Melissa Kite

Real life | 3 January 2013

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‘They all have very distinct personalities,’ said my friend Hannah, as she invited me to come to her house and pick a bunny. In truth, I hadn’t given much thought to the preferred personality of my forthcoming rabbit.

I confess I wanted a quick fix of a bunny, a companion for Tinkerbell Butch Cassidy, so called because she started life as a girl and then morphed into a boy when, upon closer inspection, I panicked and declared the vet’s earlier pronouncement misguided.

Tinky had been bought as a companion for TT, the two-tone bunny I found in a box by the side of the road. They had been happy when I thought they were boy and girl, and just as happy when I declared them boy and possible boy. To make it a bit more glamorous, I subtitled them Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Tinky Butch was pretty stoical when TT Sundance passed away last year and living in the kitchen she wasn’t exactly lonely. But I never could shake off the worry that all animals in captivity should be with their own kind. It wasn’t important to me what the personality of the new rabbit was, therefore. All that mattered was what Tinky thought.

And so Tinky and I pitched up at Hannah’s house where her big rabbit Bow was sprawled out on an armchair in the living room, a weary look on her face as daddy rabbit hopped around the back of the television chewing cables and clearly taking the responsibilities of fatherhood very lightly indeed.

Hannah went out to the garden and came back carrying a tray full of wiggly grey fluff, which turned out to be three tiny lionhead bunnies. She put them down on the floor and we took Tinky out of her carry case and let them all run round. ‘By the way,’ said Hannah, picking up Tinky and turning her over, ‘this is definitely a girl.’

‘Wow!’ I said, delighted to have the mystery solved at last. ‘How do you know?’

‘Because if it were a boy, by now something, some things, would have, um, appeared…’

‘Oh yeah…’ I said, feeling like a total fool.

After a few minutes of fluffy chaos it was clear that Tinky was hanging out most with one of the girl bunnies, who had just been sexed by the vet and so had a blob of bright pink nail varnish in her ear.

‘Well, I guess it’s that one then,’ I said, scooping them both up. ‘Come on, Tinky and Pinky.’

‘Is that what you are going to call her?’ said Hannah, looking downcast at my lack of imagination.

‘Well, I could give her a longer name, of course. Perhaps something to chime with Tinkerbell. How about Wendy?’

‘Cute,’ said Hannah, looking somewhat reassured that her bunny was going to a home where her distinct personality would be nurtured. ‘Now, I’m fairly sure you’ve got sleepy bunny,’ she said, earnestly. ‘The other girl is adventure bunny. She gets up to everything. This one is more timid.’

‘That’ll do fine,’ I said, reaching for my bag and taking out the agreed £20 before she got into a longer discussion of Wendy Pink’s educational and social needs.

The bunnies snuggled up in the carry case all the way home and when I put them in their big cage in the kitchen they seemed very happy. Cydney the spaniel was excited too. She is used to Tinky but the arrival of a new fluffball sent her running round in circles yelping ecstatically.

I shut her out and let the pair have a run round the kitchen, then after dinner popped them back in their house and shut the door. They were munching from their bowl, locked safely behind bars, when I let Cydney back into the kitchen and turned away to do the washing-up.

Suddenly, there was a terrible commotion. Cydney hurtled across the kitchen and threw herself at the fridge, behind which, by some incredible feat of escapology, the new bunny was crouching.

Hannah’s face flashed into my mind as I imagined saying: ‘Yes, yes, very happy…no, I don’t have any pictures, because, er, my camera’s broken and so is my phone…’

Thank heavens Cydney has done enough gundog training to have the restraint to desist from swallowing live furry things when they are flying around her and so my screams of ‘leave it!’ did just save the new bunny from being recycled as spaniel supper.

Luckily, the Builder Boyfriend is always at hand for such emergencies. He has fashioned a wooden guard around the bottom of the cage where adventure bunny had been squeezing herself through a two-inch gap.

The important thing is that Tinkerbell Butch Cassidy thinks Wendy Pink Houdini is the best thing since sliced hay. And that’s what counts.