Here at Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care, we have a ‘team’ of rabbits who are selected to stay as our “Residents”. They are specially selected based on their character and their ability to deal with our various events and educational talks. Friendly, laid back and not afraid of the public, they help us to spread the message of modern rabbit welfare standards as we tour the country to raise awareness of the charity and the work that we do.
The residents are now bonded in to one large group here at The Warren, and include a number of different breeds and sizes. But as most will know, we are big fans of the Giant Rabbit here at FBRC and we are lucky enough to have a few in our resident team.
It is with deep sadness that I write this to advise you all that we lost Sheldon last night. Sheldon was approaching 5 years old, which is considered an elderly Giant Continental who typically have a life expectancy of 3 to 5 years. His health has slowly deteriorated over a number of months, as is often the case for Giant rabbits around this age. In deed, this last week or so has been very reminiscent of his sister River and buddy Elphaba, both Continental Giants of a similar age who passed away earlier in the year, and of one of our early Conti’s Kenicke who passed away a few years ago.
I love Continental Giants, but their short lives and their tendency for their system and organs to slowly shut down is definitely a difficult thing to standby and watch.
In recent weeks I have been nursing Sheldon with antibiotics, metacam and eye drops, and regularly cleaning his eye and trimming the fur around his eye to reduce irritation, but the whole time I knew there was little that could actually be done to make him better again.
Earlier yesterday afternoon I commented to one of the volunteers that he wasn’t doing great, but at that time he was still hopping around the run as he has been the past few months: slowly, with some weakness in his hind legs, but still managing to get himself around.
Later in the evening another volunteer drew my attention to him as he lay weak, in the shed. I spent some time with him and the others hoping he would pass peacefully, with his buddies by his side. However, after half an hour or so, as he appeared to be struggling a little I decided to get him to the vet before they closed for the night to help him along his way.
But enough of focusing on his weaknesses the past few weeks and months!
Sheldon has been a fantastic asset to the resident team here at The Warren. He was one of the first new residents to arrive when we moved to The Warren in July 2012 having been born in the rescue from one of 12 Giants we had rescued a few months earlier. As we knew we were planning to get our own place we reserved Sheldon and River straight away and held them in the foster network until they were old enough and our new home was ready for them too. Since then Sheldon has very much been a leader of the residents group, and has been a firm favourite at our events and educational talks. He has been a protector for both Priya and Penny, an elderly Netherland Dwarf who also passed earlier this year, and often acted as their mediator at times when they wanted to get a little tetchy with each other. And I honestly have never seen as strong a bond as there was between Sheldon & Leonard, our other big ginger Conti.
It’s been a tough year, and it seems the 2016 curse has hit our resident group. The reality of course being that the group was formed around 4/5 years ago now, many of them joining us already mid-way through their lives, and as a consequence many of our group have reached an age where sadly this is to be expected. Of course, it doesn’t make it easier. However, as the other residents are all in the one bonded group we have the comfort that at least they all still have company.
I know they had a good life here. I know they’re simple presence at our events made people stop in their tracks and talk to us. This has allowed conversations to take place about rabbit welfare that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place. And so, River and Sheldon, and the many other resident bunnies we’ve had over the years at FBRC, have had a direct impact on improving rabbit welfare in Scotland.
Sheldon was named after one of the lead characters in the tv show The Big Bang Theory. For those of you who follow the show, you know that Sheldon isn’t a fan of human contact or socialisation, but every so often would seek human affection – when it suited him. He also has his own “spot” where he sits, and no one else is allowed to sit in that spot, even when he is not using it. Our Sheldon has firmly secured himself a spot in our memories and there will be no other bunny like him.
Farewell old pal – we’ll miss you.