It started out innocently enough: burgers and beer in the cool, leafy shade on the back porch. It was a truly perfect summer evening, punctuated only by the dog’s scratching and the excitement of microwaved s’mores.
My father pointed out a baby bunny frolicking in the back of the yard. I couldn’t get a good view with my glasses on, so my pseudo-sister Kate and I went for a closer peek.
Maxine, the dog, was unchained. She moseyed around the yard, paying no attention to the small bunny rabbit, which was adorable.
It looked like a stuffed animal as it snacked on a patch of clover underneath a small pine tree. The entire scene was very pastoral, really. (It could have been a magazine cover photo, the setting sun serving as a natural Instagram filter.) Kate and I remarked that we wanted to pet its soft fur and velvety ears.
Then something happened. Maxine caught wind of the infant. She chased it back, then forth, then back again. The zig-zagging soon ceased, and the stuffed animal hung limp in the dog’s mouth.
At least that is how I envisioned it. I turned and ran back to the deck, screaming and wailing. You would have thought an ax murderer was running through the neighborhood. I saw the dog, proud of herself, bring her limp prize to the yard and drop it. I saw the bunny give one last forceful kick, and all I could think about was the book “Watership Down.”
I felt guilty, like I was an accomplice to some cruel murder. And then it happened. Sitting on the deck, discussing the incident, I cried. I couldn’t help it. The tears came without warning, an apparent side effect to the churning feeling in my stomach. I felt shameful; embarrassed for crying, embarrassed for being embarrassed.
Am I really that sheltered? Did life’s natural order truly upset me that much? Aren’t I from an area that bases its economic prosperity on such things? Was I just really hormonal, or am I a really big wuss?
It turns out, the bunny was not quite dead. That’s what kills me—picturing that rabbit suffering on the lawn I had just mowed while I cried spoiled brat tears. The dog (and my dad) ensured that it was (finally) dead.
In researching this article, I came upon this quote about the Eastern cottontail rabbit on the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission official website:
“Young rabbits are an easy-to-catch and plentiful food for many predator species from weasels to coyotes to birds of prey, making them a very important part of the food chain… Many of the young produced each spring and summer are not alive by winter and even fewer are available for breeding the next spring. This is the typical reproductive strategy of such a highly used prey species — produce large numbers of young quickly to ensure that some will survive to reproduce the next year.”
This explains why rabbits mate like, well, rabbits. It’s akin to how sea turtles lay many eggs, knowing the majority of them will be eaten or killed on their mad dash to the sea. Then what is the point? To perpetuate the species so my grandchildren’s grandchildren can know bunnys, specifically of the Easter, Bugs and Playboy variety? Isn’t that what humanity’s end goal is—to further the human species?
I think that this incident has resonated with me so severely because I have an active imagination. I am constantly day dreaming, thinking of a million different scenarios and their respective outcomes. I project myself into different situations and have deeply empathetic tendencies (which apparently apply to baby animals.)
I keep thinking about it, and I’m not sure I’m finished mulling it over. However, I have decided that it was truly sad. Isn’t it sad when something is over? People cried at the end of the Harry Potter books and movies, so why can’t I cry when a rabbit’s life is ended?
I pretend to be an adult person with my own thoughts, ideas and opinions on political and ethical topics such as hunting, gun control, the death penalty and abortion, yet I can’t even handle the death of a bunny rabbit with levelheadedness I see in my peers. Who am I to have these feelings? I know nothing; I am by no means worldly or emotionally stable. Am I kidding anybody with my posing as a “grown-up?” Or am I simply a confused 2o-something?
I never imagined that my weekend back home would induce these feelings. Now I just feel like an old crybaby who is obsessing over an cyclical internal debate.
Would you have cried?