A Story of My Rabbit
The Nature Center was not open yet. I only had a few minutes to get all 36 animals fed and watered before I could open to greet curious animal lovers. But as I harriedly passed the glass door, racing back and forth to feed the snakes and turtles, I noticed a man walking towards the building, cradling something. “Oh Lord,” I mumbled to my daughter as she dropped some seeds to the chipmunk, “here comes another one.”
People were always calling the nature center, wanting us to rescue wildlife, doing what they thought was their best to save animals. But we continuously had to hang notices and tell people over and over We are not a rescue facility. Nobody here has certification to provide urgent care to wildlife. Over the numerous phone calls, a wildlife rescue phone number was given and we wished them well. But we couldn’t control it when we would arrive at the center and there would be a cardboard box of newly hatched wrens or a nest of baby squirrels abandoned at the door. I even once had to chastise a man I caught attempting to dump a snake into our decorative pond out front. But that day’s arrival was different. That time, it was a bunny.
I opened the door prepared to give the man the spiel, but I then noticed that this was no regular, brown Eastern Cottontail. This gray fuzzy-wuzzy was domestic. The gentleman explained that he found this cutie in the woods and, of course, my heart melted. I hated turning my back on people and animals in need, but I had to do it, over and over again. But this time, I fell in love and decided this little lagomorph was coming home with us.
Fuzzy-Wuzzy Moves In
We named him Momiji. After he healed from dehydration, and after my daughter cut out a cardboard box castle, crenellations included, he earned the title “Prince Momiji.” He lived in our living room and we doted on him as one should treat royalty. And boy, he really ruled us. Momiji instructed us, with snorts and nips, how a princely rabbit requires personal space, must be held, and the ideal foods for nobility. He honored us with the blessing of allowing us to rub his fuzzy tummy while he slept. We purchased a harness and leash to take him for walks so His Highness could eat plenty of clover flowers. We built make-shift, portable cages so he would never run out of fresh greens. And we acquired for him a backyard residence, an outdoor palace so he could vacation in the fresh air.
The Easter Hunt
What is the absolute BEST thing to have at an Easter party? A live animal! His Royal Highness honored us with his presence at my Granny’s house for the egg hunt and Easter meal. The tiny grandchildren adored him and took snuggly photos and everybody else displayed their love and adoration with kisses and caresses. Once thoroughly fatigued and overwhelmed, my girl took him out in the front yard, on his leash, for a break. I kept reminding her to watch him constantly and be sure not to remove the leash. She argued, “But MoMo’s being so still, Mom”. So I nervously kept a close eye on my kid as my stomach remained unsettled about the whole situation. And, sure enough, our prince bolted!
Out into the neighborhood street he fled, dodging a passing car. I shrieked for my husband to join the hunt as we all rushed into action, giving chase and calling Momiji! MoMo thrust himself into a pile of leftover autumn leaf litter, crunching and bouncing, and we crept up on him, slowly… cautiously…. quietly….fingers over lips….shhhhhhh….. Off again! Around a cul de sac and my mind was reeling with terror about the huge highway just down the hill, only two acres away. The horrors of a hit and run death of my rabbit triggered the image of the exact same death of my dog, years prior. Hit and run. Lungs punctured. Suffocated to death in my arms. What trauma that would have brought to my twelve year old child, as it did to me years before.
Momiji zigged and zagged several times through neighbors luscious lawns then decided to seek shelter under a Mercedes Benz. Thank goodness! My only option was to flatten myself, as much as humanly possible, and wedge myself underneath, sandwiched between damp asphalt and cold metal muffler. As I sweetly sang Mo-MEEEEEE-GEEEEE…….. Mo-MEEEEE-GEEEEEE I slowly dragged my hand around and then managed to quickly seize the scruff of his neck. I grasped his nape tightly, hoping not to hurt him, knowing that the pain of death is much worse, for all involved.
Shimmying my way from beneath the Mercedes crawlspace, and with a death-grip on Moe, we marched his little noble butt back across the street and into his carrier. Hubs provided him with a carrot reward for “letting us catch him” and placed his carrier into a quiet bedroom. My girl still wanted to play with him but I sternly advised her that our little Prince is done for the day. A bit of I-told-you-so was also added to the quip.
The whole extended family felt relieved that His Highness arrived safely back home. Easter was not ruined by the tragic death of our star guest. We all settled back in to counting our colorful plastic eggs. The adults stole chocolate treats discovered inside the pastel eggs while kids counted the coins found in the golden ones. Ham biscuits and desserts were devoured and everybody headed home, colorful baskets loaded with prizes, grateful for the adventures of the day.
Last to leave, our car loaded with treats, gladness and relief filled my heart knowing that all was well again. But little did I realize that our adorable Prince Momiji was already busy planning his next aristocratic shenanigans. He settled into a nice nap full of dreams of chewing electrical cords and holes into favorite, homemade blankets.
This year, for Easter, we have chicks….
View a photo of Prince Momiji receiving his belly rub https://www.facebook.com/ArtUnabated/photos/a.379114625557071/2267259876742527/
Click here to see more of my paintings! https://artunabated.com/tag/painting/