“So you’ve been a bit of a terror, by reports,” I said to our pet rabbit. He was looking at the open pet carrier, and considering whether to punch it.
“They were desperate times,” he finally pronounced.
“They were times at your vacation cottage.” This would be my love’s parents’ house. They watch our pet rabbit when we have to be away more than a day. Our pet rabbit can’t be left unattended that long, because he’ll run up long-distance telephone calls. The funny thing is they’re not even calls that would make sense, like ordering stacks of particularly tasty hay. It’s like he just gets carried away with the fun of dialing. In many ways our pet rabbit is a little kid, except that he doesn’t give us colds or tell us complicated and rambling stories about what happened in school.
“There were dogs chasing me!”
“I know those dogs. They’re four years older than the letter `W’.”
“So they’ve had time to practice their fiendish ways!”
“They don’t have fiendish ways. They’re barely up to falling down anymore.” He sneezed, because somehow our pet rabbit sneezes, and then turned that into a snort. “They haven’t even been growling at me because they can’t work up the energy for that anymore.” And this is true. When I first started visiting my love’s parents, the dogs would take turns barking furiously at me, because they were afraid that if they didn’t, I might go on existing. Eventually they would settle down, only for one or the other to suddenly realize that I was still a thing that existed, so they had to go through it all over again. Since then, sadly, the dogs have gotten more frail. They’ll wander up to me and mutter a half-articulated hwurmf. I tell them that’s very good barking and then they collapse on the floor where they are. I’d pat their heads if that didn’t seem like taunting.
Our rabbit put his paws together and shoved on the front of his carrier, a traditional rabbit way of expressing the concept “I want this shoved over there a little”. It works better on hay and towels and light vegetables. I picked him up by his hind legs and shoved him in the carrier, a traditional rabbit-keeper way of expressing the concept “if you won’t go in I’ll just put you in”. He turned around and punched the carrier’s bars.
Finally he said, “I can scare dogs away.”
“You can scare those dogs away. They’re very timid dogs.”
“I didn’t even have to bite and the bigger one ran away!” The dogs are the same size, but perhaps there are rabbit ways of classifying dogs I don’t understand.
“That dog’s been scared away by clouds. You’re not saying you’re just as ferocious as a cloud, are you?”
“Bring me a cloud and I’ll see who scares who!”
“You’re figuring to make a cloud quiver its knees? What has got into you?”
“I had to spend forever fending off dogs!”
It struck me: the “larger” dog came up to the edge of our rabbit’s pen before running away, while the “smaller” one was too afraid of the interloper to get that close. By “running” I mean “kind of shambling about in a way that isn’t technically falling over most of the time”.
“Luckily,” he said, “I know what to do with dogs.”
“You know what to do with those dogs. You’re an expert at existing.”
“I spent my whole life getting ready to exist!”
“You could be in trouble if you had to face other dogs, you know.”
He almost stopped wriggling his nose a moment. “What other dogs?”
“You know there’s more than two dogs in the world.”
“No, I heard them both.”
“Did you ever notice the dogs going over to the window and barking like crazy, then stopping and hiding from the window?”
He nodded, which is the sort of thing that involves a lot of ear-flapping. “When they forgot where I was!”
“No, that’s when they saw there was another dog walking past, outside. They stopped when the other dog noticed them.”
He pushed the carrier door with one paw, letting his fingers melt through the bars. “So there are … 98 dogs in the world?”
“More than that, even. Some dogs they didn’t notice.” I figured it not worth mentioning some of the dogs were walked past the house several times, mostly on different days.
He sniffed. “More than 98 dogs seems like too many. Let’s get home.”
I don’t agree with him on the dog count, but getting home was what I hoped for too.