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Friday, February 18, 2011

About Those Bunnies...

I've felt a bit uneasy from time to time about the bunny thing. As in, do people think I am an anti-rabbit, Down With The Easter Bunny, baby-bunny-drop-kicker? I mean, what's with all the evil bunnies on here? What did a little rabbit ever do to me?

Well, I can say a number of bunnies have reduced our cable remote to a fun game of Guess What That Button Is. Several tops (just the tops, mind you...they get carefully skinned from the button itself so the actual removed portion of the button is about the thickness of two credit cards) have gone through the bunny processing system and been found acting as poop sprinkles in bunny pellets. Apparently cable TV remote buttons taste incredible to bunnies, because this button peeling thing has been performed by every single bunny we've owned that had two unsupervised seconds with a remote.

See, I'm a rabbit owner. I've had my heart both warmed and absolutely shattered by these fragile, fleeting little souls that hop into your lives and leave an indelible mark on your existence. There's nothing sweeter to me than spending a few moments with a house rabbit, just observing its actions, marveling at how complex this oft-misunderstood creature is. And no pet losses (of which, as an animal lover, I've had many) have hurt to such an excruciating degree as the passing of my rabbits have. They have an unfortunate fate as a prey animal of hiding their illnesses until it's too late to for even the most skilled of vets to heal them. I've lived that reality many times and will experience it again many times, I'm sure, as I can't imagine life without a rabbit as a pet. I think it's this gossamer nature of the rabbit, to float out of your life swiftly on the slightest draft, that endears them to their owners on such a deep level.

That said, as a rabbit owner you begin to imagine that if the world was hijacked by animals, bunnies would be at the forefront of the movement. They're too cute to ever expect, yet too smart to ever trust with a room full of weapons. Just look at their perma-frown mouths. Even the nicest bunnies have darling little faces hiding a scowl that would freeze magma. As they push you off the precipice into the Bottomless Pit of Death, they'll find glee in how fast you plummet. Don't take it personally, though! They can't help it. When you're just that cute and just that superior to humans, of course, they do think they can do without you. No rabbit has convinced me of this more than my current girl, Scarlett.

The cutest mean-as-hell bunny you'll ever have the pleasure of knowing. 100,000 kilowatts of pure incendiary fury in a six-pound spotted ball. The cats are terrified of her. Friends approach her with the cautiousness one would use when approaching a viper. She's just so grouchy she's gone around the horn and defied logic by being "so nasty, she's cute." I mean this. Anyone that's met her will agree. As her teeth sink into your flesh, narrowly missing the bone it seems, you'll marvel at how adorable she is. As your nerves pound with electric agony over the chomp, you'll already be forgiving her. Scarlett's had a rough life. Like many of the bunnies at the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary, where our house rabbits have come from, her earliest memories of life are that of abuse at human hands. She was used as a breeder rabbit and then left in a cat carrier on the side of the road with her babies. And a sign that said "Free." One by one her babies were taken from her until all that remained in the carrier was Scarlett, whom no one wanted. God knows what was done to her during her time with this human, but frankly, I don't want to know. Thankfully, she was found by someone who knew the GLRS existed for rabbits like Scarlett.

It's no surprise that she has never totally warmed up to humans. Sure, years later now she lets me hold her now (but only me) and she's learned to love being scratched under the ears, but that aura of "I don't trust you" still lingers. She's possessive of food and will even run away from the person that gave her the treat, as if we'd take it back and eat the lettuce ourselves. Any movement she doesn't approve of will be met with a grunt and a lunge. I've owned rabbits that were the definition of "snuggle bunny" and they were contented in spades to be held and loved on. Not Scarlett. Do you blame her, though? Could anyone?

She shows all the classic signs of a Happy Bunny, like laying out flatter than a board in her pen and doing sonic-speed "binkies" (little weird rabbit "happy dances") around the living room. But the underpinnings of Abused Bunny still show at times. It breaks my heart. I'd sever my own hand before it would ever cause harm to this tiny creature, yet there's no way to tell her that.

I could agonize over how terrible I feel that this little bun was abused, but instead, let me get back to that world domination thing. Yes, if human kind was about to be eradicated by a single push of the "Easy" button, a bunny would be doing the honors. It's not that they hate us as much as they tolerate us as providers of hay, water, and a place to poop. They're far too smart to stoop to "pet" level so they let us humans believe they're just docile little balls of fluff, and after we go to bed, they're on the Hop Line checking on how those WMDs are coming along.

Scarlett, I imagine, would be on the front lines of this movement. When you first enter Her Room (actually our second bedroom where I keep my pony collection, but we know it's actually hers) you get THE LOOK. "Ewww! Humans!" Beady brown eyes bore directly into your skull. She assumes an imposing, alerted posture that can go into "Lunge and Grunt" mode in a split second. This moves on to "Well, if you have to be in here, what do you have for me to eat, peasants?" If you spend time in Her Room without giving due attention, she will create increasing levels of ruckus until you pet her and give her some form of foodstuff. Pen gates will be rattled violently, bunny toys flung as far as a one inch wide mouth can fling them, crinkle tunnel marched upon endlessly to create a din. Woe to anyone that stays in the room. She has been known to actively work to wake you and then remove you from the room by blasting the walls of her "diggy box" with litter and shaking the pen fences with considerable force. Once you leave the room, Oh, good, it's gone! Not a peep from her again unless you make the mistake of trying to go back to sleep in there.

