Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sometimes, we all need each other a little bit. (Thursdays are for thinking)

Sunday was a big day for Clyde Drexler. And for several humans involved in her life. Yes. I can say "life," because she's still alive. Sitting right next to me, attempting (unsuccessfully) to groom herself through a plastic collar. I can't believe it. Or that today I would be so overwhelmingly grateful for such a simple thing as sitting next to a bunny.

On Saturday afternoon, I wrote a message to my roommates on the chalkboard about feeding Clyde in the morning and hopped in the car to the mountain with Seth and Ashley to celebrate the second day of Rachel's extended birthday. It was a blast. Deep, heated pool, amazing view, delicious home cooked meals and a delirious dance party. I got back earlier then I thought I would. Waltzing in, I did what I always do first. I looked for Clyde.

Clyde Drexler is a free-roaming bunny. She didn't start out that way in our house, but now she's totally litter trained and we can trust her not to cause any trouble for the most part. She mostly just explores, chills out in her favorite spots and munches on hay. The ground floor is pretty much...hers. There wasn't really anything dangerous we knew about besides a few house plants. We moved those mostly out of her reach.

Upon entry, the smell of burning...something wafted into my nostrils. I checked the stove. Someone had made popcorn, but that wasn't quite it. Roommate Alex appeared and mentioned that the stink had just started about half an hour, 45 minutes ago. Maybe a squirrel had electrocuted itself in our wall? My chest clenched up, but my brain wasn't there yet. I opened a window because of the smell and turned off the heat out of habit.

I checked all of Clyde's normal spots. I did the things that usually bring her sprinting into the kitchen (make a pellet falling in glass bowl noise, open the fridge and pull out the veggie drawer etc.). Nothing. I looked again, shining a flashlight into more difficult to reach places she might have discovered. No bunny. I settled for what I usually do in the afternoon. Started watching a tv show with the door cracked. She will usually appear and fluff up next to me on the floor. Again, nothing. I couldn't concentrate. Something was wrong.

Vince and Kristin, my other roommates, weren't home. I texted them to see if anyone could ease my slight worry about the smell and missing bunny. Vincent called back, which worried me more because he was worried. As soon as he got home, he started poking around and I walked around the block in desperation, hoping to find her hopping about in a neighbor's yard. When I returned, all the color had drained from Vince's face and the baseboard on one of the kitchen cabinets was askew. "I have a sickening feeling I know what happened." He said. I had a sickening feeling that whatever he was about to say was right.

Apparently there is an opening to a heating duct under our kitchen cabinets that is not fully covered, and it leads directly into the FURNACE. Yes. Vincent postulated that our darling little bunny had crawled beneath the cabinets, gone a little too far and slipped in. This would explain both the smell and Clyde's troubling absence. I prepared myself to find a mangled, bloody, burnt bunny carcass as I followed him into the basement.

It took a little while to get the side panel off the furnace. Vincent had to pull the tape off, unscrew a bunch of little bolts and slide a piece of sheet metal aside. I wondered aloud while he was tugging and turning, if this was my punishment for caring too much. Some sort of twisted karma for disturbing the force somehow. Had I loved that little four pound furball way more than I should? When he finally managed, he was brave enough to stick his head into the opening above the heating element. She was in there. And she was alive.

When I stuck my shoulders into the furnace housing, I expected to see something terrible. And it was, just not the bloodbath I was imagining. Clyde had somehow wedged herself perfectly into a 3 inch metal trough next to the metal coil heating element, feet down, facing forward. I carefully tugged, squished and finally slid her out of there while she woofed and grunted. Holding her up in the light I saw that she had several burnt fur areas, totally singed whiskers and red irritated eyes but was otherwise okay. I burst into tears.

Blubbering all the while, I carried her upstairs and did a once over again. Vincent called the animal hospital. I plopped her into her cage and the first thing she did was devour all the food in sight and pee. She was fine. A little crispy, but so totally alive. She started grooming herself fervently; bits of blackened fur scattering onto the floor like flakes of my formerly compact concern dissipating into obscurity.

Thinking back on the event, it blows me away how all the little things started to add up. How if just one tiny step hadn't been the way it was, Clyde could have been toast. If I hadn't ridden home earlier. If Alex hadn't noticed the burnt hair smell seemed to be coming from the heater. If I hadn't turned the furnace off because of the open window. If Vincent hadn't realized the heating duct was under there. If if if.

It's all I've been able to think about for the past 72 hours. How much I adore that damn bunny. And how important it is to stay in touch and work together. To investigate when something feels wrong. We all need help sometimes. It's...kind of mind blowing to contemplate the occasions when it actually arrives.


Gabe Rodriguez said...

OMG that was such a nail-biter! Glad little bunny Clyde is okay.

~ Hannah ~ said...

I'm quite grateful for you, and for Clyde, and for all your house's bunny lovin' {wiping mushy tears and heaving big sigh of relief}. See you Saturday!

j.r. lindsey said...

This made me choke up! I found Charlie all mangled up after getting hit by a car (she was alive but she couldn't walk for weeks) and it is absolutely the WORST feeling. So glad Clyde is alive! I want to snuggle her when I come over Saturday :)

Caitlin said...

Awww, you guys are so nice! It's pretty much the saddest thing in the world when our little furry friends get into sticky situations. I guess it's to their advantage that they don't feel sorry for themselves! I heard this on Fresh Air a while ago and really liked Dr. Nancy Kay's perspective the subject:

TenThousandSweaters said...
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John French said...

Aww Caitlin!! I guess I was totally unaware that you were the caretaker of such a cute wee little furry beast. I've been thinking about adopting one of these wild NZ rabbits... or maybe a goat. I think Alibi needs a friend. Maybe Clyde and him can hang out when we get back that way. So glad your story had a happy ending and she's alright!

shola said...

oh cailtin, i cried reading this! i don't know what i'd do if reva was replaced with a mysterious burning smell. i would die, just DIE! i'm so glad clyde is ok (and don't ever think you cared too much)

Caitlin said...

Shola! This reminded me of the time you couldn't find Reva in your old place. I can now imagine the awful sinking feeling you must have experienced until you heard that muted mewing from the basement across the way! I now also understand what you mean when you say "we're not getting along right now."

John! Yes, she is a shared responsibility amongst roommates and relations who love her tons, but at the time being she's mostly under my watch. She totally hates me at the moment though, because all I've done for the past week is corner her to put in eyedrops, take her strange places in the car and pick her up to put burn cream on her belly. Not even apple and carrot treats will turn the tide here for a while...oh the irony. You should get Alibi a friend! Although I think he might hunt and eat a bunny. Unless it was a really badass Rex or Flemish Giant or something that boxes him around when he gets out of line. Maybe those New Zealanders know what's up...

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