Let’s Start 2017 With A Life lesson From A Bunny

Happy New Year everyone!

Some of you might know that I have a pet bunny named Bear and towards the end of last year, he got very sick and we went through a rough patch not knowing if he was going to make it. Spoiler: He’s alive and well but through the process I have learnt something…

Sometimes life lessons can come from the most unsuspecting place – Children, a movie, a stranger and in my case… a bunny.

Last October (2016), a couple of weeks before I left for my teaching trip to South America I was on my way out of the house when I noticed that my bunny Bear was acting a little strange. He was sitting really still but had pressed himself up against the side of the cage and his head was slightly tilted. So I took him out of the cage and he could not even hop straight. He was moving along, stumbling as if he was drunk. Head tilt in bunnies is a thing and can be a sign of many different things. When we called the vet, they said they were full that afternoon but after hearing that Bear’s head was tilted they immediately said to bring him in – never a good sign when the vet can clear out their schedule like that.

He got a blood test done which came back positive for E Cuniculi (a parasite that attacks the nerves in the brain) and got given medicine and antibiotics. Over the course of the next week or so he seemed to be getting better and then he got worse. Really bad. At this stage it was the day before we had to fly off to South America and so we desperately rushed him to our local vet (the specialist vet he usually goes to was closed) and upon seeing him the vet said to me:

“This is bad. He is in a really bad shape.”

By this time, Bear was on his side and struggling to even stand upright. All he could do was roll around (imagine a dog rolling over -that’s what Bear was doing over and over again) because he’s lost all perception of space and was just extremely dizzy.

I asked the vet what his chance of survival was and she looked extremely sympathetic when she told me that even if she could stabilise him, he will have a very long road to recovery and might not really be the same. He might not be able to eat or clean himself in which case there really is no quality of life for him.

I know at this stage the most sensible thing to do would be to let him go. We’d done our research and while a small percentage of bunnies survive this majority of them don’t and get put down. The funny thing about being sensible and reasonable is that all that sounds good in theory but it all goes out the window when you are devastated. I just was not ready to let him go, I almost felt like I owed him one last chance to fight this with the help of a professional. Maybe she could really help him.

So I made the decision to admit him into hospital and to give him 3 days to get better. If there was no improvement in three days, then I will know I did everything I could and that it was just his time. The next day we flew off and I hoped for the best. The whole situation was literally out of my hands.

So the vets kept us updated and with a whole bunch of medication, force feeding and liquid injections he started to improve. After three days, the vet said although he was still not out of the danger zone yet, he was showing very promising signs of improvement. And I started to hope… Maybe he can make it after all…


Over the course of the following three weeks he got better and then worse and then better and then worse again. Every time I got a phone call from the vet with a discouraging update and thought it was time to let him go, the next day the vet would immediately report that Bear was improving. Then just when I let myself hope again, he would get worse. This went on for those three weeks and at the end I just did not know what to think. It was like that stubborn little bunny just decided he wanted to mess with my feelings.

The day before we were due to depart back home to Sydney, the vet reported that he was now showing signs of being stable and was eating and drinking on his own. Bear was discharged and allowed to come home but still required antibiotics for a couple of weeks yet.

So we took him home. His head was still tilted (a permanent effect of the parasite) and so he was having a lot of trouble moving around his original cage. So some changes were made… We got him a bigger cage and put a mat on the floor so that he was no longer slipping. The first week home he was still not happy and just trying to adjust.

But now, almost two months later, he’s back to normal. His head is still tilted and although he can no longer jump as high or as fast as he used to, that has not stopped him. He’s relearnt how to jump in and out of his cage, worked out how to drink from the water bottle in his condition and how to jump up onto his toilet like he used to (previously, just jumping up there would cause him to lose all perspective and tumble over).

It’s been more than three months since he got sick and in those three months I have learnt that sometimes you just have to take a chance and go all in. I’d like to think that Bear fought to get better because he was not only stubborn but had the will to survive. And the magical thing about animals is that they never let a handicap get in their way. They don’t have the ability to wallow or pity themselves and instead their brain just tells them this is how things are now, this is how to adapt and then time to continue on like normal… I really think this is something we can adopt in our everyday lives.

Too often we find excuses and handicaps in our lives for why we can’t succeed.

“If I had more money then I could open that shop I want.”

“If I wasn’t so busy then I could actually attend some classes and my skills would improve.”

“Of course if I had all the fancy personal trainers, stylists and private chefs that celebrities have, I’d look that good too.”

“All customers care about is the price. Why am I even trying?”

“Her sister is already popular on social media, that’s why her business launched successfully and she gets all the best clients.”

So I say, forget all that! Lets start 2017 with a page from Bear’s book and remind ourselves that with any challenging situations that may arise this year, we will survive as long as we persevere and adapt.

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