In April we had to make the impossible decision to say goodbye to our sweet girl, Bunny (I used to always spell her name in polish “BANI”). Bunny has been with us since the very beginning and has always followed us everywhere we went.
We rescued her from The Wisconsin Humane Society In 2006. At the time she was just a small curious pup who wanted to explore and sniff everything. She was just a little over 3 months old when she became a part of our family. She was a little shy and took a while to warm up to new people, but loved everyone once she got to spend some time with them. I remember the first day that we brought her home. She walked into our home, sniffed around and the first thing she did was take the biggest poop we have ever seen. We tried to flush it down the toilet and for how small she was, she managed to clog it. Still makes me smile to this day.
We still can’t believe how quickly she grew up. It’s hard to remember her as a small puppy, until we look through some of the pictures and videos we have of her. She was always exploring and traveling with us wherever we went. She never liked her leash when she was a puppy and always kept chewing on it. I still remember when we were visiting Madison and walking around and she actually chewed all they way through her leash. We had to tie it back together, though she would never run away. She was very attached to us from the beginning. We could even walk her without a leash. She loved smelling and would get behind or in front of us, but always stayed close and always had to see us. We used to play a version of hide and seek on our walks. We would walk and one of us would hide behind a tree and see how long it would take her to notice. She was always looking back and it never took her long to notice that one of us was missing. She would turn around and go searching to make sure we weren’t missing. She just loved us that much.
Bunny wasn’t always a little angel, she loved food and would always get in trouble trying to steal it. I remember when she was a small little pup and we were grilling at our uncle’s house. We were grilling some hot dogs and left a few on a portable grill once it cooled off, not thinking much. We looked away for a second and the next thing we know Bunny grabbed a hotdog and swallowed it whole. She did not take a single bite, it was very impressive. We could never leave any food within reach, she would always find a way to get it. We had guest over and they left some food bags on the ground, we walked outside for a minute and most of the food was gone. Another time we made a homemade deep dish pizza and left a few leftovers on our table while we went for a short walk. Not thinking much of it, we thought it was safe since it was in the middle of decently tall table and Bunny would never be able to reach it. When we got back all we saw was a mess of dishes on the floor and all of the pizza was licked clean. Luckily no dishes broke and there was not a whole lot of pizza left, but it showed us just how resourceful she could be when it came to food. She always loved food, and we made the mistake of always filling her bowl when she was a puppy. Sometimes we felt like she had a never ending stomach.
Besides food, Bunny loved to travel, explore, and run on sandy beaches. She always went with us, when we visited family in Northern Wisconsin or Illinois. Whenever we drove to see family, once we got close and she could start smelling the areas she would get super happy and just wanted to jump out of the car and say hi. We took regular trips to the doggie store, one of her favorite activities. She actually loved to get in the car and travel. If you told her that she was going to the “doggie store”, she made sure you kept that promise. One time we told her that we would go to the store and took her for a walk first. When we were coming back home, she went straight to the car and refused to budge until we got in the car and actually went. It always put a smile on my face when she got so excited as we were driving to the store. She just couldn’t hold back the excitement and would pull to the store and once inside, she took in all the smells. It was moments like this that just put a smile on your face and warmed our hearts. Bunny always had so much joy and excitement. You just couldn’t resist smiling when she was near. She always had a way to warm your heart.
Bunny was always with us. She went on road trips with us, made a temporary move with us when we went for work to California for six weeks, and we always made sure to include her in all our activities. She loved every moment of our adventures. When we went to Big Sur, she was hiking up rocks and was just as as amazed with the views as we were. She saw Mt. Rushmore with us. When we went to The Grand Canyon, she was looking over the edge and you could see how amazed she was with the views. Exploring was in her DNA and we loved having a partner by our side.
Bunny was very much a large part of our family. She curled up on the couch in the evening when we were watching TV, reading a book, or just winding down for a night. She always got in bed with us, and many times stretch out and took half the bed. When Przemek went to work in the morning, she would curl up and take his spot. She always wanted to be by our side and we always wanted her next to us.
