In Memory of Bobby
July 8, 1989 --- October 9, 2000
Bobby's Story

This story begins at a small country fair like so many in Maine or any state. All are the same but if you look under the surface, each has its own uniqueness. The gully hiding behind the smells, lights, and sounds of the midway is one of the things that makes Action Fair unique. Here is a oasis of peace just below the excitement and noise above. Two sheds, long, gray and rustic are examples of the other side of a fair. One filled with all colors of the spectrum, drowning in nature's perfumes, a cornucopia of textures and shapes for it houses the efforts of the flower arrangers. The other shed is filled with more earthy tones, as is it's smells, cages fill the place to the point of claustrophobia. Here in this crowded shed we found the new addition to our family. A handful of gray fur just six weeks old that would always stay a size easy for cuddling. A dwarf rabbit.

My husband, Peter and I, came from opposite sides of the pet issue to meet in agreement. I can't remember a time that we didn't have at least a cat or dog, that produced at least one litter a year, up until sometime in high school. Pete's, on the other hand, only experience with pets was a rabbit that his brother had. So when we decided on a pet for our then two year old daughter, Jocelyn, it would be something with as little maintenance as possible but still something she could enjoy. Not a dog! I have had my fill of dogs, don't get me wrong I love dogs as long as they're someone else's. A dog is another child. One that doesn't grow up and leave home. A rabbit was more our speed. No shots, no potty training, no walks, no barking, no smelly food. Don't get me wrong they aren't perfect. You do have to deal with the bedding, they bite if frightened, scratch for the same reason, and of course there's the middle of night play time. But we never dreamt just how much this tiny little thing would change our lives.

Unlike the rabbits I had as a kid, Bobby was a people rabbit. He loved attention even from a none too gentle two year ago. When Bobby was given the freedom of the house to play with Jocelyn they soon invented their own game of hide and seek. Jocelyn would try to catch the elusive bunny but he would slip under the couch out of her reach. Returning to her toys my daughter soon forgot about the rabbit but he had not forgot her. She would be happily obvious to the world when the gray ball of fur would sneak up on her and touch her has if to say, your it, and the chase began again.

As Jocelyn and our family grew, a second daughter, two cats, and two gold fish, Bobby's freedom also grew. When the girls here old enough for the freedom of the yard we found that Bobby would stay in the yard as long as the kids were there to keep him company. By then we had discovered to my devastation that I was allergic to our lovable bunny, so Bobby and his cage were soon exiled to the yard. Bobby took it like a trooper and thrived, wining over the cats in the process. Now when Bobby is let lose our cats, Boris and Barnaby, often come up to greet him and sometime one or the other cat with sit in the sun with him. Both cats have found one of their favorite napping places is the top of his cage, whether its in its summer place under the kids playground our its winter home on the porch. Bobby passion for people extends to everyone. If he's lose in the yard and we have company he's under your feet, if the kids aren't playing with him. Forget him in the yard alone and when you remember him he will come up to you to be put back in his cage.

Bobby could charm anything, he's even charmed, fate, God, the angels, lady luck, or the forest spirits what ever term you chose. For something is definitely looking out for this small family pet. Bobby is leading a charmed life. I not talking about the kids droping him, his jumping out of moving toys like wagons and doll carriages, or his munching on live wires. He has survived things that would have frightened most rabbits to death.

The first happened one spring day (1997) when the neighbors two foster daughters and their family dog came to play. The four girls were passing the bunny around while my husband Pete worked in the yard. I was cleaning house when the girls started screaming. For a few minutes I didn't catch on that this was real terror not roughhouse screaming. My husband was already running through the trees in front of our home when I got outside. The girls were near panic, the dog had just run off with Bobby. The dog out of fear had headed home with his prize and then to the forest beyond. Getting the story out of the kids I headed out after the dog as well. Both Pete and I soon knew that our running and yelling for the dog to stop had done us no good.

Once calmer we formed a search party made up of the four girls, Pete, myself and a neighbor, the owner of the kidnapping dog. We scoured the banks of the brook where the dog had headed. But we found no traces of the dog or rabbit. We gave up in despair one little rabbit would be near impossible to find among the downed trees, bush, and undergrowth that line the bank of the small stream. The dog returned but without it's prize. At least there was no sign of blood on her. Little Bobby who had spent his life in a cage was now lost in woods. Logic said mostly dead because of how fragile rabbits are but our hearts wouldn't give up hope.

We headed home to supper with heavy hearts. The meal was subdued with the conversation centering around what to do next. Then through the bay window my husband thought he saw movement on the road. We all rushed out of the house and through the trees to the spot but found nothing. Sunset was coming fast but I couldn't give up. One more time. Bobby was out there alone and I wouldn't believe dead. Going alone I made my way down the embankment through the bushes to the stream. I walked the stream carefully looking along both sides, under branches, bushes, tree roots. No rabbit. Following the brook until the bushes made it impossible to go any farther without a machete. Also the light was fading. I started back home still with a small amount of hope but it was slipping away with the light. Half way back to the road I stopped and so did my heart. Across the brook siting on the bank was Bobby, alive and it seemed unhurt. I screamed his name and impatiently tried to find a way across, hoping that he would stay put long enough for me to get to him. I found a downed tree and made it to him, amazingly without falling in.

