Before Bellamonster, Tasha-Bea and Mister Milo, there were Spiff and Claire.
To make an excruciatingly long story short, by word of mouth I heard about two "loose" rabbits who'd been living under the shed behind a liquor store. It turned out the "owners" lived right next door. I'd not spoken to the owners at all, and only briefly with the liquor store owners, but I spent the better part of a month sitting in that small yard, waiting to catch a glimpse of the bunnies and hopefully, lure them to the safety of an open cage.
After it became painfully clear that these bunnies were perfectly happy where they were, thankyouverymuch, I sent out a plea for help to my friend Amber, who did all kinds of animal rescues and in those days, seemed like some kind of superhero. She wrangled a hav-a-hart trap and we spent the evening talking a little too loudly about what terrible people these rabbits' owners were, and casting many a wary eye at the small rabbit hutch and the two giant german shepherds in their yard.
The next evening was one of the most traumatic nights of my life up until then. I went to check the hav-a-hart [this was back before I knew you couldn't leave them for more than 2-3 hours], which was empty. Then I saw a little patch of white out in the grass. It was dusk, so a little hard to see, but I could tell that it was an animal. I crept over to it, not knowing that the white thing was immobilized.
It was Spiff.
He was dying.
I could feel his heart beating, faintly, as I gently picked him up and wrapped him in my handkerchief. I rushed him back into my mom's van and, trying so hard to keep the tears at bay, blubbered, "we have to take him home. I have to save him." He was probably dead by the time we got him home, which was only a few minutes away, but I sent a panicked email to our HRS chapter manager anyways. She shot one back within minutes, giving me the name and number of a local foster parent, who happened to be around the corner from where we'd found Spiff. We drove there and she determined that Spiff was indeed dead. Due to a small amount of blood in his mouth, she guessed it had been poisoning.
"What do we do now?" I asked.
"Well, I know how this sounds... but it is trash night." She said.
I recoiled in horror at the thought of tossing this poor thing into a dumpster. And I burst into tears. My mother tried to console me,
"No, don't worry, we'll find a nice place to bury him."
"I'm--not--sad--about him--dying... I'm--sad--because... because--we can't help--the other--one!" I sobbed. When we were driving Spiff home my mom had told me that this was it, this was the last night I was allowed to spend chasing these feral long-ears.
That is often how I feel when I am doing anything with one of the many rescue groups I work with. For every one you save, there are dozens that you can't. And as truly heartbreaking as that cold, hard truth is, you have to accept it and put your energy and love into the ones you can save.
As it turned out, Spiff had likely eaten part of a blackberry vine/bush/thing growing in the small yard. Claire was caught the next day and returned to her owners after a thorough home check and a promise that they would neuter their remaining rabbits and at least move them into the garage. We never did hear from them again.