The day God blessed a vet to repair a rabbit
Last month I wrote about how I came to possess two pets who became as much of my heritage as anyone, or anything, possibly could. What I didn’t have space then to write about was about the years of their lives and how they ingrained themselves into my life forever.
One of the first signs Bunky and Jumbo might be a handful came when we went away for a day trip. If I remember correctly it was a trip to Nashville, to Opryland. Money being tight like it was, we didn’t go anywhere and stay overnight.
We left early that morning and got home late that night. The rabbits were still pretty young, and we hadn’t had a chance to develop a long-term plan on what we were going to do with them, or where they would live. So, they were living temporarily in a large cardboard box.
We got home and they had pretty much clawed and chewed one of the corners out of the box. We knew a sturdier cage would soon be needed. I and my parents were split, though, on where they would live. Mom was adamant they would live outside in a large pen, and Dad put together a good-sized space for them, complete with double-walling on the wire mesh to protect them from our cats.
That’s how it was supposed to work. The very first afternoon the pen was completed, I remember coming home from school and standing with Mom and my brother and younger sister outside this new pen. The rabbits looked quite happy inside, running around on real grass.
All was well until moments later, when one of our cats raced past us and in a split second threw her paw into a space just big enough for it to fit in the wiring. She hit her target, Bunky. She ripped the skin from just under Bunky’s front left leg at her chest pretty much all the way down. It was absolutely awful.
This was probably one of those days Mom earned a sainthood badge because, despite what was obviously going to happen to this rabbit after such a brutal attack, she heeded my cries, wrapped up the rabbit and raced to Russellville to a veterinarian’s office. The Vet said he wasn’t sure how to operate on a wild rabbit and, given her weight – she weighed just a few ounces – he wasn’t even sure she would wake up from the anesthesia he would need to give her to do the surgery. Mom said she told him bluntly just to do what he had to do because she had a devastated kid in the car crying his eyes out over this rabbit. (I had refused to go in because I was afraid she was going to die and I didn’t want to witness it.)
That afternoon was the second time in her short life that God intervened on her and my behalf. The vet was able to sew up the wound and, for the rest of her life, she appeared none the worse for wear, other than that she had a weird looking droop of chest-hair-covered skin going halfway down her left front leg.
That wasn’t the last run-in with a cat Bunky had. After the vet visit, we knew the rabbits weren’t going to be able to be outside rabbits, and they took up permanent residence in our basement.
A few years later Mom got a cat, a white flame-point Himalayan she named Casper. When the cat and the rabbits shared the same space, we had to be careful to keep them separated. That meant he wasn’t allowed downstairs.
One day we returned from an outing and as we drove up to the house, we could see Bunky running free at one of her favorite spots, inside the sliding glass doors. We knew she shouldn’t have been out of the cage. That meant the rabbits and the cat were inside together. We immediately knew something could be very, very wrong.
We weren’t prepared for the scene we would see when we went in. I’ll detail that scene next month.
Jason Collum is Publisher of The Red Bay News.