I have rabbits.
They’re not mine, I didn’t buy them. They were abandoned by their previous owners, and “rescued” by my grown-up sister. She took great pleasure in telling people how charitable and benevolent she was, and ceaselessly relayed to anyone who would listen (and those that wouldn’t) how she’s a symbol of altruism that Mother Teresa would be jealous of.
She then abandoned them, once the novelty had worn off. My parents accepted this dissolution of responsibility and took them in. Even when my sister did this a second time. But working full-time jobs, they can’t look after the animals either. So it falls to me.
I’m not fond of animals, really. I love all living things, but part of that love is knowing when to leave them be. When I turned sixteen, I went to college for three years to study animal care, and in that time I learned only how cruel people can be. I came to despise the pet trade – animals are not toys, very few species can be companions, and most live lives of unimaginable suffering and loneliness.
Animals don’t feel emotions like we do, they just don’t understand or see the world the same way. But one thing’s for sure, an animal knows freedom. My rabbits’ pen is about ten feet by eight. That’s a big pen, and a whole fuckton more than any person I’ve ever met has given to an animal that small. But the rabbits hate it. They don’t care how big it is, they just know that they’re trapped, and freedom awaits on the other side. It’s hard-wired – they have an intrinsic understanding of what it means to be kept prisoner.
Of course, they spend very little time in the pen. During the day they live in the garden, and are satisfied with the territory.
In fact, they’re about as happy as bunnies can be. The oldest one is eight. Rabbits don’t normally live that long, so he’s doing a pretty good job of fending off the bunny grim reaper. He was mistreated by his previous owners, and is extremely fearful of people. My parents can’t get near him, it’s like trying to push two opposing poles of a magnet together. However, I must be doing something right because he loves me. He’ll happily trot over and give me a lick, or investigate my hands and pockets to see if I’m hiding any treats from him.
It’s a humbling thing. He doesn’t “love” me in the way a person can, such emotions are beyond him, but there is a warmness there. Somewhere in his little bunny brain is affection, and at the very least he doesn’t fear me. He recognises me, and thinks to himself “that one is all right. I’m safe around him”. You can’t ask for more, really.
He had a little bunny girlfriend, but has outlived her. You could tell it broke his heart when she died, he needed her. For a while we thought he would just drop dead, as is known to happen with such tightly bonded animals. I took extra special care of him for some weeks after, and he eventually got his mojo back. While it’s true that animals don’t feel as complex emotions as humans do, it’s only nutjobs who insist that they can’t feel anything at all.
The other surviving rabbit is different. He’s playful and affectionate towards people. Although sometimes he growls at my mum. I didn’t know that rabbits could growl! He’s much younger and more inquisitive – he’ll come into the house to see what’s going on, and demands a regular routine of cuddles and fuss.
Together they take a lot of looking after, more so than a cat or a dog which are, more or less, entirely domesticated. The rabbits are much more wild, and in a strange way, more dependent. They spend all their time outside (well, we shut them in at night so they don’t get eaten by the foxes), but even then their hutches get plenty dirty. They need additional food and need to be kept entertained. They get lonely and bored very easily. It’s hard work – if I had a real job, I just wouldn’t be able to look after them.
My point is that all animals, no matter how big or small, deserve and demand a certain standard of care. They need freedom above all else – I’ve seen so many rabbits and guinea pigs or whatever shut in a box at the bottom of the garden and forgotten about. This isn’t a crusade for the little cute pets, either. I regularly take care of my sister’s dog (who knew?), and am forever surprised at just how much exercise and attention she needs. The dog, not my sister.
I’m a firm believer in the re-introduction of dog license, too. Just take a walk through the nearest RSPCA centre and see how people really treat man’s best friend.
It surprises me how the pet trade is unregulated. Animals are sold off, mistreated, rescued and sold off again and no-one sees the problem. But videogames – for instance – have two or three authorities that crawl up your ass to monitor, regulate and censor what you’re playing, making or buying. Same goes for toys – safety features are literally ruining toys. Things we played with, like Transformers, cannot be sold today because they are “unsafe”. Toy guns have to be bright yellow; Super Soakers and NERF guns are looked upon with scorn, yet in the same Wal Mart you can buy a real rifle. Videogames are blamed for tragedies like shootings, too, and thus the campaigns to get them banned begin all over again.
See, I managed to work it back into toys and things in the end. Although the normal warm, fuzzy feeling I get from writing is nowhere to be found.
Take care of yourselves, and show tenderness and charity to all who walk this earth with you, my friends! The world would be a better place overnight if we all did.
“I took extra”