Monday, June 23, 2003
One extremely sunny summer day we were out walking in the rustic back yard near the inground pool which was broken and filled with rainwater and had developed its own ecosystem, with more frogs (Northern Leopard Frogs, rana pipiens) per square inch than I have ever seen anywhere. Most of it had been left wild, but there was a small clearing that she had mowed, and on it I noticed that one of her dogs had caught something.
I had to look closely to tell what it was. It was a bleeding, completely naked rabbit, shivering with fear in the 85-degree heat. The dog had torn off all its fur, and was continuing to play with it in a decidedly un-canine manner; normally it's cats who prefer to toy with their prey like that. The rabbit couldn't have had more than minutes to live.
Donna winced and turned away. I didn't know what else to do; I felt horrible for the wretched thing. So I panicked and found a heavy tree bough, a small log actually. I shooed the dog away, and I brought the bough down heavily on the rabbit's head.
When I lifted it up, I saw that the rabbit had not been killed by the blow; it was violently convulsing. Donna began to cry. I was seized by horror. I could only think of that pathetic, utterly terrified, utterly despairing animal consciousness, submerged first in appalling bodily pain followed by a nuclear explosion of kinetic energy. Oh God, I thought, furious with myself for my incompetence and weakness, what must this poor thing be feeling? So I instantly brought up the club again, and slammed it down with all my strength.
The rabbit didn't move any more.
I just needed to tell that story today, as I am feeling lots of rabbit empathy.