I’ve kept a look-out for Rabbit ever since that winter morning when he came right up to my boots. When the snow melted away tracks and signs were harder to find. He stopped eating mom’s plants and his scat would hide in the grass. So, after school, I got into the habit of sitting quietly in the grass under the birch tree waiting for him to appear. And, he usually did. As long as McGuffin wasn’t around Rabbit would come into the yard and stay, nibbling on the dandelion leaves and the white flowers of clover for hours at a time.
. . . I think Rabbit likes to tease our dog! Whenever McGuffin sees Rabbit she goes wild, barking and tearing around the yard. The chase always ends with Rabbit on one side of the fence and McGuffin on the other. Rabbit knows about fences. Once through, just barely out of reach, he would stop! And sit. Just sit. Racing back and forth trying to find a way through, McGuffin would make the craziest sounds -- freaky growls and high-pitched yips and squawky-squeals like she was in pain. Watching this freak show Rabbit would blink, reach his head forward — pluck — and calmly nibble down a flower of clover. As mom says, “That rabbit really knows how to push McGuffin’s buttons!”
A couple of times, though, Rabbit’s escape route turned out to be big enough for our dog to fit through. When this happened everyone got involved . . . I’d shriek, “Mom! McGuffin’s escaped!!!” She’d yell, “Dad! The dog’s loose!!!” They’d both come speed-racing out of the house, arms flapping, directing this way & that, and shouting,
“McGuffin, COME!” “McGUFFin, COME!!!”
We could usually tell which way to head by the neighbours’ shocked looks with mouths gaping wide open as this lightning bolt of a dog would flash past them. It was like the Gingerbread Man story! Rabbit, followed by dog, then mom, then dad, then me — down the sidewalk, up the lanes, through the yards and between the houses — if Rabbit could talk, he’d be singing, “You can’t catch me! YOU can’t catch me!! I’M the trickiest of you all!!!”
Later in the Spring, there was a day when things went quite different. McGuffin and I were sitting together in the grass. She usually wants to run around if I’m out with her, but this day she was happy just to have a pet. While we sat Rabbit hopped into the yard! Right in front of us! McGuffin had her head down, so I saw Rabbit first. Immediately I slid my hand around my dog’s collar.
When she looked up I talked to her really close and quiet, “Easy McGuffin, easy. Just stay here. We’ll watch.”
McGuffin stayed still. Rabbit ate a little bit and then hopped a little closer. Ate a little. Hopped a little closer. Ate a little more. Hopped even closer. He must have been only five steps away! McGuffin was being so good. So still.
I whispered in her ear, “McGuffin it’s ok. He’s just hungry. We’ll just let him eat.”
Again, Rabbit hopped closer, stopped, and ate. I could tell that my dog was getting antsy, “Easy, McGuffin. Easy.”
Closer, c l o s e r . . .
Three steps away . . . McGuffin just couldn’t take it any longer!