If you’d asked me a few years ago about rabbits – the pet variety, not for the pot – I wouldn’t really have an opinion. They were just cute little animals that sat in hutches.
But that was before Rodney. My parents inherited him from my niece. He came for a holiday and never went home. His hutch was, for a while, in their back garden – an area my father had dug from a bank, laid a patio and built a gazebo. Very easily he made it escape-proof and Rodney was given a free pass to roam at will.
His hutch was moved inside an empty shed and at night he had the luxury of either sleeping in the hutch or just outside.
Rodney responded to this freedom and from an isolated and immobile pet he became a family member, with a voice and personality.
He loved to climb up on to the flower beds, often hiding from view for hours on end. My father’s whistling would normally provoke a rustle and a chunter and then he’d appear.
Rodney spoke. He would scurry round our feet ‘chuntering’ with glee and excitement. If dad needed to climb a ladder, Rodney would lift himself up, lean himself against a rung and try and help.
Occasionally he might come to the back door, but he was never interested enough to venture in. When my parents were working in the front garden, Rodney would go with them and run around the large lawn, but he wouldn’t go far from their sides.
My parents took their role as guardians seriously. If they were going away, I would stay at their house to let Rodney out in the morning. And I was always back before it was dark to tuck him in at night.
It was a sad day when my father found Rodney had leapt to the great warren in the sky, but we all knew that he’d had a good life and he will always be a member of our family.