Mookie Marie Drapala by Pam Drapala / Mommy

February 26, 2004
Pam Drapala

Today Rick, my husband, and I took our Mookie to the vet knowing that this might be her last trip. Mookie took many visits before to the vet for hair balls, a bladder problem, and once to be neutered, but today after nine years of joy, friendship, and comfort, she was no longer herself, strong, and frisky like she had been in the past, and we both knew it was her time.

In the morning as I was getting my van ready for her cage, with the last bits of energy, she moved in her cage, making enough noise to let me know that she didn’t want to be alone in the house by herself that day. I let her know that everything would be all right that I wouldn’t leave her by herself. As I drove Mookie to the vet, my husband was to meet us there from his work. Mookie was his friend, too, and he was to be with her that day. He rescheduled his meeting. For several weeks, Rick gave Mookie her meds when she was ill; however, she never really got better.

I pray every morning as I drive to work in the mornings, praying for the family members individually by name, our pets, relatives, friends, co-workers, and others then ask God to forgive my sins. But today, I prayed the Lord’s Prayer automatically while driving Mooks to her last appointment. In my heart, I knew this day would be different and that regular routines wouldn’t have a priority today; only getting Mooks to her appointment is what would matter. When I realized that Mookie might be put to sleep that day, everything came into perspective. For the first time in a long time, I saw the big picture of life, although, my piece is very tiny. Mookie was a part of our lives that only she could fill with joy for many years. My beliefs were reinforced, that time passes and with it heartaches, goodness, laughter, tears, all living things must die including my close friend, my Mookie.

As we both arrived at the vet, the kind doctor, who was new, greeted us at our van and car and was very concerned not only for our bunny, but for us too. As he examined Mookie, he confirmed our findings, that she was fragile, old, and weak. She could no longer drink or eat, that she should be put to sleep so that she wouldn’t suffer anymore. Without hesitation I signed the permission slip because she was very sick, and I couldn’t let her continue in this condition.

All morning long I tried and tried to contact our daughters, Laura and Ashley, who live in another town, to tell them about Mookie but with no avail. I started calling at 5:30 a.m. then later and later, until a few minutes before the doctor would put Mookie to sleep around 8:10 a.m. Finally I got in touch with them, first Ashley, our second daughter, said her last good byes to Mookie via the cell phone then Laura, Mookie’s best friend. It gave us great comfort to know that they were able to say goodbye to their friend one last time.

In the past, I always let Mookie listen to Laura’s voice when she wasn’t quite right. I knew she like listening to Laura’s voice because her ears would perk up in no time at all. Mookie’s ears were so keen and you could watch them turn in this direction or that direction while the rest of her body stood still. Her ears were her radar.

Mookie loved smells too, whether it be the sweet smell of chocolate or a piece of clothing on the floor, which she liked to cuddle up to on occasion. Her eyes weren’t that good, but she knew who each of us were with her nose. In the end, my husband held Mookie closely to his chest before the vet gave Mookie her meds which made her much more comfortable before putting her to sleep. She had been struggling all morning trying so hard to sit up and be normal, as all rabbits will do even when they are ill. Rabbits are considered prey in the wild and need to always show strength in order to survive. The process of the first meds only took a few minutes and then she was gone, our bunny of nine years. Tears welted up in all of our eyes.

Rick wrapped Mookie up ever so gently with the blue towel and placed her down lightly in the bottom of her cage. He followed me home before he went back to work. I couldn’t hold back my tears as I drove home with her alone. Now I would be coming home to an empty house at night. I wailed, thinking about moments with Mookie, how those moments would never be replaced by another pet. I thought about how her life was woven within our own lives.

When she first met the family, it was because she was to be a show animal in the fair and her owner was moving to Washington State. Our eldest daughter, Laura, brought Mookie home her sophomore year from high school, a tradition that seemed to have been passed down from a previous generation. I had done the very same thing, only the rabbit I bought home was very pregnantat the end of the 1960’s.

Mookie was a most elegant white and brown Rex, about three pounds when we got her in 1995, with the most unusual pattern on her back, that actually look like the shape of the Wizard of Oz Tin Man, one of my favorite movie characters. Like the close friend to Dorothy, Mookie was my friend, especially to me when my husband was on travel on business, or when I came home at night.

At first, I found Mookie to be a strange bunny who thought she was royalty. I say this because she was so picky about her foods and water. She let us know that she only drank bottled water, and she would eat only the freshest vegetables and fruits, and of course, changing her water and food daily was a must. Once she was so mad about her water bowl that she picked up the bowl and tossed it against the wall. She let me know that things weren’t up to her standards. So, I got trained also, to ensure that everything was just right for her needs.

When we first got Mookie, she was only a few months old, scared, and never had been a family pet. But, as we became closer to her she became closer to us. She began to trust us. Eventually, she liked being petted and having her head scratched. What a funny sight she was when she cleaned her face and ears; once she fell, lost her balance, and toppled over on the floor.

When I got home from work, I’d ask her how her day had been. Of course, Mookie couldn’t speak human words, but she let me know she missed me by running out to greet me from under the bed or the corner of her room. And, she always looked for her treat, like a cracker or slice of banana after she let me pet her. Most of the times in the morning before I went to work, she would let me pet her only once before she would run off and get comfortable in her room.

Our favorite ritual in the morning was sharing “hot toast” together. I don’t know how it all began, but she loved the aroma of hot toast and before long she would get a small corner, of course it had to have butter on it. It was a joy for her, part of the perks of living with humans who like to eat whole wheat toast. When her illness got worst, I still tried to share my bread with her, but she was too ill to enjoy breaking bread with me in the wee hours of the morning.

