Yesterday our rabbit, Vanilla Bean, got out of his hutch on the deck. When I noticed he was gone it was past 8 and almost dark, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to find him in our overgrown back yard.
I checked the side of the house where he likes to hang out and then knelt to look under the deck, but the white shape I saw in the shadows was just a ball. When I stood up I heard an owl hooting and dogs barking, and I thought about the heartbreak we'd all feel if our little bunny didn't make it home.
The kids were taking showers so I walked down the street to check the bushes in front of the neighbor's house. A few times when Vanilla Bean's gotten out we've found him sprawled on their front porch, apparently waiting for them to come home and invite him in.
He wasn't there, and when I heard Lula call my name and saw her standing in the light of our front porch, I yelled at her to go inside. It would be awful to lose Vanilla Bean at any time, but possibly a little more so right now. She stood in the doorway and though I couldn't see her face I knew she was worried. Vanilla Bean is technically her rabbit and they have a special relationship--they really seem to understand and love each other. I gave him to her a year and a half ago, when he was just a little ball of fluff, and the thought of her sadness if something happened to him made my heart sink.
It was dusk now and I thought I'd look a bit further. Three houses down, the neighbors have been digging up rose bushes because they're worried their kids will get hurt on the thorns. Their front yard looked freshly groomed, with dark patches of dirt surrounding the remaining roses. An orange cat got up and walked away when I came closer, and then I saw a long white thing lying beneath a bush. It was bright white against the dark ground and I could see its cute grey ears flattened happily against its head. It looked at me when I said its name.
"Vanilla Bean, it's time to go home," I said, and I hoped he wouldn't run towards the neighbor's back yard, where their two dogs were barking loudly.
He sat up and looked around as if deciding which way to go. I crept closer with my arms stretched out to catch him or, more likely, catch myself if I tripped. Vanilla Bean decided against the neighbor's back yard and ran almost comically slowly towards my right. I stuck my hand out and for a second felt his little wet mouth pressed against my palm, then I picked him up and pressed his soft furry body against my chest.
He seemed glad to be in my arms, and even more so in Lula's when I called her and she opened the door. With Malko we cuddled Vanilla Bean on the couch and I was amazed, as always, at how calm and happy he seemed to be with his oversized family members. He laid there with his eyes half-closed, and when Lula put him back in his hutch there was a wet spot on the couch where he'd been licking it, giving it rabbit kisses.