Esther Saves the Day

Heroic hares . . . brave bunnies – OK, I admit, these images don’t immediately leap to mind when you humans think about your cute, cuddly rabbit companions. Sure, you hear about courageous canines and fearless felines all the time, but nobody expects us little hoppers to spring to the rescue in a dangerous situation. Well, let me tell you, it takes a lot of courage to be a small furry herbivore in a world full of great big predator types – not to mention large, clumsy humans who just aren’t as finely atuned to our rabbit-like maneuvers around their feet as we’d like . . .

But wait a minute, I’m hopping off my point, which is that, simply put, every human household would be a lot safer with a trusty bunny on guard duty. If you think I’m just pulling your paw, let me tell you about my own recent bout with danger.

The day started out peacefully enough – the ritual morning feeding, and greeting session, mom settled in for a day of “work” at her computer, I complete my rigorous morning run and was ready to enjoy a quick morning bunnynap listening to my favorite baroque tunes on the radio, when suddenly, my keen ears began twitching. Something was definitely not as it should be!!

A quick inspection of the perimeter of my territory was all it took to determine the source of the “bad vibes” – a wayward squirrel had invaded MY HOUSE!!! Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no quarrel with individuals of the squirrel persuasion. But they should know their place, which is outside, not in my warren. Not that misguided rodent was entirely at fault – he’d simply taken a wrong turn from his nest under our roof and fallen through the hole in our kitchen ceiling (mom’s got to do something about that hole!), and finding no stray acorns or peanuts lying about on the kitchen table or counters, scurried up the stairs and began poking his uninvited nose into MY ROOM, rudely sniffing around MY FOOD DISH!!!

This was just too much for even the mildest mannered bunny to put up with. I just had to put my foot down – and I put it down hard and loud… …several times for good measure (you can never be too emphatic when you’re trying to get a message through to a human. Believe me, the only way to communicate anything to them is by being loud, insistent, and repeating the message over and over.) Well, to make a long story not quite so long, mom finally caught on that something was horribly wrong. After a few more carefully placed foot thumps, some excited circling, and a little helpful ear pointing toward the currently invaded room, mom “discovered” the wily creature in her bedroom and eventually persuaded the little intruder to take a hike.

The hole was patched up with some strong new cardboard, so we’re temporarily safe from future squirrel invasions. And, of course, I was well rewarded for my quick thinking and brave actions. Yes, it is was all in a day’s work for Esther – Superbunny!

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

Esther on R
Esther is the sweet Netherland Dwarf rabbit on the right

Games Rabbits Play

Whew! We’ve finally finished judging our pet photo contest – and I’m proud to say all the bunny entries did very well – and I was ready to kick back and enjoy a well deserved rest. But noooo! My “publisher” is on my back looking for my next column. As they say, a bunny’s work is never done.

Of course, there’s no reason I can’t combine my work with a little play. So this month I’ve cleverly assigned myself the task of digging up some useful information on how the typical house rabbit entertains herself. My first stop is my favorite source of rabbit gossip and news, the internet rabbit newsgroup (alt.pets.rabbits). This lively group of rabbit people is sure to have something to say about rabbit recreation.

In fact, in no time at all I found an ongoing discussion on bunny games. Rabbits are apparently playing with a variety of non-rabbit items – cat toys are popular, and more than a few rabbits, it seems, are into slinkies. To each his own, I always say, but these grab and toss toys aren’t really my cup of tea. True, they make satisfying ringing, rattling, and clunking noises when properly shaken or thrown, but these simple activities are hardly challenging.

A number of humans have discovered their more ambitious rabbit companions enjoy manipulating a variety of paper products, redesigning cardboard boxes, and negotiating obstacle courses. Well, as you can see, bunnies can’t be easily “pigeonholed.” We have a wide range of interests and naturally our recreational interests are likewise diverse. To simplify the subject, let’s divide rabbit play into a few broad categories: snuggling, tossing, running, creative design and wrestling.

Snuggling, of course, needs no explanation. We all enjoy this activity with fellow rabbits and our favorite humans. Tossing seems to occupy somebunnies for hours on end – particularly if it involves an annoying noise at, say, 3 a.m. when your humans are trying to sleep. Well, it is amusing but you can carry a good joke too far.

Running games are more interesting, and you can combine them with some of your tossing techniques. Lisa (Eve’s mom) described her bunnies’ game of “running around the floor with ‘stolen’ objects” – a highly sophisticated activity clearly requiring great coordination. I’ve discovered a lot of fun can be had using the perforated ends of computer paper. They trail behind me like a banner as I streak by, and they’re also quite munchable. They can be distributed around the floor in interesting patterns or shredded and deposited inside a convenient carton to make a cozy nest.

