Thursday, March 31, 2011

Hoppin' Down the Bunny Trail

In my childhood, one of my nicknames was St. Francis.

We weren't Catholic. I rarely wore brown robes. I earned this nickname because all animals flocked to me, especially the ones who weren't entirely certain whom to call "Mom" or "Can opener." It's still true.

In my world, stray puppies inch under my table and only my table at outdoor restaurants. Cats jump into my car when I'm washing it in the driveway. Strangers walk up to me in the street holding out a paper bag and say, "I'm moving to Guam, do you want this hamster?" Think I'm exaggerating? At one of my readings for "Notes From The Underwire", I was sitting at a fold-up table, happily signing books when I felt a "Whoosh" past my face and then a small "Thump" in my lap. I looked down to see a baby bird, taking his first flight out of the nest, detoured to the O'Hare of all feral flight-plans: me. The bird was startled. I wasn't.

Last Sunday, I was taking a walk around the nabe when I saw a couple and their small daughter. The parents were chasing after their toddler who was in hot pursuit of a stone on someone's yard. Upon closer inspection, I saw the stone was, in fact, a domesticated rabbit. The baby got close and shrieked in delight. The rabbit continued eating clover in a rabbit sort of way. Eventually, the family went on its way but I inched closer to examine the bunny. This was definitely a bunny, as opposed to a wild rabbit. It allowed me to get within a foot or so of it before caroming off towards more clover. It eyed me neutrally. I said aloud, "You take care of yourself, little rabbit." This was, of course, not possible; domesticated rabbits on the streets last until they don't. Something eats them, or something hits them. I'm not happy about this, but it wasn't in my yard and it wasn't my responsibility. Honesty demands I admit to feeling nothing but relief over that. I went on my merry way.

Yesterday morning, I had to do a favor for someone. I start with this not because I need the approval, but it was a boring and onerous favor and I got back to my house in a "Well, I'm certainly eating carbs and putting Quinn first for the next hour" sort of mood. So you'll imagine my emotional state when I saw the rabbit on my front steps. And you'll certainly understand my horror when the rabbit, upon seeing me, hopped towards me purposefully.

Rabbits can't convey much by way of the more subtle emotional states but this encounter did have the feeling of a reunion of family members separated by war. He sat on my foot in what appeared to be delight. I tentatively touched his ear. He fell over on to my ankle and nuzzled my instep. He had walked two blocks and crossed a street to sit in my yard and make me swear.

Let me sum up the next hour: Get cat carrier, fill cat carrier. Go to rescue group. It's a boy! My, it certainly is a boy, isn't it? Get greens from rescue group. Get hay from rescue group. Get in car. Take first Benadryl. Go home. Set up temporary cage. Take first picture for pleading email. Send pleading email. Take second Benadryl. You've noted the Benadryl. I'm allergic to rabbits. I've been told I'm not allergic to rabbits but to the hay. But since it's not a rabbit without hay, and since even touching the rabbit and then unconsciously flicking my bangs back caused a red itchy welt on my forehead, it's safe to say this story isn't going to end with "Oh, what the hell. Let's keep him." So he can't stay. But neither can he go.

The rescue group I work with is licenced to have no more than six rabbits; we have six rabbits. All rabbit-rescue groups are full. If I put him in the city shelter he'll be dead in a week. I have no room for this. I'm writing a book. I'm home-schooling my daughter. I'm toying with buying nicer towels. And now, it would appear, I'm keeping a rabbit for a week to see if someone puts up a "Lost Rabbit" sign, and then I'm in the rabbit-placing business.

Someone get me a Bendadryl.


Anonymous Ten Words said...

Smart bunny. And cute. Good luck!

9:12 AM  
Blogger Sara J. Henry said...

Dear Quinn,

I am more than ever convinced we are related. I had a golden retriever follow me home once and refuse to leave my front porch even in the dead of winter - I set up a crate with pillows for her. Finally her "owners" from the other end of the street came by and officially "gave" her to me, and then she moved indoors. Dogs are smart.

But PS, I had a rabbit for years, who never had hay. Who decreed that rabbits need hay? Dump the hay. He will be fine. You will be better. Got that? No hay!

Your long-lost relative,

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you allergic to pate?

10:20 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I second the rabbits not needing hay notion.

Also, that is one ridiculously beautiful bunny you have there. I mean, "have" in a "temporarily housing for a very short term period" sort of way.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Riin said...

Well, rabbits are definitely healthier with hay. They need the fiber. You know how cats get hairballs and throw up? Rabbits are incapable of vomiting. Hairball = death.

That said, there are different kinds of hay. Are you allergic to all of them? Timothy is best for the bunny, but alfalfa is good too.

Also, some bunnies go through hay like it's candy. Others just nibble a bit now and then. It should always be available though. Maybe the hay can be in some kind of enclosure so the hay dust doesn't spread?

(Yep, I'm a rabbit mom!)

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use wood shavings, like what you use for hamsters, for bedding for my rabbit. He seems perfectly happy with it. Rabbits are awesome pets.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous MidLyfeMama said...

I love this post. That is all.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Easter is approaching. Home security = job security

2:36 PM  
Anonymous LifesizeLD said...

That rabbit is obviously just using you for a few minutes of fame.

Clearly, his evil plan for internet domination is working.

