Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Come-to-Jesus Moment

I often say that you can never judge a rabbit's personality when it's in the cage. And I believe that firmly. Many rabbits act completely differently when they're in the cage, due to territory issues or wanting-to-get-out issues or just simple stress. Being able to run and jump makes a huge, huge difference to a rabbit's attitude.
But you know, when you're actually faced with a snarly little jerk-in-a-cage it can be hard to practice what you preach. Tapioca arrived stressed at the shelter and like many animals, went into a steady downward spiral with every passing day. Her attitude in the cage can be summed up in the photo above. Hunchbacked, growling, lunging and generally furious at the world. If you tried to pick her up, you got snarled at and probably kicked in the face.
Now logically, that is not her fault. But illogically, when you get kicked every day by this grumpy little twit, you get pretty grumpy yourself. However, she's in the Room and therefore I consider her at least partially my responsibility. So the other day I knelt in front of her cage and looked her in the eye. We had the following conversation:

Me: "Ok, that is IT, you are coming out of that cage today!"
Tapioca: * sitting in the corner with malice in her eyes*
Me: "You don't scare me, rabbit. I'm doing this."
* I reach in to grab her*
Me: "No, no, you are coming out right now!"
* Ensuing struggle with kicks and grunts and growls and cursing*

Yes, I know, I could've gone about that better. But in the end, I picked her up and dumped her on the table and we sat there glaring at one another.
And then she nudged me. Not a "I'm-going-to-kill-you" nudge, a "Please-pet-me" nudge.
To my utter astonishment, she turned into a total cuddler. She jumped on my lap and just lay against my chest while I played with her ears, tooth-purring contentedly.
I kind of fell in love with her. What a sweetheart! I must have taken about 100 photos of her, she posed so nicely. All she wanted was to be pet and scratched. She tooth-purred almost the entire time she was out.
Now, that's not that weird. As I said, lots of rabbits have totally different personalities outside the cage. The weird part happened the next day. When I arrived in the Room, she immediately ran to the side of the cage and stuck her nose out. She let me rub her nose through the bars - without even a grunt! And she's done it every time I go to visit.
Here we were, thinking she's a territorial nightmare lunatic, when really she just wanted attention. I mean, she's still a little territorial but nowhere near as bad as before. Maybe she came from a loving home and is used to attention all the time? Whatever it was, it was a real breakthrough.
People think rabbit personalities are simple, but they're not. It's like any animal, or any person - they can be complicated and they're not always what they appear.

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