I was out for a jog the other afternoon, or my attempt at jogging, and I noticed a man up ahead. Then I saw a rabbit doing the hundred yard dash right towards me. That’s when the man pointed at the rabbit and a dog chased after it. He was egging the dog on.
When I got close to the guy, I could only think of one word: Bully. I didn’t say it, but that’s what I was thinking. If the man had been starving, then I would understand. The circle of life and all that, but I could clearly see he wasn’t starving. If the dog looked like he was famished, I could appreciate the situation, but the dog was just as chubby as the owner.
I kept thinking about it and wondered why I had such an adverse reaction. Then, I flashed on an event from my childhood.
My sister and I had pet rabbits.
Mine is the little black one.
Rabbits really don’t do much of anything, but eat and poop. My dad decided to put our rabbits to work. He delivered refrigerators part-time, so we had lots of refrigerator boxes. We took the boxes, after cutting them down about waist-high and we moved the rabbits along in the box. They’d eat the grass and fertilize as they went along. It worked great. We didn’t have to mow the lawn as much and we had a great fertilizer.
It wouldn’t behoove me tell you the rabbit’s real name because of all those security questions I have answered over the years that ask for your first pet’s name. That being said, we shall just call my childhood rabbit, Elmer Fudd.
One day, my mom and I went for a walk. We stopped to talk to our next door neighbor. He happened to say how much he missed the old days. He said he could sit on his front step with a rifle and shoot any offending critter he wanted, like squirrels, mice, and rabbits. He pointed down the hill and said, “See, there’s a perfect example. A rabbit is running amuck.”
I looked and sure enough, a little black bunny was running for its very life. Hot on the rabbit’s tail was a dog giving chase. I stepped closer to realize the rabbit, was none other than my own little Elmer Fudd.
I reached out and pulled Elmer to me. His heart was beating quite rapidly.
We figured out what happened. The refrigerator box/makeshift cage sat on an uneven patch and little Elmer squeezed underneath.
I put Elmer in his pen and we watched. And waited. He sat close to his little house and just stayed there. We were so worried my brother crawled in the pen. It took some maneuvering. He had to get his back low enough so he wouldn’t get caught up in the chicken wire of the cage. He had to crawl and not end up splayed out in rabbit dodo. I remember thinking at the time, what a good brother he was/is. As worried as I was about Elmer, I wouldn’t have crawled in a pen of rabbit crap.
He grabbed Elmer and brought him inside. He was thumping around a bit and seemed to be limping. Not long later, little Elmer died.
By then, my dad, my brother and a friend of my brother’s, Jim, were all in the garage. My father stood at his workbench. I think I announced Elmer’s death. Jim was up on a ladder and jumped down. They didn’t say much, in fact, I think they were pretty speechless. My dad gave me a comforting side hug with an arm pat. Life isn’t like a television sitcom. My parents didn’t try to replace the rabbit without me knowing. They didn’t tell me rabbits went to heaven. They were just WITH me.
My dad got out his shovel and dug a hole in a little patch of lilac trees. I don’t remember if we used the universal sign of pet death, a shoe box. We put up a little cross made out of twigs. The next day, we went to church and while singing, I broke down crying. My mom gave me the side arm hug and pulled me close.
I don’t have any wise words for this little story. It just was what it was. So, back to the guy on the trail, I didn’t see the rabbit’s bloody carcass, so I assume the rabbit made it to safety, or did he? It’s like I said the first time. Bully.