By Rosalie Tirella
I drove to Providence to get the rest of my CECELIAs. While the printer guy was loading my car trunk with my newspapers, I brought my dogs out to pee. Lilac, who was on her lead, as was Jett, pulled me to a stack of pallets, shoved her strong neck under the tall stack of wood and pulled out a baby rabbit. It was in her mouth a bit of blood where Lilac’s teeth had sunk in … the soft middle. I gasped. But whispered to Lilac: DROP IT! DROP IT!! Lilac dropped the rabbit. She knew I was upset. The little rabbit – very young – went into shock and didn’t move, though sometimes they play dead when caught by a predator. I’ve owned dogs for 32 years…it’s all instinct. Not angry but firm, I led Lilac and Jett back to my car and commanded INSIDE and they both jumped into the back seat, Lilac looking a bit sheepish.
I walked back to the baby rabbit, lying on its side, on the grass in the hot sun and saw the big puncture wounds that Lilac’s canines had left in its slim body.
I said to the loading dock guy: Fred, I sound brutal but it’s suffering. Lilac can finish the job quickly. It’s instinct. It’s fast. Over in a minute. The baby won’t suffer for the next five hours before he dies.
Fred, got upset: NO! LEAVE IT, ROSE! JUST LEAVE IT ALONE!! It might just be hurt.
He threw me an accusatory look. I didn’t see the little rabbit under the stack of pallets! Lilac made no excited noise as she grabbed at the little rabbit, and the babe made no noise as Lilac bit into it.
If Fred hadn’t been there, pissed off at me, I would have put the rabbit out of it’s misery …and let Lilac finish the job – and then pulled her off. She and Lilac have all their vaccines … But Fred stood watching me, reading my mind …
I said to myself: Lilac’s teeth are big even though she’s a medium-sized dog – and she clamped down on the baby’s middle. IT’S SUFFERING!
Fred loaded my car trunk with CECELIAs. I splashed some water by the rabbit’s snout making a teeny puddle and cut out the bottom of my McDonald’s lemonade takeout cup to create a very small low water dish. I filled the with an inch or two of water so if the baby recovered (doubtful) and needed to drink fresh water to revive itself, he could.
Then we left. Drove off. Once on the road I cried, pissed at Fred for thinking the rabbit would be ok. The baby did wiggle one of its big brown ears after a few minutes and its long lanky legs, they pushed feebly into the summer air as as if to hop away to safety …but he couldn’t.
Still crying, I called the Seekonk police department and told them about the suffering bunny. The female dispatcher was unmoved, said the town’s animal control officer does not deal with wildlife. She gave me two phone numbers to call – one to a rude vet assistant who said NO! WE CAN’T HELP! He told me about a wildlife sanctuary an hour away and said I would have to drive the rabbit there if I wanted the rangers there to examine the rabbit.
I said: I’ve GOT A CAR FILLED WITH NEWSPAPERS AND TWO DOGS, BOTH HUNTERS!!! Plus I’m 60 and stressed!!! And there’s no ac in my car! … I hung up, angry.
I was shaken – not upset with at Lilac, a good dog with Shepherd and Hound roots… serious, smart, a hunter. I was certainly not mad at the bunny, all sweet innocence, like Lilac, also following instinct: not dashing into the little patch of woods less than 10 yards away from where we stood, staying out, in hiding with two dogs and a human walking about. It hid ever so quietly under the stack of pallets …
On the highway I called the printing press’ co-owner, a good guy. I had wiped the tears from my eyes. I said: I’M SORRY, BOB!! I’M SO SORRY!!! I LOVE ANIMALS!
“Rose, Rose, Rose,” Bob said in his gentle tone of voice. “Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes things just happen. We’ll take care of him.”
Bob’s words soothed me. They always make peace, they’re always wise, in that quiet way. Bob’s voice is a bit thick, gruff, older. But it is always a balm …
I drove down the highway, back to Worcester …