A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, (couldn’t resist on May the Fourth) during my last year of college, my roommate and I decided we needed a pet. We lived in a dorm and pets were strictly forbidden, but you see, we just didn’t care much for rules. We decided to get a rabbit, purely because of their silent nature.
We drove out to an animal shelter in the middle of nowhere to pick up our new friend. I’m not even sure if you could call this place an animal shelter. It seemed a lot more like the home of an animal hoarder who needed to unload some of her creatures. When we walked into the house the first thing that hit us was the stench of urine. It was enough to choke you. There were animals everywhere. Cats were climbing on every piece of furniture, dogs scattered across the floor and cages full of birds and small animals filled every corner. Every bit of carpet and couch was coated in a thick matte of hair. In short, it was disgusting, and unlike any shelter I’d ever been to. Even though the state of the house was despicable at best, the animals all seemed to be healthy and well cared for. In retrospect, we should have called the authorities as soon as we left, but we were young and naive and just wanted to take our new friend home.
When we told the lady of the house that we were there for a rabbit she dragged out a huge cage with about seven of them inside and said, ‘pick one.’ We chose the smallest one, a brownish black bunny that seemed terrified to be alive. After paying the lady ten bucks we escaped that Hell hole as quickly as possible, all while telling our new friend that he’d never have to live in a urine scented fur mansion again.
We bought him some rabbit food, a litter box, and some litter and took him home. Sneaking into the dorm with all this incriminating evidence wasn’t easy. I had to stuff the litter and food into grocery bags and the litter box was stuffed in my ginormous purse. My roommate put Mr. Bunny in her ginormous purse and we booked it to our room.
After everything was set up we let the little guy run around the room to explore, or rather, see how everything tasted. We named him Sgt. Pepper or ‘Peppy’ in honor of our obsession with The Beatles.
I don’t know why I thought that rabbits would just know how to use a litter box. I guess I thought they were kind of like cats. They aren’t kind of like cats. They are pooping machines with cute fuzzy faces. They make you fall in love with them and then poop all over everything that you own. We figured out that he would have to be trained to use the litter box, which we somehow managed by locking him in our shower for the weekend. We put down lots of blankets surrounding the litter box, because apparently they don’t enjoy pooping where they sleep, only where we sleep. By the end of the weekend we had a litter trained rabbit and only had to suffer through three days without showers to achieve it!
Peppy enjoyed his time in our dorm. Since he was litter trained he had free reign of our room. We fed him all of the left over veggies from our meals and gave him lots and lots of love. He, in turn, ate practically everything we owned. We desperately tried to stay one step ahead of him by moving anything that he would enjoy chewing, but failed miserably. He chewed through power cords, miraculously living to tell the tale, then went onto sandals and sneakers, clothing, pencils, homework, anything that he could get into his mouth. As you can imagine, the excuse ‘My rabbit ate my homework’ doesn’t work in college. Our time with Peppy was the only time our room was extraordinarily clean, not a single thing touched the floor except the legs to our furniture, which he also chewed.
The only times we were at risk for getting caught with our stowaway pet was on Sunday mornings, when the cleaning lady came to clean our bathroom. We shared a suite with our two friends, and the layout had a common room and bathroom in between the two bedrooms. We made sure to keep our bedroom door closed on cleaning days to keep him contained, a difficult task, as our door didn’t latch properly and had to be barricaded to stay closed.
We weren’t discovered until the day we moved out of the dorm. It was a Sunday and I had figured the cleaning lady wouldn’t come until the next day, when all the students were gone. Due to a rather long night of partying, we were still in bed at noon, when we heard the familiar sound of keys rattling in our lock. I glanced toward the bedroom door and realized with horror that it was wide open. The cleaner came in and we heard the tell tale sounds of shock and awe. She said to him, ‘Well, who are you?! Have you been hidden in here this whole year??’ This type of talk went on for awhile as our cleaner tried to figure out how we’d kept a rabbit hidden in our dorm for 8 months. I could just imagine that deer-caught-in-the-headlights look on his face, not a muscle moving except that little nose twitching. She went on to clean our bathroom, said goodbye to Peppy and left.
Even with his rather annoying quirks, we loved our bunny and he added a new crazy quality to our dorm life. Since he had no cage, we had to keep him in a dresser drawer with food and water when we had raging parties. As you can imagine, our party guests were quite shocked to learn we had a rabbit chomping on carrots in our closet.
Peppy passed away years ago, but his legacy lives on in the countless chewed up objects he left behind. Now we’ve opened our home to a new rabbit friend, a fluffy white Angora. Her rather hilarious first week here will be shared in the next post, watch for it!