Monday, September 27, 2010

Rabbits Love Chores

Early on in my rabbit ownership, I read online somewhere about a woman whose rabbit would follow her around the house as she cleaned.  I thought this was adorable but unique, and after knowing Walter for a few months, assumed this would never be the relationship I had with my bunny.  But, as it turns out, Walter’s favorite part of the week is Chore Day.  I am sure he is the only one in our house that enjoys this day.  My boyfriend and I use a divide-and-conquer approach to chores, which puts the apartment in quite a state of commotion.  Walter loves the hustle and bustle of Chore Day.

First up is the laundry.  For Walter, this means a chance to hang out in the bathroom for hours on end.  It’s easiest to sort the laundry loads if the bathroom door is open, so Walter takes full advantage of this opportunity.  As I sort darks, lights, and whites, the rabbit hops from pile to pile, smelling the dirty clothes, digging through mounds of socks, and trying to figure out how to climb into the laundry basket.  In between laundry loads, Walter lounges behind the toilet, taking naps and grooming himself.  Occasionally we’ll hear him darting in circles around the bathroom, turning it into his own race track.

While I’m taking care of the laundry, Paul sets to sweeping the apartment.  This fascinates Walter.  For starters, the broom itself looks like a fun toy with chewable parts.  This makes sweeping pretty difficult. Unlike the laundry, where the rabbit is present but out of the way, sweeping the apartment usually involves getting Walter to stop chewing the bristles or at least moving out of the area that Paul’s trying to sweep.  Once the rabbit has had enough of the bristles, the next challenge is getting him out of the dust piles.  These are not laundry piles; he can’t hop around in them.  But he smells bits of hay or rabbit droppings or rabbit fur, and he wants to explore the piles that smell just like him.  This often means one pile of sweepings has now turned into three little piles, complete with a trail of dust to wherever is Walter’s next destination.  Sweeping is not Paul’s favorite chore.

The last big chore of the day is cleaning the rabbit cage.  Typically, I disassemble the cage in the living room, leaving Walter with all his toys, food, and the top portion of the cage to play with.  I carry the bottom of the cage into the bathroom, where I empty it of bedding, hay, and droppings, wash it, disinfect it, and dry it.  Every now and then, Walter will hop into the bathroom to see what’s going on, but leave after a few uninteresting minutes.

Last night, I only had enough time to do a quick clean.  This meant scooping out all the dirty bedding, leftover hay, and non-litter-boxed droppings and replacing it with clean bedding.  I kept the cage in the living room while doing this.  That was a mistake.  Walter, a routine-loving rabbit, was very confused and displeased by this.  Though he was busying himself on the other side of the room, he dashed back to his cage just as I set to work, hopped inside and stayed put.  Knowing better than to clean a cage while the rabbit is inside, I waited.  And waited.  Paul tried luring Walter out of the cage with a fresh bit of pepper, but Walter would not budge.  Finally we gave up and let Walter just stay in the cage and eat the pepper.  Eventually, the rabbit got bored and left me to cleaning, but not without perching himself on my leg to watch the quality of work being done.  What a micromanager!

There are plenty of chores that do not interest our rabbit, like washing dishes and cleaning the bathroom.  And while I enjoy his company and rabbit-style assistance with keeping the house clean, I can’t help but wish he had opposable thumbs that could hold a broom or fold some laundry every now and then. 

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