Evan Kessler Dot Com

The Home of the Brave

Watching Bunny

Posted by evankessler on August 19, 2010

In the tradition of heartwarming, coming-of-age tales like “Tuesdays with Morrie,” “Marley & Me” and The Last Airbender comes a harrowing, yet endearing tale of a man (myself) left to watch after his brother’s dog (Bunny) over the course of a weekend. In the process he learns about a lot about himself, caring for pets, and the true meaning of life.

It all started early last week when my brother called to ask if I was busy the following weekend. That’s how it always begins isn’t it? A simple, yet intriguing, question is posed which could lean in one of two directions: the first direction being, “I have something really awesome that we could do– that is if you’re up for it?” or the alternate  inquiry, “I have something I need you to do for me.”

Naturally, I was hoping for the former and it ended up being the latter in the arena of dog care. Not very fond of the idea of taking care of pets – worried it might impede on my somewhat already formed weekend plans to do wonderful things out and about in the city I call home– I peppered my lone sibling with a “maybe” and left it at that to gestate in the “maybe I can find someone else” chamber of his brain over the course of 24 hours. My deflection of duty was merely delayed defeat. 48 hours passed, but my silence came crashing down in the form of a subsequent lunch meet up and trip to get an alternate key made up so I might be able to enter my brothers abode in the heart of Hipstertown, USA come Friday.

Not exactly feeling suckered, though with some measure of trepidation, I accepted my duties as I was given them. I felt the brotherly chore might do me some good.

I had only been asked to carry out necessary dog duties on one other occasion and it didn’t exactly go as planned. As the story goes, our best family friends asked me to go over and walk their bearded collie for whom I’d always had a liking. The pup was probably about thigh high to my then diminutive figure, by know means a toy or a beast. I’d seen her owners handle the canine’s toilet time needs with relative ease and thought the task at hand would be as easy as buying a pie at your local bakery. Little did I know that the simple act of walking a dog would become a test of wills, a stare down into the soul of two stubborn beings; one who was intent to stay outside and enjoy the fresh air as much as possible and one who needed to go do his homework. To make a long story short, there was a lot of pulling that went on on both ends and I stayed outside much longer than I had planned and maybe even resulted in me lamely begging and pleading with an animal that only understood me about as much as I understood Charlie Brown‘s teacher. I knew this task would be very different, but my previous experience stuck with me and kept prodding me with the notion that it would not be as easy as simple as possible.

My first action on the canine front line  snuck up on me like a mother. Having finished my workday on the early side Friday, I found my way to Williamsburg taking the Q to the L –which always seems like the longer route because you’re going into Manhattan to go back to Brooklyn.

Walking down the street of this largely unfamiliar neighborhood, I wondered if I even knew where my brother lived. I had helped him move in several months back and was pretty sure of the street corner, but nothing was ringing a bell. I started to picture the arrival of my brother back home on Sunday night to find a malnourished dog who fell victim to my poor sense of direction. Just when this thought reached its fateful climax, I found myself situated at a familiar building and let myself in without issue.

Sliding my key into the lock an excited, miniature bark escaped into the thin slice of air now between the door and the frame. I remembered one of the key selling points of the dog when I had first met it around Passover was that it never barked. That was about the only thing I remembered about this little Papillon pup save for the its portable nature and its rather sizable, furry antennae.

The door shut behind me, I looked down to see a more mobile version of a Mogwai skittering towards me with excitement and pulling up short at my feet.

Bunny Meets My Feet

I greeted Bunny with an outstretched hand ready to remake her acquaintance…and so the licking of my feet began. Having a tiny being lick your feet is a confusing moment. There’s a brief moment of ticklish flattery, followed by a brief tinge of inhumanity that you’re allowing said creature to apply said tongue to your filthy feet, and finally the moment where you just think being on the receiving end of too much animal adoration is uncomfortable and creepy.

Having absorbed the full weight of the thrill of seeing her first living thing in hours, I set about figuring out what to do from there on out. I wasn’t but 20 feet into the apartment when I decided this living thing needed both food and water to continue the life cycle.

Filling the water bowl was easy enough, but inside the freezer I was faced with two options: one a yellow bag full of raw meat medallions;  the other a white bag full of some other frozen chicken-type treats.  After a brief text with my brother, the yellow bag was determined the winner.

Bunny scarfed down a semi-defrosted meat medallion at so rapid a pace, you might think her capable of tracking down and gnawing on a Wildebeest on the African Savannah or that she hadn’t been fed in days; but as a phone call to my brother minutes later would reveal, she had already eaten her day’s worth of chow prior to my arrival. Well, she would certainly not die of starvation any time soon.

After the feeding frenzy came to an end, I finally made it to the living room table where my brother’s girlfriend’s note on Bunny care and maintenance laid out the proper feeding procedure amongst other things. I guess if I had ventured further before taking things into my own hands, I may have fewer questions with which to interrupt my brother’s vacation.

