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是一個機緣也是巧合,讓我和兔子相遇。2009年夏天,朋友S要出國,寄放一隻兔子在我家四十天,陪我渡過漫長的暑假。暑假過後,兔子就被接走了,只留下我看著曾經屬於兔子的空蕩蕩的位置,突然覺得很感傷。2010年初,另一位朋友A通知我說,她救了一隻受虐兔,問我是否可以收留牠⋯⋯

文圖/ Story & Picture  魏淑萍/ Wei Shu-Ping

 

關於這隻受虐兔,朋友一再保證牠是隻討人喜愛又會撒嬌的可愛兔子,我也沒有多想,便和朋友約了接兔的日子,並帶兔子去做了體檢。體檢後,獸醫表明兔子因為下半身長期浸泡水中,有糜爛傷口,需要口服消炎藥物及多梳理毛髮,其它並沒有什麼大礙。就這樣,我從台北一路把兔子帶回了新竹,展開了我與兔子的生活。

萬事起頭難,兔子和陌生的我開始了一場口服藥物的搏鬥生活。我們兩個在不熟悉對方的情況下,我必須用針筒注射藥物至兔子口中,這真不是一件輕鬆事。每日我都在兔吼及兔拳,以及注射口服藥物之中渡過。這時我突然想到A說的:「牠是一隻討喜又會撒嬌的可愛兔子。」雖然當下我完全無法感受,但領養已成事實,只能接受一隻兇暴的猛兔做為我的伙伴。

隨著時光的流逝,我可以了解被一個陌生人強灌藥物的感覺。剛開始餵藥時,不是我滿手抓痕,就是兔毛滿天飛。那時,兔子非常討厭我,只要我出現在牠的面前,牠總是如臨大敵般的瞪著我,非常警戒地豎起耳朵。我從來沒有看過牠在籠子裡躺平睡著的樣子,可以想像著牠以前過著多麼刻苦的生活。(註一)之後兔子放風,為了防止被牠咬到手,我都會給牠戴頭套,用以限制牠的視線範圍及行動速度,也比較容易抓牠回籠子。

後來覺得兔子戴著伊莉沙白套實在可憐,因為常常看不到四周環境而橫衝直撞,於是改用遊戲及其它訓練代替。因為兔子是夜行性動物,而且在野外是住在地底下的,所以特別喜歡挖掘黑暗的角落,於是我為牠準備的是有長長通道的紙箱,裡面有牧草,讓牠有安全感。日常生活則是用梳毛來和牠培養情感,讓牠知道我是友善的「兔奴」。

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我幫兔子取了新的名字Pocky,牠身上的咖啡灰和我喜歡吃的巧克力棒是一樣的顏色。其實,兔子非常聰明,至少有3歲小孩的智商,牠們真的懂你在說什麼,有好幾次的測試,我知道牠了解我的意思,例如:說喝水時,手指水壺,牠真的會喝幾口給你看。我說吃牧草,牠也懂⋯⋯。後來我們比較常玩的遊戲是叫牠的名字,給一個點心,再來是摸摸頭;雖然一開始沒回應,但是用小點心及水果,讓牠對Pocky這個名字產生好的聯想,終於產生了良好的互動。

觀察Pocky的行為非常有趣,你會看牠不時用下巴去磨各種物品,只要是牠磨得到的,牠都會磨,後來才知道原來磨下巴是在說:「這是我的東西。」的意思;還有牠高興時會跳很高,並且在空中扭動身體,俗稱兔子舞。

Pocky很慢才對我卸下心房,2013年的年初,牠才完完全全信任我,並且願意讓我嬰兒抱。對兔子來說,要對人類露出牠最脆弱的肚子,非常不易,尤其是曾經受虐的兔子。

在認養Pocky之後,我好像又重新認識了兔子這種動物,雖然我曾經養過四隻兔子。但因為牠,我才了解到兔子其實是很有個性的,牠們不喜歡吃紅蘿蔔;如果可以選擇,會先吃花、牧草、水果,最後才是紅蘿蔔。牠表達憤怒的方式也很直接—吼叫、後腳踏地板等。現在我們有一個默契,就是看眼神。當牠一直盯着我看時,就是想要撒嬌的意思,這時我會呼喚牠;有時牠還會表演一下害羞,挖掘一下地板,才會來討抱抱。嬰兒抱的時候,牠會用舌頭舔妳的手,表示感謝;用輕咬表示「可以了」。

有人說兔子是無聲的動物,但在我看來,牠的聲音非常之大,只要能表達牠的心情,一個眼神、一個動作都能表現出來。朋友A說:「牠是隻討人喜愛又會撒嬌的可愛兔子。」真的,我感受到牠帶給我的甜蜜了。

 

