Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Goodbye Tinkle Toes

Our pet bunny, Tinkle Toes, passed away this morning. Even though we were expecting his death was eminent, the reality of the inevitable did not diminish our sadness. Thankfully, our pet seemed to die peacefully in his sleep. We buried him in the forest this morning before CB had to go in for work.

Tinkle Toes was a small, black, Lionhead bunny. We got him when he was about six weeks old and could fit in the palm of my hand. CB went into the mall for new glasses and the pet store was right next door. The litter of fuzzy lionheads was just too tempting and we both returned the next day to add another pet bunny to our household.

We had hoped that Tinkle Toes was a girl as we already had a male bunny and two males do not get along (unless they are from the same litter.) We looked in between Tinkle’s legs to determine his gender. We couldn’t tell, nor could any of the folks in the pet store. However, when we brought him home our other bunny, Romeo, knew instantly and wanted to bite him.

This behavior was unusual for Romeo as he was a very good natured bunny, but instincts are instincts. We had the bunnies in separate cages, but one time Tinkles poked his nose a little too close to Romeo’s and got a quick nip in the schnozola. However, CB, patiently introduced the bunnies to each other a little at a time and eventually they not only tolerated each other, they became best friends. When Romeo passed away, Tinkle Toes was right by his side.

Tinkle Toes traveled more than the average lagomorph. He loved to go camping. He had a cage in the back of the camper that rested on a shelf, but when we were driving he had a “bunny bin” and sat between us in the cab. Whenever we stopped at rest stops or campsites, we had a special travel bin (a mesh-like laundry bag) with two dinner-plate sized holes cut out so Tinkles could be in a safe, enclosed pen, but could still chomp on the grass. And chomp he did. Eating green grass was one of his favorite past times. He especially liked the little white flowers from clover. As sick as he was, he still managed to eat a couple of the flowers before he passed away. I brought in a couple more of the tasty tidbits, but those lay untouched in his cage that I cleaned this morning. But at least he died among his favorite things.

Losing a pet is a sad thing, even when you know death is near. Tinkle Toes did not seem to be suffering and I’m thankful for that. He brought a lot of joy to our lives and we have many happy memories. Feeling both the joy and pain of loving someone is part of what makes us human. It reminds me of a quote by Anatole France, "Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."

After we buried our bunny, the morning light filtered through the trees and created a bright spot on the ground very close to where Tinkles was laid to rest. There are many times when I bumble about and forget to notice the beauty of the world around me. It brought this quote by St. Francis of Assisi to mind.

"Ask the beasts and they will teach you the beauty of this earth."

I felt the luminescence was a sign that our little bunny’s spirit was in a better place and if I shifted my consciousness, I could be in a better place as well.

I cannot truthfully say that this moment in the sun erased my sadness. I will miss our little pet. I will remember how he would stand up on his back legs to eat a treat, the way he would sneak out and make me chase him through the house, and how happy he was plop down in the grass and eat dandelions and clover. It’s okay that I am sad. It’s okay that I take this nostalgic trip down the last five years of our fur baby’s life. I agree with Lacie Petitto who said,

“A pet is never truly forgotten until it is no longer remembered."

And I intend to remember Tinkle Toes and all the wonderful pets who have shared their lives with me. It is ironic that is the love and devotion of animals that best teach us how to be human.

I do not have the funds to add a wing to a pet hospital or create a refuge for animals. However, I can do what I have always done, respect the earth and its creatures, make environmentally sound choices, support “no kill” shelters, the humane society and PETA.

One day, I’m not sure when, we will adopt another bunny or two. Even though I feel the loss of our bunny, it would sadder still to punish ourselves further by refusing to allow another pet to enter our lives. I believe Gary Kowalski, author of The Souls of Animals, said it best.

"It is not just that animals make the world more scenic or picturesque. The lives of animals are woven into our very being - closer than our own breathing - and our soul will suffer when they are gone."

Good bye Tinkle Toes. You will be missed, but never forgotten.

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