© Eden Strong
Charlie liked to play with a stuffed rabbit toy I called “Fake Charlie.”
I stood in the aisle of the pet store, held the rabbit leash in my hands and was convinced that I had just made the greatest discovery on earth. The picture on the package featured a bunny happily chomping on dandelions while his owner smiled lovingly down at her beloved fur baby — and for only $5.99 that could be me and my bunny Charlie!
I practically threw money at the cashier as I raced home and exploded through the front door, singing out “Charlie, look what I have for you” in a babyish tone that I’m embarrassed to admit is my “animal voice.” “We are going out-sigh-hide” I bellowed.
A few buckles, a check to make sure it fit and out the door we went. “This is going to be awesome!” I said to Charlie as we stepped onto the grass.
And it was awesome, for all of about two minutes.
The first thing Charlie did was spot a dandelion. Me, being the responsible pet owner that I am, had already pre-scouted for designated play-buffet area’s that had not been fertilized. In other words, “go me!” Charlie ate the dandelion and I stood there, possibly posing to look like the woman on the package, and gave myself a giant pat on the back for being so dang awesome.
I think Charlie agreed that the experience totally rocked because the very next thing he did was take a flying leap into the air, kick his legs out to the side — and snap the connection between the harness and the leash.
This was not part of the plan.
I stood there holding the now dangling leash while my brain screamed “AAAAHHHH” and I didn’t dare move a muscle.
“He is off the leash. He doesn’t know he is off the leash. Don’t move. Don’t flinch. Don’t even breathe. He will know. He will realize it. He will run. He will be gone!”
I hadn’t even fully immersed myself into panic mode before Charlie took off, leaping across the yard so fast he put birds to shame.
And I? I started screaming. I’m not even sure what I was screaming, I just know that it was enough to draw several neighbors outside to see what all the commotion was about and that commotion was me running around the yard, chasing a rabbit and looking like a deranged lunatic.
“Uh … what are you doing?” someone cautiously asked.
“THAT’S MY PET HELP!” was all that I managed to shriek out.
I apparently don’t handle myself very well in times of crisis.
Thankfully my neighbors were a group of smart people because they took one look at me, the leash that I was flailing around in the air, the rabbit wearing a harness, and they sprang into action.
We formed a perimeter around the yard and each time Charlie made a move in any direction we chased him back to the center. As we ran we tried to form a plan and the best one that we could come up with was that we were going to close in on him.
Let’s just say that plan didn’t work out real well. We closed in on him all right, just enough to send him into his own full-blown panic. Have you ever wrestled a terrified rabbit?
I have, and I will tell you it is not pretty.
© Eden Strong
Charlie had his moments of escape before, but I never guessed a walk would turn into one.
Poor Charlie was now so alarmed at the five of us surrounding him that anytime one of us did get our hands on him he kicked ferociously with his razor sharp nails and twisted his body into painful looking contortions. At one point someone had a good grip on him but in fear that his back leg would break, they let him go.
Charlie bolted and when he did he ran right under the deck attached to someone’s house.
OK, I can work with a deck.
As neighbors ran to recruit other neighbors a plan was formed. We wasted no time in boarding up the three exposed sides of the deck, leaving only a small space open on one side.
Charlie was blocked in, but how were we going to get him out? The deck was only raised 2 feet off the ground so the only feasible way to get under there was in an army crawl position, which for obvious reasons was not ideal. I mean, do you really want to crawl into a confined space just to come face to face with a livid and terrified rabbit?
I didn’t think so.
There were almost no scenarios in which I envisioned that ending well, not to mention that he was moving way faster than we could move in that position. With limited options it became quite clear that if we couldn’t go in, we needed Charlie to come out.
I brought his cage outside, put it right at the opening, filled it with all his favorite treats, and hoped the familiarity would be enough to lure him out.
I was wrong.
Three hours later it was starting to get dark and Charlie was still hiding in the deepest corner of the deck.
I had no idea what to do.
If he wasn’t going to come out on his own then our only option left was to force him out, but how could that be done when the only access we had to him was between the boards of the deck?
We needed something that could fit anywhere, something like — water.
Within 10 minutes we had hoses running from three different houses and they were all aimed directly at Charlie. The poor guy literally had no choice but to move toward the opening lest he was going to be washed away.
About 30 minutes later a very wet, angry and muddy Charlie hopped into his cage and the entire neighborhood cheered.
Fearing that he might actually have a heart attack from the trauma I moved his cage into the house, set up a heater to dry him off and left him alone to calm down.
The next day he was dry, albeit entirely black from dirt, and every time I walked past his cage he growled at me.
Did you know rabbits growled?
Apparently they do, and it only cost me $5.99, four hours, an entire neighborhood and a near heart attack to learn that.
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