austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I won't forget a single day, believe me

When we first met Columbo he seemed a bit staid, even boring. He sat, watching, not quite sure to make of being left with these strangers instead of the rescue he'd been at the past year. He needed to get used to us, and we to him, as we learned how he was unlike Stephen, and how we was like himself.

The prominent thing was his chill. Stephen somehow had this outgoing superstar charisma. Columbo was more reserved. Well, all rabbits are reserved, even the outgoing ones. But Columbo seemed more private. You could see it in his eyes. The rescue from whom we adopted him said he had ``Eeyore eyes''. The shape of his head and the fur around it combined to make his eyes look a little more triangular, a little withdrawn. When he felt more secure he would come out and interact and play, but his eyes would still look a little skeptical of the world. It's a sentiment I could agree with. They certainly helped confirm that our name was right for him. He looked as if he were trying to see through this.

The rescue told us that he tolerated being picked up and held, even for long whiles. This was astounding to consider; rabbits, as a rule, would like you to set them down now. Also to set them down more, please, and sooner. In our hands ... Columbo wanted to be set back down now, please. Perhaps the problem was not knowing us well enough. We hadn't tried picking him up near what turned out to be the end of his life, apart from being put into his carrier or for medical uses, and you can't blame him not liking that at all. If he had lived I wonder when we'd have tried picking him up again to see what he thought of it now that he knew something of us.

But I will say what he did tolerate: just about everything else. He was even comfortable in a harness and on a leash. Rabbits typically don't understand reaching the end of the leash and panic at the strange force holding them back. Not Columbo. Perhaps he had enough experience being shown around at rescue events, the ones where he didn't mind being held, that the leash was comfortable. It made him so walkable.

He'd patrol. With free roam of the house he'd make his way around the perimeter, examining it all. He'd pause a little, especially in a nice cozy hidden spot like behind the reclining chair. And then carry on until he'd finished a circuit, then nap a while, and then go back around to make sure all was well.

And he wanted some oatmeal. The rescue told us how he liked it, and how it helped him keep his weight up. Well, keep himself less underweight. He was not so food-oriented as Stephen was. Sometimes it seemed like he only ate because he knew we'd cajole him if he didn't. But steel-cut oatmeal flakes? He didn't have enough of those. We once set the empty oatmeal carton in his area, that he could chew on the cardboard. He shoved his head in, maybe trying to get an abandoned flake in there, maybe just enjoying the concentrated aroma of oatmeal. And shook his captured head around. That was delightful and we started buying one size larger of oatmeal flakes, so he could have a box that he couldn't get caught in. He would sometimes poke his head in them anyway, and a couple weeks before he died he even held the carton up and shook his head side to side, as if to make sure we knew how much he hoped to be in an oatmeal carton sometime.

And he was chill. Compliant. He trusted us, even when we were strangers, that we were probably doing something necessary if it was only a little inconvenient. When he was offended by something, like the expressing I'd do of his bladder, he would chew whatever he might first. Straw, litter, a paper towel --- he was very happy chewing paper towels and I'd give him a small select-a-size one just about each day --- or anything before turning to chew our shirts or ourselves, if he could.

In his last few months he showed a new side. Rabbits will dig, given something to dig. And they'll move stuff around, given something to move around. He would take the fleece given as a bed and tug at it, in these dainty little cat-like scratches that made us think he was going pat-pat-pat. It wasn't near fast enough to dig, just enough to shuffle around something. Maybe he was building his nest. Maybe he just liked the feel. It was something we haven't seen other rabbits do. Just one of the things that felt right to him.

Tags: rabbit

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