She slipped away last night when all of us had gone to sleep. The Ravishing Miss TB came out early this morning, as she has been all this week, but did not hear her biting at the cage for attention as she does every morning. She was about 9 years old (rabbits typically life 7-10).
She was a 4-H experiment, something Nighean Gheal decided she wanted to try. We got her as a purebred with papers, only to find out she was a very quirky and opinionated rabbit indeed. She did not like to be held or pet when we first got her - in fact, she would lunge. It was only with years of working with her that she came to accept affection, but never being picked up. Even near the end, she still freaked out whenever someone would try to get her.
She accepted you on her terms: when she was ready she would come over to be loved on. When released from her cage, she would tear around the house exploring. She might come up and hop on your lap in the chair when she was ready and perhaps even accept some attention from you, but she would be away in the blink of an eye if she thought you were trying to corral her.
She was atypical in that she did not like carrots (not all rabbits do, of course) but rather enjoyed things such as apples and Cheerios and (recently discovered) craisins. It became part of my morning routine: first thing, of all the animals to be fed, was Bella, who would be gnawing on the the cage bars for breakfast to show up. She anxiously await the filling of the bowl - the food and the hay was of less concern than when the Cheerios or other snacks were going to show up.
One memory I have of her is when we loaded her up in her cage in the back of the van for the move to New Home. The drive was about 28 hours and I was freaking out that it had taken so long and she would be stressed or tired or hungry. I pulled into the driveway, almost in tears that it had taken so long and worried sick that she would be stressed or sick. I opened the hatch door and there she sat, looking like for all the world as if nothing bad happened at all and as if to say "Are we there yet?"
Another memory is the day that Kiki the parakeet got out of her cage and somehow managed to slip through the bars into Bella's. The Ravishing Miss TB came out to where the cages were because of a racket only to find a fluff of feathers and Bella resolutely defending her territory against the invader. Kiki was removed almost none the worst for wear (except missing feathers), and Bella's personal space was maintained.
I hope that whatever pain she had was removed (she beat the veterenarian's prediction of death by almost 3 years) and that she is running free, hopefully with Snowball and the other pets of my acquaintance, over the fields of Heaven where the boundaries are gone and the Cheerios are free for the taking.
Goodbye Bella. Thanks for sharing our life.