This is what she’s supposed to look like:
This is what she looked like when I finally—inadvertently—found her this week:
If you haven’t followed the saga of Sgt. Thomas Tibbs’ favorite companion in the world (after me, I’d like to hope), click here for the back story. To summarize, Bunny was the first plush toy I gave Thomas when he came to live with me, and he is bonded to her just like a three-year-old with a favorite blankie. Trouble is, he’s very possessive. The first time I picked her up from the yard and returned her to Thom’s bed, he buried her the next day. It took him some months, but he eventually taught me to keep my hands off of her or else she went into ‘deep hiding’ for a few days… or weeks… or months.
I don’t know what happened last spring to make Thomas feel threatened, but something kicked his hoarding inclination into overdrive, and I realized one day that he had buried not just Bunny, but every plush toy in the yard. (Currently, he has six inside buddies and four or five outside buddies—I’ve lost count because I can’t remember who’s buried in the yard.) And he buried them so deep, I couldn’t find any of them. Over time, he dug up every one of them—except Bunny. When she didn’t appear after many weeks, I went looking for her one day, digging up each one of his holes. (I did this in the late evening using a flashlight, after Thom had gone to bed in the house, so he wouldn’t know what I was doing. If you think it might’ve been a bit creepy, looking for small lifeless bodies by digging quietly in the dark with a hand spade, you would be correct.) Alas, I never found her.
With the heavy rains this past week, I thought we had lost Bunny forever, that she would be entombed in mud that would dry around her, incasing her forever and eventually degrading her lovely soft self. But no! The rains unearthed her, much to my glee. Or at least partially unearthed her; I actually went looking for yet another plush toy Thomas had buried (in the mud) the day before, but when I began digging, a long slender ear emerged. Poor Bunny had been buried for so long, a weed had actually grown through her foot. If you look closely at this photo, you might be able to see it:
Yes, I probably should have left her in the yard for Thom. But she was so dirty. So into the washer and dryer she went. Later that night, at bedtime, I presented her to Thom. In the past when I’ve done this, Thomas has awakened me in the middle of the night whimpering, trotting back and forth across the family room floor with Bunny clamped firmly in his jaws, frantic to get out to bury her once again. This time, however, I woke the next morning to find him happily sprawled out in his bed, the tip of his nose gently brushing her soft clean fur.
I just love that he loves her so much, because in those first hours with me, when he was dazed and confused, recovering from neuter surgery (though not ready in the least to begin recovering from all the trauma that occurred to him before he was rescued), I didn't know what to do to comfort him, and I questioned whether giving him my favorite bunny meant anything to him at all. Turns out it did.