and recovery discomfort and Abby didn't like sharing her space again. Cece leapt over baby gates and a 30 inch high exercise pens to attack Abby. She tore quiet a bit of fur from Abby. Cece initially made a miraculous recovery after the surgery to suppress the abscess. Sadly it returned and overtook her, producing septic shock while undergoing a second surgery four months after her initial surgery. Abby was alone except for Chestnut in the other room.
Chestnut was a stray in the neighborhood that I caught five years previously. He had lived in the kitchen next to the trio. Attempts to bond him to the trio were difficult with three different personalities. Progress was spotty & intermittent. Cece was especially feisty and territorial. Abby was cautious toward him. Jon was the best of the bunch & groomed him quickly. Chestnut had never been with other rabbits & couldn't figure out how to groom or what he was supposed to do. He was a bit suspicious. A month after Cece died I took Abby and Chestnut to the next HRS adoption day for bonding in neutral territory. It worked!! Abby was friendly and probably lonely & quickly began grooming Chestnut. He still had no clue & I supervised carefully to make sure no moves were misinterpreted as hostile. I brought them back home & kept them together where their trust and affection deepened. It may be my short memory or the abundance of video evidence that makes me think that Abby's relationship with Chestnut has been more intense than with Jon. It may be the shorter duration, or the young buck providing renewed interest. Abby's final months were especially joyful and happy. She was definitely happy to be alive. She seemed more active. Every morning she would step out of her cage & do an "upward facing rabbit" yawn posture to start the day. I regret procrastinating & not capturing that on video. She enjoyed her food & especially bananas until the end. She loved human and rabbit attention. She was a sweetheart.
Luckily I figured out the movie feature on my early digital camera & have many short video clips of them together. I'm sad that Chestnut has been deprived of this companionship for many years, and only eight months to enjoy it.