The Hutch

Each time I pass the sliding glass door to our deck, I glance toward the bunny hutch. Dave designed and built it eight years ago, using old redwood boards from a portion of fence he had replaced.

One of our son’s friends bought a baby bunny. A month later, her parents demanded that she rehome it. We’re bad at saying no to animals.

Butterscotch came to us on Super Bowl Sunday 2014. She arrived in a multi-colored plastic and metal cage decorated with sparkly stickers that read, “Hector.” Though I don’t remember her original name, it sure wasn’t Hector. We placed the cage just to the left of the slider, where the dog crate once stood. Because she was loud in that rattly cage, Dave found quick motivation to build her hutch.

Bun Buns, as we most often called her, was a funny bunny. A cashmere rabbit, with long fur that got terribly matted, she also hated her brush. She would take the end of it in her mouth and toss it away from her. She once peed on my lap to get away from being brushed. She liked to dig in the rocks in our fireplace, and she developed her own tunnel system in the side yard where she played during the day. She enjoyed playing chase with our brindle Boxador, Izzy, until Jasper joined our family; a super-mutt, he played too rough. She buzzed happily when we brought her vegetable scraps from the kitchen.

I didn’t know I had a habit of looking toward her hutch until today, now that it stands empty.

Yesterday when Dave went to return Buns to her hutch, he found her on her side with a gash in her belly – had she encountered a mean thorn or splinter? – that had already become severely infected. He wrapped her in an old dog-washing towel, brought her inside so we could say goodbye, and then held her, stroking her face until her nose twitched for the last time. Thankfully, it didn’t take long. Had she waited for us, giving us the chance to say goodbye, knowing she would be wrapped in all the comfort we could offer?

We’re quiet today. The air in our home feels heavy. I made soup, quick comfort food, though the pot stands full on the stove top.

I wonder how long this habit will persist. I still expect to see our outdoor tabby pacing by the slider, anticipating food. It’s been years since Tippy, named for the broken tip of her tail, has asked for dinner.

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