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How do I like bunnies? Let me count the ways

It's been five years since my lifestyle was enlivened by rabbits. Suffice it to say that sharing a small apartment with two rabbits is not like a halcyon scene painted on a Bunnykins cereal bowl. For all the positives that bunnies have brought into my life, I have many moments – usually while on my hands and knees cleaning the rabbit house – when I ask, "Why me? Why did these foundling rabbits have to find me?"

Nevertheless, having made myself responsible for the care and feeding of these long-eared critters, I feel it's my duty not only to keep them fat and sleek, but also to protect them from the foxes of complaint. I must watch my whining about bunnies as vigilantly as I watch my darlings around telephone wires. (Rabbits love to gnaw phone wires.)

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The best route out of the tunnel of complaint is to magnify the ways my life has been enriched by bunnies.

One obvious benefit: I no longer have misconceptions about rabbits. For instance, I used to think that rabbits adored carrots. To my surprise, when I offered a carrot to my first foundling bunny, he turned up his pink nose. It isn't that rabbits don't like carrots per se, it's just that they insist on garden-fresh carrots, preferably with the green tops still on them, so they can eat those, too. (Carrots are still not my rabbits' favorite food, however. That would be bananas.)

Another misconception: Although the plush toy industry is partial to rabbits – doesn't the very word "bunny" beg for a cuddle? – my real-life rabbits are not a bit cuddly. While they enjoy being stroked and petted, they detest being held. A rabbit in the grip of human arms is deprived of its primary survival mechanism – to run and hide. It's discouraging, to say the least, to pick up a rabbit I've fed, loved, and petted every day for five years, and have it lash out with its powerful hind legs and squeal as though I were going to toss it into the stew pot.

From having rabbits, I've learned that most people, (myself included), are clueless about what they are getting into when they get a rabbit. That's why rabbits so often appear at animal shelters. The day that I called my local humane society to report that I had a foundling bunny on my hands, they urged me to keep it. They already had 14. (Another lesson: The best place to get a rabbit is at the humane society.)

Thanks to my rabbits, I've developed as keen an interest in produce departments as Peter Rabbit had in Mr. McGregor's garden. For domestic rabbits, the greengrocer sets a munificent board. As I hop and sniff about, selecting fresh food for my rabbits, I am dazzled by beet-red radicchio, delicate dill weed, and – imagine! – dandelion greens in winter! Before rabbits, I never noticed.

Thanks to my rabbits, I can now distinguish between a wooden-flavored carrot and a tender sweet one.

I've always relished a good salad, but in my pre-rabbit days I rarely concocted one – all that washing, spinning, and tearing of greens. The occasional head of iceberg lettuce that I bought to salve my guilt about not eating vegetables usually rotted in the crisper. Now I don't waste a speck of lettuce.

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Every day at noon, I open my refrigerator, remove a bin heaped with red, green, and orange crunchy things, and start chopping and tossing. It amazes me that no matter what blend of colors, textures, and flavors I combine (the more the better!), the resulting salad is always pleasing both to the eye and the palate. Thanks to my rabbits, I now eat lots and lots of vegetables.

Thanks to my rabbits, I no longer leave magazines strewn on the floor, either. Next to telephone wires, there is nothing bunnies more enjoy gnawing on than a deliciously glossy magazine. As soon as I've perused the latest Martha Stewart Living, it goes directly onto a high bookshelf. Martha would be proud.

Thanks to my rabbits, I've added several new words to my vocabulary, including "lagomorph" and "crepuscular." (Did you know that lagomorphs are crepuscular?)

Thanks to my rabbits, I've also revisited the charming storybooks of Beatrix Potter, including "The Tale of Peter Rabbit." Did you know that Beatrix Potter had a pet rabbit named Peter? Unfortunately, my own Bunster and Missy do not kindle in me the same creative genius that Peter sparked in Miss Potter. My rabbits do, however, incite me to creative heights in other ways. Like coming up with more reasons to keep them than not. Reasons that I must frequently catalog, so I won't forget what they are.


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