Friday, 9 April 2010

NEVER BUY A RABBIT FOR EASTER!


If only somebody had warned my mom about what would happen, I'm sure she never would have fallen for the wiggly-nosed little fur ball she bought for us kids in April of 1968. Sadly, millions of parents buy a bunny with the same tragic consequences. In my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir, I related just how the sad chain of events started in my family's home.

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Diane sat watching television as we arrived home. I carried our new bunny into the living room and set the box gently on the coffee table.

"We have a surprise for you, Diane," Mom announced. "Go on. Open it," she added. Diane unfolded the flaps on the top of the box and peered at the bunny. When the animal moved her ear, my sister let out a squeal of delight. "It's a real rabbit!" Diane stroked the wiggly nose and long ears before picking the bunny out of her makeshift travel carrier.

We had difficulty naming this new addition to our family. In fact, none of us were sure which sex she was. Because knowledge of house rabbits was difficult to find, we had no idea how to tell the difference. I wanted to call her Spock after the Star Trek science officer while Diane wanted to name her Samantha after the character on Bewitched. We compromised and called her Samantha Spock. After a while we dropped the second name and assumed our bunny was female.

Mom made a makeshift pen in the room which was supposed to become the downstairs bathroom. Diane and I took our new bunny out of it to explore our beds a few times. We stopped doing that when she wet on one of them. We also carried her upstairs to play in the living room. Diane and I discovered that Samantha would kick her feet wildly when she was laid on her back while in our laps. We howled with laughter as she struggled to right herself. What we thought of as funny was a serious matter to Samantha. Rabbits are prey animals and they fear being attacked. She instinctively panicked when she felt vulnerable.

Watching Samantha explore and do other bunny activities was entertaining. She looked extremely cute whenever she washed her face and pulled down one blond and pink ear at a time. Even watching her nose wiggle made us smile.

One day I searched for Samantha in the storeroom. The whole family was looking for her since she escaped her pen again. Suddenly I felt movement against my right foot. I glanced down and saw Samantha, licking my foot, acting completely innocent. "There you are. We've been looking all over for you," I said as I picked her up. She panicked, as rabbits will when improperly handled, and I nearly lost my hold on her. Fortunately, Samantha did not break her back or claw my skin to shreds as I placed her as gently as I could in her pen.

Inevitably, Mom was left to take care of Samantha's mess. We were too concerned with our own pleasures to think about looking after our rabbit. Samantha rapidly became less and less important to us as she faded into the background. Diane and I still played with her occasionally but the novelty rapidly wore off.

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Three months later, our once-beloved Samantha died. I'll post about it in July, as close as possible to the 42th anniversary of that tragic event. It was partly due to that trauma that I wrote When a Man Loves a Rabbit (Learning and Living With Bunnies), a memoir of how I learned to properly care for house rabbits. I wrote it as an object lesson for others and as a companion book to the many "how to" bunny care manuals on the market. To read more about my writing and on how to purchase my books, Click here. To learn all you need to know about house rabbits, visit the House Rabbit Society website.