by P.A. Smith, Co-Editor
Buka joined our family way back in 1996. We didn’t know much about his origins or how old he was when he came home with us. All we knew was that he was purchased as an Easter gift at either a fair or a flea market – some venue like that. As a gift he was not wanted – no one was willing to take home and care for a rabbit. With a little begging and big hearts, we convinced our parents to take him home.
We drove home with Buka in the wooden crate he was purchased in. We had no idea how to feed and care for a bunny, but we knew he was going to be a part of our family. At home we gave him a bit of lettuce and left him the crate, which was closed with a piece of wire. The next time we checked on him he was sitting on top of the crate, ears up, surveying the living room.
We called him ‘Bunny’ and ‘Bunny Boy’ (even though we had no idea what his gender was) and ‘Buka.’ There was no official naming session. We still call him variations of all three names. I’ve taken to just calling him Bu. He responds to any of several names. Like everyone else in my family he is burdened with many nicknames.
We learned, mostly through trial and error, how to raise a house rabbit. We learned that iceberg lettuce is not good for rabbits. We learned that rabbits love to chew, especially lamp cords. We got him a cage and, at first, kept him in there at night. He hated being cooped up. He would rattle the door until someone opened it. We soon learned that Buka would be fine on his own hopping around while we slept.
We also learned that Buka had a playful personality that has come to define his role in the family. He loved to rocket down the hall into an open bedroom and looping around under the bed and zooming back out. He loved to do figure eights around my legs while I stood in the dining room. We made up games together like ‘Chase.’ Buka would start on one end of the living room while I stood in the middle. He would then run full speed while I feigned trying to catch him. He’d get to the other side and plot out his return. Buka had boundless energy.
Buka has been a constant in our lives. He was there when I graduated from high school, when I graduated from college, moved out, finished graduate school. He has been a happy presence and a part of the family. Always there for when I visit home. Always happy for a cheek rub.
Old friends ask how he is when we talk. Visitors to my parents’ house seek him out to say hello. He’s a celebrity – a novelty in a world of cats and dogs.
These days Bu is showing his age. Fourteen is very, very old for a rabbit. Old age has set upon him with heartbreaking swiftness. He doesn’t run anymore. He can no longer hop onto my parents’ bed to tell my mother it’s time to greet the morning.
Today I was on my way to work when I got a call from my mom. My parents are away and had received a call from my sister. Buka couldn’t move one of his paws. I stopped by the house to check on him. He looked uncomfortable and stiff, but was alert. He turned when I called him and leaned into a cheek rub. I had Abi come down to check on him because I had to head to work and could only stay a minute.
He was up and hopping with all four paws when she got there. He was eating normally, picking out the tastiest pellets.
I suspect he’s developed arthritis. It’s heartbreaking to see him in any pain.
I advised my sister, as I would any rabbit owner, to take him to the vet. At best, they can give him medication to reduce inflammation and pain. At worst, well, I’d rather not think about that yet.
Edit 08/02/10: Buka was put to sleep today. We’ll miss him.
What a beautiful story. Thank you for writing about it. My rabbit is older too, and I think about this kind of thing. Buka will be in my thoughts, he sounds like a wonderful bunny!
Please, next time Bu needs you, call in sick to work. Check on him frequently to make sure he is OK and nobody is in denial or “busy too!” and not doing what he needs. Please. You will have the memories for the rest of your life. Don’t let the last ones be about you being busy and leaving it to someone else. Lady, 1973 – 1985
He’s gorgeous. I have done some ‘google-ing’ and found some websites about holistic treatment for rabbits. I hope they’re of some use to you. I was surprised to see that acupuncture and glucosamine are just as good for rabbits with arthritis as they are for humans! 🙂
I have a question…my rabbit is a few onths old and she wont pee or poo in her litter box consistently, any advice? Also she (Rue) doesnt like to held. I try to hold her once a day but she rejects me! Help!
Metacam is an anti infalmmatory and our older rabbits take it .. dosage is clearly stated. It relieves pain and we can tell they are much happier and able to move around better.
Gretchen: Get over it! No – we had to put out several litter boxes – everywhere the bunny pooped and peed until we finally figured ou where she wanted it! Our experience is that bunnies who have much free ranging do not like to be held. All our bunns live in BIG “cages” and get out in a penned area maybe 6 ‘ by 10 ‘ most days for several hours. They all like to be held and snuggled on the way out and on the way in.
Bless your bunny is gorgeous! Back in easter I sadly had to have my giant French lop Rosie put down. She was over 13 years (to be honest we lost count!) and she was so well until her very last day. She was a house bunny for a few years but then went outside. I always thought after her i’d never get another but I missed it so much we have recently got a new house bunny called Dave! He is now about 3 months old and is another giant French lop. He is getting bigger by the hour and we’ve already bought him a hutch the size of half the lounge!!! I think he might grow out of this though. We weren’t planning on keeping Dave inside but he is so sociable so he’s here to stay! What do you put inside Buka’s cage? I end up with straw all over my carpet! Nice to read a story about another house rabbit-ppl think i’m mad keeping him inside. If you’d like to see another photo of him there is one on my blog… http://thehorsediva.blogspot.com/2010/06/horse-diva-family.html
Thanks for all the comments, kind words, and suggestions. Bu has been doing well. We went to visit him yesterday – he was hopping, eating, and pooping normally. He was biting at our pant legs to get attention when we ignored him for too long. I think he was jealous of all the doting upon our new niece.
@Katie – The only thing in Buka’s cage is some newspaper. The cage hasn’t really been used as anything but a litter box for years because Bu has free reign of the house. The bottom is plastic and slides out, so it makes a convenient spot for him to ‘go.’
this is a wonderful story about rabbit a have also a rabbit named pianegonda he is a male and actually because of your story Ive already give my rabbit a special care my rabbit is 1 month old in me since Ive brought him on the pet shop
What a lovely story. My Morrigan, eldest cat in a house of 4 cats, is also pretty old. I can’t imagine either…she’s the apple of my eye. Truly. Enjoy every single second. 🙂
Nice name for a rabbit… I also have a rabbit named Push which I got from her usual practice inside her hutch, push everything aside. Anyway, taking care or our pets since young, have a family, and until they got old is such and achievement to pet lovers.
I found this page whilst googling ‘rabbit old age’ – I fear I too will be facing the decision of what to do with an elderly rabbit and it’s breaking my heart. I found my William abandoned by the side of the road just 18 months ago and since then he has wheedled his way into my affections.
I don’t think he is in pain, but he is losing weight now daily despite my efforts with critical care and tasty titbits. I too think he has some arthritis but any stiffness he had has improved since coming to live indoors. The vet thinks she can feel a lump in his tummy which perhaps shouldn’t be there……….. 🙁
I will miss him so much; I never realised just how affectionate and entertaining rabbits can be until that fateful day when I found him – I just wish I had had him from day one, not for just a pitiful 18 months!
He’s a cutie! If you struggle with deciding on a name again in the future, then check out this rabbit name guide: http://love-rabbits.com/fun/rabbit-names-25-popular-rabbit-names
It’s helped me out loads when we got our two (coco and nibbles!). It lists to most popular rabbit names for all different kinds of rabbit!