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Of Speedy’s Downfall

Friday April 11, 2003

The other day my wife brought home a baby bunny. She had stopped at the pet store on the way home from work and picked it out from a bunch of baby bunnies. There is nothing like a baby bunny. They are perhaps the cutest thing in the world. 

You know bunnies are born hairless and very tiny into a bed of fur picked from their mothers’ coats. Tiny hairless blind tiny things squirmy and hungry for mothers’ milk. Ours is of course covered with fur and has its eyes wide open. It’s a female, so they say, but it is hard to tell at this age and we have gotten it wrong before: Peter turned out to be a girl and Fuzzy a boy. 

Nothing says spring like a baby bunny. They do a thing called “pop corn” where they leap straight up in the air and turn on a dime. Nothing, that is, except perhaps the blossoms of our Santa Rosa Plum Tree. Incredible white cascade against the blue skies of March. In just a heartbeat they turn into an abundance of delicious sweet and sour treats. 

I tied a yellow ribbon around that plum tree during the Gulf War vowing not to take it down until my nephew returned from his war duty in the Persian Gulf. He did return and today is in good health. Thank you God. And I took the yellow ribbon down. 

Today I am thinking of putting up another yellow ribbon for all those boys and girls and men and women who have left their homes and are missing this spring weather and blossoms and baby bunnies. 

I was happy to see the new bunny but also worried. I wondered how Fuzzy, our adult bunny who lives in our backyard, and this new baby bunny would get along. Bunnies are very complex social creatures. A warren in the wild may have several hundred individuals living together. 

My wife and son got another baby bunny last year and it did not work out well. Speedy, the new bunny, called that because he sped around the living room so fast when he was a baby, turned on Fuzzy when he became an adolescent. We never got him fixed and maybe we should have. Lowered testosterone levels might have helped. 

At first Fuzzy chased Speedy, but then got used to him. They would sit together in the sun and Fuzzy would preen Speedy. But one day I went out on the deck and saw tufts of brown fur all over the yard and Fuzzy on the deck fearful. With some investigation I discovered that Speedy had been attacking him. 

We tried many things to broker peace, and all failed. I began to hate that rabbit and found that we could not give him away. The House Rabbit Society would not take him. Plus he bit me one day, disqualifying himself as a nice house pet. So I announced to the family I would take him on a one-way trip to the animal control people, as even the Humane Society would not take him. 

I pulled him out of his cage wearing gloves so as not to get bitten or scratched. Rabbits can be very aggressive and fierce if they want to be. I put him in a cage in the kitchen for his last night. In the morning he was dead. 

If you have some bunnies who do not get along and you want them to, here is what you do. Put them in a new environment together. In their mutual anxiety they will bond and become friends. We of course tried this with Fuzzy and Speedy, and it worked at first but not later. I think Speedy went insane. Perhaps he had a brain tumor.  

My daddy was a farm boy and a cowboy. He taught me to whistle at a rabbit to stop it so you could shoot it. It works. The rabbit stops and listens. I shot with my B.B. gun but never hit a rabbit. 

Maybe we could put humans in a new environment and they would bond and not fight. Then again, what about madness and brain tumors. 

When I was a teenager in the U.S. Navy in Japan I pressed cherry blossoms one spring and put them in plastic in my photo album. I still have those blossoms from Atsugi, Japan. 

There is nothing like a baby bunny and spring blossoms. I hope the bunnies get along, the blossoms give us good fruit and the soldiers come home from the war. 

Country Joe McDonald is a resident of Berkeley.