Thursday, May 10, 2012

Joie de vivre!

The french phrase, which means pleasure or joy in living or life is one that comes to mind every time I think about or see Howard. The photo below shows Howard doing one of the things he seems to enjoy totally...running. He moves pell-mell wherever he goes....
and he seems to always be going somewhere. Except when he's not...then he might be looking to see where he wants to go next.
I've been wanting to write about Howard for a long time but words about him come with difficulty. He came to us after having been dumped in a parking lot (in a cardboard box). He was picked up by the local municipal animal shelter and his execution time was approaching...that's the penalty in Oklahoma if you're a bunny without a home. Death. He was thrown away. The best estimate of his age is that he is between 2 and 4 years old...likely he is on the young side of that range...he seems to have grown a little since he came to us and his energy level certainly is that of a kid.

Howard is what is known as a "New Zealand White". Now, first of all these guys don't have a damn thing to do with New Zealand...the "breed" was developed in Mexico...supposedly in 1916. The "big whites" (that's what I like to call them) were "bred" for their "fur" and for "meat" and for "use" by laboratories. I'm enclosing words that are repulsive and euphemistic in quotation marks because they obscure the horrific reality that these bunnies were manipulated by humans for profit...absolutely and totally ignoring the rights and needs of these beings. But...that's a rant for a different time.

Howard came to Heartland because the Director made the space for him (even though we didn't have it...Heartland is chronically over capacity) to save his life. When he first was given a chance to run around it didn't look good for him. He was very shaky and had a difficult time staying upright...his balance was very poor and he evinced ongoing tremors. It was apparent he had some sort of neurological or motoric problems and we were very concerned about him. But...he was a poster child for the word exuberant. He would run and fall and immediately spring back up and keep on going. If he was still (which was not very often) and tried to scratch or wash his face...he would often fall over...but it sure didn't seem to bother him. There was no way to watch Howard without breaking into a big smile.
The pinkish skin and reddish tint of his eyes are typical in his "breed" because there is a strong element of albinism in these sort of bunny folk...albinism makes it easier to test cosmetics and chemicals in their eyes and on their skin...the damage done can be more easily seen and the tissue is more sensitive. What a bunch of creeps we human animals are...disgusting. Howard though, is anything but disgusting...he is a special special being.

Over time, and he's been with us for around a year now, his shakiness and wobbling has diminished considerably. He still tremors and falls sometimes but not much and not very often anymore. He's too busy...and busy is the perfect word for this fellow when he has a crack at running around the rescue property. He is either going full speed or he is lounging somewhere resting as hard as he runs. Or...he's looking for women...Howard is a lover and a runner and nobody knows which he prefers...both are primary considerations for him. He is adept at climbing out of enclosures, breaking into enclosures and generally going where he isn't supposed to go. All these things he does with gusto and joy and (I secretly think) a big bunny smile...

 Now, due to the hugeness of his personality, he has been tagged with some interesting names by the bunny slaves at Heartland. Mr. Wobbles is one name that is applied to him sometimes but the name that causes the most laughter and pleasure is that of Mr. Naughtytrousers...because it so aptly describes him and because that name is so unusual sounding to us in America. The name was borrowed from a bunny who resides at Big Ears Animal Sanctuary in northern Tasmania. The folks who operate the sanctuary recently took on 300 rabbits rescued from a "meat farm" and I can only marvel at their energy and excellence in attempting such a huge undertaking. A big thanks to them and a big Hooray for them!

Howard is unusual in some other ways...in addition to his large helping of personality and lebensfreude...he is a rag doll bunny.  He hardly ever flinches or tenses up if he is picked up by a human...he usually just relaxes. Totally. Which is not often seen in bunny folk. He enjoys being petted and groomed and will even allow...with absolutely no indication of discomfort...grooming of and even pulling gently on his tail. Most rabbits get rather excited or irritated if any sort of touching on their tail goes on...not Mr. Naughtytrousers...he calmly and majestically endures and enjoys any and all sorts of petting or grooming. He's a treasure and a wonder. And some human discarded him like an empty tin can...

But Howard doesn't hold a grudge...he just runs and runs or sometimes he digs.
And when it all becomes too much and too tiring and there's a convenient human around...Howard just lays back and naps. When he's in that state he's much like those little dolls that were played with by little girls many years ago...you know those that had the eyelids that closed when you put them on their back...that's Howard. Pick him up and lay him on his back in your arms and his eyelids slowly close...and poof...he's gone off to napland.

It is getting to spend time around phenoms like Howard that helps keep me going. Howard possesses a restorative spirit and is as generous with it as it is possible to be. Thank you Howard...thank you, thank you.

Support your local animal rescues, support anyplace that might provide a safe and forever home to wonderful beings like Howard. We need all the Howard spirit in the world that we can get.

Ethical veganism is a way of living that embodies and expresses respect and caring for all living beings (including ourselves) and for Mother Earth.  Sadly, any other way of living implements destruction and death and suffering and horror...inevitably and inexorably. So...knock it off if you haven't already.

13 comments:

D.E.M. said...

OMG!! beautiful bunny!!!

Christina said...

Mr.Wobbles is a joy to know. He deserves (and all bunnies)so much more than being castoff in a cardboard box. Love you Mr. Naughtytrousers.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting DEM. Howie is a good looking fellow but his personality exceeds his handsomeness...he's quite a treat.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christina. Indeed. Mr Howard Wobbles Naughtytrousers is a true phenom.

Harry said...

Mr Naughtytrousers ... what a superb name!

What we do to our fellow beings, and how we genetically manipulate them for whatever 'desire' we choose, does indeed make us humans creepy and disgusting. Yet somehow every animal seems to retain their 'restorative spirit' no matter what we've done. Some may require more love and time than others to release that spirit but it's always there. Which makes our abuse of our fellow earthlings even more creepy and disgusting ...

Have Gone Vegan said...

Howard is awesomeness personified! Thank you for introducing him and for putting a big grin on my old mug. :)

Amy Patterson said...

Loved what Harry said. Thanks for saying it so well. And thank you, VeganElder, for sharing Howard Naughtytrousers. He's a beautiful soul.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Harry, HGV and Amy.

Harry: Exactly so, we haven't been able to totally dominate...yet. We have scads of creepy and disgusting in our bag though.

HGV: You're welcome, I'm a bit of his spirit reached that far north. :-)

Amy: Thanks, and Howard is indeed a beautiful soul.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt have said it any better to be honest! keep up the awesome work. You are very talented & I only wish I could write as good as you do :) …

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Anonymous...and thank you for your kind words, I don't doubt that you write as well or better than I'm able to.

Bea Elliott said...

I can see that Howard is quite the charmer and not camera shy at all!

I appreciate the added info too - I never knew the reason these "multi-purpose" bunnies had blue eyes is to make their assailant's madness easier to carry out. Again, something to add to how vicious we can be. :(

I'm so glad this cool joyful being has found a safe place to be himself! Thanks for sharing his story with us!

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea...and thank you for your kind gift to Heartland. Howard will be hugged and treated and told all about you. :-)

sherree said...

That's great! You're a brillian
t storyteller as well!