Dolly was brought in by the RSPCA inspector - taken out of a tragic, filthy hutch, she was skinny, scared, and had considerable hair loss on her stomach and legs. The skin worsened daily, with the skin flaring up, red and sore, then giving way to crusting, finally flaking off. The skin cracked in places and weeped. She sat, hunched, all day. On the upside, she ate well. Her condition was too fragile to risk a spay but, to give her company, she was bonded with the very wonderful Bramley, who had previously bonded with intact females. Dolly was too unwell to really care and they became partners the same day. Bramley respected her condition, never mounted her or showed any aggression towards her.
We tried everything to get to the bottom of her condition - every scrape, biopsy, slide, screen etc. People were consulted, we scratched our heads, but all major results were negative, with only small hints to secondary bacteria in her weepy sores. At this stage her and Bramley would sit out together, but she never stretched out like he did, preferring a hunched position. She also started to lose fur around her eyes and mouth.
Last week I noticed that Bramley was sitting alone and also that Dolly was always in the dark hideaway box. She would come out to eat and then go back to sitting, hunched away in it. The last few days Bramley has taken up residence in the furthest corner from her, behind the hayrack. In earlier days he would lay out on the floor and she would sit next to him, still hunched, but at least with the comfort of her partner. With her skin still not great, and a few more bald areas re-appearing, there were two choices for her; go back to the injections for a few months and then have her put to sleep, or ....... put her to sleep sooner.
I know she never had a great one. She never lay out, or was curious in new things added to her home. Bramley would be all over a new box or toy, Dolly would be hiding in the box. When the shed was opened to the run area Bramley would be out exploring, Dolly came out after her first steroid injection for the week, but not after.
So, this is my though process. By measuring Dolly's daily action alongside a healthy rabbit's. I have no other way to measure the quality of her life.
Morning: eat, potter around, sniff stuff, eat, scratch, gnaw something, groom.
Afternoon: Groom, stretch out and snooze. Eat. Scratch, groom, snooze
Evening: stretch, mad charge around, eat, groom, nose around, eat, sit with pal, eat etc etc
Sit in box. Eat. Drink. Sit in box. Eat. Sit in box.
Because of her dry, scurfy skin I am assuming that there is some amount of discomfort during her day.
And then, to measure how much the steroids can improve her life.
On her last day, it didn't go how I wanted. It wasn't as peaceful as I wanted, but I won't recall it here. She hated being touched so it was always very hard to inspect her body. At the end I was able to have a careful look and it was worse than before. She had nasty ulcerations in her ears and the steroids were no longer helping her.
Rest in peace, little girl.