The End of The Tale of Peter Rabbit

From the vicarage

I read that in Britain, more than three million pets were bought during lockdown. It’s easy to understand why – many of us look to our pets for love and companionship. We have a family of cockatiels, who seem to find someone arriving home as exciting as anything you can imagine.

Of course, the downside of pet ownership is that inevitably the moment comes when we have to say goodbye. More than once when I was teaching in school, I was asked by a grief-stricken child whether their much-loved pet might have gone to heaven. And frustratingly, nothing – not even the Bible - offers a clear answer.

We had a goodbye of our own recently. At ten years old, Peter Rabbit – the name that the pet shop gave him always stuck – was ancient by bunny standards. In later life he had needed almost monthly visits to the vet to have his teeth fixed. Arriving home, he would be sleepy for a day or so and then normal service would resume – eating, being stroked, and running over my foot. But then age finally caught up with him, and we laid him to rest in the garden in the corner where his hutch used to stand.

It was after dark one evening about a week later when I noticed that something had triggered the light outside the front door. I investigated – and there, playing on the garden path, was a young wild rabbit. At one point it stretched up the door and looked through into the porch. But before I could fetch my camera, it hopped off across the garden and disappeared.

Bunny heaven? I used to tell children that I believe that God loves our pets just as much as we do - and I still do.