“Save a life and don’t buy an Easter bunny.” This sentence in Daniel McNulty’s April 8 letter to the editor in this newspaper jumped out at me. I once had a pet rabbit.
McNulty reported that “Last year, hundreds of rabbits were surrendered at animal shelters and rabbit rescues across this state,” after they were given to children as Easter gifts.
When I first met my wife, Linda, my pet bunny lived inside my Winthrop home. He was potty trained, somewhat. He had his spots around the house. He was affectionate and cute. And yes, I must admit now, somewhat inappropriate as a house pet.
I guess I’d forgotten the pet rabbits my sister Edie had when she was little. One nearly bit off her finger. I think we ate them for dinner after that.
We do love our pets, don’t we? Well, we spend a lot of money on them and a lot of time with them. I’ll never forget my first pet, Buddy, a Brittany spaniel, my constant companion from the ages of 1 to 10.
I also had a dog, Riley, half Irish setter and half golden retriever, when I met Linda. One night while I was working late, he broke into the house, into my bedroom, and grabbed a bunch of my clothes, burying them outside all around my small lawn.
When I entered the driveway that night, the car’s headlights lit up the arm of a shirt sticking out of the ground and blowing in the wind. What a mess! I guess he missed me.
Riley moved with us to Mount Vernon. He was an inside dog, and thunderstorms frightened him nearly to death. If we were home, he’d cower in our laps or behind the couch. One afternoon, a storm blew through while we were away, and Riley destroyed two doors, trying to get out of the house.
But he was big, a beautiful red color, and very friendly. When we had kids, they loved Riley.
My next dog was a Chesapeake Bay retriever, Blake Hill Buddy, my duck hunting machine. I trained him myself, and he was awesome in the duck blind. Otherwise, he was awful. He’d jump high and knock down visitors, and act so badly in the house that eventually Lin made me move him to an outside dog house and pen. The dog house was once a hen house, big enough to give him plenty of room.
I had to put Blake down because of a degenerative hip problem. Outside the vet’s office, I cried like a baby, until the vet came out and assured me I’d done the right thing. I tried duck hunting without him the next fall, but it just wasn’t the same. I haven’t hunted ducks since. Nor have I had another dog.
Lin and I decided that dogs are too much work, particularly with our travel schedule. She loves cats, though, and those are our pets of choice today. Well, OK, her pets of choice.
I pretend to hate cats. We’re down to one now, more than enough. We got Wyatt from a shelter. He’s mostly coon cat and drops huge gobs of hair everywhere. I can spot a cat owner 100 feet away because he or she sports tons of cat hairs on their clothes, as I do.
Wyatt seems to know that Linda is supposed to get up at 5 a.m., and if she doesn’t he comes to our bedroom door and cries out to her constantly until she gets up. He doesn’t seem to know when it is the weekend. Drives me nuts.
Of course, Lin would have him in bed with us if I was OK with that. I am definitely not OK with that. But he gets to spend time there with Lin, until I come to bed, at which point he jumps up and races out of the bedroom.
We do have a morning ritual. I open the fridge door for a drink of water, and he meows his way over so I can kneel down and pet him for a while. He purrs. I purr.
I’ve decided cats make the best pets because they are self-sufficient and independent, take up little space, and don’t eat much. They are also hunters, just like me. Wyatt and I join in the fight against mice and voles. But when he targets birds, I draw the line. In fact, I have raced outside to grab birds right out of his mouth.
So yes, I have to admit I love Wyatt. But please don’t tell Linda. I also have to admit that Daniel McNulty is right. Rabbits are not suitable Easter presents and toys.