Home > Donald H. Harrison, Lifestyles > Arnie is a perfect non-pet

Arnie is a perfect non-pet

Arnie, as seen through the window, dines at Cafe Nancy

By Donald H. Harrison


Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO—“Arnie” has solved my wife Nancy’s problem, wanting to have a pet and at the same time not wanting to have a pet.

A kind soul, Nancy has loved and watched die after long lifetimes two dogs and two cats, and she can’t bear the idea of loving another animal, only to have to someday part with it.  Furthermore, now that we are of “retirement” age, she’d like to travel without having to make arrangements for animal caretakers.  Yet she clearly missed having an animal around.

Arnie solved all that.   His name is short for the Hebrew word, “arnevet,” and, as you might have guessed, he is a rabbit, who has adopted us.   We’ve had other rabbits come by before – one staying long enough to be named “Hoppy” by my happy grandchildren.  But Arnie seems to have decided to make more permanent living arrangements than any of his predecessors did in our back yard. 

Arnie’s rabbit hole is somewhere under the bush that grows against a fence separating our flat land from a steep slope that descends to a busy road.  When we open our sliding door to the back yard, Arnie quickly scampers under the bush so that we won’t be tempted to touch him.  Arnie apparently is able to distinguish his relative safety when we are standing behind the window instead of in front of it. The rabbit doesn’t mind us watching as he eats less than ten feet away—as long as we stay inside.

Thanks to Nancy, eating is what he does, in prodigious quantities.  Nancy places lettuce and carrots in front of his bush, all of which Arnie happily gobbles, typically as soon as Nancy goes back inside.   In just a few weeks of dining at the Cafe Nancy, he—or perhaps Arnie is a she?– has been growing quite big.  And his cottontail has become more pronounced.

We worry about the big ravens that also sometimes visit our yard by way of the roof of our house.  Will Arnie ever become so absorbed by the delightful crunching sound that lettuce makes in his mouth, that he’ll fail to notice the raven?  It’s only a step or two from where he dines on our back lawn to his bush, but ravens can swoop down in an instant.   I’d hate to see him being carried off by the bird.

Compared to household pets, Arnie is maintenance free.  He doesn’t come into the house, he doesn’t have any “accidents,” and he doesn’t have to be combed.   On the other hand, he doesn’t nuzzle you like our dogs used to do, nor does he sit in your lap and purr like our cats used to do.  

We know, of course, of rabbits’ reputations as prodigious procreators and figure if Arnie could find his/her way here, then so might a mate.  If so, before long we may have more bunnies around our house than Hugh Hefner has around his. 

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

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