The next 3 hours were an absolute delight. I got to know Bunny, but more specifically I got to know that when Bunny is dragged around by the chew toy in her mouth, she can glide like the best swiffer sweeper across a hardwood floor. I picked  her up and made her soar around the apartment like an airplane; I spun her around in circles; I played tug-o-war with her snake, rat, and tribal lion toy.  It was a regular play-athlon that I was goaded back into whenever I tried to  take care of my own business. The second I focused on doing something other than keeping Bunny occupied, there was an shin height specimen lapping at my ankle hairs.

Bunny and the Snake

Unfortunately, it had to come to an end. Around 5pm I took my leave of Bunny and struck out back to Park Slope for my a night of drinking activity and nary a moment of playing Puppy Airplane along with intermittent spells of tongue on toe discomfort.

That’s not to say I wasn’t slightly smitten; a big portion of the night was spent showing off adorable photos of my new best friend.  Drunken excitement aside, I was eager to do right by her and get her fed as soon as I woke up the next morning.

There was more of a begrudging nature to my puppy care routine come Saturday. The previous evening’s trials had lasted well past the midnight hour, thankfully ending in sandwich inhalation. My disposition on making a trip to Williamsburg in such a worn down state though might not best be described as “sunny.”

Nonetheless, I gathered myself together and hopped two trains back to the ‘burg. When I arrived I could tell that Bunny was extremely needy having spent what amounted to probably the last 17 hours or so alone. Heck, I get jittery and crazed after spending that much time by myself. I can’t imagine having 3 toys to play with and the inability to turn on the TV or take a stroll outside.

I was half-tempted to take Bunny for an outdoor jaunt in the building’s courtyard; but having inspected it for a brief moment, I noticed there were some fences that she might go under and get into mischief. My brother had told me that if this were to happen I should just call her and she’d come back. Reassuring as this might have been, remembering my earlier childhood experience with the stubborn bearded collie, I decided not to make things too difficult for myself. Instead, I stayed inside and watched her satisfy her ravenous appetite before playing Swiffer Puppy and tug-o-war, only during the latter she made sounds that convinced me further that her breed of dog is just a cover for the existence of gremlins.

This latest visit with the lively tail-wagger was somewhat shorter than the last and I could see the disappointment in her mannerisms as I raced toward the door. There were goings on going on that I wanted to be apart of back in Park Slope and the G train was heading my way and I wasn’t going to concede to this creature’s concept of permanent playtime.

Before making my way to my friend’s BBQ, the twinge of guilt hit me that but a few miles away there was a lonely critter pooing and peeing on a pad in between bouts of wishing there was someone to play with. I packed a bag and resolved to spend the night at my brother’s so Bunny would be kept some company.

The evening was another busy one. People were grilling, other people were debuting plays and grabbing late night meals before ending up at wine bars; I went along for those rides. It wasn’t until after 1am when I let myself into an obviously attention-starved Papillon’s apartment. Bunny wanted to play and dropped a toy rat at my feet, I wanted a drink of water and went over to the refrigerator; I wanted to check my e-mail, Bunny wanted to lick my feet; I wanted to watch an episode of Louie on Hulu, Bunny wanted to lick my hands.  This back and forth went on for awhile until Bunny won. I resigned myself to 15 minutes of the “let’s see how many times in a row Bunny Swiffer Sweeper can go around me without letting go of her tribal lion” game.  When she broke her previous record of 8, I called it a night. Bunny did not.

I went into my brother’s room to get some shut eye and closed the door on this eager animal. As soon as she was blocked off from another living thing the miniature barks began. I probably should have left the door close and let the whimpering subside, but not able to withstand the pain of another being up close, I opened the door.

The next several hours of sleep were marked by frequent interruptions. I’d wake up to the feeling of a dog licking my legs and/or staring at me from the heightened perch of my very own chest. In the latter cases, I would simply remove Bunny from my chest and nestle her in at my side. This seemed to work for awhile, but ultimately always ended in some exposed skin being licked and my eyes opening to my wide-eyed, Gizmo-like companion making not-so-subtle overtures for me to wake up and get ready for a tug o’war.

I was no longer to resist sometime around 8:30am. Bleary-eyed and not so bushy-tailed, I disposed of Bunny droppings and gave her an airplane ride before trying to break the previous night’s world dragging puppies around record. Finally, I changed her water and slipped her two tasty (I assume) beef medallions in order to delay her a bit so I could get some work done. She was occupied for probably two minutes.Nonetheless, I managed to get some work done with Bunny repeatedly licking my hands and feet and threatening to step on the laptop I was working on.

Having completed both my personal responsibilities towards work and the one’s given by my brother in regards to feeding and playing, my time with Bunny had reached its end. I was eager to rejoin my friends who were headed out to the beach in a matter of hours. Before I rushed out the door I spun Bunny around a few times let her lick my hand for a few seconds and promised the little creature I’d be seeing her soon.

I Had to Say "No" to This Face

As I made a move for the door, the tiny thing skittered after me as if to once again say, “don’t go.” I couldn’t oblige. I shut the door beaming proudly, knowing that in the span of a few hours my brother and his girlfriend would arrive home and find their puppy still alive. Mission accomplished.

As for me, what did I learn from this whole experience? Well, I think I learned that pets can make you feel great and are loads of fun…in small doses; but spend too much time with them and they’ll give you undying affection forever provided you never stop playing tug o’war with them.


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