Breaking the pattern


This is the way it usually goes:

Step 1: stray or abandoned animal shows up on my doorstep or is dumped in my office.
Step 2: I say “No, I do not want/need another pet.”
Step 3: “OK, well, I’ll take care of it until I can figure out another situation for it or find its owner.”
Step 4: said with feigned resignation, “oh, OK, well the other animals have accepted it, so I guess I’m keeping it.”

That has been the pattern for all four of my current pets,  and has been the pattern for pretty much all my pets during my during my adulthood. That is, until last week.

One evening, about three weeks ago, my co-worker Patricia texted me – “I found a baby bunny in the park. You want a bunny?”  I immediately texted her back. “No, but I can advise you how to take care of it until the SPCA is open tomorrow morning.”  “Oh never mind”, she texted back, “we’ll just leave him here tonight and come back tomorrow.”  “That would be a death sentence for the bunny – raccoons, dogs, etc. – easy to keep him overnight and keep him safe” I responded back with some urgency. “Oh, OK.” she finally relented.

The next day she told me that her 10 year old nephew was going to keep the little bunny.  I kind of cringed when she told me that since children have notoriously short attention spans when it comes to small animals.  But, I proceeded to send her a plethora of links on the care and feeding of bunnies, and offered to bring her some hay.  I was happy to act as bunny consultant as long as that meant the bunny wasn’t ending up on my doorstep.

But, let’s go back to Step 1, shall we?  While I may have avoided having the bunny land on my doorstep, I didn’t dodge having the bunny dumped in my office.  As I feared, the nephew showed no interest in actually taking care of the little creature, and for close to a week had kept it exclusively in a 2′ x 2′ Rubbermaid storage box.  Well, that’s not completely true, they let it out once, only to have their two foxhounds terrify and attack the little guy.

Patricia brought the rabbit into the office on Monday to let me “see it”.  What a cute little guy.  It wasn’t a baby like Patricia said, but a full grown English Spotted Rabbit.  He looked in good condition, though I quickly saw that she had taken none of my advice re: his litter or food.  Once she told me that he hadn’t been out of that box for 5 days, I offered to let him hop around my office for a while, though I still insisted I had no intention of taking him home.  Apparently, no one in the office believed me.

I could tell he was so happy to get out of that damn box.  He did a few laps of my office,  and then proceeded to check everything out. Finally, he stretched out near my feet, looking quite normal and well adjusted, especially for a little guy who had been through so much.   And unlike my two bunnies, he didn’t fuss when you picked him up, so we also got in some major snuggle time.  What a sweet, sweet little guy. And soft?  Insanely soft – made Mr. Binkles feel like a damn brillo pad.  But, still, I had no intention of taking the bunny home.

When 5:00 came around, Patricia came in to say good bye to the bunny.  “What?  No! Listen I spoke with a couple of rabbit rescue organizations and they recommended that you take him to the San Francisco Animal Control Shelter – they work with Save-A-Rabbit.  He’ll be fine.”  I said somewhat unconvincingly. “Thanks for taking care of Mr. Bunz!”  Patricia said as she flounced out of my office.  I could have sworn I heard some of my co-workers laugh in the background.

So, now we’re at Step 3.  Of course, I could have taken the little guy to the SF Animal Shelter.  But, I wanted to talk to Judy, the rabbit rescue lady in Berkeley first.  Maybe even try and get him placed with her. But she wasn’t in, so I had no choice but to take the little guy home with me.  Really, I had no choice.

When I started the day, I had no idea I would be taking home a rabbit, so I was ill-prepared.  But, I figured as long as I kept him away from Mr. Binkles and Mrs. Peabody, everything should be fine.  Since the sun room is the only thoroughly bunny proofed room, I put him in there – separate from my two buns, though they were able to see each other. Perhaps that was a mistake.  Binkles was FURIOUS.  Fit to be tied.  Fire coming out of nostrils.  That was one pissed off bunny.  When I let him out for his free time later than evening, one of the first things he did was to come over and take a big bite out of my arm.  Mr. Binkles was not pleased.