Trembling I forced myself to not to move to fast. I fought my way to him through the underbrush. I picked him up gently when all I wanted to do was snatch him up and hug him. He seemed unhurt but a darkening woods was not the place to examine him. There was no attempt to jump out of my arms as I climbed and pulled my way up the steep tree and bush covered hill to my neighbors yard. After telling them that I had found our pet alive and seeming unhurt I headed home. When I made it home my family saw me coming and rushed from the house to greet us. I was out of breath and barely able to tell my story. Tears and rambling continued until we had Bobby safe in his cage with fresh water and food to let him recover from his shock.

It was the next morning that I discovered that all was not as well with our pet as we thought. He laid in his cage with back legs out straight as if his was laying down relaxing while his front legs were in under him like he was siting. I tried to get him to move the back legs but no response. He couldn't walk!

The girls and I rushed him to the vet but the prognoses wasn't good. There was a good possibility that the dog broke his back and Bobby would never hop again. All the vet could do was make sure that he wasn't dehydrated, and give us some antibiotics. We went home with heavy hearts to wait.

At first I wouldn't let the girls do more then talk to him and pet him but they decided that he need to be taken for a walk. When I wasn't looking, off in the wagon he went. My husband did see and what he saw was the first time it seemed that Bobby was showing an interest in life. He ears were up and was looking around instead of the listlessness that he had in his cage. We decided that if he was going to die he'd die being loved not shut up in his cage. That was the turning pointed. The kids had him out all the time, walks on the road, resting in the wagon to be near them while they played, and just holding him. In less than two weeks Bobby was hopping around like nothing had happened to him. I can't prove it scientifically but I think love cured our bunny.

The story of Bobby and the neighbor's dog has passed into family legend and should be enough trouble for one little pet. But fate wasn't done with us yet. Last spring (1999) Bobby had an other brush with the grim reaper and as before he passed by with only a warning again. This time Jocelyn had her pet out with her in the yard at dusk when she was called in for the night. The next day's normal rush to get off to school was doubled. Jocelyn and I had her field trip to Long Island, Maine and then our world crashed in around us. Bobby was not in his cage! He had been left out all night!

The shed seemed the most likely hiding place for him. The building sitting on it's block foundation was a prefect hiding place of our two cast, assorted wild animals and at times Bobby. Two panicking kids and myself turned up nothing. I was torn between getting the kids to school and fear for our lost pet but getting on with life won. I rushed my youngest to the bus stop by way of the car. The clock was ticking and I looked left barely in time to brake. I almost pulled out in front of my neighbor's truck, Amanda's teacher. She just smiled and waved me on, with the understanding of a fellow working mother. Amanda had made the bus, now for Jocelyn and maybe finding Bobby. No luck! We headed for school with Bobby nagging at our hearts and minds.

Days passed filled with finishing our new home and moving into it. Every time any of us walked through the yard one eye was looking for a spot of gray. We began to accept that he was gone, this time. Jocelyn took his small house from his cage engraved his name, birth and death date on it, then place it in the woods near the garage. This was Bobby's resting place lovingly keep with flowers and memories of one very special rabbit. This was my children's first experience with death of something they knew well. We went on with our lives but the grieving added a touch of gloom to what should have been one of our happiest time. Moving into the house we had waited so long and worked so hard for.

Twelve days passed in this paradox of groom and happiness. I still found myself examining the yard went ever I was out, knowing that it was futile. Then a car drove in, a car I never expected to see. It was the lady from the bus stop and her two daughters. People we knew but not well enough to drop in for no reason. They had a reason which laid in a cardbroad box in the back of the station wagon. The gentleman who lived next to her had found something in his garden that he though belonged to her girls. It didn't but she did knew who it did belong too. Bobby was home again and this time barely worst for the wear.

I picked him up not caring about my allergies, just overjoyed that our missing member was back from the dead again. Peter and Amanda crowded around in the same state of disbelieve as I. Amanda was sent to tell Jocelyn while Peter and I thanked our neighbors. As Jocelyn ran from the house and snatched the rabbit from my arms you could see the gloom pass. Our family was complete again.

Bobby is still with us and the way he's going it won't be any surprise if he lives far past the fifteen year mark. We will never know how a ten year old domestic rabbit survived in the woods for twelve days. All I can say is that he is one tough little rabbit with a guardian angel that well deserves his or her wings.


Read more about Bobby from Jocelyn's perspective at
Bobby's Hutch.
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