Thursday, April 12, 2007

Peter-Fire-Hole Cottontail

Yes there is a story to go with that name...

Back in March, after receiving a very welcome 10-12 inches of snow, William and Jacquie went out side to play. Dad was inside with Isaiah, napping. (Guess which of us was napping!)
They made snow angels, dug tunnels, and threw innumerable snowballs. Much of the time, Jake, our 1 ½ year old black lab played beside them, romping in the snow.

Suddenly, Jake bolted after something, pounced on it, and caught it in his mouth. William yelled, NO, but it was too late. The creature was caught.
I awoke to two kids carrying a large box into the living room and William saying, "Dad, Jake caught a rabbit and he's hurt real bad. We put him in this box."

Sure enough, there was a rabbit, too scared to move, but basically unhurt. It had a scraped ear, some skin torn from a hind leg, and a small puncture in his side, but that is about it. The rabbit was so frighted it was stiff as I wrapped it in an old towel and let the kids hold it.

Jacquie and William on the day they
caught "Peter-Fire-Hole Cottontail."

I succumbed to the pleas to keep it, but "only until it is better." Followed by, "It's a wild animal. It won't live if we keep it." I rummaged through my 'school' boxes and found the hamster cage I knew I had. It wasn't perfect, but it had a waterer, and I knew that it would be safe.

We moved the bunny to the basement and gave it a carrot stick and a cabbage leaf that we happened to have in the refrigerator, but he was too scared to eat. Fortunately in the morning he had eaten all the veggies we had left for him.

By day 2, this rodent had earned a name and the kids thought of it as a pet, even though I repeated "It's a wild animal. It won't live if we keep it." The name started as just Peter, but then gained a life of it own and became, after several incarnations, 'Peter-Fire-Hole-Cotton Tail.'

On day 3 we went to the basement to find that Peter had knocked his new home onto the floor and had escaped. Fortunately for us and him, he was hiding under the shelves.

We tried to coax him into a cardboard box, and when that didn't work we tried to scare him in. He ran and hid under the other shelves. Having never been a scout, but being resourceful none-the-less, I told the boys to go get a string and a piece of the PVC pipe they had been playing with earlier. So with a 2-foot piece of PVC and a shoe string, I fashioned a noose, not unlike one's I've seen in capture alligators... Not that I am comparing this fuzzy little bunny to an alligator, but their claws are sharp and they do bite!

The noose worked fine, it was getting it around his neck that was difficult. At one point he was behind the water heater inside a concrete block, but we got him.

William asked again if we really had to let him go, or if he could just take care of him like a pet. With a tearful goodbye, we let Peter-Fire-Hole Cottontail go in the ditch next to our grove. We left the remaining portions of parsely there for him, but he never even saw them. He was gone after just a moment of hesitation.

Jacquie and William say they have seen Peter at least two times since his successful release into the wilds of our backyard.


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