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Smell the Coffee: A hare raising experience

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Last week, a friend was trying to convince me to take in a stray dog.

"No more animals," I told her. "No. More. Animals. I'm done with creatures. When the ones I have are gone, they won't be replaced."

I suspect God chuckled right about then.

"That's what she thinks," said He.

Animal-wise, I don't only have one or two more. At last count, there were seven. And I suspect the number might increase if I looked a little harder.

You know that reputation rabbits have? It's not just ugly gossip. It doesn't even matter if you have nothing but females. If they're determined and goal-oriented (like mine apparently were), they'll find a way.

Actually, I'm not sure if mine found a way or the way found them. About two months ago, our side gate fell off its hinges, and all three rabbits -- Winnie, Stew and DaShonda -- sneaked out of our fenced-in back yard for a three-day stroll around the neighborhood. Our circle is a half-mile around, and neighbors called from the complete opposite end to report rabbit sightings, but before I could retrieve them, they returned on their own.

Right around that same time, I discovered a hole under our fence, except the dirt was on the opposite side, meaning instead of digging out, something had tunneled in. Although I never actually saw a wild rabbit in our yard, there is indisputable evidence that whatever goal the trespasser had in mind at the onset of its mission, he was successful.

This I learned a week ago today, when I went outside and saw a tide of baby bunnies quickly wash away from the food dish back into the garage. My three adult females remained static, blinking innocently, pretending nothing had just happened.

Nothing to look at, folks. Move along.

My daughter was in the shower at the time, so her friend Eleanor, who was staying the weekend with us, went with me to the garage. There, we began collecting bunnies, most of which were still innocent enough to believe that if they remained absolutely still behind a pea-size leaf, they were invisible. A few, however, darted outside and into a hole I hadn't noticed before.

Holes in our yard aren't unusual. We probably have more craters per square foot than the moon. Our poor dogs are forever limping from having twisted an ankle in one of the many poorly placed bunny bunkers. I once witnessed a squirrel do a rather elegant parachute roll after stumbling across a hare pit while attempting to flee from an equally rabbit hole-handicapped dog.

Most of the holes are rather puny affairs, with the excavation abandoned because of roots or rocks, so when I saw a second baby rabbit disappear into the ground, followed by the largest of our full-grown females, I grabbed a flashlight and went to investigate.

This was no minor hole. My rabbits had constructed an underground cave. I reached in as far as I could and felt around. Nothing. Found a rake and poked the handle end into the hole and could not reach the back. I could hear the din from a distant wee television, could feel the hum of their mini fridge. I yelled into the hole. My voice echoed.

I looked around for a doorbell, but it hadn't yet been installed, so I decided to move a few feet away and wait. It didn't take long for a curious baby to peek out. I quickly nabbed it. The mama bunny wasn't far behind, so I reached in and got hold of her and tugged her ample body out of the hole.

Yes, I pulled my own hare out.

And now I'm working on re-homing some rabbits.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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