Friday, March 19, 2010

a rabbit tale

When my daughter was in 6th grade she asked if she could have a bunny for a pet. Since I had had a bunny when I was a kid, I considered it within the realm of possibility. However, I was not willing to keep a rabbit in a small hutch for it's lifetime, which is how my rabbit lived it's life. It was an Easter rabbit, purchased in a pet store, a baby that grew to a full size rabbit, brown and so I named it, appropriately, Brownie. I would take Brownie out of her hutch (in hindsight, I believe Brownie was a her) and pet her (she was very docile), hold her in my lap until the day she peed in my lap. Hot abundant pee. After that I was a little hesitant to let her sit in my lap. I was afraid to let her run loose in the yard, thinking that she would run away and get killed by dogs (this was back in the day when everyone let their dogs run loose) so she spent her poor little miserable life in a small hutch. One day I went out to feed her and she had died.

By the time my daughter said she wanted a bunny I had learned that rabbits can be trained to use a litter box like a cat so I decided we would have a house rabbit. Not ideal, it wouldn't be outdoors, but far better than a small hutch.

Because it was not around Easter that we were trying to find a rabbit, the pet stores did not have any so I looked in the want ads, found a place 'in the country' and my daughter and I drove out there to pick out a bunny. This guy raised rabbits of various kinds, I guess to supply pet stores, and all the babies were pretty young and not used to being handled and so struggled when the man put one in my daughter's hand which she didn't like. He also had a half grown male miniature dutch rabbit.

The breeder had thought to see if neutering male rabbits would make them calmer and had undertaken to neuter this rabbit and had, in fact, removed one of it's testicles. Apparently male rabbit testicles are hard to find and so he was planning to have another go at it but decided the whole enterprise was more trouble than it was worth. So this little male miniature dutch bunny had only one nut. But he was very calm and let my daughter hold him and this was the one she wanted. Could not be persuaded to consider one of the baby bunnies. She named him Bunnykins on the ride home, most often shortened to Bunny but sometimes referred to as That Rabbit.

So, Bunnykins, the half neutered buck miniature dutch rabbit came to live with us. Rabbits will indeed use a litter box. They also gnaw on everything. Furniture legs, baseboards, stuff left on the floor, electrical cords. And they are territorial. Did I mention we also had two cats? The cats were indoor/outdoor cats, pretty much coming and going as they pleased. They didn't really know quite what to make of that thing but they kept a wary distance.

Bunny, as he matured, started to engage in bunny behaviors. He would stalk those cats. They would be minding their own business, keeping an eye out for the rabbit and the rabbit would be sitting motionless somewhere across the room. The moment the cats' attention was distracted, that rabbit would move up a few paces. And the next time they looked, he would still be motionless only a few steps closer. He was a very sneaky rabbit.

The cats tried to keep their distance but eventually the rabbit would get close enough to express his amor. You've seen those cartoons, right? The ones where the dog and cat or the cat and mouse or the cat and skunk are a whirling mass with an occasional flash of ear or limb or tail? Yeah, that. Our poor kitties would finally break loose and run for high ground. Bunnykins was one tough rabbit. After a couple of bouts with the rabbit, the cats mostly stayed outside and when they did come in they would scan the room from the door and then run to the nearest piece of furniture and then they would leap from chair to table to couch to bookcase, whatever, but they were not setting foot on the floor where That Rabbit reigned.

I guess we had had Bunnykins for a year and a half or so when we got a boxer puppy for our son. It was love at first sight for those two. For my son and the dog but also for the dog and the rabbit. Atilla the Honey or Tilly for short, was about the same size as the rabbit when she came to live with us. Bunny was full grown by that time and Tilly of course was just starting to grow. With the dog also came the getting of a fence around the property which we had not had before.

I don't rightly remember how long it was before I had had enough of a house rabbit with the whole chewing on everything and the stalking of the cats and the bunny pellets that didn't always find their way into the litter pan but at some point I banished the rabbit to the outdoors. I used chicken wire and garden stakes to erect a fence around a fairly large area and built a shelter inside so that although he was confined to a space, it was by far larger than a hutch.

One day soon after the rabbit went to live outdoors, I noticed the neighbor's cat sitting on top of the wood fence between our properties which Bunny's habitat backed up to. I sat myself down to watch the show, never for a moment fearing for the rabbit. The cat hunkered down and crept slowly closer and closer until it finally got up the nerve to jump into the rabbit's enclosure intent on having itself a grand time and perhaps a rabbit dinner. Well, needless to say, the cat got the surprise of it's life. That rabbit was on that cat like a duck on a june bug. It fled for it's life and was not seen again.

Now I mentioned that the dog and the rabbit had become best buds and though the 'fence' was admittedly flimsy, it was good enough to keep the rabbit in. Not good enough to keep the dog out however. Tilly was not happy that her pal was in a fenced area where she could not get to it so she would jump up against the chicken wire, flatten it to the ground and let the rabbit out. She would let That Rabbit hump her to his heart's content and he would let the dog carry him around in her mouth. They would take turns chasing each other across the yard and back. They would cuddle up and nap. Entertained the neighbors no end. I finally gave up trying to keep the rabbit in the enclosure and dismantled it since the dog would go right behind me and let him out every time I put him back in.

