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April 07, 2004

Fraternizing

zekethistle

Zeke and Thistle have become very close. Each afternoon I come home, scratch Zeke's head, put Thistle on the floor, open the back door, and the two of them trot out to the backyard to play together. The same thing happens in the mornings before I head off for work.

Some of what they do is straight predator-prey play, with Zeke chasing the bunny in erratic rabbit zig-zags behind the big blue pot, under the Adirondack chairs, around the windmill and back. Some of it is more clearly give and take, with Thistle darting away and then charging back at the dog. Always they stop, and some large noise inevitably happens, a truck backfiring or a helicopter flying overhead, we live in a city after all, and Thistle dives for cover between Zeke's legs.

The rabbit seems familiar with dog mannerisms, the play bow with front legs splayed, the mock lunge with teeth bared at the playmate's face. He darts away and then back, tilts his head at Zeke's fangs as though he was a small dog and unafraid. I call Zeke to heel and Thistle hops obligingly behind him, infatuated.

And mostly they just spend time together, Zeke sniffing his usual rounds, Thistle rubbing various objects with his chin to claim them, desultorily nibbling a dandelion leaf or needle from the pine next door. Last night they lay on the lawn together, the white-crowned sparrows a few feet away calmly trimming the new lettuce plants in the garden.

Their friendship is unassuming and simple, and yet fills me with an odd joy. I watch them, sipping my Ardbeg in one of the Adirondacks, and my heart kicks its heels sideways and gallops off into the white clover. Come time to catch the rabbit and put him inside, and I'm not sure which one of us feels the greater disappointment.

Posted by Chris Clarke at April 7, 2004 10:29 PM TrackBack URL for this entry:
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decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Comments

It IS oddly joyful, and thanks for sharing it.

Is there a designated color for Thistle's coat? I've never seen this in a rabbit before.

Posted by: Pica at April 8, 2004 06:46 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

You're not alone, Pica. Our vet says she seldom sees that color on a rabbit. Near as I can figure, it's close to what the rabbit people call "Lilac," a fancy word for gray with a slight bluish tinge. Thistle has a lot of small cafe con leche splotches as well. It looks as if he emerged from underneath a transmission shop to rummage through the garbage at Starbucks.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at April 8, 2004 08:35 AM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs

Your description of the two animals playing reminds me of that article in the National Geographic a few years back about animal play; there's a sequence of pictures showing a sled dog playing with a polar bear that came to mind immediately.

(The photos of the raven sledding on its back are also worth a look.)

Posted by: Rana at April 8, 2004 01:41 PM
decorative line of bighorn petroglyphs