Tuesday, July 08, 2008


WONDER BUNNY our house bunny.

We have a pet bunny named WonderBunny who lives with us. He is fed and watered and taken to the vet on a regular basis. I often think how silly that is when I look at the bunnies in our backyard who run free. How little separates them from him and though I worry about him and take him to the vet I don't really do that for his little yard cousins.

This all came home to roost this weekend when Lilly found an injured baby bunny in the back yard. Something had already eaten the bunny siblings (we found the remains scattered around) and the mommy appeared to have abandoned her. Lilly begged to try to nurse her back to health. I knew how this would end but how could I explain the difference between caring for OUR bunny and caring for THIS bunny. Well, I couldn't really and I could not refuse her when she said, "But Mommy, I have to at least try to help."
And so we began the timeless ritual of finding a shoebox, feathering it with grass and fur and purchasing an eyedropper with which to feed the bunny. I made my stand on the issue clear, "I will buy the eyedropper but I will not take her to the vet!" I also informed her that I would not be buying kitten milk which some website said a baby bunny needs and is available at your local vet. Who milks cats?

Drawing that line in the sand is a little odd. After all, I would buy WonderBunny kitten milk if he needed it to stay alive. Hell, I'd probably milk a cat to keep WonderBunny alive.

It made me think of the kids at McNair Elementary. They're my own backyard bunnies, I guess. McNair is a school in a very bad part of Chicago that my coffee friends and I have adopted as our sister school. After railing against the disparities of education in this world (our kids have laptops, those kids don't even have crayons) we approached our principals about adopting an underpriveliged school. They were all for it and we've been able to help out a little by sending them school supplies.

I send them crayons but I don't take them to the doctor. Another line in the sand. We do what we can and hope it's enough.

It was not good enough for the wounded bunny. She died yesterday and Lilly went into deep mourning, refusing to get out of her pajamas and bursting into tears all day long. She railed against a world that allows babies to get killed when they are just days old and I could not cheer her up much with talk of nature and the circle of life.

To make it even worse, when we looked out back at dusk we saw the mommy bunny. She'd come looking for her babies but they were all gone. The import of this moment was not lost on Lilly. She burst into tears again, "Would she would have lived if her mommy could have taken care of her? Is it my fault she died because I moved her? Should we take the body to her so she knows she's gone?"
I had no answers. Maybe the bunny would have lived if we hadn't tried to help. Maybe she wouldn't but the truth was I just didn't know.

Where to draw the line in the sand? When to help and not to help? When does our help do more harm than good? These are questions for all of us and they are not easily answered.
For now I guess I'll just have to stick with Lilly's first words, "I have to at least try to help."

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