Two Warring Rabbits Defy the Odds to Love Each Other, and So Should We All

Rabbits (finally) at rest

Nigel (l) and Saoirse (Photo by Jean Anne Lauer)

Two Warring Rabbits Defy the Odds to Love Each Other, and So Should We All

There's a certain tenacity at play in the world these days. It's one that can become quite clear if you follow certain internet avenues of politics, or even celebrity worship. (What else does one do on the internet? Perhaps look up symptoms for a fatal disease? Purchase shoes or furniture?) And while that tenacity of thought, of reason, and of idiocy can be seen far and wide, I will highlight a microcosm of it as I describe the bonding of two of our house rabbits.

Pet bonding either goes great, or it goes sideways. That applies to dogs and cats living together, goats and chickens finding their respective spaces, or in this particular instance bonding two female rabbits – which, to be clear, is one of the most difficult things perhaps on the planet, barring convincing certain people that climate change is real. But we're here to talk about bunnies, cute little rabbits who can be cruel and vicious. Which is where we start. There's Nigel, a rabbit who has had free roam in her territory in the house for two years, and also happens to be deaf. Enter Saoirse, a sweet-natured, one-eyed mutt who just wants to be loved. They loathed each other.

There is nothing quite like pulling apart two animals who concretely want to kill each other.

We made myriad attempts: enclosing them in the bathroom, putting them together in a pen outdoors, and generally having them together in a heightened environment – the car, protracted sequestering on the bed in the bedroom. There is nothing quite like pulling apart two animals who concretely want to kill each other. It was unnerving, because it spoke viscerally and metaphorically to opposition. They were fur tornadoes of conflict that were epic and scary. It was fascinating and frightening at the same time, these two creatures completely at odds with each other. Why couldn't they just get along? It was incredibly vexing. Seven months later, though, it happened. They became friends. This long journey of trying to bond these animals had finally, through so many frustrating turns (again: it took seven months), begat a friendship. They loved each other. Saoirse, so earnest and loving, who just wanted affection. Nigel, the quintessential loner who finally acquiesces to companionship. And then they became more friendly to us, more playful and sprightly. It was marvelous to see this hard-fought battle over, if only to not have to ever wonder again who would murder the other. (It would probably have been Nigel in that particular Clue game, in the litter box, baring teeth.)

These animals offer up an interesting Hegelian take on the master and servant dialectic. But it moves beyond that, especially when the human element is involved. We become friends with our animals, they provide an unconditional love that transcends the demands of "feed me" or "pet me." These animals who we share our lives with, who we, yes, bond with, aid in our navigating the world. They provide comfort and solace in these increasingly conflicting times. We have bonded with them, and if we could perhaps bond somehow with each other, maybe this incessant cacophony would diminish. Think of Nigel and Saoirse, two beings who hated each other upon first encounters, but ended up best friends forever (eventually). James Herriot has an oft-quoted line from his classic All Creatures Great and Small: "If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." We would do well to heed those words. No matter our differences, animal to animal, animal to human, or human to human, the bonds of friendship and understanding matter a lot more than any particular ideology.

Although I suspect that Saoirse may be a Libertarian.

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pets, Pet Issue 2020, bunnies, rabbits, Saoirse, Nigel

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