A friend of mine said that everything for an animal is an instinct. Mookie taught me a different lesson though. There were times she got depressed and sat in her corner until I played with her. Mookie also let me know she was mad at me by turning her back to me a few times. When she didn’t feel well, she had tears in her eyes, like a human. I could sense that she knew when things were right in our home because someone was angry, sick or happy. When those conditions happened, she took on the mood of household which taught me that there is more out there we do not know about our animal friends. I learned to respect all beings through her, including the tiniest gecko
that enters our home at night.

Mookie was a gift to us from God, and I thank Him for that because over the last nine years Mookie provided us with unconditional love. She was as much comfort to us, and we were to her. Many times when I wasn’t feeling good, or depressed about something at work, I looked forward to petting her when I got home and later would feel so much better after doing so. Pet owners may help their pets, but for me she always made me feel better about myself even when I didn’t love myself very much.

As she got older and more familiar with her surroundings, she made it be known that she was now the real boss of the house, for when things didn’t go her way, she made us know she wasn’t happy. There were many times when I came home from work at 4:30 p.m. and she would scratch on her room door, letting me know it was time to pet her then give her a treat or two.

Sometimes, Mookie decided to trick me by allowing me to pet her, then she would scamper off to another room to get a sample of the latex paint on another wall beside her room. The vet said the wall board of the wall probably was a good place for her to trim down her teeth, but oh my, her room became almost unlivable for a human because it was her room, and she didn’t let you forget that. Sometimes she would try desperately to run off into Ashley’s bedroom a place that she really never had the luxury to explore.

Every morning, after my husband gave her morning meal of fresh lettuce in her lavender and white cage, she would preen herself for a few minutes to make herself presentable for the day like some humans take baths. I always wondered if she thought she might think she’d run into male rabbit during the day for a date or something.

Once I commented to my husband that was it wasn’t fair to have Mookie all caged up during the night. Shouldn’t we let her free to roam in her room at night. My husband said, it was for her own good and that the cage protected her at night. I was also concerned that she didn’t have bunny relationships only people relationships. Something was said about how if she were living in the wild, her life would be cut short like the rabbits in the county. Living out in the county, we see many rabbits who haven’t made it across the street while crossing on the county roads. So, she was a lucky bunny who was loved, taken care of, and protected from wild beasts including those nasty vans, cars, trucks, and farm equipment that occasionally take wild rabbits’ lives.

After four years, our eldest daughter when off to college, and the rest of us became closer to her; however, not as close as Laura and Mookie would be. For Laura was like her mother, always there to take care of her when Mookie was a baby and when was on breaks from college. After Laura went to school, it seemed as though Mookie’s heart broke a little each time Laura had to return to school. Their relationship was wonderful; sometimes they cuddling together and Laura gave Mookie kisses and sometimes Mookie giving Laura kisses.

We took many pictures of Mookie from baby to teen to adult to a senior citizen to geriatrics. She posed for us and the sweetest photo is the one where she’s a baby in her lavender and white cage, her head barely poking of her cage, big eyes and all. Other photos that are truly amazing are the ones that show her with our daughters, Ashley and Laura, at different ages which I view as a real blessing. Some photos she’s thin, some overweight, and some just right, just like me at my many stages of my life.

I now realize that our home will be so empty now that Mookie’s gone, especially in her room for we spend hundreds of hours playing with her in that room. When I’m alone, and I hear a noise coming from that room, may think its Mookie spirit letting me know please don’t forget her any time soon, and I won’t.

Several foreshadows occurred over the week that just made me realize that this time was coming, but like it is said, nothing prepares a person for lost of a friend. A co-worker told me Tuesday that when his mother died, it didn’t affect him as badly as the day his pet dog had died. The day before, two lights burnt out in her bedroom, I don’t remember that every happening. I noticed that she wasn’t herself, but refused to acknowledge that she wasn’t getting better. While driving the back roads of County 14th while taking her to the vet, a flock of pure white doves passed over our Quest Van as if in slow motion. I knew deep down in my heart that it would be Mook’s last day . . . the day after Ash Wednesday. The previous night before, I had watched the Passion
of Christ at the movies.

You know, the list of things that I will miss most about Mookie is so long, but I will miss hearing Mookie scratching on her door to let me know she knows I’m home. I will miss seeing her preen herself and stretching in the mornings. I will miss her tiny yawning and enjoying her bits of chocolate on holidays. I will miss letting her out in the morning so that she can run to her room. I will her sweet smell of cedar chips. I will miss seeing her squinting her eyes when the morning sun touched her big browns. I will miss the sounds she made, a purring and soft grinding of her teeth when I petted her. I will miss the softness of her fur. I will miss seeing her perched up on the family love chair in Laura’s bedroom peeking through the window into the front yard. I will miss her greeting me in the mornings and the nights when I arrived home. I will miss her presence in our home. And most of all, I will miss the love she felt for all of us while she was alive.

When Rick and I got home, we covered her up in a soft pink pillowcase and placed her in a new shoe box. We buried Mookie beneath the window facing north of Laura’s room, the place where she watched us after coming home in the afternoons and evenings. A place where our eldest daughter felt, she would be most happy at; where the vine with the purple flowers grows in abundance, the place, where a red poinsettia made its home, and where the miniature pink rose buds bloom year round,
where everything seems to grow.

I’d like to think that Mookie’s in a better place now, with no pain, with other bunnies like herself running under blue skies and occasionally taking a nibble out of the green grasses, and you know, if there’s a bunny heaven, she’s there.


Love you more,
Mookie Marie Drapala
Pam Drapala