The columns and writings of
Peggy L. Elliott
 
""  Three Bunnies, Two Youngsters and a Modern Dad

He was a modern father, proud of his active involvement in his child's life. A hands-on, diaper changing, spit rag toting dad, the epitome of his personal definition of the "Good Father."

In his "pre-Fatherhood" life, weekends had been dedicated to whatever sports happened to be in season. But now, the "Good Father" had a brand new set of priorities. And so it was, either between baseball double-headers or during football half-times, the Good Father would place his son in the stroller and off they'd go to peruse the neighborhood - Dad, Junior and Chip, their young Yellow Lab.

An eighteen month old dynamo, Jr. was tearing around his home territory on his own two feet, yet he was still too young to be allowed to lumber along on these walks. They would never make it back home before the next baseball game began or the football half-time ended. The stroller meant fresh air for the boy and optimum speed control for the modern father.

The modern father also took pride in the consideration he showed his wife, the "modern mother." For during the period of the walk, the modern mother was free to do with her time as she pleased - so long as she "pleased" to do the dishes, clean the house, run the laundry and set about completing those many chores a full-time job and an 18-month-old toddler normally left her too exhausted to tackle.

The modern father was pleased with his station in life and at peace with his world, all of which was conveyed to those who took note of his little procession.

Chip was a smart and festive young retriever, all that the modern father had sought to find in a family pet. Quite some time was invested in the training of the dog, who could now obey various commands and perform entertaining dog-type tricks. The dog accompanied his master and young charge on their walks, remaining at their side without the need of a leash, as the modern father required both hands for proper operation of the stroller.

The excursion that pleasant afternoon was going well. The modern father kept up a steady educational conversation, usually pertaining to unusual sights noticed along the way. Jr. was a bright, inquisitive youngster and the modern father enjoyed instilling in his young son the love for nature and all living things therein.

However, the modern father was unprepared for Mother Nature's upcoming lesson.

The small party of three was passing a pine tree whose lower branches lay thick around the base, providing a cool, dark hiding place if ever a momma animal had seen one. As the trekkers passed by the tree, the modern father failed to note the fact Chip was no longer prancing alongside. In fact, Chip was one thrilled retriever - for there, under that pine, thought to be safe under the canopy of the heavy bottom branches, was a nest of baby bunnies.

Responding in a state of panic to the retriever's intrusion, three baby bunnies sprang out onto the lawn, desperately seeking a route for escape. Two headed out into the street, while the third bunny struck out on its own, racing off in the opposite direction towards the house upon whose grounds the tree resides.

Not a sound was issued from Chip, but the beautiful dog, instilled with generations of breeding to retrieve the hunter's prey, pounced upon the two street-bound bunnies. In a playful retriever fashion, he would first lift one, then the other, tossing each one high overhead.

The modern father now took note of the dog's absence and looked back to see where it might be found. At first glance, he did not comprehend what game had so enthralled the retriever. But as the shock of realization registered, he immediately turned the stroller about and hurried back, seeking to gain control of his dog in hopes of sparing the bunnies.

The sight of the flying bunnies, the bounce of their small, soft bodies as they smacked the street's pavement, the wild excitement of the dog and the yelling of the modern father was too much for poor Jr., who proceeded to add his own hysterical crying to the general mayhem.

Too late the modern father realized the mistake made by turning the stroller, providing his son the ringside seat to observe the family pet at work mauling two tiny baby rabbits. Swinging the stroller back around, the modern father rushed off to grab the dog and free the bunny ensconced within the retriever's soft-mouthed jaws.

Up in the air the bunny was tossed, landing with a sickening "thud" on the street, where it remained still and lifeless, only a short distance from its similarly motionless sibling. The dog and modern father now engaged in a game of tag, in which the dog's speed and canine sense provided a decided advantage.

When finally the modern father managed to grab hold of the dog's collar it snapped off in his hand. Now what?! The dog was loose, the baby was crying, the bunnies were dead, the ball games were probably starting, and the modern father was completely flummoxed, as he simply gave up and sat down hard on the lawn.

Chip was baffled by this odd behavior; after all, the dog had simply wanted to treat his little family to baby bunnies for lunch. And the bunnies still laid there on the road - why, it would take no time at all for Chip to deliver them to the father and they could continue on their walk, where they might find more wonderful surprises awaiting them. The thought set the retriever's tail gyrating wildly yet again.

Chip shuffled over to see the master, who took advantage of the animal’s close proximity and grabbed him, securely replacing the collar, through which he threaded his belt. Thank goodness he’d worn these pants today and had the belt.

Regaining his composure, the modern father was once more in control. Rushing off towards home, none of the little party glanced back at the lifeless bodies of the poor baby bunnies they’d left behind.

So it was they did not see when, following a brief period of “safe time,” the two bunnies gingerly arose and raced off in the direction of the third bunny, the one who had successfully avoided the brutal attack.

There were no bunnies for lunch that day.
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© Peggy L. Elliott 2006