Friday, May 27, 2011

"Daisy's Story"

I want you to hear my story. Not hear, but listen with both ears. I want you to hear my story from me, Daisy, and know that I wasn’t always Daisy and I wasn’t always happy. This is my story, from then to now.

I’m not very good with time, but I think it was March 2006 when my family opened my cage door, lifted me up in their arms and placed me upon the snow. It was cold on my feet and I didn’t really know what it was at first. I smelt it. It wet my nose. I looked over at my two friends, who seemed every bit as confused as I. I took one hop forward. Perhaps the ground wasn’t so cold one step ahead. It was. I looked over my shoulder because behind us, I could hear the patio door closing. I wanted to cry out – “you’ve forgotten us!” but it was too late and I can’t speak anyway. The air smelled cold and I could sniff out a dog close by. It was dark and I worried about things that could hurt me that I’d never heard about, but knew to fear anyway. We were free, but we didn’t feel very free.

We hopped away a little reluctantly. There was no shelter for us here any longer. No warmth, no hugs, not a trace of the things we used to know. We accepted that they were gone and moved on. We knew the door to our home would not open again. We didn’t understand why, but in our hearts we knew we were no longer wanted there. We huddled together against the cold and shivered while we thought of all the reasons we might be where we were then. Why were we pushed out into the cold, cold night? Why we were no longer allowed to see our humans? What had we done so wrong to deserve such loneliness? We couldn’t think of any, at least I couldn’t anyway.

The next morning when dawn rose, our stomachs rumbled with hunger. We searched for food among the snow, but could only find little bits of dead grass poking through. We nibbled at these thankfully at first, until it started to make us ache worse than the hunger had.

My two friends and I were terrified every day, as we ate, as we slept, as we huddled and huddled – it seemed that was all that we did these days, huddled to keep warm until we would try to get food, get exhausted and huddle back again. My friends I could see were withering and to them, I probably was too.

It wasn’t too long before we stumbled across a group of rabbits. For the first time since we were abandoned, we felt safer. Maybe these rabbits knew where we could find food. Maybe we could join them and become safer, just by numbers. The bravest of us went first, while my other friend and I hung back in the bushes. As he approached, we realized our mistake. The stranger rabbit lunged forward in one fell swoop and wrestled our old friend to the ground. I wanted to rush to his aid, but could be of none, I knew. Fur flew in a thousand directions as it caught the wind. Our friend’s blood speckled the snow red as he let out a horrific squeal that pierced us cold. The strange rabbit gave one last grunt and scratched at our friend with his forepaw. What lay there was now only a corpse, a lifeless body where a rabbit so full of life had once been.

We learned that day that we could trust no one, not even what appeared to be our own kind. We lived alone, the two of us who remained and withered further still, until there was barely anything left of my friend and the fat I’d once had was the only thing keeping me from near starvation. Oh, did we miss our pellets, our hay, our nibbles of vegetables.

As the snow receded in early spring, we found a hole in a cemetery whose smells were old. We both knew that whatever had been there was no longer. My friend was slow moving by this time and it took him a long time to make his way down to the newfound shelter. The little amount of food we were now finding to eat was not going to save him. He was going to die. It was in the early hours of the morning, even before we were to rise, that I sensed his heart quickening. I licked his ears and the top of his head, but knew he would be gone soon and probably couldn’t feel my touch. I could hear his pulse filling my ears until it seemed to explode like fire. He was gone. I was alone. How long I would survive, I could not know. I was lonelier than ever before.

In late spring, as it was just warming and the food was becoming more plentiful, I could feel my skin beginning to itch. I scratched at it, but it didn’t do much good. The mites were always there, searching for good places to bite, while I only wished they’d leave. They had only just started to really bother me when I found two humans in the cemetery. They approached me, but I would only let them get so close before hopping in the opposite direction. I was suffering now, but who were these people talking to me so sweetly? It didn’t matter anyway, they were fun to play with, but in the end, meeting them wouldn’t solve anything would it? In this again, I was wrong.

The humans tricked me one day and caught me in a net. I wasn’t sure why at first, but they brought me to a place nearby where I met other rabbits who are just like me and don’t want to hurt me. They don’t suffer and they don’t have to huddle in the cold. They are always fed well and their stomachs never have to rumble. In fact, since I came here, mine never has either. I am finding trust again, but sometimes I am still a little afraid that it will all happen again. I am not sure if that feeling will ever truly leave me.

The only thing I ask of you is this: don’t open that door. Don’t leave us alone out there to die. If we don’t die right away, we will die. It may be from starvation because we don’t know how to find food in the wild. It may be from predators, like coyotes, owls or domestic cats and dogs. It may be from wild rabbits who take us as a threat. It may be from parasites or the dangers of a world we just don’t understand. But we will die.

If you are thinking of releasing your pet rabbit, take him to a shelter near you or find him a good home through a newspaper instead. Don’t release us. It doesn’t make us happy, it doesn’t make us free. The only thing it does is make us do is suffer.

Domestic rabbits are not meant to live in the wild. It’s not kind to set us free – it’s cruel.

I’m lucky – not everyone is.

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