…doesn’t arrive on the two pallets that are left, after a bit of pushing and shoving, outside our front door on one of the narrow laneways of Tarifa‘s casco antiguo. We drive two hours to get it from the cargo terminal at Malaga airport. The terminal isn’t what we expect – it isn’t well signposted for a start and when we get there it looks like a warehouse. No “customer” area or seating. No indication of where to go.
We ask some questions and eventually find ourselves in front of a clerk with fluent English – an exact reproduction in fact of the blue collar home counties accent. He helpfully informs us that he has nothing matching our dispatch number. After a seemingly interminable pause he adds that we’re a little early and should come back in an hour or so. When we do he is still empty handed but we return a third time and the box has arrived. After some paperwork I am sent around to the warehouse door to receive our consignment. K doesn’t want to look inside for fear of the condition the cargo might be in and when I do I understand why; the lagomorph is unkempt, dreadfully thin and apparently in shock.
We are simultaneously tormented by the thought of what she has been through and fully aware of the two hour drive down the Costa del Sol we are about to subject her to. We know that we have asked too much of this little animal but we are past the point of no return and we head for home.
New home. When we get her to the apartment and out of the box the extent of her deterioration is clear but she accepts some food and water and we are heartened. The next day, still in awful condition, she seems to have perked up a little and is hopping around checking things out.
On the second day however she eats and drinks less although she seems happy enough to chew away manically on non-food items like wood, cardboard and the walls. By the fourth day she is not eating or drinking at all and we are convinced there is a dental problem – common among lagomorphs. We feed her high-calorie purees through a syringe to try to build her up a little, which she will need if she is to go under anaesthetic for dental treatment. By day six she appears so weak that feeding her is more a matter of keeping her alive than of building her up.
In the afternoon she stops even trying to chew on the food that we squirt into her mouth. While I am at the English school, K takes her to see the local vet who injects an antibiotic in the belief that there isn’t a dental problem but instead some kind of infection.
That night (tonight) she stops moving and we rush her back to the on-call vet who fills her with glucose and minerals and vitamins injected beneath her skin – the last ditch as far as this species is concerned. As I type we are back at the apartment keeping vigil over her with some blankets and a hot water bottle and some love and a few tears. More later.