We finally became a pet-owning family recently, when my daughter got a bunny. I've held out for years now, for a variety of reasons. The main reason is because I just don't really like pets; I seem to be missing the pet-as-beloved-family-member gene (please don't hold it against me). I have allergies. I just don't need any more mess or responsibility these days; my plate is full.
But then there is also the Max Factor; while Max doesn't have a mean bone in his body, he just is too impulsive and too unpredictable to be fully trustworthy with a small animal.
The kids have been so excited about their new fuzzy little friend, and while my daughter is the adoptive mom, the boys are also involved. Well, actually, my older son is; Max WANTS to be involved, and we really try to include him....but there are moments when it just doesn't work.
He tries to be gentle...mostly. He will get right down to the bunny's perspective, carefully and gently, and deliberately make his hand cupped and flat to pet her, and wants to kiss her all the time, or feel her fur against his cheeks. Then suddenly he pokes her! (And unfortunately, those sparkly dark bunny eyes seem to especially trigger his poking urge.)
So we're working on his interactions. We give lots of reminders, exaggerated modeling of gentle petting, and I sort of keep up a running commentary as we interact with the bunny together. We refer to her as "baby", and even though we've taught Max the sign for "bunny", "baby" is what he signs for her.
Last week, shortly before my daughter left for a week of summer camp, I walked into the garage and realized the bunny was MISSING. The cage was open and the bunny was gone! I knew immediately it was Max's doing (and I nearly had a heart attack).
The rest of us (husband, son, & friend) quietly, furtively, worriedly searched the entire garage and back yard, hoping against hope that we would find the bunny unharmed, QUICKLY, and wouldn't even need to tell my daughter. We looked everywhere. TWICE. The back yard is fenced in, but very easy to get out of for a small rabbit. We were calling for her and making clicking noises...but she's a BUNNY, for Pete's sake -- she's not trained, she doesn't make a sound, and her instinct is to freeze when alarmed!
Finally, completely against logic, I looked inside a paper bag that was on top of a box. There was absolutely no way she could have gotten herself in there...but guess what? There she was!
Max had opened the latch on the cage, grabbed her, and PUT HER IN THE BAG. He was never out of anyone's sight for more than minutes at most, so it was quick (& sneaky!) work. The bunny, however, must have been there for a fair amount of time, because she was surrounded by plenty of poo...
We breathed ginormous sighs of relief and added a spring lock to the cage door that very second.
Fast forward two days. Max approached me with a small round thing in his hand, excited and proud. It was the salt lick from the bunny's cage!
I ran in to check on things, and the bunny was fine, huddled in the far back corner. Apparently the spring lock is just wide enough that Max can still fit his hand in the cage. Fortunately, he can't reach to the back or fit the bunny out through the gap, but we still are keeping a pretty close eye on things.
"Small Lock For Bunny Cage" is now on my shopping list.
*"The Story Behind the Story" will be another regular feature on this blog. Often there is one thing going on that I post about on my other blog, but there is a separate storyline being woven by Max's role in the plot, which I will tell here.