Thursday, September 9, 2010

Walter and the Rabbit-Sitter

One of the meanest jokes that someone has played on me recently happened when I left Walter at my friend’s house for the weekend. We had only had Walter for two weeks before my boyfriend and I were scheduled to go away for a long weekend. Rather than torture Walter with a five-hour car ride to North Carolina, I searched for rabbit-friendly kennels with space for my bunny for a few days. This search proved unfruitful (though a few months later, I did find an appropriate kennel) and facing the possibility of cancelling our trip, decided to take a friend up on her offer to help.

Already a nervous new pet-owner, I was reluctant to put Walter in the care of a novice rabbit-sitter. On top of this, my friend owned a very curious and overly-friendly dog, and as such, Walter would be staying in her basement for the weekend. Of all the things to worry about, I most feared that he would be lonely down there by himself. (Why I thought he’d be more entertained at a kennel is beyond me.)

At any rate, this seemed to be my best option. The morning of our trip, I drove out to the ‘burbs to drop Walter off. Paul and I set up a little home-away-from-home for him. We had purchased a rabbit playpen that gave him about nine square feet of space and could serve as a cage when we traveled. Inside the playpen, we put his travel carrier as a hiding place, as well as his litter box, hay rack, food dishes, and toys. It was a pretty good set-up, considering it was just for the weekend – and despite having all those items inside the playpen, he still had ample room to romp around.

After bidding my bunny farewell and assuring him that we’d be back in a few days, Paul and I took off for Raleigh. I texted my friend to let her know where I had set Walter up, and asked her to text me back when she got home to let me know that the set up was in an okay place. Just as we hit the North Carolina border, I got a text message:

Amanda: Where’s Walter?
Me: I set him up in the basement, remember?
Amanda: I’m in the basement. Where is he?
Me [confused]: He’s right at the bottom of the stairs; you can’t miss his giant playpen!
Amanda: Yeah, I see all his stuff, but I don’t see him anywhere in there
Me [worried]: He’s probably hiding in his travel carrier.
Amanda: No, I checked. He wasn’t in there.
Me [really freaking out]: WTF??

As this transpired, I became more and more frantic. I immediately jumped to the worst-case scenario: Walter had escaped the cage, chewed some major electrical wires in the basement, and was lying behind the washing machine, dead as can be. Paul tried to alleviate my hysteria by telling me that Amanda was probably just kidding. “Who jokes about this?! She knows how nervous I am about Walter! What a horrible person!” I yelled back at him, panic-stricken. Worse than my overactive imagination was the fact that ten minutes had passed and Amanda hadn’t texted me back. I began plotting ways to convince Paul to turn the car around and head back home to search for Walter.

Until finally..

Amanda: Just kidding! He’s right here eating some hay. I gave him some food when I got home, too. Have a fun weekend!

..What a jerk!

Later in the weekend, Amanda sent me another message saying that she must’ve jinxed herself, because Walter did, in fact, escape from the cage. More than once. Apparently, he figured out that if he backed up against one side of the playpen and charged as fast as he could towards the seam of the enclosure, he could break through and hop to freedom. What a clever, mischievous bunny.

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