Shh...We're Catching Wabbits

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A rabbit is a horrible pet. Life as your 'furry little friend' is miserable and frustrating. First of all, it hates you, and no amount of petting or carrot peels can change that. Second of all, it is fast and small, which makes running away from you very easy. Their one saving grace is their heavenly soft fur, but let me be the one to tell you; it's not worth it!

My infatuation with having a rabbit as a pet began at age 9 when I went to the county fair. They were on display in little cages, no doubt awaiting their turn to be judged. How exactly you judge a rabbit, I wouldn't know. You can't make it sit or stay and you certainly can't ride it, but nonetheless, there they were. I must have spent at least forty-five minutes just staring at one big, white, fluffy rabbit. It reminded me of the rabbit in 'Alice In Wonderland', except for the fact that it didn't seem to have any place to be. It bobbed around in its cage, sniffing the corners and then rubbing its nose with both adorable paws. It even stuck its hand out to meet mine when I pushed my fingers through the chicken wire on the outside. Finally its owner, possibly a little disturbed at my obsession with her pet, came to take the rabbit out of its cage and 'prep' it for competition-time. I followed her about ten feet before I realized this was rather strange and stopped myself.

Soon afterwards I found my mom and positively begged her into buying me a rabbit of my own. This was in June. After three months of ceaseless bequeathing, my wish came true! Mom brought home a cashmere-soft bundle of brown joy from the pet store. The first day was glorious. I held, pet, and brushed the small bunny, and the whole time it just sat there and took it like a furry statue. It was only later that I found out it was petrified with fright.

The next day, the rabbit refused to be extracted from its cage. Corner to corner it ran as I shadowed it with my groping hands. Then the most extraordinary thing that my rabbit-worshipping brain could conceive occurred; that little 'bundle of joy' bit me! I was so surprised I jumped backwards and hit my head on the roof of the rabbit hutch. Well that was just about all I could take. If this rabbit wasn't going to come out the easy way, then it was about to find out what method a nine-year-old can come up with to spring it from its safe haven.

I opened the door to the hutch as wide as possible and went around to the back where the rabbit couldn't see me. Then I began to shake the cage, hoping to scare it into jumping out the door. Unfortunately, those hutches are pretty heavy and I ended up throwing it forward farther than I could compensate pulling it backward. With a creak of straining nails and wood, the hutch crashed down at my feet.

I stood stalk still, afraid I had killed the little guy. Imagine, three months of begging for a rabbit just to send its house smashing down on its frail life on the second day.

'Bunny?' I whispered tentatively. I didn't know what good this would do, but it seemed appropriate for some reason. I kneeled down to my hands and knees and attempted to pull up the hutch. Heaving and hawing, I yanked at the wood until I was red in the face and sweating profusely.

'Whatcha doin'?' My brother, Ford, asked. He was a year and a half older than me, but I liked to think that my maturity level was infinitely greater than his. He had just come from the front yard, digging up worms no doubt. I impressed upon him to help me lift the hutch, seeing as I was accomplishing nothing on my own. For approximately the next thirty minutes, we pulled up on each corner of the hutch, but it was to no avail. By this time I was becoming very much concerned with the welfare of my rabbit. It was clear that I would have to implore my other two siblings for their aid, as well.

Together, Ford, my two sisters, Tanya, age 13, and Morgan, age 7, and I surveyed the toppled hutch. The best plan of action we could come up with was to lift simultaneously from the top of the hutch. On the count of three, we thrust our combined body weights upward under the hutch and managed to lift it halfway to its former upright position.

Immediately a brown bolt of fur jolted from the hutch's door, weaving its way between the mass of my siblings' legs and escaping to the yard. At first I was levitated with an extreme thankfulness and joy at the fact that my rabbit had survived such a harrowing ordeal. My emotions were quickly compromised, however, by the fact that I now had to catch my rabbit and somehow force it back into its cage from which I had just worked so hard to spring it.

