Shortly before my middle child graduated from high school, he came home with a cage and plopped it on top of his dresser. My son had rescued a Netherland dwarf bunny, one of the smallest of the rabbit breeds. His science teacher got canned and abandoned it in the classroom after it had been poked and prodded for a year. For twelve more years, we were stewards of God’s little beast.
The righteous take care of their beasts (Proverbs 12:10), so we did. A closed-in area in the basement became Zero’s turf. It included an obstacle course with enticing treats and chew toys, a large tv box covered with a flannel sheet for roosting, and an open cage where he slept, drank, and soiled. Nearby sat a tray filled with hay, a bowl of pellets, and a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables and fruits.
But this two-pound herculean ball of brown fluff repeatedly broke through our walls of Jericho to rule over the entire basement-and to taunt death. He became a sentry, a stalker, and a spider slayer. The basement came alive with Zero’s energy. He’d race back and forth, leap onto high shelves, toss things in the air, circle visitors, and chew on anything.
“Check out what the beast did!” I showed my husband, Michael, a pair of his ravaged jeans.
“Those are my new HRC 2 flame-resistant jeans! I just put them in the laundry basket,” he moaned. Then he said, “Some loose dogs rubbed up against me while I petted them. Zero must have smelled their scents.” Our tiny terminator “killed” the ferocious dog predators. Actually, his destruction of heavy-duty blue jeans in warp speed is the stuff of legends, so I saved Zero’s masterpiece.
Not long after this incident, my daughter, Christa, discovered another of Zero’s masterpieces-her Levi’s. She fumed, “Look what that little sh*t did to my jeans! He hates me. He even growls at me!”
“He’s a fun-sized herbivore,” I told her. “He doesn’t eat flesh. And growl? Seriously, does he bark, too?”
I put an old pair of jeans on the tv box where Zeronardo da Bunny roosted to appease his need to create art with denim. He showed no interest in them. When Christa did laundry and heard him scampering nearby, she’d brace herself fearing he’d go airborne from one of his perches and latch onto her jugular.
So, I encouraged Christa to try to befriend the little grass-eating fluffball. She knelt down and, leaning backwards, gingerly offered him a stick to chew. He grumbled long and low. He snorted. Then a muffled, guttural growl vibrated from his throat as he catapulted through the air. She screamed and jackknifed sideways causing him to glance off her leg.
Jumping up, Christa shouted, “He attacked me! …scream, scream! I told you he hated me!” Then she ranted on about bunny stew.
Besides almost becoming an entrée, Zero’s stealthy moves provided more ways he could off himself. Concerned, Michael said, “When I’m doing anything around my workbench, I have to shuffle my feet. He’s always disappearing and reappearing wherever I step.”
If Zero didn’t greet me at the bottom of the stairs, I’d find him stuck on some ridiculously high shelf. “If you jump, you’ll break every bone in your eggshell body,” I’d warn our adrenalin junkie before lowering him to the floor. Sometimes I brought Zero upstairs or outside and set his cage next to me, but he preferred basking in patches of sunlight on the basement floor unconcerned about predators.
When my oldest son and his friends played video games in a room in the basement, Zero would scratch at the door to gain entrance. He’d stare at their thumbs going crazy fast all over the controllers, then stare at the television screen, and then chew on the game controller cords. Zero often did bunny binkies (jumps and twists to show happiness) for them.
Then there were the spiders.
Unlike his gamer buddies, Zero played with real monsters. Spiders were a curiosity to him, so he’d nudge them. When they scurried away, he’d pounce on them like a homicidal maniac. Arachnid corpses with curled legs were sprawled out face down, but not squashed, helter-skelter on the basement floor.
When part of Zero’s forehead swelled up into a freakish lump, I took our two-headed attack rabbit to the vet. He told me, “It looks like he messed with a spider, possibly a wolf spider, and got bit.”
The vet had a difficult time restraining Zero as he squirmed all over the exam table. “How old is your bunny?” he asked when he finally trapped him in his hands.
When I told him 13-years-old, he said, “You’re kidding! He behaves like a much younger rabbit.” And he promptly examined his teeth. They were worn down to nubs!
“Wow, bunnies rarely live this long. They’re very fragile,” he said. Ha! I found that amusing. Maybe chewing on electrical cords gave Zero superpowers.
For the last few weeks of Zero’s life, he stayed in his designated domain. My pep talks and coddling were to no avail. He feebly hopped into a far corner, rolled onto his side, and passed. Overcome with sadness, we buried him by our beloved collie, Wind ( Two Very Different Dogs ), in the backyard.
The basement became eerie again with spiders roaming freely. When I walked, only air circled my feet. There were no playful sounds of chew toys being thrown into the air, no scurrying of little paws on the floor, and no fresh-cut grass smells from Timothy hay-just creepy silence.
Zero and his rabbit family symbolize fertility, procreation, and humility for many Christians. They’re small and humble herbivores that are prey for a whole horde of salivating carnivores. But because God protects their existence by having them rapidly reproduce new life, they’re also beacons of hope.
Like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, bunnies beget and multiply throughout the lands. Here is what my fake research found about Zero’s lineage:
- Peter lived for 259 years. He begat Thor, Pixie, Twitch, Bugs, Daisy, and Moose.
- Thor lived for 175 years. He begat Brutus, Nibbles, Thumper, Ziggy, and Dolly.
- Nibbles lived for 133 years. He begat Big Foot, Muffin. Hercules, and Patch.
- Muffin lived for 98 years. He begat Sassy, Goober, Snuffy, Fluffy, and Buffy.
- Fluffy lived for 27 years. He begat Fuzzy, Chomper, Flopsy, Mopsy, and Zero.
- Zero lived for 13 years. He begat love, companionship, and trust.
Zero, a bunny that breathed life into our basement, had been one of God’s beloved creatures entrusted to us. This Netherland Dwarf showed us that even small, seemingly insignificant, creatures are unique. Being stewards of God’s little kamikaze beast, a mischievous, quirky, madcap bunny, proved to be an honor.
For every animal of the forest is mine, beasts by the thousands on my mountains. I know every bird in the heights; whatever moves in the wild is mine.Psalm 50:10-11, NAB
Take good care of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds;Proverbs 27:23, NAB
Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.Matthew 10:29, NAB
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