Last Friday, I paid a visit to the vet with our male rabbit, Flapjack.
We got Flapjack last October, to give some company to our female rabbit, with the gender- confusing name of Flat Stanley. To begin with, Flat Stanley didn’t take too well to her new friend and took an unusual approach to welcoming him into the family, firstly by trying to beat him up whenever we weren’t looking and then to nibbling a chunk out of his ear whilst he wasn’t looking.
Time proved to be a great healer, both for Flapjack’s ear and Flat Stanley’s tolerance. By Christmas, they were rubbing along quite nicely together; Flapjack’s youthful exuberance being tempered by Flat Stanley’s habit of sitting around a lot.
Then Flapjack hit puberty and our lovely little back garden dynamic changed. Since January, he’s been hitting on Flat Stanley with all the subtlety of a Sid James chat up line.
He’s attempted to shag her from pretty much every angle, whilst Flat Stanley resists stoically. I’ve watched Flapjack’s mind working in an eternal circle that’s on a ten second loop.
‘Mmm this food is nice.
I think I’ll defecate a bit.
HOLY SHIT, THERE’S A FEMALE RABBIT OVER THERE!!!!’
This is followed by a bit of a high speed chase that looks like a Benny Hill sketch. Eventually he gives up and goes back to eating, before realising:
‘HOLY SHIT, THERE’S A FEMALE RABBIT OVER THERE!!!’
Poor old Stan is beginning to look a bit frazzled by the whole situation. The fact that she’s neutered is no deterrent to Flapjack’s ardour.
I’ve been getting tired of knocking out rubbish excuses to the kids.
“Daddy, what’s Flapjack doing to Flat Stanley?”
“She’s a bit tired, Son, so Flapjack is helping to push her back to the hutch.’
It was time to get him done. On the Thursday, I let him have his last afternoon in the sun, oblivious to the coming storm. His sophisticated foreplay technique was interesting to watch. He’d stand close to Flat Stanley for a few seconds, then a bit closer, then a bit closer, then conduct a full frontal assault before being immediately rebuffed. It’s a technique that can be observed in nightclubs up and down the land, usually between 1.30 and 2.00am.
This was him before the op, looking pretty chilled out, a long afternoon of unrequited love behind him and an evening of eating food and dreaming of a repeat performance tomorrow.
When we got him to the vets, I bumped into our friend, Jon. He’d brought their dog Freddie in for the same op. There was the strange, but nevertheless present, feeling that we were betraying our two charges on some level. As the door closed behind Flapjack, with the nurse sizing him up, it took me back to my own gelding six years ago and I somehow managed to concoct some empathy with a small mammal.
I got him back at 6 o’clock and put him back in the hutch. This is what he looked like then.
To the untrained eye, he looks exactly the same. He might be sitting a bit delicately and some of the light is missing from his eyes, but he’s essentially unchanged.
To me, with my daft habit of projection, he’s very different and seems to be saying.
“What did you let them do to me, man? I can’t work it out (because I’m a rabbit) but I feel really weird. Why doesn’t that female rabbit look as good as she did this morning? What’s going on, Charlie? I thought you were looking after me.”