About a month ago I was away with the hunds staying with my parents and got a tearful phone call from my partner who had come home to find Kit had passed away. He was just shy of 7 years old. Supposedly hares can live to 10 years old in captivity, but really I was just happy I got to borrow him for so long. I truly did not expect him to live through his first night with me, and every day after that was a surprise until I started to entertain the idea that he was not going to die at any moment some weeks later when he decided to wean himself. Kit had a few down periods during his last winter, causing me great worry. I had got as far as admitting he was probably an old hare and I could lose him at any time. I had considered the possibility that life might go on without him.
I think this was the only reason I managed to keep it together. I don’t have words for how much he meant to me. I remember him lipping my hand with little hare kisses, and the time I bought a baby rabbit who was the devil incarnate and Kit decided to move in with me on my bed to keep away from her. I remember him tenderly sniffing my lips, resisting my attempts to put him back in his cage for the night, and teasing my housemate’s dog by walking right up to the glass electronic pet door that separated them and peering into the dog’s face. We had a game we played where he would pretend to chew on items I would always chase him away from until I got up to chase him and then he would wait until the last minute before leaping away with playful ear flicks just to show me how terribly slow I was. He used to spend hours on my pillow watching the world go by through my bedroom window. He played with my mum’s kittens and had a fascinating relationship with the cat I grew up with until the poor old man got too old to play Kit’s games. He followed my corgi around even when she snapped at him to try to make him go away. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she walked into my room one day to find Kit relaxed comfortably on her bed. She froze, gave him a long stare, then turned around and walked out again.
I could be here for days recalling every emotional moment he gave me. Which is why the blog will continue without him. I started it knowing he was an old hare, and I decided on the name because it represents the starting point for me. He gave me so much and I haven’t shared half of what he taught me, yet. I hope that the path he set me on 7 years ago will be his legacy and I will continue learning about animal behaviour without his expert guidance.
In closing, it has taken me a while to be able to write this post. I didn’t die when Kit did like I half suspected I might, but the sadness of living without him goes on and on. His big, empty cage is about as cold and lonely as I feel without him. So it’s just me and the hunds for now, but that cage won’t be empty forever. It needs a little life in it.