However, an object to carry isn’t essential to enjoy a running game. Rabbit tag, for example, combines the thrill of running, dodging objects, making hare-pin turns and leaps, and engaging your human friends in a little much needed physical activity.

As a creative outlet, nothing beats the challenge of making a pleasant refuge out of a plain cardboard box. My office bungalow is the result of hundreds of hours of design and construction work, creating doors, windows, a back porch, shredded-paper floors and other personalized features – and, of course, nudging and shoving the structure into exactly the right position to get the most scenic view from the front window.

As fulfilling as these creative projects are, though, there’s nothing more stimulating than a little wrestling with a favorite object. Another bunny would be ideal, but lacking that many rabbits have “adopted” slinkies, stuffed animals, or “found” toys like paper towel rolls. Personally, I prefer mom’s clothes, particularly while she’s wearing them. Grabbing hold of the hem of her skirt, I can dance and weave around in intricate patterns until I’m completely tangled up. It’s great fun, but it does have its hazards. Now, I love my human as much as the next rabbit. She has her flaws – they all do. They’re way too big and noisy, incredibly clumsy, practically deaf and, well frankly their noses aren’t good for much. Sometimes they try so hard to be rabbit-like, though, we can almost forget they’re really just big, inept humans. This can be a tragic mistake when you’re executing delicate choreography around their feet. I speak from experience when I say, you can never underestimate the awkwardness of your human.

Fortunately, I’ve trained mom to always look before she makes a move, but that was only after finding my joyful dances rudely interrupted by an unscheduled trip across the room on the tip of mom’s foot more than once. This is not a pleasant experience and, needless to say, it totally destroys my playful mood – at least until mom apologizes profusely, makes sure I don’t have any broken bones, then gives me a nice hug and massage to help me relax. Which, of course, is exactly what I need right now. I’m just exhausted from all this research!

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

sweet play   foster 3

Bunnies on the Food Chain

People often ask me, “What’s it like living at the bottom of the food chain?” Well, it certainly keeps you hopping (ha, ha – a little bunny humor). A good sense of humor is essential. But seriously, my wild relatives have to do a lot of hopping, sprinting, and hare-pin turns to stay alive. Fleet feet and quick wits are the keys to success.

We also have several survival strategies that have gotten my forebunnies through some pretty rough patches. Not much escapes our finely tuned nervous system, keen sense of smell and sensitive ears. We’re ready to take flight at a moment’s notice, and we’re quite ingenious when it comes to blending into the scenery.

Our sleek design features a number of special adaptations I’d like to point out. We’ve cleverly positioned our large, soulful eyes on the top or our head, not just because it makes us irresistibly cute, but more important, so we can see everything around us while staying close to the ground. Our powerful back legs serve triple duty – springing into action at the first hint of danger to send us flying to safety, thumping helpful warnings to our fellow bunnies, and, if we’re caught, ripping enemies to shreds in our own rabbit version of kick boxing!! (Sorry about that savage outburst.)

Our final secret weapon is to produce mass quantities of bunny babies. It’s a tough world out there for my wild cousins. With all their clever tricks, most of them don’t live to celebrate their second birthday.

Fortunately, house bunnies like myself don’t have nearly so many predators to contend with. But being a naturally cautious species, I like to keep myself fit and alert, just in case a coyote shows up at the door some day, for example. Better to be safe than sorry, I always say. I keep a watchful ear out for potential dangers, ever ready to thump my warning and take flight if necessary. I carefully explore and inspect my territory every day, checking out unexpected new objects like a suspicious carton in the middle of the floor or a new piece of furniture. Once I’ve established that they’re reasonably harmless, I mark them with my special chin scent gland. Naturally, I always make sure I have a clear path to the nearest safe haven. And of course, I keep fit by running every day, practicing my quick darts, zigzags, leaps and fancy footwork.

Whether you’re wild or domesticated, I believe being a rabbit is in the blood. It’s important to our self-esteem to keep our rabbity skills sharp and bunny brains alert. Yes, being a rabbit certainly keeps up hopping.

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

box   dandy

Spring Fever

Spring is a very special season for us rabbits. So many intoxicating new smells and sounds! We’re itching to shed those bulky winter furs for a nice lightweight spring coat. And we just can’t seem to keep from leaping and frolicking like the mad little March hares we all are at heart.

