Baxter came to live with us more than six years ago. He was a handsome big grey and white mini-lop bunny, abandoned and left to fend for himself on the outskirts of Anacortes. He had been on the run for some time. His fur was encrusted with clumps of dried dirt and leaves.
My (aka Second Daughter, since she is a twin) daughter was visiting the day Baxter arrived. She helped me wash him thoroughly and dry him with a big fluffy towel. My, but he was handsome! She named him Baxter.
A couple of months later, I acquired a beautiful brown and white French Lop, named Lovey by a granddaughter, because she had brown hearts around her eyes. As soon as Baxter spotted her, he was taken in by her sweet French ways. We knew they would make the perfect couple. Like most humans, bunnies prefer to live in pairs.
We took Lovey to be spayed, and the vet discovered that she not only did not have a uterus, but she also had some sort of “mega colon disorder” and sadly would not live very long. Baxter loved her just the way she was; we treated her with daily meds; and they had three glorious months together.
On a Sunday afternoon, Lovey died in my arms. I laid her body next to Baxter, so he would know she was gone. He licked her eyes and ears and lay next to her for an hour. Bunnies need closure at times like these. Otherwise they will wait for the return of the loved one, not eating or drinking, and often die of a broken heart.
Baxter was alone again, but not for long. The same bunny friend who gave me Baxter, told me there was an adorable white rabbit at the Humane Society of Skagit County. She had apparently been dumped by the Skagit River, found by someone, and turned in to that place on Kelleher Road. They put her in a metal cage designed for cats.
I just went to take a look at her. She came home with me. She’s a pearl colored Lionhead, and I named her Zoey. Two days after she arrived, I put her on the deck to play, and fate took over. She was quite a looker and Baxter was smitten. He flopped over and gazed at her with his big warm brown eyes.
We had her spayed by the vet, and when she healed, we put them both on our kitchen floor. Like a scene from an old romantic movie, they rushed to greet each other over a small pile of hay. They’ve been inseparable ever since. The big, easy going Baxter, and the smaller, snazzy looking Zoey.
Baxter was always the envoy to our House of Rabbits here on the hill in Bow. He was the bunny we placed into the laps of people who visited. Calm, sweet, soft, loving Baxter.
One day I even took him to Allen School where we visited the 1st grade class of a little friend of mine. As the kids gathered around me, kneeling on the carpet at my feet, I sat in a chair, with Baxter on my lap, and read “Too Many Rabbits” by Peggy Parish.
Baxter had some trouble getting around the last few months. He’s old, had surgery on his legs a few years ago, and was struggling. I gave him daily doses of a pain med I use when needed, and we watched him carefully. His appetite was hardy, he still adored Zoey (and she him) and they would spend hours pressed up against each other. Just last night I watched them lay nose to nose, breathing together. As if to savor that feeling of the gentle breath of a loved one.
Rabbits are masters at disguising their pain. When you’re at the bottom of the food chain, you must not show your vulnerabilities. He put up a brave front, although he struggled so to get around. But I knew.
That’s the hardest part of loving an animal so much: knowing when it’s time to say good-bye. Knowing when you are keeping him alive for you, because you can’t bear not to see his sweet face every day.
Today I held Baxter in my arms while our vet helped him go to what we hope is a better place. A place where he can forever run free in fields full of sweet clover.