we let the bunnies out of their cage to roam the yard for a little while the other day and of course, when we went to put them away, we could only find one. oliver, bunny pictured, had managed to escape somehow. ava was in tears. ryan took her out in the neighborhood to see if we could find him while i kept searching the yard. it took me a few minutes to find a rather sizable hole that i hadn't realized existed, hidden behind an old firetruck my kids have long stopped playing in. the hole led right into our neighbor's yard. these neighbors have three dogs, one of which is an enormous (gentle) mastiff named daisy. it was then i realized that all three dogs were just on the other side of the fence and they'd been barking a great deal in the last ten minutes. fearing the worst, i grabbed the baby and walked over. the neighbors weren't home and with sarah in my hands i couldn't climb the fence. if the dogs had indeed attacked the bunny i needed to avoid letting ava see, but i also needed ryan to help me out. i finally got his attention and told him i'd seen a hole (and since ava was standing right there, i delivered all of this information in the most chipper of tones) in our fence! and maybe could he just look over the fence to see what he could see over there?
he climbed. he looked. he came back looking puzzled.
"there's a bunny," he said, "but it's not ours. it's little and black."
"is it...?" i kept my smile pasted on and moved my eyes over to ava and shook my head a little, parent talk for "dead".
ryan kept his smile pasted on, too, "yeah." but he didn't sound sure. ava burst into fresh tears. i prayed for as little blood as possible.
"why don't you get it anyway?" i asked, fake smile still plastered.
ryan climbed the fence and retrieved the bunny easily. it had been cornered in some dirt and was soaking wet. he brought it back over and handed it to me. i checked for blood. none. i checked again. it was our bunny! black due to the wet fur, smaller than normal due to being soaked. soaked in what? dog saliva. in an attempt to nurture the small stray that had wandered into their yard, the three friendly neighbor dogs had gathered 'round and licked that poor bunny, scaring him nearly to death. it is an image that still makes me chuckle.
ava gave that bunny a bath, held him tightly for a good hour and talked non-stop about her relief.
no more yard time for those bunnies.