As Bunny got older she started drinking more and was going to pee more and more. She was having a harder time holding her pee. At first we just thought she was getting older, since the changes were very small and we didn’t notice anything else. Our vet started suspecting that something was wrong and wanted to run some tests. We weren’t very concerned, but wanted to make sure. That first test lead to a series of vet and specialists visits. After many visits to the vet (which Bunny was not a fan of), we found out she had Cushing’s Disease. For those not familiar with it, it’s a disease where the adrenal gland produces too much cortisol, a stress hormone. This meant that her body was in a constant state of fight of flight due to elevated stress hormone levels. If we left this untreated, she would start losing fur, her skin would start getting thin and dry, she would have a harder time recovering from minor scrapes, and her organs would slowly start to fail due to working harder than normal. Unfortunately this is not a curable disease and the most you can do is make sure that your dog is comfortable and give medication to slow progression of the disease. She started on medication to try and help improve her quality of life. Once she started on the medication, she started doing better. She went on longer walks, wasn’t drinking as much, and her blood levels improved. The blood levels never got to a normal level, so our vet kept her dose the same and didn’t reduce it.
As we were treating her for Cushing’s, we moved to Seattle. When we moved here, she continued to do well, but very quickly something changed and she started to lose weight. At first the vet wasn’t too concerned, since she was overweight to begin with. She got to her normal weight, but kept losing weight and her appetite was nowhere near where she used to be. We started having trouble finding food that she would like. She was not only losing weight, but she was also starting to lose energy and was unable to walk for long distances. The last long walk we took with her was to the Bainbridge Ferry. We took her on the ferry, and spent a nice day with her walking around Bainbridge Island. She was very excited to be on the ferry and as always loved exploring the new area and smells. Little did we know that this would be the last long walk that we would take with her.
It seemed like very quickly she was losing weight and energy. She was no longer able to go on walks like we used to. She would only walk a block and wanted to head back and she no longer had the same energy when going to her favorite doggie store. She was not herself anymore, and she was not the energetic ball of love that always made us smile. We worked with our veterinarian, took her off her Cushing’s medication, and began trying to find out what was happening. Once again we visited many vets, ran many tests, but this time could not pinpoint the cause of her decline. The only options we had were invasive procedures. She was already very weak and no matter what we would find, the treatment options would be the same and very limited. Instead of putting her through even more testing, we decided to put her on steroids to try and slow the decline. She improved a bit and her appetite increased, but never recovered.
We decided that we would take care of her for as long as we could and as long as she was not suffering. We watched her lose weight even though she was still eating and saw her losing her ability to walk long distances. She got weaker and could only walk outside, but we had to carry her back in. Towards the end we had to carry her outside and bring her in, but she still enjoyed smelling the grass and shrubs outside and she still enjoyed looking out the window and seeing all the life going on around her. She was still the same explorer and family member, she just didn’t have the same strength. She kept eating and drinking, but still kept losing more and more weight. We had a few close calls when she temporarily stopped eating and we were getting ready to say goodbye, but she somehow always pulled through and showed us that she just wasn’t ready yet.
The day we said goodbye was the saddest day in our life. We woke up like every other day, but we started to see that Bunny was showing signs of pain. It was getting harder to pick her up to go outside and she showed us that she didn’t want our help to be picked up anymore. That morning, we tried to pick her up and she cried. That was the day we knew would change everything. She was in pain and suffering, we could no longer help her. As hard as it was to make the decision to let her go that day, it was a lot harder to see her in pain.
I can’t explain how hard it is to lose a family member. There will always be a hole in our hearts and we’ll always remember her. We’ll always remember her as being full of energy, full of life, and full of happiness. She’s brought an immeasurable amount of joy and happiness to our lives and we can’t imagine life without her. Bunny will always remain in our hearts and she’ll always bring a smile to our faces when we think about all the mischief she has gotten into. It still hurts to know that we won’t be able to pet her soft ears, hear her bark, or see her get excited exploring on new adventures. What we have is all of the great memories she left behind. She taught us how to love unconditionally. She showed us what it means to be a family. Bunny changed our lives forever and that is the greatest gift ever. As much as it hurts to lose her, we are glad that she was in our life and that she shared her love with us. We are forever thankful for the amazing 11 years with our baby girl.