Later that evening, I moved the visitor bun into my office where I could close him off and seperate him completely from the other two.  But, that didn’t fool Mr. Binkles.  As I sat in my office with the little guy, I could hear Binkles pacing back and forth at the door, like some kind of jealous enraged lover.  This was not promising.

For the next week I tried to make it work, hoping the Mr. Binkles would eventually calm down. The house ended up being divided into two different turfs: Mr. Binkles and Mrs. Peabody had the front part of the house, while the back part belonged to the visitor. Moving between those two turfs became increasingly difficult as one of the bunnies was always waiting at the door trying to get at the other.  And finally it happened.  Mr. Binkles slipped underneath my feet and charged towards the little visitor bun. An ugly and ferocious fight broke out.  Tufts of fur were flying.  Not wanting to stick my hand or my foot into the middle of that melee, I grabbed a shoe and placed it between them. I was then able to pick up the visitor bun, but not before Binkles once again latched himself onto the little one with his teeth.  I had a hold of one bun, but I ended up lifting them both up.  Grabbing Binkles’ jaw, I was finally able to get him disconnected from the visitor.  Everyone got put away for the night so that mommy could take a Valium and try to figure out what to do.

I was finally able to get a hold of Judy, the rabbit rescue lady.  She assured me that if I took him to the Berkeley Animal Shelter that after a short holding period he would be transferred to her care.  That was the reassurance I needed.  I would be able to track the little guy’s progress, even visit him on the weekends until he gets adopted.

After Binkles and the visitor bun got a taste of each other’s blood, their obsession with each other just grew worse.   Granted I knew some of this aggression was happening because the little guy wasn’t neutered.  And sure, I could have had him neutered, and then after the hormones died down tried to bond him with my other two.  That process could have taken two months or more, and even then there were no guarantees they would get along.  Step 4 looked like it probably was not going to happen.  I hated giving up, but knew what I had to do.

I was surprised how emotional I got when I gave him up to the Berkeley Animal Shelter.  He really had a lovely, sweet personality.  I was relieved when to see that the woman who handled the bunnies was clearly such a gentle soul.  She reaffirmed that after his neutering, he’ll be sent to Judy’s rabbit rescue.

Good luck little guy.  I hope you find a permanent home where you can be happy and loved.

10 responses »

  1. ugh… I have a similar post in the works, LB. I’ve always had a soft spot for strays and as I got older and more established would help one out now and again.

    But ever since The Deistette has moved in, it’s been non-stop strays. And it’s not just her. I’ve been finding them, too. Even her son, found a little stray dog once.


    I need to remember Rule 2. Maybe tattoo it on my forearm. Maybe in bold and all caps. “NO, I DO NOT WANT/NEED ANOTHER PET.”

  2. You did the right thing. I’ve got 3 rabbits now (2 of them are elderly), 2 guinea pigs (just about 1.5 years each), and 1 dog (middle-aged for her breed) and I’ve been thinking lately that as they go (at their own time, in their own karmic way), I won’t be so quick to refill their space. I’d like to try contributing to animals in a different, less poopy way. Sometimes it really is time to say when, at least for a time.

    I think you did what you thought was best for little Spot. English Spots are little clowns and I’m sure he’ll be a wonderful companion for somebody.

  3. How could anyone abandon a tame rabbit in the park?????

    Honestly, I really believe people should have to take a test to be allowed to have a pet.

    You did absolutely all the right things, and I bet the little chap will soon be adopted by someone who will love him and let him hop around to his heart’s content.

  4. I firmly believe this is a pattern you will never break. I use my own life as an example.

    Cat dies. We swear we aren’t going to get another cat. We see cat from shelter. We adopt cat.

    This seems to be a pattern for us as well. And should we ever end up with someone needing to find a home for an animal for one reason or another, I can pretty much bet we would be the ones to take it.

    In the end though, its the end result that counts. You did what was right for the new guy, and in the end he’ll be better off for it.

    So with that kind of result, is there really a need to break the pattern anyway?

  5. Good news for animal lovers: it’s highly likely you’ll be spending at least some of your future lives with animal aggregates. But hey, at least you’ll be among friends.

    LB, I’m sure that your kindness will be repaid.

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