Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My First Rabbit

I am currently in the process of trying to make my bedroom NOT look like something out of one of those TV shows about hoarders. While clearing out my closet, I found a bag full of old photos and negatives (which tells you how old the photos are) and sat down to sort them out. Imagine my shock when I found two pictures that I thought no longer existed:

This is my first rabbit. Her name was Slick, originally short for "Captain Slick" because at the time, we had been told by the clerk at the pet store that "he" was a male. It was 1985; we had seen "him" at the pet store a couple of blocks from our apartment and I had fallen in love, so my fiance surprised me by giving him to me as a Christmas gift in December. The first night we had him home, my fiance took one look at his antics and said, "Who do you think you are? Captain Slick?" and the name stuck.

This is Slick in the middle of one of "his" favorite activities; running back and forth between the living room and the short hallway that led to a spare bedroom. He loved to dash across the floor, nails scrabbling on the wood, then go into a slide until he bumped up against the wall. A second after he hit the wall, he was dashing back so he could slide into the velveteen fabric that covered our living room table. He would do it over and over, sometimes even sliding through the gap between the back of his cage and the wall (how he never crashed or hurt himself doing that, I'll never know).

It wasn't until we brought home another male, an albino we named Marty Feldbunny because of his cockeyed expression, that we started to have a few doubts about Slick's gender. (To be polite, let's just say that there were two prominent physical features that Marty had that Slick didn't. ) Unfortunately, we were pretty rabbit-ignorant back then and had already allowed the two to play together. By the time we started to think that might not be a good idea, it was too late.

My fiance and I had gone on a weekend trip and a friend of ours had volunteered to apartment- and rabbit-sit. We had just returned home and were telling our friend about the trip when my fiance looked up, pointed across the room and said, "What the hell is that?!"

Slowly crawling in our direction was what looked like a small gray lump. Our friend said, "It looks like a sick mouse. "
My fiance walked over to it and crouched down to get a closer look. "It's not a mouse, it doesn't have a tail, or fur...and I don't see its eyes..." He carefully scooped it up. Suddenly, he looked up at me. "Aren't baby rabbits born blind and without fur?"

There was a pause as that thought sank in, then the three of us rushed into the spare bedroom, where we had been keeping Marty and Slick out of sight of our landlord (we weren't supposed to have pets). In Slick's cage were six more blind and naked little lumps; seven baby bunnies.

Needless to say. we were completely freaked out. The pet store was immediately called. They took poor Marty back and told us that they would buy any babies we were willing to sell once they were old enough to leave their mom. (This is NOT something I would do under the same circumstances today, but at the time, we didn't know any better.)  The few rabbit books that were available back then said to give the babies human baby formula mixed double-strength if it looked like Slick wasn't nursing them; I did it anyway.

Somehow, they survived and grew into seven speedy puffballs in varying shades of gray, bombing around the spare bedroom to our absolute delight. I wish I'd had some means of filming them in action; they were a sight to see. Poor Slick (who had been renamed Grace Slick) seemed just overwhelmed; she would stretch out on the floor and just lie there while her busy brood hopped over, around and on her.

When the time came, we sold six of the seven babies back to the pet store. One was kept because of a minor accident it had suffered early in its life; it had escaped the cage at least twice, once when it made its way into the living room that first day, and the next night, when we found it curled up next to the heater in the bedroom in the morning (the only thing that saved it from an early grave). It had a very small, very neat chunk missing from one ear in the shape of a bite mark, which led us to believe that Slick had tried to stop it from wandering away again at some point.

I don't know if it was not having so many to deal with or the fear that she might lose the only one she had left, but Slick was motherhood personified with that one kit; she followed it everywhere, licking it, nuzzling it, playing with it. It was so sweet to see her with that baby. I would have loved to see it grow up alongside her, but unfortunately, not long after that, we had to leave the apartment because of financial problems. We couldn't take them with us under the circumstances, so we brought them both to a local animal shelter. The people running the shelter fell in love with them on the spot and told us they would not only keep them together, but would adopt them for themselves. I was happy to know they would have a home together, but I cried all the way back to the apartment. My fiance and I split up about six months after that, and I moved back home.

As far as I knew, all the pictures I had of Slick had been lost in between moves...until today. You have no idea what finding these pictures means to me. It's one thing to have the memories, but even memories can fade in places over time. To actually see her again is just mind-blowing. I hope she and her baby had a wonderful life in a new home, and I hope poor Marty was able to find a new home as well, but I will always regret not being able to give them the home and the life they deserved.


Lisa said...

What a sad and beautiful story.

I hope you don't mind if I add you to my blogroll?? Mickey is just the sweetest little fluffball!

Anonymous said...

What are great (and sad) story Jade. Slick was a cute bunny and I'm sure all the bunnies did well. I wish we had video of it too... I can only imagine

Jade said...

Lisa: Thanks--and please do, and as soon as I can figure out how to add a blogroll to Z of B, I'll add you to it. Your bunnies are just too cute. :)

Laura: Thanks--and yeah, baby bunnies on the move are one the best sights on earth. As it's been 25 years, they've all passed on by now, but I'd like to think there's descendants of Slick still bopping about somewhere. :)