Once again, I required the assistance of my siblings. Luckily, they thought this would be fun. Oh, how wrong they were'

First, that lightning fast, tiny furry fiend took us on a wild goose chase around the house. Ford managed to dive on it at one point, but it slipped out from underneath him and he was left with nothing but a couple of grass stains on his knees. Next, it escaped beneath the house's porch, which allowed for only about a foot of space above the dirt ground. Morgan, being the youngest and smallest of us, was enlisted to crawl under the porch to scare it out. Unfortunately, Morgan couldn't move as quickly as a small rabbit in such a small space. She army crawled her way around under the porch, chasing it from corner to corner until we called her out, knowing the task was futile. She emerged like a living corpse, covered in dirt from head to toe with pebbles falling out of her shirt. Ford, in fact, came up with the solution to getting the rabbit out from under the porch. He disappeared to his room while Tanya and I shook the dirt off of Morgan. When Ford came back, he brought with him a small ball with an attached fuse.

"It's a stink bomb," he explained to us with a devilish grin and proceeded to light it and throw it under the porch.

Green smoke drifted upwards between the spaces in the porch's floor boards. It looked like we were harboring the lochness monster under our house. To save ourselves from the sickening sulfur smell, we covered our noses and mouths and waited for the rabbit to emerge.

Only about twenty seconds later, it sprinted from underneath the porch and we bolted after it. It weaved back and forth across the lawn in a frenzied state as we dived after it, sometimes only sliding our faces and bodies along the grass, sometimes managing a hold on it before its soft fur slipped through our fingertips. We were exhausted, gasping, and covered in grass stains, but we were not ready to quit yet. If we were this tired, we knew the rabbit must be fatigued as well.

The brown bundle escaped the yard to a nearby pine tree. The four of us circled the tree, quietly waiting for it to emerge. It wasn't long before a small brown nose poked its way out from the branches between Ford and mine's sentry positions, sniffing the air in hesitation. Ford looked at me and silently placed his fingers to his lips, signing the SHH sound. The rabbit placed its two front paws out timidly and waited. Then it hopped, bringing its back feet to its front. Another short hop. And then another. Ford looked at me and counted on his fingers as he silently mouthed 'one'two'three!'. We dived simultaneously on the small creature. I hit the ground first and clasped the rabbit under my chest, caging it in with my arms. Its small body struggled with trepidation and then suddenly went absolutely still. I stood up with it, confused at its abrupt surrender. I turned it over in my arms and its head flopped backwards. I leaned my ear into its chest to listen for a heartbeat. There wasn't one. Ford stepped over and inspected the little fella.

'I think you killed it,' he whispered as if he was trying to keep it a secret. Morgan and Tanya walked around the tree to join us and formed a small circle with Ford and me. I lifted the rabbit's ears and held it swinging above the ground. Yep, definitely dead.

'What are we gonna do?' Morgan asked. She was still covered in dirt and her nose had a circle of dried blood underneath it. I looked at Tanya, the oldest of us, for a suggestion. Her hair was sticking up like a female version of Alfalfa, and one knee of her jeans was ripped out entirely, while the other was painted green with grass stains. Ford appeared as though he had just gotten in a fight with a row of hedges. Together, we somewhat resembled the descendents of Peter Pan's Lost Boys in a football huddle.

'Maybe we should just put it back in its hutch,' Tanya suggested.

'Ya, you know, just pretend we had nothing to do with it,' Ford agreed.
I looked down at the little bundle of brown in my arms that had been running in energetic circles just ten minutes earlier. It looked so peaceful, so content. Looking up again, I met the eyes of my siblings, bent towards me like I was a quarterback about to give them the game-winning play.

'Guys, I can't do it,' I told them. 'I think we should bury him. You know, give him a real goodbye.'

'Ok,' Morgan whispered. She put her arm reassuringly on my shoulder. Ford and Tanya nodded in reverential agreement.

Ford went to the barn to retrieve a shovel while Morgan, Tanya, and I pushed back the branches of the tree and cleared the space of pine needles. Then we dug a hole and placed the small brown bundle into its grave and covered it with dirt. Tanya, being the only one who could write decently, inscribed a short epitaph with a stick in the dirt above its grave.

Here lies our rabbit. He ran fast. And then he died.

It was only later in life that I learned rabbits actually die quite often of fright. Apparently, their heart rates become so high they just keel over dead. It has been said that parents buy their children pets to teach them lessons in caring for other beings. Even though I had my rabbit for a scant two days, I feel as though it taught me one very important lesson; one shouldn't go through life scared. It might just kill you.





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