註一│牠是被養在戶外樹下的籠子裡,大籠子裡還有一個小籠子,牠和小籠子關在大籠子裡,沒有遮陰或避雨。下雨時,籠子便會開始積水,積水使牠的生殖器爛掉,屁股上的毛大打結,腳掌發炎⋯⋯,我想牠對於人類是無法信任的,但因為A常常在雨天或牠的碗空了而去餵牠吃東西,所以牠才會對A出現友善的行為。

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My encounter with rabbit was a sheer coincidence. In 2009, a friend asked me babysit her bunny for 40 days while she traveled abroad. The rabbit and I ended up spending the entire summer vacation together. After he went home, as I was looking at the space where his cage used to occupy, I suddenly felt a surge of sadness. A few months later, my friend A said she rescued a rabbit that was badly abused and asked if I could adopt it. My friend A reassured me that the rabbit was very cute and cuddly. Without giving it much thoughts, I picked up the rabbit from my friend. The vet said the because the rabbit was immersed in water for a prolonged period of time, his wound was ulcerated. The vet put him on a medication regime and ordered that he be brushed every day. Just like that, I brought him back to Taipei from Hsinchu and began my life with rabbit.

Nothing is ever easy at the beginning. The rabbit and I started our lives together in constant struggles because he did not like to be forced fed his medication. Without any trust between us, it was not an easy feat to forcefully inject the medication into his mouth. He scratched me on a daily basis and our days were spent sparring against each other. I thought about what A said about him as a loving cuddly rate. At that time, my experience with him was complete opposite of what she promised. But I figured since I already agreed to adopt the bunny, I will just have to live with it even it means to live with a ferocious beast.

After a while I began to understand how awful it must feel to be forced fed medication by a stranger. I still have the scratch marks on my hands to prove how big of a struggle it was. At that time, the rabbit hated me. Each time I got close, he would stare me down with his big eyes as if he was looking at his worst enemy. His ears would perk straight up because he was on constant high alert. He was tense even when he slept. I could only imagine how hard his life must have been before he met me1. When the rabbit was finally able to roam freely around the house, I put an Elizabethan collar on him to prevent him from biting me.

But after a while I decided putting an Elizabethan collar on him was a bit cruel because limiting his vision meant he was always bumping into walls. So instead I decided to train him through a series of games. Rabbits are nocturnal animals and their instinct is to burrow themselves in the ground. Because rabbits love to explore dark holes, I prepared a long tunnel for him made out of cardboard with grass inside so he can feel at ease. Everyday I would brush his fur to cultivate a relationship of trust and so he knows I come in peace.

I named the rabbit Pocky because the his light brown patch is the same color as the chocolate cookie sticks that I love. Rabbits are actually very smart with an intelligence level of a three-year-old. They fully comprehend what you are saying. For example, when I want him to drink water, all I have to do was to point at the water bottle and he would drink from it. He also understands when I tell him to eat grass. We also began to play a game in which I would give him a treat whenever he followed the “come here” command. At first he didn’t care for the game, through the usage of treats and fruits, he established a positive association with his name. Slowly, our relationship improved.

It is quite fun to observe Pocky. He often rubs his chin on various things. Later I found out this was his way of marking his territory. When he is happy, he hops really high and twists his body in mid-air. It took a long time Pocky to let his guards down. By early 2013, he trusted me so much that he let me cradle him in my arms like a baby. For rabbits, the belly is the most sensitive part. It is even harder for an abused rabbit to allow its belly to be rubbed.

Adopting Pocky gave me another chance to get to know this species. Although I had four rabbits in the past, I didn’t really understand the characteristics of rabbit until Pocky. It is a gross misunderstanding that all rabbits like carrots. If they had the choice, they much prefer to gnaw on grass and fruit, with carrots as their last choice. The way they express their discontent is always very expressive and direct — screaming and stomping their hind legs. Right now, we have established a communication system by using different looks. When he fixes his eyes on me, it means he wants to be cuddled. Sometime when I call him over, he pretends to be shy and would scratch on the floor before he comes to me. When I cradle him, he would lick my hand to say thank you and a gentle bite means he wants to be let go.

Some say rabbits are silent animals but to me, rabbits are very loud. Rabbits would do anything to express whatever emotion they are experiencing. My friend A’s description of Pocky was right after all. Now I can finally feel the sweet joy that he brings to my life.

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Note 1 |

Before his adoption, Pocky was kept in a small cage within a bigger cage. He had no shelter to protect him from the sunlight or the rain, which means the cage would get flooded during a rainstorm. The doctor said because he was immersed in the water for a prolonged period of time, his genital has become ulcerous. The fur on his rear end and on his paws was completely mangy because he was so neglected. I don’t think he will ever fully trust human again, but he was friendly with A because she fed him regularly.

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