Piper Doe does not like to be alone. She thumps. She honks. She communicates her Distress. [I’m re-reading “Secret Scribbled Notebooks,” which references “The Little Prince,” and it talks about how taming an animal makes it need you. Piper NEEDS.] I held her last night while I tried to read “Saga” (commix!!!) and watch “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” (season 2). [Realizing that this multitasking thing is ridiculous and you can’t really enjoy ANYTHING. Especially when the rabbit NEEDS you, and is all about the bun petting.]
She is a sleek, black, shiny, beautiful creature with a few stray white hairs sprinkled liberally through her coat. Whether these are an effect of genetics or age, I do not know. She is darkness, but in spirit, light.
“How old is she?” Everyone wants to know. It is the question most asked at her Bunwarming. And the answer is that we do not know. Adult. The shelter people did not know or would not say or could not be bothered to look up the information in their records (assuming such records exist). The vet will probably not be able to say much about this either. Older than 1 year is what they said about Oatmeal. Which, really, is not much to go on. She is Piper. She is a DOE. And whatever else you can determine from the WYSIWYG observations you may make. She was not the first rabbit I looked at.
The bunny shelter is a happy/sad place. Happy, because whenever I go I know I’m going to meet somebun, but sad, too, because there are so many unwanted buns. How can you NOT want a bun? Several buns? It is perplexing. When we visited the last time (for Uther’s adoption), they said they had about 300 bunnies for adoption. I would guess that this time there were at least 100 (and a whole upstairs area as well for new/incoming buns). How do you ever choose from so many? I have never actually experienced choice paralysis when it comes to rabbits, but I can imagine that others might find it difficult or impossible. The difficulty is leaving any of them behind when you see how small the cages are and smell the smells that come from housing so many rabbits in such tight quarters. They deserve better lives than this. You can’t just release them into the wild, though. Oh no. Because they are TAME rabbits. And they need us.
I walk around the rooms of caged buns and I greet them. Some of them stretch themselves out full length to investigate me. It’s feeding time and they’re all a little bite-y because fingers *could* be food and they don’t know. Some bite harder than others, expressing some irritation and impatience for the delay. Where IS my breakfast? Some seem practically wild. Others snooze. Some hide in their litter boxes or make themselves as small as possible. I am.not.here.
One of them looks a little bit like Uther – more lop-eared, though, and bigger. I open his cage and take him out, carrying him around for awhile to see if I like his heft and whether or not he’ll tolerate being held. This isn’t a deal-breaker. Most of my rabbits have BARELY tolerated being held. They have been fine with being Near, and have accepted many pettings and much affection – but, on the ground. If you look at things from their point of view (being prey animals who could be carried off by predators, winged ones, even), this makes a lot of sense. The Uther-like bun is relatively tolerant of me. He might be a good choice. I decide to look a little further.
A couple are in with their large lop buck whose name is something ridiculous that escapes me now. Lump? They are speed dating to find a companion bun. Lump doesn’t like the other buns. And the other buns keep Trying Things. When Lump expresses his displeasure, Lisa, the shelter owner, comes over and shows his people how to give him whatfor. This involves scruffing him and stretching him out. He finds this humiliating and is sullen and withdrawn for the rest of his dates. They decide to go with the first bun (a cute and fluffy harlequin that I’ve been eyeing on the off-chance that they change their minds), and I decide not to let Lisa anywhere near my buns.
I get to know a gray bun next. He is squirrelly and won’t hold still. I’m afraid if I loosen my grip he’ll try to fly. My rabbit Powder was exactly like this – he would rather soar and land wherever than be held. It was TORTURE. This bun is ok, but he is not the bun for me.
I rub some more noses and receive some more nibbles. There are several bun couples that they want to adopt out together and I briefly consider one of those. They seem very sweet, but they aren’t litter trained and there’s urine pooling in their cage under their feet. Every time they jump up to say hello, they splash a little on me. I would like to get to know them better – they are friendly! – but I don’t want to bathe in pee to do it. Sorry, buns.
Piper is a cage that is level with my face. She is a bun of Darkness. She is calm and seems to love all the attention I’m giving her. Petting can go on FOREVER, yes, please. It takes a few attempts to catch her – she doesn’t want to be picked up either – but once I do, she settles into my arms and tolerates me admirably! I carry her around for awhile. She is lovely, but she is also a DOE and my experiences with does have been not so great. They can be very territorial and will defend that territory TO THE DEATH! With many growls and bites and lunges. But… There’s a better chance that Oatmeal will bond with a doe than with another buck (assuming Oatmeal can accept ANY other bunnies). I revisit the Uther-like bunny, but ultimately decide to go with Piper.
“This one,” I say to the bunny shelter staff. And Piper Doe comes home with me.