One of the best parts of the season for me is the special rabbit holiday our human friends have invented to celebrate our unique qualities. My mom always buys a variety of bunny statues, carved our of something known as “chocolate” – the most precious substance known to mankind. The ritual eating of the precious bunny statues is apparently how many of our human fans symbolically incorporate our rabbitly virtues while demonstrating their special love and respect for our species. It’s a lovely tradition that I wholeheartedly support.

Since my birthday always falls around the same time of years, my mom always honors me with special treats and gifts – extra carrots for breakfast or a deliciously crunchy bunny snack. I’ve trained her to supply me with my favorite treats by hopping enthusiastically around her feet whenever she picks up the correct box. She soon learns to associate my activitiy with the desired treat. Tossing your food dish to demonstrate your disapproval of an inappropriate menu selection is always effective, and it’s very satisfying to watch the food scatter across the room in interesting patterns. You may have your own favorite training methods, but you’ve no doubt already discovered that humans are reasonably easy to train and generally eager to please their bunny companions.

But getting back to the subject of tossing things, try to encourge your humans to buy you some new toys for the spring, or to celebrate your birthday. Toss toys are lots of fun – they can be as simple as wooden blocks, which also make excellent gnaw toys. My mom often buys me interesting boxes and cartons to play with. Once she takes out the stuffings – usually some kind of silly office equipment for her “work” – there are all sorts of possibilities for an imaginative bunny to create hours of fun climbing, hiding, gnawing, rabbit punching and pushing around.

Remember, spring is the rabbit’s special season. Don’t be afraid to leap into it with all four paws.

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

c2c.jpg   1st

True Love

Last Saturday I shredded mom’s favorite rug. It was just something to do on a rainy afternoon. An active bunny can be a little impulsive at times. All right, we can be real pests when we’ve in the mood. Hey, we’re not perfect. It’s just part of our charm.

Now, a less experienced rabbit might be concerned about the consequences of this kind of unsolicited interior re-design. But I wasn’t worried, because I know all about something we rabbits call “unconditional love.” It’s one of the really cool things about humans. Here’s how it works.

I settled down next to my “creation” and waited patiently for mom to appear. I don’t believe in pussy-footing around these issues. My wait wasn’t long. Mom soon came over to greet me, spotted my handiwork, and exclaimed, “Oh, Esther, look what you did! What a bad bunny!” A tense situation, you might say. But here’s where the “unconditional love” thing enters the picture.

Mom leaned over and reached out toward me . . . then gave me a friendly face massage, a quick kiss on the nose, and a final “dire” warning – “Just stick to your own rug when you need to dig.”

We all need a little love and support in our lives with no strings attached – like when we know we’ve been bad or we’re feeling a little low and just need our ears rubbed or our fur groomed to calm our nerves. Humans are good at that kind of thing with their animal friends, if not always with their own kind.

People know about “unconditional love” too. They often talk about it as one of the benefits of sharing their lives with us. And, of course, they’re right. For all their many faults and shortcomings, we love our humans very much. But a lot of them haven’t discovered the best part of this relationship yet – the opportunity we give them to love us back. As a wise old bunny once said, it’s better to give than to receive. And that’s the great secret of this special kind of love – the more you give, the more you get back, and then the more you have to give again. It’s like one of those win-win situations you hear about – nobody loses and everybody’s happy.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advising anyone to go wreaking havoc in your family’s house on a daily basis. That would be a very bad thing, and probably pushing your human’s capacity for totally unconditional love a little too far. But an occasional lapse in good deportment gives your humans a chance to love you all the more. And admit it, it’s really fun to shred the rug.

Esther Bunny, Hip Hop Reporter   

carpet.jpg   Rug

Bad News for Bunnies

Kicking back at the end of a hard day to read my favorite pet columnists is one of my favorite ways to relax, but recently my evening routine was disturbed by some very unsettling news. Rabbits, it seems, are being shamefully neglected by their humans who forget to include their bunnies in their gift-giving rituals! While dogs and cats are regularly showered with holiday and birthday gifts, equally deserving rabbits are being overlooked.

True, there’s no shortage of fun things to buy for your favorite felines and canines – I sometimes wish I had a little spare change to spend on some of the cool things I’ve seen in the pet catalogs I browse through. But even guinea pigs and hamsters are making out better than my fellow lapins!!

Frankly, I’m appalled! Nobunny loves to play more than a rabbit! We enjoy a special treat to nibble on from time to time as much as the next creature. A nice new feeding bowl, an interesting wicker basket to explore, an amusing slinky toy or an inviting chewing block would all be much appreciated – is this too much to expect for our faithful companionship… …a little show of appreciation?!

