Dead Rabbits

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.

A three-week-old Eastern cottontail rabbit kit, via Wikipedia.
A three-week-old Eastern cottontail rabbit kit, via Wikipedia.

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.

It wasn’t a deluge or even a sobbing, but rather more like a leaky faucet. The entire episode was a little Taylor Swift-esque of me, a poor little innocent crying over a dumb ol’ dead bunny.

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?

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9 thoughts on “Dead Rabbits

  1. Gary June 26, 2013 / 6:27 AM

    Max and I chased bunnies again last night. Bunnies 2 Max 0.

  2. Maria Teresa June 26, 2013 / 8:26 AM

    Amanda, I can see you are torn between compassion and reason. After I read “Watership Down” (a gazillion of years ago) my view of bunny life changed, yet I wish I were Maxine and could get rid of pesky, cute, little bunnies. They are eating up my beautiful flowers!
    What should I do?

    • asb13521 June 27, 2013 / 11:51 AM

      This is the struggle. I am sure you could ‘borrow’ Maxine if you need some pest control 🙂

  3. Janet June 26, 2013 / 8:36 PM

    It’s a dog eat dog (or bunny) world out there!

  4. Granny June 26, 2013 / 8:52 PM

    Wonder if ‘bunny on the grill’ would make you feel any better? When I was little, Mama Dorothy was raising a rabbit fur coat in her backyard. So, when visiting her in MO, we’d always have –You Know What!!!–for at least one meal a day. Granny

  5. Genevieve June 29, 2013 / 11:14 PM

    Don’t read Peter Rabbit. It will terrify you.

  6. Pete E July 4, 2013 / 10:12 PM

    I have a great little cottontail living in brush near my house in Florida. She (maybe?) has become quite the friend as she (?) will now come to me, sniff my shoe and take carrot sticks form my hand. She is fearless of me and on the 4th of July when lots of booming fireworks were being fired off she sat in the lawn in front of me until the “booming” stopped. She then hopped off to her nest (?) for the night. I hand feed her carrots every morning and then again in the evening. Funny how such a little subject from nature has so connected with me. So I feel your sorrow about your bunny. I dread the morning when mine is not there to greet me. Oh yes, for those who think I’m messing with the rabbit’s normal diet…HA! She also munches on my lawn grass between carrots!

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