Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Are most animals better than most people? Maybe they make us better people, and they have some hope we can continue improving.
You can overdo it with pets (look around a pet store), like anything else. We once had three rabbits at one time, which was pushing it. Even though many of that species lack personality, ours have been distinct individuals spanning a wide range of intelligence, vigor and quirkiness. The last one standing, B. B. Bunny, is over eight years old, never having been sick one day and still capable of leaping up in a twirling bunny dance of joy. He has the most balanced demeanor of all the five who have lived out their lives here: sweet, affectionate, and still crazy enthusiastic about his favorite foods (shredded wheat squares, banana, and pears). To crib from the musical Cats, fruit, to B.B., is what happiness is.
Destiny brought us Ms. Floppy, a solid black mini-lop rabbit with extraordinarily long ears, who was on display at a mall event held by the local rabbit rescue organization (Bunny People). I bent down to her cage to look at this handsome rascal and she ran up to the door and gave me a big lick on the nose. It was love at first smooch. Supposedly she had been found with many other rabbits and cats in a New York apartment after the owner had died, and boy, she had that big-city attitude.
Without a doubt, Floppy was the most intelligent rabbit ever. She could give you a sideways look that conveyed exactly what she was thinking; in fact, you could see her calculate. If that look said, "Bug off," you had better. Every Sunday evening she would be beside me on the sofa to watch The X-Files. She knew the truth was out there.
The first time I visited Nancy at her place, she introduced me to her beautiful Himalayan cat, Moonshadow, and I had the lack of grace to state I didn't much care for cats. Moonshadow regarded me for a while, took a sniff, and then leaped into my lap where she commenced purring and licking my face off. Her cat was an excellent judge of people, Nancy said, so things got off to an excellent start -- Moonshadow and I were best buddies after that as I quickly abandoned my ignorant opinion and was appropriately grateful to that fine feline.
That tuxedo tomcat in the photo above is Gilligan, whom we found as a fuzzy kitten yowling under our deck one summer evening, lost and hungry. We enticed him up with some grilled chicken, then held the back door open while he hopped in. He then went behind the entertainment center, got tangled up in the many wires, and I had to take the whole thing apart to rescue him. The poor guy has had his share of medical troubles, but now is in excellent shape, long, lean, muscular and pretty darned pleased with himself. He tries to pass himself off as a tough guy, but since he's always talking or purring, I think that lacks credibility.
Two last stories: Floppy was so bold, she once faced off a German Shepherd when I had her outside in a vacant lot nearby. The dog looked bewildered and just slinked off! And once, for a lark, we went to town in the convertible with her, with the top down, and she loved it. We sat on a bench in front of Coakley's Restaurant (the hub of New Cumberland), and people walking by would say, "Nice rabbit!"

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