Monday, December 10, 2012

Losing a pet is hard. Accidentally reversing over one is worse.

This past weekend our house was the scene of a tragic accident.  So tragic, that after it happened I could barely speak due to shock and sadness.  It is never a pleasant experience to lose a family pet, especially not if it was, in part, your own fault.  So still somewhat distraught from the emotional cocktail of sadness, grief and guilt. I thought it appropriate to use my blog as a platform for a much needed catharsis to help me overcome the tragic death of our beloved bunny Alexi.
R.I.P. Alexi
For those who read my blog regularly will know that all our pets are like our children.  And even though we do have quite a large family, by any standards, we love all our children equally.  When we got our bunnies just over two months ago I never imagined that one of them would die so soon.  I have always been pretty pedantic about the safety of all our animals, anal-retentive about making sure they have a healthy and well balanced diet and that they are both physically and emotionally in good shape.  Up until this weekend this have served me well, but as some people will tell you who has also gone through something similar, it only takes one slip-up and a split second for an accident to happen and in our case it was lethal.

You see, on Saturday our gardener came.  As per usual he was lectured about keeping the front door to our property closed at all times.  He was also lectured on keeping the sliding door that leads to the garage closed at all times and that he should make sure the bunnies does not go in there when he is fetching gardening tools.  The man has the IQ of a turnip and the attention span of a gold fish and usually only 10% of what you tell him sinks in.  Unfortunately on Saturday that 10% was not in favor of the bunnies.  His presence on our property would proof to be lethal for Alexi.

At around 10:00 hubby was on his way to the mall.  He entered the garage; saw that the sliding door leading to the garage was closed.  He got into his car, opened the garage door, reversed out and left.  About thirty minutes later our gardener came and knocked on the door.  I asked him what he needed and then he uttered the seven words that completely ruined the rest of my day.  He said “There is a bunny dead in garage.”  When I got to the garage I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see.
On the ground lay Alexi in a pool of his own blood.  It was clear that hubby drove over him and that Alexi was killed instantly.  Not wanting to have a complete emotional meltdown in front of the help (I am not that dramatic), I asked him to take the body to our vegetable garden and leave him there.  I walked back into the house and sobbed like a baby.  When I finally could compose myself I phoned hubby and told him what had happened.  During the call I found it difficult to find the right words.  “It was an accident and accidents happen” I remembered telling hubby who was devastated at what he had done.  We both felt an extreme sense of loss and guilt for failing to protect Alexi from harm.  It felt like we failed him.  We felt like horrible parents!

After I managed to get my bearings again, I proceeded to go to Alexi’s body and washed off most of the blood.  Bunnies have a strange way of grieving and when one of them dies the remaining bunny(s) need to spend time with the deceased bunny’s body in order to grieve and say goodbye.  This is exactly what I did for Halina.  She spent time with Alexi and did that little dance they do.  Eventually she gave him a final gentle lick and came and sat on my lap with her back turned to Alexi’s corpse.  The rest of the day it was clear that Halina was grieving and that she missed her friend.  Her pain and loss was mirrored in us.  My heart was broken just like Alexi’s bones.  The only consolation was that at least he did not suffer.

Later that day, hubby and I decided that we should bury Alexi in his favorite spot in the garden.  In South Africa this is illegal, but I decided to say fuck you to the municipal bylaws and we did it anyway.  By late afternoon hubby had dug a hole and Alexi was laid to rest.  It was a somber yet dignified affair.  Alexi is the first pet that we had to bury at our house since we have moved there and hopefully we will not have to have another pet funeral in some years to come.  In the two months that we knew Alexi he brought us nothing but joy, he was a funny little bun, full of life and he was naughty as hell.  We will never forget him.
Bunnies are social animals and need a companion.  Seeing as hubby and I work the whole day and that Halina would be alone in her day cage for most of the day, we decided to find her a new companion.  So we bought the five week old Vladimir.  He’s still a baby bunny and I was very concerned that Halina would reject him or even, God forbid, fight with him.  When we introduced him to her, Halina pretty much ignored him.  As they spent more time together they seemed to become more relaxed around each other.  On Sunday night Halina acknowledged Vladimir’s presence for the first time by spending a full hour trying to dry hump him.  She did this to establish her dominance over him seeing that bunny families are matriarchic.  After an hour of being dry humped Vladimir eventually submitted and this was followed by a protracted mutual grooming session.

Losing a pet is hard.  Accidentally reversing over one is worse.  But accidents do happen and I am sure hubby was not the first person to accidentally drive over and killing a pet.  I could not have foreseen that this past weekend would include a bunny funeral, but ain’t that just the way life goes sometimes.  This weekend just once again showed me that life is short and it can be over in a second.  So live each day to the fullest, appreciate everything that is in your life and never let an opportunity go by without telling your loved one how much they mean to you and that you love them.  Life is short; don’t waste a minute of it!  Alexi, we will miss you.

Till next time.


Whatever said...

One of my biggest fears is running over my orange tabby, who's an indoor/outdoor cat. I keep my eyes peeled and slow down whenever I reach my neighborhood, just in case. I can't imagine what I'd do if I ever did run her over. I know I'd be devastated.

I'm very, very sorry to hear about Alexi, and I empathise deeply with both you and your hubby. I've never interacted much with rabbits; they're not plentiful or even considered pets where I live, so your post taught me much about rabbit behaviour. I hope your new pet turns out to be a great companion for Halina.

Anonymous said...

I am sure that you experienced sadness at the death of the rabbit, but the responsibility for the animals safety is yours, if you were unsure of the gardeners ability to understand and carry out you instruction you should have put the animal into a hold area to prevent it coming into danger, to then after the incident attempt to lay the blame with a man who clearly does not have you education is cowardly. This was for the rabbit probably an escape, keeping animals in cages is cruel and selfish, if they liked cages so much why do the try to leave them. If you need to keep it in a cage it’s not a pet is a prisoner and you’re a warden, think a bit about what you’re doing to satisfy a shallow need, or get another dog.


Pierre le Roux said...

Dear Alistair,

Firstly, thank you for taking the time to post your comment. I do welcome debate on my blog but in this case I feel I need to clarify a couple of things for you.

I take offense at your suggestion that my husband and I were irresponsible and that it was our negligence that caused the accidental death of Alexi. It was an accident. Since we had our bunnies we have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that the environment in which the bunnies live is safe. Our gardener was given strict instructions and I don't blame him for the accident but I do feel that he was a critical part in facilitating the accident from occurring.

Secondly, you do not know anything about our home or us, and I take umbrage at your suggestion that we have pets to satisfy our "shallow needs". I love animals and we take better care of our pets than most people do of their own children.

As for the cage, this is for their own protection and they are not imprisoned in it 24/7. They are free to roam the house (which has been bunny proofed) and the garden when we are around. If you knew anything about bunny psychology you would know that bunnies view their cages as their borrows. In our bunnies case they go into their cage out of their own free will. That is where they sleep, where their food and water is and where they feel safe.

Before you berate people again, please do so responsibly. Clearly you are not a regular reader of my blog because if you where you would have know all the things I stated here because I have blogged about it before.

Lastly, perhaps you could benefit from learning some compassion for other people. Because clearly you have none.


Gee Gee Curtained said...

People like you cement my reasons for preferring animals to most humans. Pierre and his husband treat their animals like royalty (in fact, in my next life I want to be one of their pets) and for you to sit there like a sad little troll and write this self-righteous and sanctimonious comment without knowing a single thing about these people and how they treat their pets disgusts me to my core...

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