Regular readers may remember that last year, after moving into our new house, we adopted a rabbit and guinea pig from a friend who could no longer keep them.
We had a wonderful few months with them. Satski and Thelma were devoted to eachother and while they weren't terribly keen on being petted, they were happy with us. They loved their dinner time and we enjoyed discovering new vegetables for them to eat. We enjoyed watching them scutter and hop around their enclosure and curl up together in the shade to rest in the middle of the day.
On Australia Day, Daddy took out their dinner before he and I left Elijah with the babysitter and went to a concert at the Sydney Opera House. I got up early the next morning, drove the sitter to the station and went back to bed. Hubby woke a little later and looked out the the window as he was making his breakfast. He noticed Satski laying in an unusual position in the A-frame hutch, which concerned him. He checked on the pets and found them dead. Satski (the rabbit) was contorted and Thelma (the guinea pig) was huddled against Satski's belly. Their dinner was untouched. He woke me in shock and we both felt ill, wondering how this had happened and whether it was our fault. We then came to the realisation that we would have to explain this to Elijah.
We sat Elijah down and explained that Satski and Thelma had died overnight and that meant they were no longer breathing, couldn't open their eyes and that we wouldn't have them to pat or feed anymore. We're not sure he understood. I guess, in a way, it's a blessing that he is too young to grasp the concept of suffering.
Daddy was a mess, but somehow managed to dig a hole in the rock hard soil that was deep enough for a grave. All three of us said goodbye as we buried the girls in the yard. Daddy placed them carefully together so that they would always be huddled up as they so often were in life.
That day was terribly painful. Many tears were shed as we tried to come to terms with what had happened. I originally thought it may have been the heat, but the evidence didn't point to that. In the late afternoon, Daddy was out cleaning out the hutches (he couldn't bear to do it any earlier) and found what we think was the answer: a redback spider nesting near the top of the ramp in the main hutch. It couldn't have been there long as he'd scrubbed out the hutches a few days before, shifted them to a different part of the yard and moved the fence to enclose them. Our theory is that Satski was bitten and Thelma went to comfort her. Since they were companions, we think that Thelma couldn't bear to be without her friend and decided to go too.
Even now, two weeks later, I am struggling to write this. The yard looks so empty now. There are constant reminders everywhere. Elijah, thankfully, has moved on and now is asking for a pet bird. But we aren't ready yet to have another pet and we don't know when we will be ready. We will miss Satski's irritating escape attempts (under the house, under the car, out to the footpath) and Thelma's little excited grunts as she watched us approach with dinner. We knew we wouldn't have them forever, but we didn't think they'd go this soon or this suddenly. Satski and Thelma, we loved you and we'll always remember you.