On Tuesday July 27, 2010 a stray dog wandered onto our property in Sackille, New Brunswick and killed our pet rabbit Jessica. We had just moved from Calgary, Alberta on June 4, 2010 and Jessica was getting used to her new home and yard. Bonnie saw a dog run into the woods so we went and looked around the yard and saw her lifeless body in the front yard. The dog didn’t damage her in any way, we just noticed a wet spot but he must have scared her to death. We take a little comfort hoping she died quickly of a heart attack without any pain.
Around 2003 I took a job in Victoria, BC and a coworker named Doug Filteau was asking if anyone wanted to adopt a rabbit named Arwin the Battle Bunny (from Lord of the Rings) who was a few months old. I thought the name was odd but we had recently lost our pet rabbit Stu so I thought it might be time to get another rabbit. When Doug brought her in he was holding her to his chest and I was able to pet her. She was so beautiful with a shiny dark brown coat and short little ears.
I went and picked her up in the pouring rain and flew back to Calgary with her in the cabin. I didn’t want her to go through the x-ray so I took her out of the kennel and held her to my chest when I walked through the metal detector. One of the female security agents thought she was so cute!
After we got her home we noticed over time that she was a pretty grumpy rabbit! She would make a grumping noise and her ears would go back when she was ready to strike. So we learned to give her a lot of space. Many times I was able to pet her but you never knew when she would allow it.
She had a kennel in the basement and we would let her out each night to run around on the area rug beneath the coffee table and beside the treadmill. Sometimes she wouldn’t leave her kennel though, we weren’t sure why – maybe she didn’t feel like socializing!
Over time we felt really bad about her just sitting in her kennel all day and night so we decided to let her outside like we did for a previous rabbit named Stu. Stu loved being outside in our backyard although the risks were high we felt good he had such a happy life. So we were nervous at first but everything worked out great. On some cold winter nights (or weeks) we would bring her inside but over time she seemed to be doing well so we even left her out on some brutal nights. I think she found some warm spots under the deck near some snow drifts sheltered from the cold and wind.
Here’s a picture of Jessica grabbing a triscuit from me. She loved triscuits! She would sometimes run from really far away to get one.
Just before we moved to Sackville, New Brunswick from Calgary, Alberta on June 4, 2010 we decided we needed to bring her inside for a few days to make sure we would have her before we flew. Sometimes we wouldn’t see her for a few days so we wanted to make sure we didn’t wait until the last minute. Here is Jessica on the couch watching tv with me.
During that time we brought her in the basement and she had a big kennel, but we would let her out when we watched tv so she could run around on the area rug. She also like to go on the other side of the treadmill near the wall and in the corner beside the couch and behind the fake tree. But she would run around and then look at me on the couch before jumping up on the couch! I was surprised because she would turn around and seemingly watch tv and let me pet her. A couple times she jumped up on my chest and sat there. I was wondering if she was finally warming up in her old age!
Once we arrived in Sackville we put her kennel together and had her inside to scope out the area. We watched the yard and talked to neighbours who said there were no predators around like coyotes or foxes. Once again we started to feel bad about her just sitting cooped up in a kennel. So we made the decision to let her free again. She was having a blast and basically stayed in our yard, usually sitting on our deck or front steps from time to time. Other times she would often be in the front flower beds and recently with the humid weather she would lie in the soil after we had moved some of the plants and extended the beds.
Jessica would let ‘Mummy’ kiss her but would often take a swipe with her paws to let her know who’s boss. We often called her our ‘Sabre tooth waaaaabit!!!’.
To those that wonder why we would let our rabbit be outside which is a risky venture I would say I definitely agree that it is risky – there are wild animals, cats and dogs and who knows what out there. But if you ever watched a rabbit sitting in a cage all day you might begin to understand. Call it empathy of other living things perhaps but I tend to be sensitive to the plight of other animals. Once we decided to let her free in Calgary and saw how much joy she had we could never go back.
Of course there is the guilt as we just moved to a new home and after 2 months this devastating thing has to happen. But she lived a full happy 7 years with us, many of those in total freedom to do what she pleased. And she always stayed around our home which is amazing to us how she decided to do that. To stay with us when she could have gone anywhere.
Right now just a few days after her death the feelings are raw and painful, but we try to take solace in the fact that she lived an amazingly long, happy and free life with all the risks that came along with it.
So dear Jessica we just want to tell you that Bonnie and I love you, and miss you terribly. You were a great rabbit with all your quirks and personality, that just make you more interesting. Each day we were happy to see you around the yard and when we didn’t see you we would wonder where you were. We know you loved us in your own way too as you stayed with us all these years and would come for your triscuits and let us take you inside from time to time. You brought an incredible amount of joy to our lives.
We will never forget you!