When I went to let the chickens out this morning, I noticed that Alice, the grey and white Dutch rabbit which we have had for some years now, was huddled in the corner of her hutch, not really herself. When I came back in, I told the EFG to get up and come and have a look at Alice; we got Alice out of the hutch and I cradled her in my arms, stroking her, for about half an hour, and we gave her some water through a dropper. It was clear that she was in her last hours, and we wanted to make them as comfortable for her as we could. I sat with her in the greenhouse where it was warm, and then I brought her up into the conservatory, and the EFG prepared a box for her with some shavings and straw in it. The EFG had a cuddle with her, and then I had her back, and held her for quite some time longer. She began to move her head back and stretch a lot, which I knew meant that her time was coming, so I put her in the box so that she could be more comfortable, and kept stroking her, and talking to her. Just after 10am, she took one last breath, a bit like a yawn, and she stopped breathing. It was gentle and peaceful.
Alice was descended from the first pair of rabbits that the girls had when we moved in here in 2004, quite a line of descent over multiple generations. It is likely that she was one of the rabbits in the pictures in this post. Her death this morning came as quite a shock to us because she was as right as rain yesterday, eating and eager to see us whenever we were near her hutch - we kept popping over to see the rabbits a lot yesterday as we were outside for much of the day, and there was not a hint of anything amiss. It struck me with some force later on this morning to realise that poor Alice's is the first natural death I have ever witnessed, and it really made me think. Jennifer Worth writes eloquently and with feeling in her books about death, and it is a part of life we don't always think enough about.
RIP Alice - you will be missed.