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  • Writer's picturePatty Kramer

My Two-Legs and a Rabbit Named Fred

Updated: May 31, 2023

One of us is a bit off. Not saying which one, but if you hang around long enough, you’ll figure it out for yourself. I’m pretty sure it’s not me, as Australian Shepherds have really good minds. I weighed in at 2.2 pounds when I found myself in a kennel in the back of her car, sharing the space with a stuffed gray rabbit that had long floppy ears trimmed in white. He didn’t seem too friendly, propped up as he was in one corner, staring at me with his big brown, lashless eyes. Motionless except for the light shining way back behind them.

I’d only come across one other rabbit in my six weeks of life, and it was a constantly scampering cottontail who shared the abandoned horse barn with me and my four siblings. His hop, hop, hopping had entertained us ever since we were steady on our feet and found our barking voices.

Our mother had tried to quiet us, telling us with snips and nose jabs that she valued what little rest she got. Wasn’t it enough that she had to put up with the five of us constantly trying to capture every tiny drop of milk her body could produce? Barking at that rabbit with our shrill, baby barks, kept her cranky and on edge. Besides, our noisy choir did nothing to deter the rabbit from his daily path between barn and the erupting spring garden that the two-legs diligently worked early every morning.

Now trapped inside the metal cage with only air and light around me, I missed the warmth of my momma’s belly and my brother and three sisters’ fur as we piled together on the cool floor of the barn. The gray rabbit, motionless as he was, standing there smugly observing the wave of homesickness washing over me, gave me the perfect opportunity to snip my loneliness away, so I did. Dragging him from the corner with my sharp set of white baby teeth, forcing him to stretch out alongside of me where I could imagine that he was momma and that all would be okay. His soft presence allowing me to let my eyes close and my mind to chase that ever-running cottontail across the barnyard until I’d barked him safely away from all that I held dear. Sleep threatening to overcome me as the car sped far, far away from the only life I’d ever known.

The last thing I remember of that long ride, before I arrived at another place I would learn to call home, was the faint sound of momma whining in her “I’ve lost a pup and cannot find it” voice, and the gray rabbit making soothing noises and telling me not to worry about a thing. Adding that his name was Fred, and that he’d been where we were going and it wasn’t that bad of a place. Explaining in short bursts of hurried words, as if they popped out as he hopped in some imaginary field that only he could visit, that my mother had done a great job of getting me here and that the rest of my existence would be up to him and the two-legs.

When I awoke it was to listen to the two-legs in the front of the car, explaining in her little girl’s voice that she been driving in the wrong direction and would be late getting back. I wasn’t sure what late meant, but if it meant more bumps and more curvy roads then I wasn’t going to be in a perfect, puppy mood when we got there, that was for sure. I needed to be outside and barking, testing my legs and my voice. Even if I was barking up the wrong tree and the squirrel or bird or whatever critter had started my frantic yelping was long gone. Life shut inside a cage with a rabbit named Fred wasn’t that much fun.

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