Well, it’s obvious what’s going on here. It’s always the squeaky pet who gets “oiled,” so to speak – or the barking dog or meowing cat. Listen, just ’cause we bunnies don’t “speak up” for ourselves doesn’t mean you can just ignore us when gifts are being exchanged.

Maybe this isn’t the best time to bring this up. I realize it’s the post-holiday season and you’re probably all shopped out. But, hey, you must have a leftover carton or two! We could make a very enjoyable romp room out of that, and you wouldn’t even have to wrap it up for us! We don’t ask much, just a simple token of your affection.

Fortunately, if you’ve been negligent in the past, the perfect opportunity to make it up to us is right around the corner – that’s right, spring is coming (really, I swear it is!). It’s the time of year when the Great Easter Bunny chases away the cold, gloomy winter and spreads cheer and rebirth to all of nature! What better time to honor your rabbit companions than this most sacred bunny season?

Of course, you don’t need a special occasion to give your animal friends a gift. We’re always happy to get a little extra attention. Just remember, you rabbit people, you have a lot of catching up to do the the pet gift-giving department.

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

e53   Sweetpea in box

A Growing Problem

OK, I’m the first to admit I’ve really been packing on the ounces lately. I enjoy my nibbles, and I guess some of the spring has gone out of my hop lately – after all, I celebrated my 8th birthday this March. A quiet snooze in the sun has more appeal than it did when I was still a young hopper.

It’s true I’ve lost my girlish figure – well it’s not so much lost as well-padded, really. But is that any excuse for mom threatening to cut back on the treats?! Do I hide her ice cream when she starts to blimp out? No I don’t! And it’s not just because I can’t reach the freezer door, either. It’s because I respect her decision to make a pig of herself when she wants to.

Humans, of course, are the last species who should be lecturing their fellow mammals on the hazards of carrying around too much weight. Not that I don’t appreciate mom’s concern for my health, but I pride myself in my nutritious, well-balanced diet. I eat my veggies every day, and never touch red meats or unwholesome fatty foods. An occasional yogurt drop treat is my only indulgence, really… …well, OK, it’s more than occasional. But let me tell you, I don’t buy for a minute mom’s theory that chocolate made in the shape of Easter bunnies is much less fattening than regular chocolate – it’s still the same stuff!! Anybunny knows that!

Anyway, I’ve put up with mom’s attempts to get me to exercise more. Bunnies like to run and hop. And playing chase is always fun, though to be honest, keeping a few hops ahead of your average human is not much of a challenge. True, I no longer zip around the house as I did in my foolish youth. Frankly, I’ve replaced youthful vigor with some middle-aged wisdom. I’ve discovered over the years that the upstairs is pretty much the same as the downstairs, and if I stay put for a few hours I’m not likely to miss much. The furniture I like to gnaw on and the rugs I enjoy shredding aren’t going anywhere soon. So, what’s the rush? I’ll make my rounds eventually. I just take my time and spend more time savoring the moment these days.

Hoping to cut down on my snacking, mom’s taken to offering me half a treat, thinking I won’t notice the difference. Well, I’m no dumb bunny! I just have to demand my treats more often, so what’s the point? Most humans, I’ve found, simply aren’t blessed with an abundance of good common sense.

The fact is, for an eight-year-old bunny, I’m really quite healthy and spry when I want to be. I can still run circles around my mom, shred the Sunday paper before noon, and produce a very healthy supply of bunny “pellets” every day. If my waistline is expanding a bit, well, that means there’s just more of me to love! What could be wrong with that?

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

DSC06629   DSC06631

Stop and Smell the Grass

For some 8 years now I’ve been observing humans, and I’ve finally come to one conculsion: people spend way too much time working for things they don’t even need. Not that I’m opposed to working for a living, of course. We all have to make a living. It’s just that so many humans seem to have forgotten the “living” part of the deal.

A wise old rabbit once said, “Grass doesn’t grow on trees; it grows out of the ground – and there’s plenty of it for everybunny.” And the ground is also just perfect for digging comfy holes to hide and rest in – so what’s the deal with this “money” everyone’s working so hard to get? You can’t eat it, and it doesn’t make a cozy lining for your nest. As soon as you get it you just have to give it away in exchange for something really useful. It doesn’t make any sense!