One day though, just like Peter Rabbit's daddy, Bunnykins got into the wrong yard. He found a hole in the back corner of the fence and on the other side of that fence were two dogs. Because of his friendship with Tilly and his general fearlessness, the rabbit did not understand about dogs and so early one morning, Bunnykins met his demise.

I was dreading having to tell my daughter that Bunny had been killed so I sat her down and broke the news to her as gently as I could.

Oh,” she said. “So, can I get a cat?”


  1. Oh dear! Poor
    Bunnykins!! How sad is that? But it cracked me up about her response. LOL!

  2. ellen what a terrific bunny story. we have one that lives with us - a white dutch dwarf rabbit. she doesn't like people very much unless they bring her food or water. otherwise she keeps to herself and stares at us from wherever she is. i like bunnykins' character. steven

  3. Oh woe is Bunnykins :(

    The question is, Ellen, did you get your daughter a cat, and what's the cat's story?

  4. Great story - all that effort, chewing, mess, cavorting to please your daughter and she just moved on to a cat. Kids!

  5. So, was the last act Bunny's "Fatal Attraction"? Poor thing. Very entertaining story, though.

  6. Oh Ellen, this is such a wonderful story - well, entertaining may Bunnykins rest in peace -- and so funny that I think it should be submitted for publication.

    I believe the phrase "Hot abundant pee" will be in my head for life.

  7. Oh poor one-nutted bunnykins! Wonderful story. I would never let my dad have rabbits because I knew he would just be raising them for meat and I couldn't stand to know those soft fluffy things would be slaughtered.

    Loved the image of the bunny and the dog, running and playing together. Poor puppy will be lost without his friend.

  8. Oh, the annoyingly rubbery resilience of children.

  9. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this story [well, except for poor Bunnykin's demise] You are such a talented writer Ms. Abbott.

    I, too, have the mental image of the Boxer being "loved" and then carrying the rabbit around the yard. Too funny.

    We have had just about every animal under the sun, but I have never braved a rabbit. Maybe one day.

  10. LOLOLOLOLOL!!! The punchline!!!

    Oh Ellen, your story was divine. So thoroughly enjoyed it. But poor Bunnykins.

    My first bunny was a gray and white Dutch female named Ophelia. After her we had Burgess, Shirleen, babies galore (which are THE most adorable thing on earth), Russell, Satchmo, and Peppercorn. I would give anything to have a bunny again.

    And yes, they are most definitely litterbox trainable.

    And yes, they gnaw on everything!

    But still, they are such fun pets. I just love Bunnykins and his take no prisoners disposition.

    Great post!

  11. I am a new follower of yours. You're a funny lady. I have a similar tale of a tail about bunnys and dogs, only in mine, the dog got the short end of the stick and the rabbit caused the mayhem. Glad I followed Skippy Mom to your bloggie door. Howdy and I'll be out here, happy to read your stories. Have a super 1st day of Spring.

  12. What a sweet story!! Bunnykins had a very adventurous life. Wow. And a dramatic demise ... not the worst way to go if you ask me.

    I bet Brownie had a calm existence, not as miserable as you imagine. Brownie lived more like a monk or a nun, while Bunnykins lived wild and free. There are benefits to both lifestyles.

    Loved this!

  13. Love it. A one nutted, humping, rabbit. There's an image to conjure with.

  14. My sister had a New Zealand White named Edward and a French Lop named Mollie when I was a teenager. They weren't miniature ANYthing--Edward was almost twice the size of our cats and they didn't mess with him. We, too, tried the house thing for awhile but the day Edward managed to tear a two-inch border all the way around the family room carpet was pretty much the last straw. They especially loved silk clothes, book bindings and leather shoes. At one point I didn't own any of those things that didn't have "bunny holes," and I became very fond of lapin a la cocotte.

  15. Poor Bunnykins. Our unlikely pets met with unusual endings, too. My son accidentally decapitated his pet squirrel, Socrates. So glad I wasn't there to witness that!

  16. Great story! Poor Bunnykins, but he lived a full life, even with his handicap.

  17. Poor Bunny, meeting such a tragic end. But it was a sweet tale of how Bunny fit into your family and most especially with the dog. Love that he lorded over the cats. :)

  18. Ohhh, poor Bunnykins! What a cute rabbit/dog story. I'll bet your little dog was sad to lose his friend.

  19. Fabulous story, Ellen! I can't believe that relationship between boxer and bunny, just incredible.

  20. The last two sentences were priceless. Absolutely hilarious :0)

  21. The thought of a one-nut rabbit humping a dog "to its heart's content" absolutely cracks me up.

  22. To quote the Bard: "All's well that ends well."

    So, what about the cat???

  23. otherwise she keeps to herself and stares at us from wherever she is. i like bunnykins' character.
    home jobs india

  24. Poor one-balled Bunnykins! I have to say though, I enjoyed this story a immensely.

    We had three female Holland Lops a couple years ago. I could NOT get those bunnies litter trained for the life of me. And their Gods! It was the nastiest, stinkiest stuff I've ever smelled. And believe me, female bunnies have just as much 'amor' as their male counterparts. LOL Even for their own sisters. Ewwww.


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