contributed by Georgiana Hall
About two years ago, I noticed a sign at the health club where I swim. It read “Free rabbit, cage extra for $30. Please, we don’t want him anymore.” Somehow I could not resist calling the woman up and inquiring what the situation was. As the phone rang, I braced myself, since I never know what they will say or who it was.
“My daughter went off to college last year and we no longer want the rabbit.”
I asked her why she did not just keep it as a pet, trying to convince her that they really make nice pets. Perhaps the daughter would enjoy seeing “Cornelius” when she came home for breaks.
“Nope, no can do. Do you want it or not?’
I begged her to take care of it for a few more days and to not even think of letting it go. She agreed to do that. Of course, the next day I called her back. It took another week of “phone tag” and several miscommunications to finally get her to tell me when to come over.
It was a hot May afternoon, when I drove into a gated community that was several miles from my house. After several wrong turns, I finally found her townhouse. It was in a nice neighborhood with Mercedes and BMWs in many driveways. Children were playing in the yards nearby and a dog barked as I approached the door. I had been told that the rabbit was on the front porch. Sure enough, there was a small cage on wheels, filled with cedar chips and an adorable black and white mixed Dutch rabbit.
The heat was overwhelming but luckily the little fellow did not look too stressed out. He had a water bottle and pellets and the bedding looked fairly clean. A teenage girl answered the door. Her attitude was, as I can only describe it, like that of a “valley girl.” She had a cell phone glued to one ear while a small dog yapped noisily from behind her.
“You must be the rabbit lady. Like, there’s the rabbit and the cage.” She pointed casually to the small cage as I noticed her black fingernail polish.
“I am not taking the cage,” I became somewhat irritated at the girl. “But I brought a carrier. How long have you had him?”
She barked into her phone, “Hold,” and stared back at me for a minute. “A few years, we had another one, but he died. Is that all?”
It was obvious that she had no intention of talking to me and just wanted me to leave. I thanked her quietly (I don’t know why) as she shut the door in my face. Sighing, I pulled the little fellow out of the cage and placed him in the carrier. As I drove off, I mumbled to myself, “So, the dog stays in the AC but the rabbit sits out on the hot porch.”
I renamed the rabbit Charlie. We had a real estate agent friend by that name that I had talked to that morning. Somehow the jovial, friendly personality of Charlie the realtor just matched that of the former Cornelius now Charlie the rabbit.
Charlie turned out to be a gem. His fur was quite matted around his bottom with dried urine. He was also underweight. It took me a good week to comb out every knot of fur but soon his beautiful coat of black and white was sleek and smooth. He gobbled down every blade of hay, pellet and leafy green that I placed in front of him, almost non-stop for the first couple of days.
Since I was hoping to have him adopted after his neutering, I put a large sign on his pen telling my husband Oren that Charlie was “Only Temporary.” Oren would then come home every day and ask if we still had “OT” in the guest room.
Needless to say, I watched Oren get just as attached to Charlie as I was. Charlie was a binky master. He would race up and down the bathroom and leap high into the air. Then he would crouch down and insist on being petted. Rabbits can’t talk, but they sure can communicate with us in other ways. I think he was so happy to have his new home that he was trying to tell us this. I knew in my heart that I could not give him away.
And so, two years later, Charlie is still with us and by no means “only temporary.”