Happy 9: Ingemar the Undying

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Like most rescued animals, our pet bunny's past was a bit of a mystery, though the scraps we did know were more exciting than most. Ingemar had originally been a magician's rabbit. From his obsession with hopping into hats and throwing brightly colored plastic, we imagine he used to be pulled out of a hat by his stubby ears and maybe performed some sort of tricks involving picking the right items. Presumably the act was a success, because he was thusly employed until bunny old age and then retired to a nursery school.

The pre-school children loved the silver dwarf rabbit and Ingemar, even for a lagomorph, was extremely tolerant, so it seemed he loved them too. Hopefully the teachers made sure the children were not too rough, but the bunny seemed up for anything. My younger sister, Jenn, went to this pre-school and one day when my mother was picking her up, a teacher brought the Ingemar dilemma to her attention. The rabbit was old when the magician gave him to them, now he was ancient and no creature lives forever. What would happen if he died during the school day? The children would be traumatized! Mommy valiantly stepped in and offered to take the bunny home, so he could instead traumatize her own children with his death. She was big on us understanding the impermanence of life. 

So this is how we ended up adopting a nine year old rabbit, a critter older than even my big sister Beck. We already had a dog and a couple kittens, but had plenty of room in our hearts to be delighted with the new addition to the family. We fed him Kix and popcorn, we let him hop around wherever he wanted, play with the kittens and generally enjoy life. For small children, I like to think we were good pet owners, even if we did once forget him in the yard and all go off to town for grocery store treats...

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Beck's best friend down the street got a rabbit soon after us. He was about as different as you could get and still be the same species, a big albino with pink eyes, nearly twice the since of our little gray dwarf, with the prosaic name of Thumper. We had a ball loading one of the rabbits into a wicker basket and walking down the alley, so that the other rabbit could have an in-house play date. Bunnies felt a lot more like toys than moody cats or rambunctious dogs.

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Ingemar lived to be 15. Mommy always attributes this to the fact that she took him to the vet, something that was unheard of in Maine back in the 80's. I'm sure that helped, but personally I think it was sheer happiness. I think he enjoyed living with us so much that he never wanted to give up the ghost.

We buried him in the backyard under the violets he'd loved to chew on in life. It was an oddly peaceful event, but when your pet is 150 in rabbit years, you rather expect them to move on one of these days. However he didn't.

For years after we put Ingemar's body to rest, there were ghost sightings. I'm not talking about the excited little kid kind that seems to mostly be a hodgepodge of ideas taken from some moderately scary TV program, no, people staying at the house while we were away would comment that we hadn't mentioned that we had a pet bunny running loose. I guess Ingemar loved staying with us so much that when his material self expired, his spiritual self decided to linger. I'm not sure about souls, the meaning of ghosts or anything that deep, all I know is that Ingemar stuck around, the happiest little bunny that ever was.

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