Viljo the Rabbit 2009-2022
Last Sunday my beloved rabbit and friend Viljo died at the animal hospital surrounded by me and my parents. For some reason people always asked me (while he still was alive) if rabbits “can do anything as pets” so here follows a story about Viljo and how special he was.
When I first got to know Viljo, it wasn’t “love at first sight”. My former flatmate Maija in Tampere had had him a few years earlier, given him away, and the new owner couldn’t anymore have him and said they would put Viljo down if not anyone would take him, so Maija, who loves animals, asked in the autumn of 2012 if we could take him. I was not super enthusiastic in the beginning to have a rabbit in addition to my flatmate’s dog Dexter, but neither did I want a dead rabbit on my conscience, so I agreed. The first dog Dexter and rabbit became good friends (as seen in the photo below).
|Viljo and Dexter 2012. Photo © Cecilia Damström
After half a year Maija took a second dog to take care of. The new dog saw Viljo as a tasty meal all of the time, and once when I came home after a weekend away, the whole kitchen looked like a bomb had exploded. Maija told me her second dog had managed to open the unlocked kitchen door and the rabbit cage and apparently had chased the rabbit all through the kitchen. As through a miracle Viljo had not died of the shock and also survived by hiding behind the motor of the deep freezer until Maija came home. This was the first time I felt really sorry for Viljo, as I saw how afraid he was, he was shaking and looking very depressed. When Maija moved out and my new flatmate Jari moved in, I suggested to Maija she would leave the rabbit with me and Jari, because it might not survive with the new dog.
|Jari and Viljo 2013. Photo © Cecilia Damström
Jari at once took to Viljo and suggested we should let him roam free in the kitchen to which I agreed and after a while he was allowed to roam free in the hallway. And what a change this territory expansion did to Viljo! He began lying in the hall waiting for me to come home, behaving just like the first dog Dexter. When I came home he would hop around my feet in circles and make a small grunting noise (those who know, they know), to show how happy he was.
|Viljo in Jari’s guitar case 2013. Photo © Cecilia Damström
Viljo became a very sociable rabbit. He loved when people would have conversations in the kitchen or hallway (“his” territory) and would jump in eights around both peoples feet, to show his joy. He thought however that it would be best if no-one left the house ever, and clever as he was, he tried to sabotage all means of traveling that he had considered might work: he chewed the wheels of my suitcase, the straps of my backpack and once even the soles of my shoes. In later years he would take to more “passive aggressive” ways to express his annoyance of traveling: by sulking with the back to me (while in-between turning to check if I’m still looking at him).
|Vilje and Jari’s brother’s cat Lipsu. About 2015
Naturally through me and my guitar playing flatmate Jari, the rabbit Viljo became a true music enthusiast. He listened to everything from classical music to contemporary music (preferring Lutoslawski over Messiaen). Jari’s flamenco guitar playing got a special place in his heart. Jari even brought Viljo to my final recital in the Pyynikki hall, the full rabbit review of my concert can be read here: https://ceciliadamstrom.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-rabbit-review.html
|Vilje and I in January 2013. Photo © Cecilia Damström
The summers from 2013 Viljo lived always with my parents at the summer house. We tried building him a big outdoor cage, but he was just very offended and wanted to stay rather inside and listen to Radio Classic, while eating kale and blueberries. The most elitist personality I’ve known. (Viljo must feel honoured that The Queen has joined him last night.)
|Viljo looking at the sea 2013. Photo © Cecilia Damström
When I moved to Sweden, Viljo lived first for about 2 years with Jari after which he moved in 2017 to Helsinki, mainly living with my parents. His territory became the living room, with a corner for his toilet and rabbit food. But most of his time he spent under the living room dining table, among people’s feet, his favorite place. When he got older he started making a bit of a mess, but hugely appreciated when we cleaned up, and would show it by hopping around eagerly on his clean carpets. I bought a white robot vacuum cleaner for my parents to help, and Viljo also got acquainted with it, although always making sure to show the vacuum that he (Viljo) was the boss and was not going to move for the vacuum.
They say cats have 9 lives but it seems also Viljo had at least 6. According to Wikipedia, rabbits become between 7-9 years old (and insurance stops at 7 years), but Viljo became over 12 years old (12 years 8 month and 26 days). In addition to the already mentioned near escapes in 2012 and 2013, Viljo fell for the first time seriously ill in the late winter of 2018 and again in the autumn 2019 and in the spring 2021, but thanks to the superb vet Delphine (and quite huge investments on our part in the treatment) he managed all these times as well. I myself went through a very hard breakup in 2019, fell ill in depression after which I in addition fell ill with Covid-19 in early 2020 followed by serious long covid for more than 2 years. Much of this time I lived with my parents and Viljo was with me through all of it, sitting with me on the sofa while I watched TV and sitting at my feet while I composed. He was the first creature to hear my compositions besides me, while they were written. He was never happy when I dated someone, because I think he thought during the last five years that I was his partner. When I became single in 2014 and 2019 he was overjoyed both times. He was the happiest at the summerhouse, in the late evenings and when I didn’t leave the house (like on days when I composed all day).
|Viljo by the sea 2013. Photo © Cecilia Damström
Last Saturday Viljo was getting more and more tired and on Sunday my parents brought him for the last time to the vet. Sadly Delphine wasn’t there this time. Viljo was diagnosed with an inflamed appendix. We paid for the extra treatment they had to offer, but it didn’t help, they said we have to come and say goodbye. He had been given relaxants and couldn’t move well anymore, but with his last energy he dragged himself on the table so that he lay with his head against my father for a while, against me for a while and against my mother. He wanted to show how he appreciated all of us. And then he sat up and cleaned himself.
|Last hour of Viljo’s life 4th of September 2022
Viljo was such a special rabbit, I doubt I will ever meet such an exquisite rabbit ever again. I am forever thankful to him for being at my side during my most difficult times in life so far. Thank you Viljo for everything.
|Viljo’s grave 5th of September 2022