And so, since I'd successfully defleaed and treated the rest of our crew, I decided it was bath time for Winnie and Stew.
(A clarification may be needed. We actually have two rabbits. Winnie is mine, and Stew belongs to Winnie. For those who might've been wondering if I'd gone 'round the bend, here's your proof: I got our rabbit a rabbit. She seemed lonely. But it was my husband, not me, who named the little guy Stew.)
I'd read enough about flea treatments to know none seemed nontoxic enough for our rabbits, so I purchased small-animal shampoo that was guaranteed safe for (wait for it, wait for it) all kinds of hares.
I filled the tub with warm water, put on soothing music, lit a few candles (OK, I'm lying about the candles), and then with one hand under her belly, I slowly lowered Winnie into the tub.
I'm pretty sure she smiled.
Without even a fraction of alarm, Winnie relaxed in an instant, so much so that her legs drifted out behind her and she started to float. I kept my hand beneath her to prevent her from slipping under, although I suspect she would've been fine. Might've even preferred I'd been holding a wee glass of wine.
Stew reacted much the same. No scrambling to get out. No signs of alarm. Just wiggled down low in the water, as though understanding it would help get rid of the fleas.
After allowing them to enjoy a good soak, we wrapped the rabbits in a few towels and they joined us in bed for a few episodes of "Mad Men" (they missed last season, so we kept having to stop to explain) before they went back to their room.
It wasn't until the next day, while talking to a friend, that I became curious about bathing rabbits. I went online and found one (often self-proclaimed) expert after another extolling the dangers of dampening rabbits.
According to what I read, many rabbits are so fearful they can go into shock when bathed, and some never recover. Also, the long time it takes for a rabbit's coat to thoroughly dry presents a danger if the animal is exposed to cold or breezy conditions while wet.
All of which makes me wonder what rabbits do in the wild. Though a wild hare would look downright natty in an appropriately sized London Fog, I've yet to see such a thing. Perhaps that mechanical whirring sound I occasionally hear outdoors -- the one I've thought was a neighbor's vacuum or leaf blower -- is actually a hare dryer.
Now that I understand the potential dangers in washing a rabbit, if bathing turns out to be the only option, you should plan ahead and take the time to do it correctly. That includes enough downtime afterward to make certain the rabbit is thoroughly dry.
If anyone tries to rush you, there's only one thing you can say.
"I just washed my hare and I can't do a thing with it."
Reach Karin Fuller at karinful...@gmail.com.