For decades, I have loved rabbits. About eight years ago, I bought one at a pet store, not knowing too much about them. Snowball soon died of an unknown health problem, so a vet friend convinced me to get another one, but to adopt from a shelter. Cocoa, a dwarf black bunny, came home with me and soon had another rescue pal named Muffin, a tiny Holland Lop. Pumpkin was rescued from a pet store. Pepper was the “toy” of some neighborhood children until they relinquished him to a better life with me. My family room was an extension of the kitchen and had plenty of space for the rabbits’ pens.
About the same time I took in Pepper, I agreed to foster a rabbit from the shelter. He was a dwarf mix, white with brown spots and big brown eyes. Somehow his assigned name of “Tucker” seemed too mundane. I renamed him “Hershey” because the color of his eyes was the same as Hershey’s Cocoa powder. He turned out to be a charming little guy with a big personality. He could binky right up onto my couch and was especially good at this when I was drinking cranberry juice. Soon he and Pepper became “buds”.
My husband left for a month-long hiking trip last July, so I decided to take a dance class at the local college in the evenings. I arrived home late one evening famished from the workout. I decided to scramble some eggs. What a treat they would be, sizzling in butter and topped off with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Retreating to my bedroom with my snack, I gobbled it down and quickly fell into a deep sleep. Probably about half an hour later, I awoke to loud thumping. Rabbits, of course, thump their hind legs when they sense danger. My rabbits would rarely thump in the middle of the night, unless something, such as an outdoor cat, had their attention. I knew immediately that something was wrong.
I stumbled out of bed half awake and somewhat confused. The thumping continued. I flicked on the hallway light and ran into the kitchen. By now, smoke was coming out from the kitchen. The pan I had used to cook my eggs was smoking. I immediately grabbed a towel and threw the pan into the sink. Then I cranked open the windows and opened up all of the sliding glass doors. How stupid could I be to leave the pan on the burner and not turn off the stove?
As the smoke cleared, I glanced over at Hershey. He was hunched in a corner of his pen, stomping his hind legs. His eyes were wide with fear as he continued to thump; the other rabbits hid in their cardboard boxes. As the smoke finally dissipated, I realized the worst: the smoke could have killed Hershey and the other rabbits. I sat down on the floor beside him and stroked the soft fur on his back, assuring him the warren was safe.
Most people don’t realize that rabbits can make intelligent, adorable pets who can be taught to come when called and adore affection. And after Hershey probably saved me and my home, I can honestly say that perhaps they are good watchmen as well!
By Georgiana Hall
House Rabbit Journal Winter 2011: Volume V, Number 6