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I'm a firm believer that animals make a house a home. When I was growing up, we had everything from a GSD who thought I was his pup, to accidentally pregnant guinea pigs, and, as animals do, they taught me many wordless lessons about life, love and death.

When I became a single mum, my housing situation was a little ... shall we say "temporary" ... for a while, but I wanted to give the children their choice of critter on which to pour their undying affection.

Alfie, being Alfie, went for a goldfish (called Goldie) and several snails, all of whom are called Gary.

The girls had loftier plans in the form of bunnies. So I made them what I thought at the time was a genius deal. "You can get bunnies" I foolishly said, "when you find a pair of rescue bunnies to adopt".

For weeks I patted myself on the back as trips to the pet shop remained fruitless. Then one day, as Alfie and I were in deep discussion about fish food, the girls came whooping across the shop having found the mythical Bunnies of Adopt.

Muttering darkly about petards, I followed the girls over to the cutest pair of rabbits I have ever seen. The only way they were getting cuter was if they were called something adorable like, hold up, are those really their names?!?!? Pugsley and Wednesday? Are you freaking kidding me?!?!? Get your coats bunnies, you're coming home with me. I mean us. Totally not my bunnies.

Well they were my bunnies when I was woken at 2 am by a local huskie trying to break into their hutch and I went tear arsing outside buck naked to run him off.

Totally the kids' bunnies when they managed to dig their way out of the hutch one day. Pugsley was recaptured sunbathing outside the neighbours, but Wednesday was nowhere to be found. We went door to door all-day and by evening, the girls and I were having The Talk. The next day, the local vet called me to tell me that Wednesday had been found by a local trucker sitting in the middle of the main road. He had picked her up, and she spent the day sitting in his passenger seat while he did his deliveries. He even stopped to buy her treats and fed her grass from the verge. Hand to God, that rabbit was born under a lucky star.

Unfortunately the same could not be said for her brother who was struck down by the dreaded bunny killer, GI stasis. He'd been quiet all day, so we were trying to keep him warm and get food and drink into him, but he was having none of it. Then at bedtime, just as I was settling the kids, we heard him scream and found him lying on his side half out of his bed. He was dead. Honestly, he was about as ex as a bunny could get, but then he started in with the agonal twitching and all three sobbing children were suddenly wailing that he was alive and we needed to save him. So I did what any responsible parent would do, threw the bunny back into his bed grabbed the whole sorry mess and we all ran to the car.

Picture, if you will, us driving at speed through the nighttime streets of Wellington, crammed into an Audi TT, the girls crying quietly in the back and a dead rabbit lying on Alfie's lap in the front while he rubs him repeating "come on little fella, hang in there". We pull up to the doors of the emergency vet in a cloud of tyre smoke and race for the door, wearing nothing but our pyjamas, not a pair of shoes between us.

Having dumped Pugsley unceremonious on the counter, I lock eyes with the nurse behind the desk. My mouth says "Our rabbit has GI stasis and needs your help". My eyes say "yeah I know this rabbit is a gonner, but for the love of sweet baby Jesus humour me here".

The nurse looks from me to Pugsley, to the expectant eyes of the children and tenderly picks up the bed. "Let's see what we can do".

We file past the waiting room full of anxious pet owners and into the examination room where the nurse makes a great show of listening for a heartbeat before sighing and quietly saying "I'm so sorry, your bunny has died".

Olive, the erstwhile owner of Pugsley, let out a wail the like of which I  have never heard. Laying her head gently on his, in deep shuddering breaths, she starts to tell her beloved how much she loved him, and how she would never forget him. She wasn't messing around either, she managed to recite every misdemeanour Pugsley had ever visited on her, which I thought was a little unnecessary considering the circumstances.

Eventually, and by that I mean about five minutes later because, y'know, dead rabbit or not it was still past bedtime on a Sunday night, I told her it was time to say goodbye and we all filed out into the waiting room. The now highly traumatised waiting room who had lived through the entire drama with us courtesy of an open door and were all quietly weeping and holding their pets a little closer as a result.

We all held each other a little closer that night.

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