Wild About Animals
By Kenneth Hoffman
Look what we found!” My brother and I raced into the house, arms extended, each with a tiny baby rabbit. “Can we keep ’em? Can we keep ’em?” we shouted. My mother loved animals (cats and dogs) and didn’t have the heart to refuse immediately. She wisely deferred the decision to the master of the house. While we waited for my dad to come home, we played with the bunnies and started to mentally list all the reasons to keep the rabbits as pets. One baby wore a pure white coat and a circle of dark gray around her eyes. Her brother sported white and gray areas with black tipped guard hairs down his back. We laughed as they hopped over one another, probably looking for their mother, and watched as they left little round presents that we quickly snatched up before our mother could see.
Installing the twins in a cardboard box made comfortable with shredded newspaper and leaf lettuce, we hurried outside to build a hutch. Not for a moment did we think that good old Dad would not take the orphans in. We looked again, but there was no sign of the mother rabbit. The chicken wire we found would scarcely keep a grown rabbit locked up much less a two ounce baby bunny. But after much hammering and a few screams of pain, the hutch was finished. Sweating, we carried the box to the back yard and covered it with canvas, ready for the moment of truth.
Soon, Dad arrived and was immediately surrounded with shouted explanations of our adventure and pleadings to be allowed to keep them. Weren’t we lucky to have found two, one for each of us? We automatically discounted our younger sister for being too young. Kitchen noises were followed by a call to supper. My dad sat in his favorite chair reading the paper while my mother insisted we wash our hands — again. At the table, there was much discussion about how wild animals thrived in the out-of-doors and how they often contracted colds and such from the heat in the house. Barely weaned, my brother tried feeding the bunnies with a doll baby bottle with a real rubber tip, but it didn’t work. Finally, my mother supplied us with an eye dropper which worked if we force fed the struggling animals.
After supper, we went to gather the bunnies to further our pleas to our silent father. Huddled deep in one corner of the box was the white rabbit, shivering with fright. Of the male rabbit there was no sign. A frantic search under the furniture and in every corner was fruitless. Panicky, we even tried to enlist my dad in the search for the missing animal. Suddenly, from the living room we heard my dad say, “Uh oh , here he is!” He had inadvertently sat on the bunny, squashing him with his full weight as he sat in his favorite chair. Now a bag of bones lying still on the cushion, his little rabbit soul had gone to bunny heaven. Carrying him outside in a match box, I dug a hole by the glow of a flashlight held by my brother.
Back inside, my brother and I reluctantly agreed that the lone survivor be transported to his burrow, come what may. My dad reminded us that though we mourned the loss of our baby bunny, there were probably hundreds of rabbits in the woods behind the house. That night, as we cuddled our favorite cat in our bed, we dreamed of rabbits by the millions.
Retired portrait photographer. Do you have any similar experiences?
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