Our pet rabbit had the house on red alert with his impression of a dying bunny last week.
Rockta (for that is his name) decided it would be a good idea to stop eating and limp about the garden in the manner of a melodramatic thespian.
By day two, when he refused to leave his hutch, concern was growing.
“Is he going to die?” our Isaac, 11, asked.
“Well he might,” I told him. “He’s quite old for a rabbit.”
Cue tears. Note to self: Try not to be so blunt in future. Break bad news gently.
It’s like that old joke about the man who tells his wife the family dog is dead.
She’s shocked by his insensitivity and suggests that, in future, he reveals the sad truth slowly, giving the person time to prepare. “First say the dog was chasing a cat and fell down a well,” the wife advises. “Then tell them the dog broke its leg in the fall and the wound became infected. Say the vet was called and he revealed it was unlikely to recover. THEN break the news that they had to put the dog down.
“That way,” the wife explains, “you’ve let them down gently. Anyway, where’s my mother, I thought she was visiting today?”
The husband tell her: “Well your mother was chasing a cat when she fell down a well …”
There was little time for levity in the Ord household. Rockta’s dying swan routine had the whole house on a round-the-clock death watch.
Considering I am the only one who cleans out his hutch and keeps him fed and watered, the concern from everyone else was touching.
When Rockta first arrived, our two boys were obsessed with him – for all of two hours.
When it became apparent that he didn’t fetch sticks or perform tricks, their interest waned. On occasions our Isaac does go out to play with Rockta. But it’s play in the loosest sense of the word. If you class kicking a football at a terrified creature running for cover as play, then play they do.
My wife had been convinced Rockta would live forever. Not because he is immortal, but she was adamant that the owners of the pet shop where he stays while we’re on holiday replace him with a new one every time.
“It’s probably cheaper than feeding him for the two weeks,” she explained.
She even had me convinced last time. We returned from holiday to find Rockta was bigger, with shorter fur, and, according to my wife, he had been neutered!
She went as far as confronting the pet shop staff. They assured her it was the same rabbit. In short, if there were any problems, the pet shop staff thought they were likely to be with the sanity of the pet’s owners. I sided with the pet shop.
Anyway, with a dying rabbit on our hands, I was tasked with taking our Rockta to the vets. We feared the worst.
And my worst fears were confirmed. A clean bill of health from the vet came to more than £34! Now that was bad news.
Rockta’s only problem, it seems, is a touch of arthritis and some very odd owners.