Tuesday, 21 February 2012

The Adventures of Mila and Otis

We have a pet rabbit at our place named Otis. She is a matronly, slightly grumpy, lop-eared lady who has lived with us for nearly 6 years. Yes - a bunny and a greyhound are an interesting combination – but we try to make it work.

I don't expect that Mila and Otis will ever truly be besties. After all, Greyhounds are trained to chase small fluffy objects for a living and it takes time, effort and patience before we can be confident that they can live together in perfect harmony. So far, we just haven’t had the chance to sit down and properly introduce them to each other, allow them to spend time together and keep an eye on them to avoid any disasters. For the moment at least, any idea we may have had of the two of them enjoying cross-country adventures like their namesakes Milo and Otis have been abandoned and they go contentedly about their daily business in their own little areas (Otis in her hutch, Mila far away from the hutch).

Otis poses for the camera
I'm working here on the assumption that it is Mila that is likely to cause the biggest problem. But I'm not sure that is entirely fair. A couple of times we have ended up with the two of them meeting unexpectedly - and it has been Otis who has reacted most strongly. Once, the front door was accidentally (he tells me…) left open and Mila found her way out to where the hutch is kept, wanting to find out more about this thing that moved about inside and ate hay! When we discovered our mistake and made our way outside, we saw both greyhound and rabbit ears at attention. Safe behind bars, Otis was standing right at the front of her hutch looking directly at Mila with an expression that said "Bring it On - I dare ya" and Mila didn't know what to do. She took one look at us standing on the doorstep watching events unfold, decided that we looked like the friendlier option right at that moment and trotted back inside. The second time, we had let Mila out into the back yard to toilet having forgotten that Otis was out there in a makeshift pen having some grass-time in the sun. Mila got a bigger fright than Otis did to see something else bounding about in her space. Otis bounced into her cardboard box hidey-hole and there was a single bark from Mila before she rushed inside as if to say ‘HELP - what is SHE doing out there??!’

I have little doubt that Otis would give as good as she gets.  The first few months of her life (before she came to us) saw her share a living room with two very boisterous Waimaraners – which has seen her develop a defensive side that can border on aggression. Until just recently, it was a mission to pick her up (and sometimes even pat her) without being nipped or scratched if she was in a particularly grumpy mood. However, Otis’ idea of self-defense doesn’t really stack up to the attentions of a 30 kg dog…so while she might be a brave (and angry) wee girl, I wouldn’t put my money on her to win that particular battle.

In an effort to foster Greyhound-Rabbit relations, Mila has very diplomatically been practicing her best "ignoring" – walking past Otis in the mornings on the way out for our stroll around the block without paying her any attention. Pretending that the grumpy bunny isn't even there saves us a telling off (and a death stare from the depths of the hutch) and leads to pats and lots of praise. Its a no-brainer really.

While we might not be at the stage of racing off into the sunset together, a life of tolerance (even if it is only on the part of the Greyhound) is the next best thing. If only we could convince Otis to be so accepting... 

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