The Tale of the Headless Rabbit – Part 2

I once worked with a girl whose mother was a seasoned ER nurse.  One day she received a phone call that her daughter, my former co-worker, had been involved in a car accident; that it was minor, but she would be transported to the hospital for evaluation.  Being well-versed in hospital protocol she knew that sometimes parents were given vague, downplayed facts, even when injuries were critical, so as to avoid panic and perhaps another accident as the parent rushed to get to their child.  Not at all reassured by the call, she rushed not to the hospital but to the accident site, where she, thankfully, found her fully-intact and barely-injured daughter.

Steve, with his background as a soldier-turned-meat-cutter-turned-factory-employee did not have the same training as the hospital personnel.  His call sent me into a blind panic.  I tried to call him back, but the connection was still sketchy, though this time I learned that Ichabod and Lucy had gotten into a scuffle over the area in the backyard where the dead rabbit had lain.  I grabbed my keys, and literally ran out of the store and towards my car.  At this point, I hadn’t learned the nature of Lucy’s injuries, and my mind pictured the worst.  All I could think was, “I HAVE TO GET HOME!”

I jumped into my car, throwing it into reverse as I clicked on my seatbelt, backing out of my space without looking, and nearly hitting a car in the process.  As I sped out of the parking lot, I suddenly thought of the friend I’d been there to meet.  I didn’t have her number saved in my phone’s memory, so as I drove, I scrolled through my e-mail searching for the number.  (This was in the days before smartphones.  This was even more dangerous and ill-advised then as it is now.)  Finding the number, I placed the call and let her know that I couldn’t meet her.  By the time all of this was settled I was nearly to the highway.  As I surged up the ramp, I dialed Steve for an update. Finally I could hear him!   I learned that Lucy’s ear was slashed.  This was a relief.  From his words earlier, I’d feared that Ichabod had ripped her throat out.

It seems what happened was this:  Steve was in the front yard, and the dogs were both out back.  Hearing a scuffle, (which is unusual between my good natured hound dogs), Steve came to investigate and found the two dogs squaring off; fighting over the spot where the rabbit corpse had lay the previous day.  He says he ran and leapt over the fence and separated the two.  (The fence is 4 feet tall.)  At first he didn’t realize Lucy had been bitten, and he went into the house.

A few minutes passed, and Steve heard whimpering at the backdoor.  He glanced out to see Lucy holding her head at an odd angle, covered in blood.

As of that moment, Steve had Ichabod in his cage and Lucy blocked in the kitchen.  I asked him to hold her ear together and hung up, deciding I could best concentrate on my offensive-driving if I wasn’t talking on the phone.

As I drove towards home, I tried to picture what I would see when I arrived.  My mind traveled back nearly a year, to Lucy’s first night in our house; another night when I was not at home and received an emergency call to come home. That evening there really hadn’t been a problem.  Telling myself I would probably find something similar this time, I continued on; comforted.

I own one pair of expensive shoes; a pair of Coach boots, and I’d worn them this day.  Though I’d managed to convince myself that Steve’s report had been an emotionally-charged exaggeration, I couldn’t shake the memory of his words:  “THERE’S BLOOD EVERYWHERE!”  Choosing caution, I yanked them off in the garage before entering the house.

The scene before me as I opened the door to the kitchen was straight out of a low-budget horror movie.  Ichabod was locked in the cage, baying mournfully at regular intervals.  Steve was pacing.  Lucy was trembling, and shaking her head.  Oh, and lest I forget, EVERY SURFACE IN THE KITCHEN WAS COVERED IN BLOOD!  The entire floor was saturated, the walls, the cabinets, and the appliances.  In a flash, I understood… Steve was too upset to hold Lucy, and prevent her from shaking her bleeding ear, so she wandered through the kitchen like a lost soul, spraying her blood onto every surface.  I sat down on the floor and gathered my poor basset into my arms, fighting back tears.   I fought down the emotion; gathered my wits and tried to decide what to do.

It was still late afternoon, so I asked Steve to bring me my phone so I could call our vet.  I was informed that they wouldn’t be able to help us; the vet had a party to go to.  He suggested I call the emergency vet, but they wouldn’t be open for another two hours.

