This is Pixie, our mini rex rabbit (though the "mini" part of the name is misleading: she is to my eyes a very imposing rabbit). Apologies to anybody who feels this blog is getting sidetracked - too many domestic pets, not enough zoos - but it's all part of the same problem, viz., how humans stand in relation to animals. Also, I'm looking for advice.
At the beginning of the summer Pixie developed a large blackish lump on her chest. A vet told us that it was a tumour, that in rabbits such tumours grow aggressively, and that she likely had no more than a week or two weeks left to her. Our sadness was offset by relief: already we were worrying about reconciling the rabbit to a whippet; besides, we said, Pixie's quality of life in our tiny paved garden was not high, especially since the death of her sister Minnie (found stark cold and rigid in the hutch one morning 18 months earlier). So that was all settled.
But come the beginning of August, the whippet due and holidays imminent, she was flourishing. We decided to take her with us to the country, sure she wouldn't last the month. The first afternoon in Norfolk we let her loose to roam in the large garden, and that was that. Over the next four weeks we caught sight of her almost daily - hanging about with the local wild rabbits, grazing the lawn, sometimes poking her head inside her hutch to eat food we left there for her. But she wouldn't come back. Daily, I worried that I would stumble on her corpse, torn apart by a fox or a stoat; myxomatosis was a lurking possibility; and there was still the tumour. She seemed indestructible, though. I'm wary of words like "free" and "happy", which can easily be taken to imply degrees of selfconsciousness animals aren't capable of. Still, Pixie seemed happy to be free: she looked lean and fit and had a spring in her step, and she certainly wouldn't let us catch her, or even pet her. (Of course, the whippet's presence was a complicating factor: the sight of her flicked a switch in his brain that said "Chase".)
Come September we set off home without her, reasoning that the first cold weather would see her off, or make the local predators that bit hungrier. But reports kept coming back to us that she was doing well - had dug herself a burrow, was seen sunning herself on the lawn; and now the neighbours have complained that Pixie is laying waste to their carefully cultivated garden. I have promised to travel up to Norfolk to do something - fencing off the gardens effectively is impractical, so catching her and taking her to the vet to be done away with seems the only option. Here's where the advice comes in: how do I catch a large, fast-moving and manoeuvrable rabbit? Humanely for preference, but I'm not sure I can afford to be fussy.