Dorothy van den Honert: The rabbit tale of Mr. Nibblenose

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PITTSFIELD >> When my sister and I were little, my mother decided to get us a pet rabbit. She had heard of a kind called Rufus Red, which had pretty reddish brown fur with dark brown eyes.

She got the yard man to fence in a piece of the backyard complete with a cute little rabbit house at one end. When the accommodations were complete, a handsome young rabbit arrived with thick soft fur and dark brown eyes. My sister promptly named him Mr. Nibblenose and he was an instant success.

Now as it turned out, Mr. Nibblenose was not your average rabbit. Among his oddities was a fondness for riding in the car. Our pea-green Model A Ford was housed in a shed at the end of the yard, which was connected by a long driveway to the road. My mother would put Mr. Nibblenose next to her on the passenger's seat and then back the car out for a considerable length to get to the street before turning around and starting forward.

Apparently Mr. Nibblenose loved riding in a car, but not going backwards. As soon as the car began backing up the driveway, he would give one big hop in place and land facing the back of the car so that he was riding forward. As soon as the car began moving forward, he would give another big hop and face forward again.

One of his more endearing characteristics was that he could be a house-rabbit. He never seemed to pee in the house (needed grass? I dunno) and his infrequent poop was dry, easily seen and removed. So Mr. Nibblenose lived happily until after about a year, when my older sister thought he needed a wife.

Rufus Red rabbits were rather scarce, but my mother found a cute little girl that fitted the requirements and brought her home. Apparently Mr. Nibblenose was delighted, as they played round and round the rabbit pen happily. My sister named her Miss Molly but we never tried her in the car. There was only room for one big hopper in the front seat. And we never tried her in the house for obvious reasons.

In due course they do what rabbits do and eventually (I don't know what the gestation period is for rabbits, and I was only seven at the time) Miss Molly gave birth to a nestful of tiny babies! Oh my, weren't we thrilled! It is possible my mother was thrilled as well, as Rufus Reds were rare and expensive and she may have had dreams of raising them commercially.

But she hadn't counted on the fact that the next-door neighbors owned two big hunting dogs. One night, sniffing a delicious meal, they tore down the sides of the pen and ate up the whole family.

Which probably accounts for the fact that in our house Easter Bunnies are always made of chocolate.

Dorothy van den Honert is a frequent Eagle contributor.


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