“Well, what do you think?” Mr. Gabler asked his wife, as he hammered the last nail into the outdoor run. For the past six months he’d lovingly designed and worked on the outdoor play area for Gutherie, their black and white rabbit. Since coming to live with the Gablers, Gutherie had enjoyed a life of luxury. He had lots of companionship and room to roam; most of the day the house was his to explore. For his part, Gutherie made a concerted effort to remember what was his to chew and to use his litter pan faithfully. He knew he brought happiness to the Gablers because they made strange cooing noises and nudged him with their noses. But the Gablers didn’t know about Gutherie’s past.Gutherie had escaped a dismal life-sentence living in a cold, outdoor hutch. Seizing his opportunity one day when the door had been left unfastened, he made his way to a nearby park, and there he lived for a time until someone found him and took him to a rabbit rescue agency. His experiences had made him scrappy and brave, and he was proud of it. But before too long, with all the kindness that had been shown to him, he learned trust and developed affection to add to his attributes. One lazy morning while the Gablers sipped coffee and read the Sunday paper in the splendor of their garden, Gutherie too off sprinting the length of his run. “Look at Gutherie,” Mr. Gabler said to his wife, “What do you suppose he’s doing? Gutherie slid into the end of his cage, rolled over and bounded off in the other direction.”I don’t know, but he sure seems happy out here.”Can’t they smell the fresh dandelion greens, Gutherie wondered? I’d know dandelions a mile away, he thought. He settled back down in a corner of the run, only to be tempted once again by a faint breeze carrying the spicy aroma. Up he hopped and danced about.
“He’s at it again,” Mrs. Gabler said, peering over the top of her paper.
The next day Mrs. Gabler brought Gutherie out to his run. “I’ll be back soon. Enjoy the great outdoors,” she said.
Gutherie settled into his corner. Presently a breeze stirred the air and tickled his nose. There was that sweet, earthy smell of fresh dandelions again. He jumped up, hopped the length of the run and rolled into a stop. Fuuwump, out of the run he tumbled. He shook himself off and saw a spot where the wire had not been nailed down. Hmm, he thought, Mr. Gabler isn’t as handy with a hammer as he thinks. And off Gutherie headed toward the call of fresh dandelions.
Under the fence and into the neighbor’s yard he hopped. The lawn was overgrown and dandelions grew everywhere. Gutherie set about enjoying as many as he could. After stuffing himself, he found a nice shady patch and settled down to relax. Soon he became aware of a different smell, one that was familiar yet strange at the same time. He dug under the next fence and scampered through that garden. Yes, the smell was definitely getting stronger.
Carefully he slid under the hedge and investigated. There, on the other side of the yard, was a run down shack with an open front. A sagging old hutch was built into the shack and inside were twelve rabbits. Without thinking, Gutherie dashed across the yard to the hutch. He stood on his haunches and twitched his nose, to assess the situation.
“Better be careful or he’ll throw you in here with the rest of us,” said a rabbit with dull eyes. Gutherie was confused a little bit frightened. In all his life he had never come across a sight like this. “I’d like to help you, but I’m not sure what I can do,” Gutherie offered.
“Jump up on the table next to the sink. I’ve been thinking about this ever since I had the misfortune of being thrown into this dump. I have an idea. As the spokes-rabbit laid out his plan, Gutherie noticed that his eyes began to reflect a spark of life.
Gutherie was a good jumper. He made the table in one try, but when he landed, he hit something cold and sharp, and it rang out with a clang as it landed in the sink.
“Hurry!” cried the spokes-rabbit, “before we all become bunny meat!” Gutherie froze when he saw the deep grooves worn into the table, where helpless rabbits had scratched in panic, and the blackish-red stains at his feet. Suddenly he understood his mission and sprang into action.
Gutherie pulled at the catch with his teeth while he pushed against the door with his feet. Again and again, he tugged and pushed with all his might, until finally the hook gave way. The spokes-rabbit threw his hefty body against the door, opening it outward. “I’ll take up the rear,” he cried. Gutherie hopped down to lead the way, and soon thirteen rabbits could be seen scurrying across the yard and under fences until the last rabbit had squeezed his body into the safety of Gutherie’s run.
When Mr. Gabler returned home from work, Gutherie was waiting by the front door as usual. “Welcome home Mr. Do-it-yourself,” Mrs. Gabler said sarcastically as her husband entered the house. “I want you to come see the result of your handy-work:” Mr. Gabler knew right away that something was wrong. Perhaps Gutherie had escaped the run and damaged the drip system or eaten some of Mrs. Gabler’s favorite plants.
Mr. Gabler walked out to the garden with Gutherie close behind. He teetered back on his fee, his eyes wide with disbelief at the sight of a dozen rabbits realizing in Gutherie’s run.
“What could you have been thinking–taking on this many rabbits without discussing it with me first!” he shouted at his wife.
“I found them this afternoon just like this when I came out to get Gutherie, Mrs. Gabler answered sharply.
“Well, you’re looking at the impossible.” The she showed him the corner of the run where the wire was unsecured.
“I’ve heard of rabbits escaping through holes, but letting themselves in…?”
“I’ve already called the rabbit rescue society,” said Mrs. Gabler, her voice now calm and steady. I can bring them over tomorrow.”
“Wait. Let’s think about this first,” said Mr. Gabler. “We could get more cages, and I’ll build some more runs. You know how I enjoy working with my hands,” he said proudly.
If he builds any more runs like this one, it will be dandelion city for all of us rabbits, Gutherie thought with delight and he danced around Mr. and Mrs. Gablers’ feet.
House Rabbit Journal Volume II, Number 10