When I was a kid, I had a bunny named “Wiggles.” It took forever for Wiggles to die. My dad always said that ornery people live longer just because they’re spiteful. The same goes for bunnies, apparently. I shouldn’t blame it all on the bunny. As a child I had desperately begged for a pet bunny. My dad, being a smart man, jumped at the opportunity to placate his whining son with a cheap pet that can be released into the wild once its caretaker tires of it. I never had the heart to release it into the wild but I definitely got tired of it. Partly because the novelty wore off and partly because playing with it was like sticking your hand into wood chipper. Wiggles didn’t like being held very much.
There were many times when I was settling into my comfy bed on a cold night when my mom would open the door and ask, “Did you feed Wiggles today?” I’d moan and slide under the covers and mumble a reluctant “no.” Then I’d have to perform a forced march beyond the outer reaches of the porch light where dangerous figments of my imagination lurked. I’d throw the scoop of food in the general direction of the bunny cage, about-face, and churn my legs in the direction of the light, kind of like a SCUBA diver who just ran out of air. The faster I ran, the closer the imaginary monsters were behind me, which is a mathematical formula that’s hard to beat.
I could see the need for a pet, however. Our kids are city slickers. Every time we take them to the petting zoo, they’re scared of half the animals there. They need some toys that aren’t plastic and can fight back. Elliot literally screams with joy whenever he meets a dog. Adi screams with fear. So they both need to chill out a little and getting them used to a pet seemed like a good idea. But what pet? Dogs cost too much. Plus we’re probably leaving in a year and so I wanted something I could sell or pass on to someone else easily and without much fuss. Janice said a no to a guinea pig. Alpacas spit at people. That’s when my brother-in-law informed me that he raises mini lop-eared blue eyed bunnies that make great pets. I was a little doubtful. I presumed a wood chipper would be just as cuddly and it would be far more practical. We could make mulch for the flowerbeds and maybe even rent it to neighbors. We also know a family that owned a rabbit. One day it chewed through a water line in the bathroom and flooded the room with several inches of water. But it’s hard to say no to cute kids and besides, the price was right. Plus, the same guy who was selling me a bunny owns the house we live in. I could blame the water line problems on his own products. So we bought a bunny and it’s actually pretty awesome.
I’ve never seen such a docile bunny. Adi carries it by wrapping the crook of her elbow around its throat. It’s front feet stick straight up and if you look hard enough, you can see a little nose sticking out, wiggling back and forth. It’s the only sign of life. I’m not sure if the bunny has been dropped too often and it’s braindead or if it’s just playing dead so that these predators will stop toying with it. Either way, Adi loves it. She stuffs it onto shelves, in the back of her tricycle, in the cushions of the sofa.
Elliot just throws it though the air and laughs while the bunny attempts to fly. Boys and girls are different. Whoever tells you differently is trying to sell you something.
The bad thing about bunnies is that they seem to poop a lot. This is mitigated by the fact that what comes out of their backsides is packaged nicely as hard little nuggets. Kind of like chickens, but different. It’s easy to clean up. Unless, of course, they eat too much grass. Then it’s a smeary mess, just like dog poop. We found that out the hard way. I’m not sure if it’s just this breed or bunnies in general but apparently this little ball of fur is grass intolerant. The one thing I thought I knew about bunnies was that they ate grass. I had built a little rabbit hutch with a spacious outdoor cage. I was expecting to let the bunny hop around and nibble grass through the floor of the cage, too happy and content to become malicious. The last thing you want is for your bunny to start getting bitter and resentful towards human beings. That’s when they start scheming to dig holes through your arms whenever you pick them up. Anyway, soft fluffy fur and smeary poop is a bad combination, at least according to Adi. She came running to me and held up the bunny by its head. “Yucky. The bunny has poop on it!” Eww. It sure did.
“Honey,” I yelled across the room to Janice, “We should give the bunny a bath.”
“You give it a bath.”
Well, that settled it. I filled the sink with water and gave the bunny a bath. I’ve also given a chicken a bath in the kitchen sink and between the two, I’d say a bunny is actually easier. I used a hair dryer to blow dry Hoppy then used the scissors on my Leatherman to trim the hair around his bottom. Parenthood makes you do weird things.
So far, Adi seems to be enthralled with her new pet but if it all goes south, Josh, my supervisor at work, has suggested a wide variety of recipes that would suit the bunny just fine.
Who am I kidding? I’m a sucker when it comes to cute animals. I had a guinea pig once and it got deathly sick. My dad suggested that I drop a cinder block on it. I couldn’t get myself to do it. So he got out a 12 gauge shotgun and sent it on a quick trip to guinea pig heaven. My dad’s motto was always, “Shoot, shovel, and shut up!” On this occasion, though, the shooting did all the work. We didn’t have to shovel anything. It was like using a nuclear bomb as a post hole digger – overwhelmingly effective! But the Snader family has a long history of overwhelming problems with solutions so effectively that we’re often accused of being excessive. I can’t bring any examples to mind right now, but I’m sure there’s plenty.