Beloved Rabbits

Stella has a few issues. Okay, well maybe more than a few. But one issue she’s never had is coming back–not necessarily immediately when she’s called–but eventually, when she’s good and ready. It’s one of those things I never worry about.

Correction: I never worried about until yesteday.

Nearly every day we hike in open space teaming with rabbits. Rabbits, I’ve come to learn, rank about as high up on the Greyhound scale of desirability as you can go. Especially jack rabbits as they’re huge (think cat times two) and nearly as fast as she is. Curiously, yesterday, I actually saw one that Stella did not. I pointed and called to her but she was busy rolling in something.

But it wasn’t long before that nose got on the scent and, a few minutes later, she was off to the races with Thumper. No problem, I thought. Good, in fact. Because after a rabbit chase she’s pretty much done for the day and I can pack it in and enjoy having an exhausted dog for the next twelve hours.

So I enjoyed the breeze and the view and I waited for her, smug in my knowledge that she’d be back. But at about the five minute mark, the smug cloud over me began to dissipate and I called my friend Mary who was meeting us there with Mia. I let her know that I may no longer have a dog to walk. At the ten minute mark I actually began to wonder, truly, how my life would change without a dog. Would I get another one? How bad, exactly how bad, would I feel without having Stella to kick around?

A guy flying a toy plane who heard me calling for her the past while yelled back to me, “I think she’s over there!”

In the distance, in the opposite direction from where she took off, there stood–barely stood–Stella. She looked completely cooked–more done than I’d ever seen her. Good, I thought. I’m done too–no more walking needed.

And then I looked down. And there I saw two bloody paws. As if symmetry were a mandate, each front paw had a broken nail. And for good luck, the upper pad on the right front paw was pretty much stripped. I offered Stella some water–first to drink and then to douse on her feet.

Mary came with Mia and and we walked around for a bit. Stella continued to work on her breathing (and bleeding.) By the end of the walk the bleeding had stopped.

This morning Stella did this kind of limp-hop up onto the bed. I have learned that sleeping with a sixty five pound bag of bones licking its wounds is about as possible as sleeping with the rythym section of a Dixieland band. So I just decided to give up on sleeping and observe the perpetual licking machine.

At first I felt bad for her. But then, on second thought, I didn’t feel bad at all. I was reminded of one of my favorite poems by Ray Carver called Late Fragment…

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

And very easily comes the Greyhound version:

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To chase rabbits, to feel myself
chasing rabbits on the earth.

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One Response to “Beloved Rabbits”

  1. Beloved Rabbits: Part II « Dog Virgin Diaries Says:

    […] in February I wrote about one of Stella’s first rabbit chases in a post I titled Beloved Rabbits. Yesterday I witnessed that same beautiful, lightning fast streamlined gait that I saw before when […]

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