I was taken aback.  They were open, we had an emergency, and they were unwilling to see us.  I decided that it was time to find a new vet.  But that was a trouble for another time.  Now I needed to concentrate on what was best for Lucy.  I passed the phone to Steve so he could copy down the information for the emergency vet.

Pressing Lucy’s ear together, I grabbed a paper towel to clear away some of the blood so that I could assess the damage:  Ripped in half!  I felt we couldn’t wait hours for the emergency vet to open.  “THINK!”  I commanded myself.  Suddenly, I had a flash of memory:  Recently, the local Petsmart had added an onsite clinic.  They were new, but I was hopeful that they would accommodate an emergency.  I remained on the floor, cradling Lucy’s shaky body as Steve searched for their contact information.  I explained our predicament and they agreed to see us.  Yes!

Hating to break the connection, I sat Lucy down so I could find another pair of shoes and gather some towels for the car ride.  She seemed a bit woozy, but thankfully her trembling had slowed.  I carried her to Steve’s truck, and settled awkwardly with her in my lap as Steve set out with some offensive driving of his own.

I hate to speak ill of my beloved Lucy, but she suffers from a cardinal sin:  vanity.  It’s obvious that Lucy fancies herself to be quite the beauty, and one thing she loves to do is flirt with other cars, especially semi-truck drivers, when we are on the road.  It was both sad and funny when we merged onto the highway, and Lucy spotted an upcoming semi-truck.  She attempted to rouse herself, and gazed out the window, still trembling slightly, but weakly preening and wagging her tail.  I gave her a kiss and told her, “Luc, you’re covered in blood and your ear is ripped in half.  I doubt he finds you attractive!”

When we arrived at the clinic, Steve dropped us at the door and I hustled Lucy towards the building.  We checked in with the desk, and were shown to an examination room.  I tried to keep Lucy still, but a few times she got away from me.  Each time this happened, she sprayed the room with blood.

When the vet joined us, she assessed the ear, and inexplicably launched into a sales pitch for a dental cleaning.  Steve and I locked eyes, not sure how to react.  After informing her that we were more concerned with the emergency at the moment, she explained that she would be leaving the room to prepare our estimate and that she would return shortly.

As the door closed, Steve and I continued to stare at each other.  We both had the same incredulous question:  estimate?  The dog’s ear was ripped in half and she was bleeding everywhere!  Whatever it cost, we really didn’t have a choice.

In a moment, she returned with the estimate… $300.  I nodded my agreement.  She explained that she was going to prep the operating room, and would return for Lucy when everything was ready.  We would need to leave her there for a few hours.

I looked at my sweet girl, and finally, broke into tears.  Lucy was our sweet rescue.  She’d had a bad time before she came to us, and I wanted the rest of her life to be nothing but love and happiness.  And here she was, broken and bleeding, and about to be left (though only temporarily) by her parents.  But Lucy feared any separation, and I ached for the anxiety she would no doubt feel when they took her away from us.  I hugged her close.  “I’m sorry, Lucy.”

They came for her, and Steve and I watched as they took her to prepare for surgery.  Feeling defeated, we left.

When we arrived at home I threw myself whole-heartedly into the task of cleaning up the kitchen.  Wanting to keep Ichabod out of the blood I left him in the cage, but his howling began to grate on me.  I took him upstairs and shut him into our bedroom and returned to my task.

First, I wiped down the soiled surfaces.  Then I began mopping the floor.  I have one of those steam mops with re-usable, washable pads.  Before I’d made any headway at all, I had destroyed one of the pads.  It was so saturated in blood that it wouldn’t absorb anymore.  I threw it away, grabbing another pad.  I finished mopping up all the visible blood, yet the floor was sticky and the unmistakable, metallic scent of blood hung in the air.  I grabbed another pad, and cleaned the entire floor again.  With the floor finally clean, I went upstairs to collect Ichabod.

Since the howling had stopped when I’d carried him upstairs, I assumed that meant Ichabod had calmed down.  I was wrong.  I discovered upon opening the door to release Ichabod that the reason for his silence was that he was using his mouth for another purpose:  to chew through the door!

“WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN?” I shouted inside my head.  I was reluctant to share this newest problem with Steve.  Ichabod was my dog before I met Steve, and Steve didn’t have quite the patient and forgiving nature towards Ichabod as me.  I knew this would send him through the roof.  I wasn’t wrong.  But I didn’t have time to deal with this.  It was nearly time to go retrieve Lucy.

I set out by myself, leaving Steve at home.

When I arrived, I quickly parked and hustled into the store.  I was assured that the surgery had went fine, that Lucy was waking up, and if I looked through the doors behind the receptionist, I could see her.  My poor Lucy appeared to be in a daze.  Her head was completely wrapped in yellow bandages and she was wearing a cone!

When I met Lucy for the first time she was wearing a cone.  And here we were, less than a year later, and she was coned up again!

I paid for the operation, listened to the instructions on how to care for her for the next few days, collected medications, and then turned to head towards the door.  Lucy swayed on her feet.  I thought it would be best to carry her, so I bent down and picked her up.   I quickly realized this was a mistake.  She was woozy, and began flailing around, battering me in the face with her cone as she tried to struggle free.  I was just going to have to let her walk.  I sat her, once again, on her feet.

Our journey towards the car was slow and arduous. I took my eyes away from Lucy for a moment to make sure we were headed in the right direction.  It was in this moment that Lucy plowed; cone first, into a wire rack display, knocking several items to the floor and entangling herself in the wires.  I dropped to my knees, freed my drugged dog, and replaced the dropped items.  I continued leading us towards the door, this time never taking my eyes from Lucy.

When we arrived at the car, we faced another dilemma.  Per the instructions, I was supposed to prevent Lucy from jumping until her stitches healed a bit.  I opened the car door, dumped my stuff on the seat, and quickly bent to gather Lucy into my arms.  At the exact moment I bent down, she made a mighty upward surge, meaning to catapult herself into my SUV.  I’d not been expecting this, and the momentum nearly knocked me backwards.  As I struggled to right myself, with Lucy wriggling in my arms, her cone became trapped under the steering wheel, and I had to gather her close to me with one arm, while grappling with my other hand to release the tilt-wheel in order to free her head.  In this moment, I really regretted choosing to do this alone.

I wanted Lucy to sit on the seat next to me, but she refused.  She lined her awkward body up on the console and leapt onto the backseat as I held my breath.  Then she lay down.  All the way down on her back, legs spread wide, with her head tilted back at an impossible angle.  And she didn’t move.  Realizing this is how she meant to travel; I clicked my seatbelt, started the car and headed for home.

When it was safe to do so, I would glance back to check on Lucy.  She didn’t move the entire ride home.  As we pulled into the garage, I was still finalizing my strategy for getting her inside.  I was ready for anything after her previous antics.  After cutting the engine, I quickly hopped out, slammed the door, jerked open the back door, and gathered her in my arms before she had a chance to gather her wits.  I carried my injured girl into the house and lay her on the couch.  She couldn’t get comfortable, so, against the instructions of the vet, I removed the cone.  Finally, she slept.

Woozy-Lucy upon arriving home.
Woozy-Lucy upon arriving home.




The next few days were rough.  Lucy’s ear couldn’t be contained in the bandages and there was a fair amount of bleeding, but she was young and healthy and recovered quickly.  Thankfully the incident left no animosity between Ichabod and Lucy.

BFF once again.
BFF once again.

Steve asked around and was advised to take some pepper and liberally cover the area with the rabbit smell.  This did the trick to keep the dogs away from the area until the scent faded.   With much grumbling, Steve replaced the door frame which Ichabod had attempted to eat his way through.

And that was that.  Over the years, Steve and I have wondered what in the world did that to the rabbit.  The poor creature was clearly killed in our front yard and dropped into the back.  Our best theories are either a cat or a hawk….

But we’ll never know for sure.

Nearly 5 years later, unless you look very, very closely at the inside of Lucy's ear... you'd never know it even happened.
Nearly 5 years later, unless you look very, very closely at the inside of Lucy’s ear… you’d never know it even happened.

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