(Contributed)                                ‘Cadbury,’ or ‘Clover’ the rabbit.

(Contributed) ‘Cadbury,’ or ‘Clover’ the rabbit.

Along the Fraser: Neighbourhood animals in the night

“If you catch it, we’ll try to find its owner.”

We’re all animal lovers here.

It was after midnight. Number One Son had been out with his buddy, Dan, and now he was pounding on the bedroom door.

“Dad, we need your help.”

“What’s wrong?” I mumbled. “Help with what?”

“Cadbury’s on the front lawn. We don’t know what to do.”

All I knew about Cadbury was chocolate eggs.

“Who’s Cadbury, and what’s he doing on our lawn?”

“Eating apples,” said Number One. “I think he’s starving.”

I’d planted the apple tree 30 years ago. Fallen fruit went to Celia, a neighbor with horses. She throws an apple into a field and two old boys race for it like colts. Some had bite marks, not the sharp nibbles of squirrels, but the work of a flat-toothed herbivore.

“The bunny in the cul-de-sac?” I asked, as I followed Number One to the front door.

“Yep. Same one I saw three weeks ago. Someone’s pet, escaped, or abandoned. Must be frightened. Real skinny,” he added, for my wife’s benefit. “Mom, can you call the SPCA?”

She leapt into a rescue plan with an on-line search for rabbit foods. Number One left carrots on the lawn.

“Too high in sugar,” she ruled. “And no broccoli or cauliflower. Gives them gas. Leafy vegetables, romaine, not iceberg lettuce, free of pesticides.”

Number One wrote it all down.

Step Two was arrange an evacuation.

“We’re worried about the coyotes,” she told the SPCA. “My husband’s watched pups learn the ins and outs of pet hunting at 3 a.m. A bunny won’t survive here. Can you trap it?”

The shelter lady was empathetic.

“If you catch it, we’ll try to find its owner,” she promised. “Can’t leave a cage on your property for liability reasons.”

We’d entrusted cats to an animal clinic for years.

“We don’t have cages to rent, dear,” the receptionist said. “but, I’ll try to find a place that does.”

There wasn’t. “Unless we catch that rabbit ourselves,” reported Rescue Leader, “Cadbury’s on his own.”

Fast forward. Bunny on my lawn. It’s 1 a.m. I’m in my bath robe watching him eat an apple.

“What do you need me for?” I asked. “You and Dan should be able to catch it.”

“We tried,” said Number One. “But when we get close, Cadbury hops away. Besides, maybe it bites. Can you get it?”

During the summer, when my stupid fish net slipped into Kelly Lake, I found a long-handled one in a Clinton junk store.

“You guys distract him,” I commanded, “I’ll sneak up from behind.”

It worked. Cadbury focused on Dan and Number One. I dropped the net, scooped him up, plopped him into a recycling bin, secured the lid, and carried him into the house. He was quiet, reassured, I think, to have walls around him.

“Wow, that was amazing,” shouted Dan.

“Way to go, Dad,” said Number One, who found a towel for Cadbury to lie on, a bowl of water and some romaine.

When he stroked Cadbury’s head, he didn’t bite.

“Can somebody check tonight to see he’s alright?” Number One asked, as he trundled off to bed.

The next morning, SPCA’s Jim Gilbert collected the rabbit.

“My son calls him, Cadbury,” I said.

Clover – renamed – was treated for a cold. He’s at PoCo SPCA now, looking for adoption with dozens of others.

Staffer Jennifer says: “Please tell people to have pet bunnies neutered.”

Two nights ago, Number One – out for the evening with Dan – phoned to say he’d seen a coyote on the corner.

The neighbor’s cat hunts in my back yard at night.

“Dad, can you make sure he’s okay?”

I put on my robe. The cat was in the yard. I picked him up.

“Coyote nearby, buddy,” I explained. “Gotta take you home.”

He didn’t protest when I carried him, firstly to the street to see the coyote in the distance, listening for pets.

“See, pal,” I said. “Not safe out here.”

“Coyote on the prowl,” I told the neighbor when I handed the cat to her at her door.

“Thank you,” she said.

We’re all animal lovers around here.

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.