I guess I’m just expecting too much from humans – after all, we know they’re not as smart as rabbits and certainly not as cute and cuddly. Still, I don’t know why they’re always getting themselves bogged down in unimportant things and forgetting to enjoy all the grass that’s right under their noses. I’m sure they’d be a lot happier if they just gave up on that trouble-making money and concentrated on more practical goals, like learning how to grow their own fur coats, for example, or cultivating a nice garden of delicious vegetables. Then housebunnies like me could spend more quality time with our humans doing really important stuff – stretching out for a nap in a nice patch of sunlight, chasing each other around the house, nibbling our veggies together, and grooming each other’s coats. Now wouldn’t that be much more fun than paying bills?

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

DSC08380   DSC08684

No Regrets – a Rabbit’s Life in Review

The time comes in everybunny’s life when she knows the end is near and it’s time to put her affairs in order. I’m not one to wallow in sentimentality or self-pity. I’ve packed a lot of living into my 8 1/2 years and now that my life’s journey is reaching its finish, I can take pleasure in looking back over my long and rewarding life. I’ve had a good, long run and I’d like to share some of the highlights with you now.

Obviously, I’m proud of my column and the web page I started this past spring. Few bunnies have had the opportunities I’ve had to share my views and opinions with so many friends. I was pleased to be invited to contribute to the magazine of a new bunny rescue group in the United Kingdom, to add some much needed humor to the very serious subject of homeless rabbits.

But fame is a fleeting thing, as everybunny knows. And nobunny would be foolish enough to focus their lives on achieving it. The accomplishments I’m most proud of lie closer to my home. One of my first challenges was training my human to respect the lagomorph lifestyle and (after a bit of give and take) grant me free run of the house. I was mom’s first rabbit companion, but thanks to my masterful instruction, I’m sure I won’t be her last. My successors will certainly benefit from the groundwork I laid.

And I’m proud of my determined (though unsuccessful) efforts to befriend my guinea pig sibling, Buffy, when I first moved in. Her determination (not to be friends) turned out to be stronger than mine, but I never gave up or accepted defeat. It’s the rabbit way to take charge of a new environment, subtly but firmly transforming it into a rabbit-friendly place. Nobunny can deny the mark I’ve left in every room of my adopted home – a mark that clearly states “a rabbit lives here!”

Like any self-respecting bunny, I’ve played my share of jokes. I remember the many times I hid among the books on the office shelves, watching mom frantically search the room calling me. Sometimes she was close enough to bite (if I was that kind of bunny) and still didn’t see me. Leaping out from unexpected places to attack mom’s shoes when she walked by never failed to surprise her. And keeping mom awake all night by boxing her shoes around in the closet was always amusing (to me at least).

Everybunny enjoys indulging in life’s small pleasures, and I’m no exception. Some of the things I’ve loved in my life are crispy carrots in the morning and luscious apples for lunch. Dancing around mom’s feet when she tries to walk or snuggling up to her feet while she works at the computer. Playing with my favorite chew toys, like the old sundress mom can’t wear anymore ’cause I’ve nibbled too many holes in it. Playing tag. Relaxing while mom brushes me or gives me a face massage and ear rub. Racing up and down the stairs. Taking a sunbath on a lazy afternoon. Leaping in the air at the shear joy of being a bunny. And scarfing down a few too many delicious yogurt drops (my very favorite treats).

And of course I had my share of adventures. I’ll never forget the great squirrel invasion. Nobunny every defended her home more bravely than I did that morning (though mom still disputes my version of events). The day a bat got loose in the house, watching mom try to herd it out the front door was first-rate entertainment. Even the daily turmoil and excitement of our home office always kept me hopping, so to speak.

Yes, I’ve had a rich, full life and I’m ready to take my well-deserved final rest with no regrets. My life has been well spent – no unfinished business, no threads in the pattern of my life left dangling.

I know I’ll leave a terrible gaping hole in mom’s life when I go – it can’t be helped. I’m too charming for my own good sometimes. But, as a wise bunny once said, life goes on even after our race is run. After a suitable period of mourning, I’m sure mom will take in another deserving young hopper looking for a good home. If she (or he) shares my talent for writing I hope my readers will soon be laughing and smiling at her wisdom and wit, just as you have at mine over the past years. But for now, this is Esther Bunny, the Hip Hop Reporter, signing off for the last time.

Esther, Hip Hop Reporter

Note from the Editor (aka “mom”): Esther died peacefully and her spirit hopped on to the Great Lettuce Patch in the Sky in October. She was buried in a private ceremony, wrapped in the old sundress she’d “adopted” as her favorite chew toy with an unfinished box of her beloved yogurt drops by her side. She will be deeply missed.

photos 001   photos 013