Makes one wonder what he has in store for his NEW family... Bwahahahaha.

6:03 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

You, Sara and I must all be related. I've had two cats show up on my porch begging to be let in (they came in, I put up signs and they then became ours when no one ever claimed them), one cat that climbed in my car on a cold Christmas Eve (he still is here... it's 6 years later), and a lost pomeranian delivered to my house because my neighbors were sure it was ours. The pomeranian was missed by it's owners and is happily back home. Good luck with the bunny. He's adorable and maybe you can find a way to deal with the hay or have a hay-free bunny.

Your long lost relative,

6:13 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

oh, and I once had a bird land on my shoulder while sitting outside visiting with friends on their patio. It hung out on my shoulder and played with my hair for about 10 minutes before it flew off. And once a squirrel sat on my foot in a park. Maybe I just sit too still and animals mistake me for a statue?

6:16 PM  
Blogger Kenneth Urban said...

So, Quinn is hare-raising?

8:39 PM  
Blogger Stacey Ballis said...

Is it terrible that I wish you lived in Chicago because then I know that the two lovely cats my fiance and I need to get adopted in the next 3 weeks would just be a fun addition to your household? Tried to pawn them off on Jen, but she was all "I have four cats and three dogs and a semi-feral husband" blah blah blah.

9:54 PM  
Blogger A Happy Volunteer said...

It's like we're leading parallel lives. All of the stray/ abandonded/lost animals in the neighborhood seem to show up in our yard. Including, yes, a house rabbit.

We found Buckaroo in our yard over 5 years ago. He looks very similar to your bunny, only with more gray. No rescue could take him, we couldn't find his "owner", couldn't find another home for him, so we eventually decided we had to keep him. Fortunately, he gets along with our 4 cats.

Turns out my husband is also allergic to hay (although not to the same degree you seem to welts, just asthma). When we first found out, we almost gave him away to another family we found, but in the end we couldn't give him up. We'd already bonded.

6:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please, don't use wood shavings. It's bad for their livers. Yesterday's News or something like it works well for the litter box. Also, hay is a very good idea for rabbits. They always need to have something available to nibble and they need the fiber. I'm allergic to hay too, so my husband doles out the hay to our bunny.

He is beautiful. Thank you for looking after him.

I understand your "problem" entirely. My problem is that injured animals always find us. We have our vet for exotic animals on speed dial.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Nancy in PA said...

Well... if Alice is in love with the bunny, you could give her the very special privilege of being the bunny's caretaker, so you don't have to handle the hay. Or, talk with a vet and see if alfalfa cubes or Timothy hay cubes (pet stores sell both) can replace loose hay, digestively speaking, and figure out something else for bedding. I second the recommendation for Yesterday's News for the litter box -- zero dust=no Benadryl. Good luck - and you are a very good person for taking the little guy in. He chose well. ;-)

11:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh. My. Gosh. Now I want a bunny. Of course, I am highly allergic, even more so than I am to cats, which rendered me THE most unpopular girl in the fourth grade due to the fact that my teacher actually raised rabbits and had several hundred. And he was famous for always having one in his classroom. Until I came along. More than one mean kid (who is actually now an actress and has a famous actor for a son) told me, "How come we have to have YOU in our class?" Yeah. Good times.

7:48 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

That is hilarious that you are not only allergic but SO allergic that you actually get welts...the bunny should take the hint! Move along, little bunny...

6:01 AM  
Anonymous Tracy said...

At least Easter is approaching - you'd have a heck of a time tring to find him a home in October!!

2:58 AM  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

I am pretty much afraid of dogs. I have some dim memory of why but don't want to go there just now.
I just wanted to say that despite my fear and attempt to ignore dogs, they are fascinated with me. Won't leave me alone at friends' houses. Have to put their head in my lap. Lick me.
Do they respect my fear? Are they drawn to such people? People can never get over it and neither can I.
This just applies to dogs however. Cats are indifferent and people only a little less so. Haven't rested bunnies.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Maya said...

Awww! If I didn't live on the other side of the continent I'd adopt that bunny in a second.

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Whitney said...

When I was a kid, I used to feed strays. My parents hated that! They said I'd just encourage them to stick around. I always figured that was the point. You may be a sucker in the animal world, but every little bit of good karma helps!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Lee Ann said...

I haven't visited your blog for awhile----that is a mistake! Thanks for making me laugh out loud--the part about the rabbit which 'hopped towards me purposefully' is absolutely hysterically funny. You are a gem.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Nancy in PA said...

Thought of you and this post yesterday while having an intestinal parasite adventure with a cat that I'd brought home (for exactly 24 hours) from our favorite rescue group. I will spare you the details. The original idea was to help them 'thin out' the population during a window replacement so they'd have fewer to contain. Little did I know she had something else on her mind (and digestive system) at the time. This is the second sick one that magically found her way to me in the 2 months I have volunteered there. "St. Francis" was mentioned, and no one else involved even reads your blog. They might now, though. LOL The thought of your bunny saga make me chuckle through my clenched teeth on more than one occasion yesterday... thanks! :-)

6:12 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How do you feel about a nest-rescured squirrel hand tamed and domesticated from Day 1 of its life? He jumps all over the place and runs up and down your body like a tree.

7:54 AM  

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