Friday, September 02, 2005

Mister Bunny & Mr. Man

Yesterday afternoon Francine called me at work with a slight note of panic in her voice. Apparently, Mister Bunny had gone AWOL (before I go on, I have to ponder - is the term actually AWOL, standing for Absent With Out Leave or AWAL, standing for Absent Without A Leave? I've never bothered to look it up, but it's an unanswered question to this day in my mind)

These past few months, Mister Bunny has taken to spending several hours in the back yard, either hanging out on the deck, or sitting beside the pool or under the air conditioner or in the flowers or vegetable garden. He’d been doing that yesterday afternoon, and when Francine went out to check on him, she couldn’t find him in any of his usual hiding places.

She was worried that he’d dug himself under the deck, or, worse, squeezed himself under the fence and into one of the two neighbouring yards that both have dogs.

We’ve had Mister Bunny for over ten years now. I bought him for Francine as a birthday gift back when we were living it Ottawa. I was working at Prospero The Book Company (basically a Coles with a "better than thou" snooty attitude) at Carlingwood Mall and Fran had been admiring this cute little bunny in the window at a neighbouring store called Little Critters. He was a black Netherlands dwarf rabbit with one floppy ear and another that stood up, and part of a fresh litter of dwarf bunnies. He did another odd thing -- while the other bunnies slept in groups and often inside a hollow-out log, this little character enjoyed sleeping on top of the log. (Much later we found out that it was because he could barely tolerate the wood shavings - before he was litter trained and he stayed in his house a lot, he'd often push all the shavings into a corner so he could lie on the clean floor)

Over the weeks, Fran stopped by to visit with him, as, one by one, his brothers and sisters were sold. He was the last one left. He eventually ended up with the guinea pigs, when a new litter of rabbits arrived -- the staff said he didn’t get along with the new rabbits (yes, he was an obstinate little fellow over the years)

One lunch break when I went to look at the little fellow, he was missing from the window. I panicked. And when I asked the staff about that cute little bunny who’d been with the guinea pigs, they said the other critters had licked and groomed his fur so much that he had several bare patches and some customers thought he was diseased. So they were planning on “returning” him. (We all know what that means)

So I bought him on the spot and asked them if they could keep him for a couple of weeks (I’d wanted to buy him for Fran’s birthday) Fran was sad to find the little bunny missing from the shop window, but later delighted that the bunny was hers.

He eventually grew his hair back by the time he came to live with us, and the name Francine had used for him while he was in the shop window, Mister Bunny, stuck. We simply couldn’t come up with a proper first name for him, so we left it at that.

Dwarf Rabbits tend not to live very long lives - their average life-span is often within about 6 years. We litter trained Mister Bunny and gave him full run of the house (or at least a room or two within the house) -- our belief is that his constant proper diet (with the exception of the occasional Tortilla Chip or Blueberry) and regular exercise and freedom, he’s maintained his health longer than normal. So, at ten years old, we know that he’s lived a good, long life. Even up until a few weeks ago, he would tear around the living room (doing his version of what Francine calls “The Camptown Races”), much the way he did when he was a very young bunny.

There was a point in my young son’s life, I think, when he first became aware that Mister Bunny was another person living in our home. He must have been maybe four months old when he was sitting in the living room with Fran and Mister Bunny walked into the room. Alexander let out a startled yell of excitement that, to us, sounded like: “Hey, who’s this guy?” or “Where did he come from?”

Alexander has since gone on to be very concerned with the whereabouts of his little bunny, letting out a pleased scream when he sees him, often following him around the kitchen, or standing in front of him, crouching down, and laughing and often having to pause during a feeding just to see where Mister Bunny is at. (I notice he recently starting calling cats “buh dee” whenever he sees one)

In a completely unrelated vein, I was doing something with Alexander, perhaps struggling/wrestling with him (otherwise known as trying to dress him or change his diaper), when I called him Mr. Man.

Fran liked that. Within another month or so, it suddenly replaced “sweet pea” as his regularly used nickname, (whew - close escape there - that's worse than me when I was trying to escape "Marky"), and has been in regular play ever since.

I’m just glad I came up with that name long after his first name had been established. I’d hate to see the poor little guy go through life having to explain that, like some celebrity child, his wacko parents didn’t give him a proper first name, but instead, named him Mr. Man.

In any case, while Francine and I never expected Mister Bunny to live so long, we’ve certainly been glad that Mister Bunny and Mr. Man had a chance to become pals.

Oh, and the good news end to this little post?

Fran found Mister Bunny, several hours later, in a brand new hiding spot, nestled within the raspberry bushes. So Mister Bunny and Mr. Man still have some good times ahead of them yet.


Anonymous said...

Kinda mean to keep us hanging til the end tho. I was all set to bawl my eyes out cuz I thought Mr. Bunny had 'moved on'.

And I can't believe they stuck him with the guinea pigs. Poor Mister Bunny. That's horrible.

Franny said...

OMG--I totally thought this was going to be an obit! I would have been so upset if Mr. Bunny had, umm, you know, "bought the farm" ...though I suppose one could make the best of a bad situation with with a little wine and rosemary... KIDDING! (Don't tell Francine I wrote that!)
Anyhow, long live Mr. Bunny!
By the way, great blog Mark, and totally cute Mr. Man!

Karen said...

Hey Mark,

Great pictures of Alexander and Mr Bunny. Like Peter and Franny, I was getting ready to shed a tear for the dearly departed, so I'm glad the story had a happy ending.

I second Francesca's "great blog Mark" comment. Keep up the good work.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

I have to admit that I was worried about poor Mister Bunny, and I too was worried he was going to end up on that "farm". What a lovely story, and adorable pictures... This is the first time that I have seen a picture of your son. :)

Anonymous said...

I just read what I wrote...arghhh...that is what I get for not proofreading.. ;)