Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sage the Miracle Bunny

Note: In this world of catastrophic oil spills, economic collapse and everyone freaking out over illegal immigration and racial profiling, it often seems that good news is something that happened in the distant past. Occasionally we do come across a story that starts out awful but somehow finds itself a happy ending. This is the true story of Sage, the Miracle Bunny:

Sage is a very handsome, very sweet Mini-Lop rabbit with huge friendly brown eyes that belie the terrible ordeals he has had to endure the past several months. When you pick him and hold him he veritably melts into your arms, and will close his eyes in blissful contentment as you stroke his head. It's so hard to believe how he can surrender himself so completely and trust the touch of a human being after the treatment he has suffered, but one of the most amazing aspects of this wonderful bunny is that he does trust so completely, and so easily.

Where Sage originally came from we have no way of knowing. The only thing we can do is piece together his recent past from anecdotes. A man in the far west Valley had a number of rabbits that he kept in an outdoor hutch. His neighbor noticed that the rabbits were kept in very poor conditions and talked his neighbor into giving him Sage and another bunny. This neighbor also kept the rabbits in some sort of outdoor enclosure, but under marginally better conditions. One night they heard a commotion outside from the rabbit area, and in the darkness they thought they saw a coyote going after the rabbits. The people did not go out to check on the rabbits, claiming to be afraid of the coyote, and when they finally went out to look in the morning, the coyote had bitten off the lower portion of Sage's right front leg. In human terms it would be as if everything past your wrist would be gone. Apparently being too stupid to realize that a little veterinary attention just might be a good thing right then, the care they provided to Sage amounted to taping popsicle sticks to his damaged leg as a sort of splint, and they let him exist that way for three months.

In what would be the first of a series of miracles, Sage's shortened paw healed and did not get infected, despite an inch and a half of visible, exposed bone. The constant pain must have been unimaginable, and I'm sure every step he took was agonizing. One day, a bunny enthusiast from the west Valley was in a grocery store buying vegetables for her rabbits, and she was chatting with the store cashier about bunnies. It just so happened that Sage's owner was standing behind her and overheard their conversation. He started to tell them the story of how he has rabbits and one of them had part of his paw bitten off by a coyote three months ago and how he had hoped the coyote would come back and finish the rabbit off. Needless to say, the bunny person went berserk and talked the man into surrendering Sage to her. She went to his house to get Sage and found another rabbit in the cage with him - a small Holland lop covered with urine stains which we would later name Oscar - so she took both of them. A short time later both bunnies found their way to Brambley Hedge Rabbit Rescue.

All the volunteers at the Rescue were appalled at Sage's gruesome injury and exposed leg bone, so getting him to our veterinarian was a top priority. Our vet intended to save as much of Sage's leg as he could but ended up removing Sage's front paw completely, up to where it meets his torso. After the surgery Sage went into loving foster care and appeared to recover rapidly, seemingly unfazed by his missing front leg.

Then, on a Saturday night, Sage's story would take a very dramatic turn as he suddenly developed a serious problem with his lungs. He started coughing and choking, and red mucus started coming out of his nose. His foster parents rushed him to the emergency clinic, and when they got there he was laying on his side with his lips turning blue. He was most likely minutes away from death at that point. The clinic put him in their "oxygen cage," kind of an oxygen tent for animals, and after a couple of hours Sage started to sit up, look around and groom himself. Once more, amazingly, Sage had cheated death.

After consulting with the veterinarians, our best guess is that Sage suffered a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in his lungs. These are more often than not fatal, but that was not to be the case for Sage. He went back to foster care and has made an amazing recovery since. He has learned to move around quite well without his leg, and there are YouTube videos here and here of him hopping and frolicking around outside in a grassy yard. Sage loves his daily salads but seems to enjoy being petted and loved most of all. Like any happy, healthy rabbit, he loves to explore but does not have quite the stamina of a regular rabbit. We think his lungs may have diminished capacity due to the embolism, and also moving and hopping around might be more of a strain on him with only three legs. But he knows when he is tired and will stop to take a breather, and when sufficiently rested, will jump up and happily scamper off to take care of more bunny business. Sage went to his first rabbit adoption event recently and was an enormous hit, charming each and every person he met.

Some people think that in our technologically advanced times, the age of miracles is over. When people barely react with more than a slightly-stifled yawn at space shuttle launches or medical breakthroughs, it seems ever easier to overlook the tiny miracles, the little things that happen under our noses each day that are wondrous and uplifting. Every day we have with Sage is one of those little miracles, another opportunity for him to get up and brighten the world with his big heart and sunny disposition, and is an undeniable indication that miracles do, indeed, happen.

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