Dog fails rabbit test

July 06, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

Even as a tiny child who was supposed to cotton to small furry animals, I remember taking the side of Farmer McGregor over his archenemy, Peter Rabbit.

I don't know why especially, except that even at that tender age my keen sense of justice already had me recognizing hard work and industry over mooching freeloaders. Or perhaps I was simply having a 40-year-premature premonition.

Come to think of it, Bugs Bunny may be the only rabbit in pop culture that I have openly supported. The Easter Bunny always seemed something of a cold fish to me, the Energizer Bunny is too smug, the Volkswagen Rabbit too small, Harvey the Rabbit too big and Br'er Rabbit too disingenuous.

But Peter was the worst, sort of the welfare mom of rabbits, getting fat on the public trough, a gluttonous thief that even the ACLU would have a hard time defending.


For the record, I was sort of ambivalent about Flopsy and Mopsy, although they were a bit too conformist for my taste. There has to be a good middle ground for rabbits, in my opinion, between the milquetoast, kowtow-to-authority Flopsy and the pathologically villainous Peter.

But I digress.

The point is, jumping to present times, that this is the first year my vegetable garden has fired on all cylinders. Before, it was always too wet, too dry, too buggy, too weedy, or the soil was of the wrong acidity, or I had planted too soon or too late, or in the wrong phase of Aquarius, or something.

With gardens, when you must "rest your case" on a couple of spindly tomato plants and that barroom brawler of vegetables, the zucchini, the animals don't pay you much mind.

I put a fence around my garden, but it was mostly delusional - something to make me falsely believe there was something within its confines that a wild, starving animal might actually want.

This year there is use for a fence, but of course mine is no good because I used too large a "mesh," meaning my fence will keep out caribou and some of the larger species of walrus, but nothing smaller.

Enter the baby bunny. Literally.

Everyone knows what a rabbit can do to a row of green beans, so I'll spare you the damage report and go straight to my eradication policy, which I believe would be pretty effective, were not half of it dependent upon a highly incompetent Jack Russell terrier by the name of Jake Biscuit.

Let me say right off that he is in my employ for marketing purposes only. I believe I could easily have slaughtered the bunny myself, except that in my female-intensive household, when a wild-eyed madman with a hoe is pitted against a cute, furry little animal, the public-opinion polls skew heavily in favor of the critter.

This is not right, but facts are facts, so I mended the battle plan with the cunning stratagem of pitting beast against beast. If I kill a rabbit, I will be forever scorned, but if Jake exercises the contract the thinking will be more along the lines of "well, that's what dogs do." I figured he'd get off light, with maybe a finger shake and a "bad dog" rap, and I'd skate home free.

The dog, of course, knew when the rabbit was in the garden and he would hop up against the fence and yip and shriek and carry on like Roger Moore at a Haliburton board meeting, so when the alarm was thus sounded I'd grab the hoe and begin to probe the thick rows of foliage.

Eventually I'd flush out the beast, and he'd wriggle through the fence, where Jake was supposed to send him to that great carrot patch in the sky. 'Course that didn't work.

Neighbors would watch rather uneasily as I would yell "There he is, there he is! Get him! He's right there! No, don't look at my hand, look over there! He's getting away - you, you idiot!"

One of the tragedies of America, and I think someone needs to address this, is that even in a land with riches and abundance such as ours, there are not enough synonyms for the word "stupid" in our common language to fully describe the mental capacities of Jake Biscuit.

We played out the same thing over and over about a million times and never once did he noodle it through that the rabbit would be exiting the garden right on the heels of my hoe. For some strange reason, he always thought he ought to cover the side opposite from me.

Once the bunny did make the tactical mistake of changing course and exiting right in front of the dog and Jake bellowed out a war cry and came down with the Mother of All Chomps ... and missed.

As Charlie Brown would say, *Sigh*. Store-bought green beans, here I come.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.Even as a tiny child who was supposed to cotton to small furry animals, I remember taking the side of Farmer McGregor over his archenemy, Peter Rabbit.

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