I'm sure the ponies offend her. "Ewww, stupid blobs of plastic that human is foolish enough to collect!" I made the mistake of "showing" her a pony one time. Said pony was chomped on, carried into her crinkle tunnel, and then defended like Fort Knox. Had I left it in there, I can promise you nothing would be left of that pony until it came out the other end of her in colorful cylindrical forms.

She's just so curmudgeonly that she's just....precious. How can you not adore a bunny that could easily obliterate all living things (save one that cleans her doodoo box and refreshes the hay pile) and then quietly return to contented Bunny Loaf form, quite pleased with herself?

I'll also note that on an frighteningly frequent basis I encounter evidence that shows me other humans have realized this bunny thing. Pay attention from here on out to how many times in entertainment media you'll find bunnies in positions to cause pwnage for humans and other creatures alike. Rayman Raving Rabbids, anyone? Surely you've seen Disapproving Rabbits? That's just the eeny-teeny tip of the iceberg. Now that I've alerted you, I promise that many other examples of this phenomenon will stick out. Feeling a bit paranoid now? I hear that offerings of Cheerios will reduce the torment slightly once Judgement Day comes.

I wish I could say that Scarlett's story ends with a "happily ever after." It hasn't. We discovered that she was suffering from previously undiagnosed cancer not long after we adopted her. It was easy to miss her tumors, what with the fact that humans were Bad News and holding her was an exercise in patience. If she's already poised to shred your hand, you're not going to be easily tempted to search her belly for lumps. Fortunately our vet is a specialist that works with the GLRS and suggested surgery to confirm the cancer and to remove the lumps. That helped for a while....and then the tumors came back, eliminating the hope that surgery could eradicate them. A series of immune-boosting medications has kept her with us since 2007. I consider that a major miracle considering how delicate rabbit health can be. Our vet has warned us, though, that despite our current luck our time will inevitably run out given her condition.

 I can't help but feel that her feisty nature has been a blessing. She's a fighter, both against those evil people that dare to come into Her Room and the cancer she is so unfortunate to have.

Let it be known that this is a Bunny Friendly Blog. I encourage you to visit the GLRS site and consider donating to their wonderful operation. They have gone above and beyond to create a safe haven for abused animals and have an incredible success rate at finding these rabbits new Forever Homes. I also ask that you remind anyone you might know that is considering a rabbit as a pet that responsible, humane rabbit ownership takes more than just a cage and a bowl of rabbit pellets. There are many books and sites (such as The House Rabbit Society ) that will explain the proper methods to ensure a pet rabbit has a healthy, happy, and long life. As we approach Eastertime, I especially ask that you strongly discourage anyone you know from using a rabbit as an "Easter Bunny" gift. These poor rabbits are the most abused of all and often the saddest stories to come out of places like GLRS. The decision to own a rabbit needs to be made thoughtfully and consciously, backed with research into humane ownership requirements. They are absolutely incredible pets....but unfortunately, the decision to become a rabbit owner made without thought can lead to heartbreaking results. When you do it the right way, however, you'll honestly wonder how you lived life without the ability to see a bunny go absolutely nuts over a plate of Romaine. Talk about stress relief!

I take great personal risk in revealing these secrets behind rabbit motivation. I dismantled the gun turrets Scarlett built, but I've been wondering why that box of camouflage-colored Legos is in her pen. And why I found a detonator buried under the litter in her diggy box. I'm sure this rash on my arm is just an allergic reaction. And all packages, like the large one that just showed up, make a ticking sound, right?


  1. What a sweet story! I never doubted that this was a bunny-friendly blog - I think only someone with deep insight into the minds of Rabbitkind would be able to come up with the Evil Amusement Park Lapine Empire of Doom. I send (extremely cautious) hugs to Scarlett, I hope she enjoys many more happy years with you.

    I have lots of rabbit-associated memories from my childhood, some delightful and others tragic. I wanted to be a rabbit when I grew up. Despite the fact that I've only ever had one as a pet, bunnies have definitely touched my life in a special way.

    I thought of you immediately when one of my Flickr friends posted this:

    Is that not hilarious?! Even a rabbit associated with Winnie the Pooh can be eerily sinister... More sinister rabbits can be found in the Wallace and Grommet movie, I believe - it's been a while since I've seen it but I think the villain is a set of hive-minded bunnies.

  2. LOL OMG Holly, evil Rabbit!! SEE?! Hehehe...the more you pay attention, the more often you see bunnies showing up in overlord roles. The Wallace and Gromit movie is a perfect example, too (yes we own it...of course -_^ ). The new movie Sucker Punch has a giant "bunny mech" (fights for the Users...I mean the good guys, but *still* wrong choice at dinnertime and bunny mech will use your behind as a trampoline...). "Evil Amusement Park Lapine Empire of Doom" killed me btw!

    I'm glad you liked the post! :) I just didn't want anyone to get the wrong idea. I've never been one to avoid rocking the boat when it needs rocking, but the last thing I'd ever be caught doing is saying anything abusive about animals. It's great to hear you understand the "bunny thing." :) They are truly rad pets. They just take a bit more time, patience, and tuning into their own needs than other pets might take. It's awesome having a little hopping vegetarian pet that loves to eat your leftover salad. ^_^