So far I’ve had five bunnies as pets in my life. Similar to my reference patterns for dogs (all dogs are puppies regardless of age in human or dog years) – all rabbits are called bunnies, even if they’ve developed far beyond youth, and even if they aren’t cute anymore, or never were. The only exception to this rule is when I’m consuming rabbit. I do not refer to it as a bunny when it’s on a plate, just dinner. There’s no need to make a similar distinction for dogs because I don’t eat dog, knowingly. No one really knows the content of Jack In the Box chicken nuggets during the ’90s and no one asked. Most people think it’s strange that I can have bunnies as pets and still eat them without a tear or a whimper on my part, but I’m great at detachment, not swayed by vegetarian propaganda, and rabbit is delicious, so it’s not an issue.
The first bunny came into my life when I was around the age of five or six. His name was Sam. He was supposed to be some sort of miniature rabbit breed but he ended up growing to nearly 13 pounds and probably died of obesity. He was the family pet although my mom fed him and took care of him the most. He was more like the third child she never wanted and didn’t get to name. My parents told me that we had to leave him in Long Beach, California when we moved to Visalia, California because the weather in Visalia was not habitable for furry bunnies who had to live outside. It turned out the weather in Visalia, and most of the Central Valley of California, was not habitable for humans either. My parents failed to mention that before relocating us to the forgotten bowels of California. No one thinks of the Central Valley when they think of California. It goes San Diego, LA, San Francisco, then on to Oregon, as it should. We gave Sam to our neighbors who lived across the street. I’m not sure how the transaction transpired but I’m certain I lost a pet and gained nothing else.
After living in a house that had a designed and designated “dog run” section of the back yard for a few years, my parents decided to get us another pet. The obvious selection would have been a puppy, but my parents were of the belief that dogs are too much work and too much mess. The only thing dogs are “much” more of in comparison to any other pet is loyal and maybe noisy, if you’re comparing them to the virtually silent bunny. In my experience all pets poop, need to be fed, exercised (some walked, some left to run frantically about the house/backyard) and eventually get taken away by your inconsiderate ex-boyfriend who never deserved that dog in the first place. Neither one of my parents even had pets as children, certainly never a dog, so they were determined to maintain their family tradition of joylessness for the next generation. I only hope my brother doesn’t do the same. I’m not having children so he’s the Henry family’s only hope in many respects.
My memory is spotty on the order in which we acquired our next round of pets but I’m fairly certain it went: 2 hamsters, 1 bunny, 1 cat, 0 dogs. This time around the bunny was much smaller and his stint with our family much shorter. Him being an all white bunny and me being a half white 11 year old girl born with essentially no imagination, his name became Snowball almost immediately. My brother didn’t care about the bunny’s name, secretly calling dibs on naming the future cat he somehow already anticipated. (He named the cat Jeter after New York Yankees player Derek Jeter, better known for his brief but meaningful relationship with Mariah Carey) Like Sam, I have no real memories of Snowball and suspect he ended up becoming more my mother’s pet than mine, a fourth child she still didn’t get to name. This time she most likely gave him up without even consulting me, or maybe he died. I really don’t remember. I know I dropped one of the hamsters on his head and he couldn’t quite walk a straight line after that but that’s about all I remember from my time as a pet owner. Jeter and I were mutually apathetic.
My parents ended up getting a “save the marriage” dog after my brother and I moved out of the house which my mom still didn’t get to name, but it didn’t work. The marriage dissolved anyway. I don’t blame my parents for abandoning their belief that dogs are “too much _______” when your marriage is falling apart you abandon belief in a lot of things. Since moving out of my parents’ house I have lived in places that either did not allow dogs or worked a schedule that did not allow me to properly care for a dog. I’m convinced 95% of the reason I quickly cohabited with my second boyfriend was his adorable dog. The other 5% was alcohol. I lived petless for a quite a few years after the mysterious disappearance of Snowball always planning for some distant future where I would be a joyful dog owner.
Finally cohabiting with a new boyfriend motivated only 40% by alcohol I thought I had my chance this year. We live in an apartment that the owner used to have TWO dogs in. Two whole, real-life, full-size dogs. There is even a backyard. The place practically requires a pet deposit. Not an actual cash deposit but a deposit in the form of a pet. “First and last month’s rent and one adorable pet, please.” Plus my boyfriend likes dogs. I was a shoo-in for newest dog owner 2017. Now was my chance. I was finally going to be a dog owner. I was wrong. Despite having a joyful childhood that included TWO dogs at two separate times as pets, my boyfriend, reading from the same anti-puppy pet manual that my parents once recited from, decided a dog was too much work with my schedule and we weren’t ready for it. Sensing my disappointment which I made clear through numerous verbal complaints, he conceded to getting me a bunny. Bunny #3.
Being older and having learned to fake an imagination by now, I wasn’t going to make the same terrible pet-naming mistakes I had made in the past. This time I was going to do it right. So I selected two excellent bunny names for my boyfriend to choose from: Bunjamin Franklin and Thomas Flufferson. He was a boy, it was almost the Fourth of July so they were very appropriate. To my extreme confusion he did not like either name. He wanted to name the bunny Houdini. Denied. The bunny remained nameless until my boyfriend eventually agreed to the name Bunjamin probably because I had been referring to him by that name already anyway. Bunjamin was the cutest and softest bunny I had ever held. Facilitated by a Craigslist ad, we purchased him in the parking lot of a WalMart from two questionable citizens who had recently decided they couldn’t afford both heroin and a bunny.
Bunjamin died tragically due to neglect, fear and ultimately a heart attack, I assume, but no autopsy was done. The blame has been divided as such: 60% my boyfriend’s fault, 30% our neighbor’s dog’s fault, 10% our neighbor’s fault, 0% my fault, but for shorthand I just say my boyfriend killed my pet bunny. It saves time. Bunjamin living up to the horrible name my boyfriend wanted to give him, escaped from his outdoor pen and was quickly snatched by the neighbor’s dog and shaken about. Bunjamin survived the tossing and was retrieved by my boyfriend, Dan, only to die in his arms from fright, shock, or a heart condition he might have already had. He always was a very fearful bunny. I was at work when these horrors transpired. After work upon hearing about Bunjamin’s death I cried for 3-4 hours straight. I think I was crying for all the pet bunnies I had lost since we only had Bunjamin for a week and I wasn’t that attached to him yet. Although I do still have pictures of him on my phone. He was that cute.
Now that I’ve scrolled through dozens of old pictures of Bunjamin, I need to take a nap.
More on Bunny #4 & #5 later.