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Those who love their pets tend to enjoy all animals. Our animal owners are no different. Check in on News-Herald staffers Robin Palmer and Cheryl Sadler as they share their own animal tales and announce upcoming events in Lake and Geauga counties.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Saying good-bye to Grover Cleveland

The death of a pet - any pet - is a gut-wrenching process; the penalty for becoming attached to a domesticated animal.

Today, just before noon and when I arrived at home for an early lunch prior to working an assignment, I watched as my Grover Cleveland died. And heard him go through the wretched death throes.

Grover wasn’t a dog or even a cat. He was a rabbit; a mini lobbed-eared rabbit, to be exact.

He was old as far as rabbits are concerned, being six or seven. Grover also never spent one night outdoors. He was a house rabbit, sharing space with Bev, my wife, our two Labrador retrievers along with our two rescue cats. We even referred to the room where he stayed as “Grover’s room.”

But I knew lately that death was lurking nearby. I even had made an appointment to take him to see veterinarian Debbie Ting at the Lakeshore Animal Hospital in Mentor-on-the-Lake. It was time for our good-byes.

The poor rabbit had been ill all week to the point where he was no longer eating or using his litter box. But he had exhibited similar symptoms before and recovered. So I (wrongly) hesitated.

In life, Grover was a hoot. As a young bunny he spent much of every evening running about the house, exploring. And occasionally getting into too much mischief.

Grover was a charmer, though. He often hop up into my lap when I was resting in my recliner. There he enjoyed a few minutes of ear scratching and gentle petting.

The rabbit also got along with the dogs. And that was surprising since they are Labradors used for hunting. Grover, however, would hop up to one of the dogs, place his front paws on the canine’s back and generally be full of himself.

And as a young bunny Grover loved to play with Bear, our laid-back, black-colored house cat. Bear would sit in the middle of the living room floor while Grover would hop in circles around the cat. I never could tell who had the most fun.

Our other cat, Hobbs, on the other hand, didn’t really warm up to Grover. Still the diplomat, Grover did his best to try.

In his cage, Grover was the master of his domain. At night, when Bev and I would try to fall asleep, Grover would loudly play with his ceramic food dish, noisily sliding it around the cage. He also loved to toss about discarded toilet tissue rolls.

For eats Grover was particularly partial to Buckeye-brand pellets. However, he never, ever, turned up his wrinkling nose at any various processed rabbit treats presented to him. And give Grover a chunk of banana and the rabbit was in Seventh Heaven.

That was until several days ago. Then he passed on everything, including his beloved bananas.

I know that I should have carried him to Ting sooner. Grover deserved to die peacefully, asleep. Just like we humans. But I didn’t and now my conscience is paying the awful price.

If you were to ask me, I’d say that I could easily acquire another rabbit. One with floppy ears and a long, sinfully silky coat.

Bev is not that inclined, however. She wants to whittle down the number of pets we have.

Pets are work, I’ll give you that. And they are expensive to maintain. Leave the house for a long weekend or a vacation and you’re forced to make arrangements with the neighbor boy to come over every day and care for the critter.

I guess in the long run Bev is correctly on track to insist on no more rabbits.

But I’ll you this, my life was made so much richer by my ownership of Grover. As good as his life was with us I still came out ahead. I guess that is why so many of us own pets of all stripes, including house rabbits.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Blogger Sandra said...

Words written by a man heartbroken, I can tell. I've always appreciated your compassion for Grover and your stories about him. I was also always so glad to find a new home for Sherbert's undesired treats in your friend, quite the foodie indeed. I know you were a good bunny daddy, Jeff, and that he'll always hold a special place in your heart. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in this difficult time - we are all sympathizing with you today.

August 13, 2010 at 4:54 PM 

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