Our attempt at animal psychology failed. The house exploded in an orgiastic tumult of inter-species sex, dishevelled upholstery, startled cats, and guinea pig semen actually in the rabbit’s eye. Colin’s zeal for availing himself of the wrong end of the rabbit deposed him from his position as King of the House: we had to lock him in the tower.
Whilst deciding what to do about Colin in the long run, I booked Broccles in for neutering, with the most experienced rabbit surgeon available. Rabbit anaesthesia is complicated, so I fretted, but Broccles is at the optimum age for everything to go right. He also has a profound capacity for bouncing back swiftly from illness and injury. I left him at the surgery with a note to the surgeon:
- Blind in right eye – has had problems in the past. Please check it is still okay before proceeding.
- Crusty masses on right side of face – guinea pig semen! Very sorry – I was unable to remove it all.
- My heart is in my throat about this operation. Please take care of him. (I know you will anyway, but still.)
The surgeon phoned us as Broccles was coming round, to report that the operation had gone smoothly. I collected him from the nurse in the evening, once the surgery was satisfied that he would be fine. Broadleys Veterinary Hospital provides the same level of care to pets as a human hospital does for humans.
The nurse greeted me effusively. “Everythingwentwell Broccleswillbefine he’sstillabitgroggybutbrighterthanmostrabbitsareaftersurgery.”
I made a beeline for the pet carrier.
“There’ssomethingImusttellyou Ifeelsoguilty alittlepieceofhiseargotsnippedoff itlooksworsethanitis I’msosorry,ithappenedwhilehewasasleepthankgoodnessI’msorry.”
As she was talking, I was removing the pet carrier door. I wanted to let Broccles know I was there and reconnect with him.
“Hello, bunny,” I murmured, and saw his ears twitch in recognition. He looked inclined to stay in there, though. The nurse pulled him out and showed me his ear. A piece the size of a thumbnail clipping had been sliced from the edge of a shaved area. It looked sore.
“Ithappenedwhenwewerepreparinghisearforthecannula it’ssuchasmallarea theveinsaresosmall ithappensveryoftenbutI’msosorry Ifeelsobad he’snowmissingtwotesticles.”
She lifted him up to show me the surgery wound. It was very small and neat: he had had keyhole surgery. She placed him back in the carrier and we discussed aftercare with a lot of sorries and some testicles thrown in. I was thinking mainly about getting Broccles home and settled, so at one point I interrupted with a distracted “it’s all right”, to ask a question. She visibly relaxed, and began to speak at a normal speed. I suddenly clocked that she had been seeking reassurance that I wouldn’t flip out. I had left such an earnest note with the surgeon. Poor nursey!
And we now know how Pochi’s ear lost its missing piece. When neutering small animals, Broadleys attach a fluid feed to the ear. Preparing the area for the needle is tricky, but worth it for the extra life support the animal has under sedation. Most vet surgeries don’t include this.
Once home, Broccles holed up under a chair in the bedroom, near the heater. The cats visited him periodically, to sniff him all over, which he seemed to appreciate. They were unusually gentle and subdued around him. Perhaps his scent reminded them of their own surgery years before.
After a night’s sleep, he was back to his ebullient self – only, he was using his litter tray and wasn’t giving Pochi the Heimlich manoeuvre every five minutes. Colin is next on the agenda for a trip to the vet. Perhaps soon we will be able to open our door to visitors without shame.