Winter 2021 Issue

by Josh Babcock

Paula Buchert is confident that radiation treatment at Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital extended the life of one of her best friends—an Angora rabbit, named Zsa Zsa.

“When I got her back after that last treatment, that was probably the happiest moment in my life,” Buchert said. “She had her cancer survivor scarf; it was this great feeling.”

Zsa Zsa was diagnosed with a thymoma, a tumor in the chest cavity. Without radiation treatment, the red-eyed, white rabbit would not likely have lived more than a few weeks.

Following six radiation treatments using WSU’s linear accelerator, Zsa Zsa lived another 14 months.

“I was hoping for longer, but the tumor kept filling with fluid,” Buchert said. “She could have had surgery, but she would have very likely not survived. As hard as it was to let her go, I would be heartbroken to do a surgery and it not be effective; I had to make peace. I had an extra 14 months, which was a huge gift.”

Zsa Zsa was Buchert’s first rabbit, but not her last.

She is now a volunteer at Rabbit Advocates in Portland, Ore. She’s adopted four rabbits from the nonprofit rabbit rescue—Tilly, Dahlia, Max, who is part Angora like Zsa Zsa, and Natasha.

Buchert also volunteers at Rose City Rabbit Rescue.

She hasn’t found a rabbit quite like Zsa Zsa.

“If you haven’t owned a rabbit, they are magical. I think rabbits respond to your energy. You kind of learn you have to be careful around them. If you are really reactive, they will react, and they can be destructive. She was incredibly in tune with my emotions,” Buchert said. “We were so deeply bonded; it was like losing my best friend.”

Zsa Zsa died in October 2018.

You can help animals like Zsa Zsa and give hope to those who love their animals when you support cancer care at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital.