We have a rabbit, a rare breed of rabbit that somehow wound up in a pet store and was selected (saved, really) by a certain representative of the Easter Bunny Foundation and delivered with enormous care to us on an Easter Sunday morning a couple years ago. This fine, fluffy creature came to us with the promise that he would remain small (I hear laughing) and that the young person to whom his care was devoted would, in fact, readily participate in providing said care. (I hear more laughing.) This was a serious promise we undertook considering that the rabbit was in fact a close cousin of the famed egg-gifting lagomorph who bestowed us with this great responsibility. It was an honor, I explained to my daughter. I reminded her that should this dear creature suffer from lack of care he would have to be delivered to another family who would appreciate him more.
Let’s just say that the rabbit’s needs are mostly met by me, the mom. Of course, I knew this would happen, but the irony is that he holds it against me. Small furry creatures have definite preferences, they have attitudes. This one is no different. Apparently, I am less than because I shovel his poo. I supervise his feedings and water bottle freshening. I replace soiled bedding with nice, fresh cedar chips. I make sure the children don’t manhandle him, and when he stomps his foot during a long bout of visiting in the living room, I make sure he is returned safely to his den. This rabbit prefers children. He rides in their toy push trucks or on skateboards. He tolerates houses of pillows or blocks built around him. He will bundle down in the lap of even the smallest tyke that is willing to hold still for 30 seconds of time with “wabbie”. But when I stroll in and scoop the critter out of his cage for cleaning, he starts complaining. He sits on the top of the dryer where he can watch safely and says, quite clearly in the way that rabbits do, “Hey! You! That’s my poo you’re moving around in there. Wait now. Put that back. I had it just right in there. Oh, wait now. Waiiiit just a cotton-pickin’ second. You did not refill the tray with the right food. I like the rabbit party snacks with the crunchy colored kibbles in there. I cannot believe you bought the cheap, plain stuff again! Come now, woman. I know what you buy for the dog. You’re just discriminating against me because of my size or something. Wait just a minute! Did you put cold water in that bottle? Don’t you know I like it room temperature! For crying out loud!”
Unless, you’ve had a rabbit, and we have had many, you could not possibly know how ticked off these creatures can get if their routines are altered or how absolutely pleased as punch they can be if they see the dog getting in trouble. While most creatures show absolute gratitude toward the person who provides their food, removes their poop, and shelters them from the elements, this one rabbit sees my care as a class issue: Here she comes again. It’s the maid. I need to tell her that she missed a spot dusting. And you know what, I would really prefer bottled water with electrolytes.
Despite the fact that the rabbit writes me off as a second class citizen, and despite the fact that my daughter does not clean the cage and needs to be reminded to feed her bunny, I have chosen not to send him to another devotee of the Easter Rabbit. My threat, which has been restated from time to time to the small people of the house, really should be directed at him.
“Listen here, rabbit! I know the kids are all fun and games, but without me, you’d dehydrate and starve. You better straighten up and lose the attitude, pal. Don’t think I can’t send you right back where you came from.”
I can just see him, perched loftily on the dryer, filing his nails, holding one paw out for inspection, and saying, “Yeah? Well when you do, just make sure you buy me a ticket in first class, Cinderella.”