Here is what I know about you:
In the spring of 2008, you were living somewhere in the Washington D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland area. Sometime that summer, you took your 4-pound pet lionhead rabbit and released him outside, figuring he could fend for himself. He was eventually picked up as a stray and taken to an animal shelter in D.C., a facility that was operating at near full capacity and had been euthanizing nearly every rabbit it received.
That didn’t happen to your rabbit.
In August, a Maryland rabbit rescue swooped in and rescued him from the shelter. They named him Custer, because of his caramel-colored muttonchops. He went to live with a foster mom in Maryland named Lori. I met him at her house a few weeks later.
I was in no position to adopt a rabbit – I had just completed graduate school at the University of Maryland and was preparing to move to Virginia for a new job, writing news features for a newspaper in the Shenandoah Valley – and was at Lori’s to meet a different bunny named Bubba and to “learn about what it means to have a pet rabbit.” But then I walked in and saw your bunny in his cage, and I asked, “Can I hold that one?” and Lori picked him up and placed him on my chest and he looked at me with his brown eyes and twitched his nose and that was pretty much that. I took him home a few days later.
I named him Henry.
He lived with me and my cats for six years before dying two weeks ago, quite suddenly, of heart failure. My vet discovered after that he had a tumor on his adrenal gland that was releasing steady streams of adrenaline and epinephrine into his bloodstream, and the hormonal onslaught was too much for his little heart to take.
He was not in pain. He did not die alone. And he had a very good life.
I don’t think you know too much about him – if you did, you would never have given him up willingly – so I wanted to tell you some things about Henry.
His full name was Henry James Bunman (used mostly when he was being naughty). He was very brave and very curious. He liked to meet new people and enjoyed bossing my cats around. He liked cilantro, parsley (he was partial to the flat-leaf kind), baby kale, baby carrots, mint, watermelon and Cheez-Its. He was not a fan of dill.
In the mornings while I made my coffee, he would hop into the pantry and steal packets of Splenda. When he wanted a treat, he would stand on his back feet and inch slowly forward until he was standing on my feet. Sometimes he chewed on my hair.
Nothing made him happier than having a blanket on the floor all to himself.
He gave lots of kisses.
If you weren’t paying enough attention to him, he would nudge your feet with his nose repeatedly. When he wanted snuggles – we called them “bungles” – he would come stand by the couch on his hind feet, and I would pick him up, and he would hop onto the back of the couch and settle in right next to me. I would pet him and rest my forehead on his forehead and tell him that he was a good bunny, the best bunny, and my favorite bunny in the whole entire world.
I have always felt conflicted about you, because Henry didn’t deserve what you did to him, but on the flip side, he so very obviously deserved a better home than the one that you gave him. And if you hadn’t let him go, I would never have been able to have him in my life, to rub his ears and kiss his nose and tell him what a good boy he was. Because he was.
So thank you for not realizing what you had when you had him. He was cherished until the very end of his life. I don’t know if you ever missed him or thought about him, but please know that I do and I will.