Rabbit Season 

A hare-raising lesson

A hare-raising lesson

Co-inspector Rick pointed to the bushes beside the company car. “Yo, Wally,” he said, “check out that big-ass rabbit.” I looked down, and sure enough, there squatted a sand-colored rabbit about the size of a full-grown beagle. Its ears alone were bigger than any rabbit I’d ever seen. Its eyes were the size of dimes, and its hind feet were about the size of a basset hound’s.

Now, if I were like all my old rock ’n’ roll bandmates—with a long history of taking not just drugs, but a whole lot of low-quality, high-potency homemade drugs—I would’ve doubted my own eyes. Clean-living guy that I am, though, I was sure I was looking at a cold, wet, trembling giant rabbit, which was trying to eat neighbor Ellen’s clematis vine. Then I remembered: Ellen had said something about feeding an abandoned pet rabbit at a vacant house down the block.

I figured this was either the abandoned pet rabbit, escaped and easy prey for evil neighbor dogs, or some freak of nature that I could take on the road and charge people to see. Either way, I thought I’d best get a hold of the rabbit. I reached down and picked it up, and it was happy enough to let me do it. Clearly, it was a pet rabbit. I dropped it over the fence into the Jowers backyard, and left to do the day’s work.

The rabbit was still in the backyard when I got home. I called Ellen. “Look in my backyard,” I said, “and tell me if that’s the rabbit you’ve been feeding.”

“Yep,” she said. “That’s it.”

“How long have you been feeding it?” I asked.

“About a year.”

Well, that was all I needed to know. I figure if a neighbor moves out of his house, and his pet rabbit escapes after a year in solitary, that’s nature’s own free-ranging rabbit. If a free, lonesome bunny wants to come live in my backyard, I’ll go along with that—especially if the bunny’s former owner borrowed my perfectly good double-bladed ax and posthole digger, and never brought either one of them back.

When daughter Jess got home, she saw the rabbit sitting on our deck. “Daddy, what’s that?” she wondered.

“Big-ass rabbit, daughter,” I replied.

“I can see that.” She rolled her eyes. “Is it ours?”

“Not exactly,” I said. “It’s an independent rabbit. If it stays, good. If it leaves, that’s OK too.”

“Is it a boy rabbit or a girl rabbit?”

“Don’t know. Don’t even know how to tell. Call it Pat.”

By nightfall, wife Brenda had procured a big bag of rabbit food, and she had turned our old recycling bin into a little rabbit house. In the meantime, I got on the Internet and figured out that Pat was a purebred Flemish giant, and that she was a girl rabbit.

As it turns out, a Flemish giant rabbit makes a fine pet. Once they figure out you’ve got food, they’ll run up to meet you like a love-starved Chihuahua. They’ll stand up like a showdog and eat a banana right out of your hand. They live about as long as a trembly little lapdog and cost about one-tenth as much.

Best of all, these big rabbits poop small—little bitty pellets that don’t even stink. You can step right in Flemish giant poop, and it’ll just fall off your shoe. No scraping, no digging it out of your sole with a stick. Of all the pets I’ve had, only fish were less messy.

After a few weeks, we Jowerses bonded with Pat. There’s something magical about looking out into your backyard and seeing a rabbit the size of a watermelon hopping around. It’s a little like living in Teletubby Land.

Well, don’t you know, my wretched pet luck jumped up and bit me again. Somehow, my former neighbor found out that his former bunny had moved into my backyard. On Easter Sunday, he came and repossessed Pat. He went on and on about how his children missed the bunny, and how he needed to take her home. He told me he’d return my ax and posthole digger within a day or two. Well, he didn’t take Pat to his new house. He just locked her back in his abandoned backyard. And of course, I’m still waiting on my tools.

A few weeks ago, we Jowerses went down to Georgia, to a real-enough rabbit farm. We got ourselves a brand-new baby bunny. She’s another Flemish giant—pedigreed, a descendant of Woolybooger’s Bubba. (Unlike dog breeders, rabbit breeders give their critters pleasantly lowbrow handles.) Jess named her Buffy. Right now, Buffy lives in our garden house. Pretty soon, she’ll be roaming the backyard.

Now, if I can just convince myself that Pat can have a good time all by herself, without anybody to feed her bananas and scratch behind her ears, everything will be all right.

Visit Walter Jowers’ Web site at www.housesenseinc.com, or e-mail him at walter.jowers@nashville.com.

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