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Theodore arrived at Furry Friends Foundation in March of 2004 along with two other young rabbits named Simon and Alvin. Aggressive and territorial Theo paired up with passive and reclusive Simon, while shy and frightened Alvin lived on his own. I first met him in June of 2004 while working as a volunteer for the shelter. Theo, a Dutch Sport/Silver Marten mix, was so adorable that no one could resist the urge to hold him - I was no exception. I took him out of his pen so that he could exercise, held him in my arms and looked at his absolute cuteness... which soon led to a hard bite on my upper lip that drew blood. That would be the first of countless bites I received from him over the next three years.

The shelter was starting to close down its rabbit program, so in August of 2004 I decided to adopt Simon and Theo after considering how difficult it would be to find a permanent home for rabbits with behavioral problems. Despite my knowing that Theo would be a challenge, I didn't want to risk him ending up in the hands of someone that would not tolerate or understand him. I played around with the idea of splitting up Simon and Theo due to Theo's obsessive nature towards Simon (nipping him in the butt, chasing him around, aggressive grooming) but once I moved into a bigger place, they finally had enough space to enjoy one another's company.

Theo, or Teddy as I'd grown to call him, was a bully. He was the bunny I would have to warn people not to pet when they came to visit unless they'd like a nice bite on the hand. Underneath the tough exterior and big personality, was a sweet, gentle little fellow that loved me to kiss and groom his head and would tooth-purr when I massaged his temples and back. The longer I had him, the closer we became which I never expected based on our first encounter back at the shelter. I like to think that he and I were bonded just as closely as he was with Simon - I feel privileged to have had that kind of relationship with him.

Theo would often get GI stasis and had a serious episode in July of 2006 that required hospitalization. At the time, I hadn't experienced the severity of GI stasis first-hand and because he was getting excellent veterinary care, I never thought he wouldn't recover. He got through the episode and was released within 24 hours of admittance to the hospital along with six prescriptions. Strangely, a rash of GI stasis incidents seemed to plague my other rabbits over the next few months, which is when I lost Chloe. After the heartbreak and stress I felt from losing her on top of all the illnesses, I decided to stop feeding the rabbits any and all sugary treats – which meant no more morning slice of banana, no apple and no occasional carrots. I replaced these treats with orchard hay and timothy hay cubes and they all seemed to be doing quite well on their new healthier diet.

Even after the dietary changes, Theo would still succumb to minor GI stasis episodes once in a while which I was luckily able to treat on my own using massage, simethicone and Critical Care (prescription soft food for herbivores). I brought him to the vet for a thorough exam to see if there was an underlying cause of his chronic tummy troubles and they found that one of his kidneys was inflamed and infected from a manifestation of e. cuniculi (a common parasitic infection found in rabbits). Chances are it was passed to him at a young age either from his mother or perhaps from when he was living in shelters. In order to flush his kidneys, I had to inject fluids under his skin every other day (dialysis) along with giving him anti-parasitic medications. Giving Teddy his fluids was quite a chore at first, but with the help of some patient friends armed with protective gloves, we soon got used to it. The treatments helped get his elevated kidney values closer to the normal range. However, his e. cuniculi titers still measured high which may have been causing further damage to his body. We were doing our best to fight it!

During the evening of August 21, Theo wasn't hungry for dinner so I started him on my standard at-home GI stasis treatment. Soon, he seemed to be feeling better and before bed I fed him parsley and a big leaf of romaine which he devoured. I felt at ease that he would be back to normal by morning but when I woke, he wouldn't come to eat. His stomach had become slightly distended so I continued with massage and Critical Care and stayed with him through the afternoon. He was producing fecal pellets and I heard a lot of gurgling coming from his belly, which are both very good indications of him starting to pass his blockage. I waited for him to perk up and feel normal again but his stomach only became increasingly uncomfortable and distended. I brought him to the vet as an emergency situation where he was given aggressive mobility and pain medications. The doctors were optimistic that he would be released by morning, but as the hours went by with no changes in Theo's status, we all began to lose hope.

I visited him as many times as I could over the next excruciatingly long 36 hours. Instead of them being "good-bye" visits, I tried to make them encouraging and positive visits by massaging him to help his blood flow and giving him kisses as if I were Simon grooming him. I could see in his eyes how depressed he was and wished so much I could've helped him more. I can only hope that through the haze of all the drugs and pain meds he was on, he knew how loved he was.

I left my last visit with him around 12:45am on August 23 feeling somewhat positive because his temperature was back up in the normal range. I felt that maybe this meant he'd start to get the energy and will to keep fighting. Sadly, that was not the case and at around 2 am he seizured, went into a coma and was having trouble
breathing. I had no choice but to put him to sleep. I will be burying him at my friends' farm near where Chloe is resting along with his other Furry Friends buddies.

Theo may not have been the hardiest, healthiest bunny I've known, but he had been a fighter from the time I met him until his last moments. His life wasn't as long as I'd hoped it would be yet he persevered and withstood what was handed to him with spunk, dignity and love. Simon and I will remember him always.



e. cuniculi articles:
http://www.petcarevabeach.com/ecun.html
http://homepage.mac.com/mattocks/morfz/rabrefs.html#ec