Carl is, clearly, a rabbit.
And he lives in quite a roomy hutch inside our house.
If you’re counting, that makes two cats, two dogs, a rabbit, and 1.5 horses.
Now, we never intended to get a rabbit, much less one that lived inside. He just sort of showed up one day. Literally.
One day last spring, I walked outside and a flash of white caught my eye. Well, two flashes. Two rabbits were hanging out in a couple of hutches under my neighbor’s (still under construction at the time) house. Bunny 1 and 2 (not to be confused with Bunny Number 8) had been scheduled to become dinner for one of Neighbor’s friends. Instead, Neighbor offered to take the rabbits and provide them a home instead of a plate and a stomach.
Over the next few weeks, Bunny 2 was stolen–crate, food and all. Only in Durham. And somehow, Paul and I agreed to take Bunny 1 and try out giving him a home. His outside hutch was quickly replaced with a cushy new indoor hutch. A bale of hay was procured. Bunny grain was purchased, along with various other bunny-themed implements: chew sticks, lettuce, carrots, etc.
How did he end up with the name Carl? Good question. As with just about all of our other animals, his name just sort of happened. Plus, Paul and I are sort of fond of the crotchety old man in Up.
Carl, however, is far from crotchety. Equivalent in size to my big cat man Buster (who could stand to lose a few pounds), Carl has no fear and quickly made our house his home. We enjoyed just over a month with our new furry friend before I was injured last summer.
The first time Paul left me in the hospital to go home, I made him a list of things to get and/or do. Ostensibly, only one of those things (glasses) was for me. My primary concern was that Paul take care of our animals (Carl must have multiplied) and report back to me (apparently I was already planning when I could go back to work, despite the fact that I couldn’t talk at the time).
Anyway, there were several factors that sustained me and encouraged me to get back home as soon as possible, and obviously one of those was Carl and the rest of our brood.
Interestingly, all of our animals had different reactions when I returned home from the hospital. Since I had a couple of weeks where I couldn’t speak or make many sounds, they all knew intrinsically that something was wrong with me. Sadie, our younger dog (maybe not the brightest bulb in the box but incredibly sweet) immediately set about trying to fix me – she was quite quiet and concerned (for Sadie) and wanted to lick me constantly.
Sallie, my old girl and my friend for over 11 years, was extremely confused. Since I couldn’t talk to her, she thought I was angry with her. It’s hard for a dog when your owner of over a decade suddenly stops speaking to you.
The cats – well, even my ornery old man was happy to cuddle close to me on the couch. He just knew.
And then there was Carl. Just looking at him lifted my spirits. And here’s the ironic thing.
He makes no noise. Nothing. He’s always been voiceless.
And it’s a funny thing, because our house is constantly loud. There is always someone barking/meowing/snoring/sneezing/slurping/whining/etc.
Carl is always silent, but his presence is huge. As any of my Facebook friends can attest (sorry not sorry for the onslaught of Carl pictures)…
The other funny thing is, in a way Carl the voiceless rabbit helped me regain my own voice. One of my first halting phrases was, “Bad bunny!”
Just being surrounded by Carl and the rest of our animal family was so key in my recovery, because it’s always been a part of who I am. And all you want to do when you’re going through the recovery process is get back to some sense of normalcy, as I’ve written many times.
Of course, this was only one component of my recovery. But never underestimate the power of what animals can do for your spirit.
I’m so grateful to have found my voice again, but you don’t need a voice to have a presence. Carl says so.