Who’s the Pet?

Holly is a very good rabbit; I am a very bad mother. She has gently helped me learn that fact in the two years we have shared. I have also learned who really gets trained and who is the one guiding and reminding, never complaining.

I have come to learn her soft body, the parts that itch and need scratching. The sides next to her ears that long for rubbing. Her big brown eyes full of patience and knowledge. The set of her ears tells me her moods; her teeth grinding is rabbit purring.

Holly chews the carpet industriously, tugging it out of the pad with her strong teeth. I scold her and then get back to stripping my cuticles bare and splitting my nails, like so many sheets of mica.

She goes to the bathroom next to her newspaper, but not on it, fastidiously reminding me that it hasn’t been changed and offends her bunny sensibilities. She washes her face and ears carefully, sometimes seeming to preen in front of my full-length mirror. I can do a full makeup and hair on myself without ever once really seeing my face.

Holly eats hungrily, full of enjoyment and relishing the crunch, till her little stomach bulges. Then she rests, contentedly leaning against the window. I munch and nibble to fill a hollow that has never really been in my stomach, and thus can’t be filled with food.

She chooses to be with me, or not, but sometimes will stay just because I need her, when she would rather be somewhere else, kicking up her heels in a clover field. I forget her for hours and then demand to have my bunny now, little concerned for her needs and desires. Holly tolerates this, while hoping I will finally learn.

Who trains whom? And which is the superior being? Only in sharing my life with an animal can I begin to understand myself.

by Denise P. Kalm

House Rabbit Journal Volume II, Number 7