A wet rabbit foot is not a lucky thing. In fact, in my experience, that rabbit has most likely met an untimely death at the mouth of my beagle, and I’m the one who has to clean it up.
One grey and rainy afternoon years ago, my mom came stumbling in from the backyard, soaking wet and wild-eyed. “Tommy killed a rabbit!” she wailed. “I can’t even look at it, I’ll lose it! Ashley, you’ve got to clean it up. Will you clean it up?” I couldn’t refuse her desperate request, so I made myself a thick glove out of plastic bags and trudged outside to clean up another one of my stupid beagle’s messes. I tried to tell myself that it was his nature to hunt down rabbits and foxes, in fact, he probably thought he was serving his humans by catching it, but I kept saying to myself, “Stupid freaking beagle. Stupid dumb dog.”
I stood over the dead rabbit in a paralyzed awe. Texas-sized raindrops thumped on the back of my head, but I stayed as still as that rabbit as it laid sprawled on the pavement. The crime scene was not messy, Tommy is a gracious killer; only a little blood appeared near the neck of the corpse, and it was slowly washing away with the rain. The eyes were glazed open, locked in a permanent state of fear of sharp canine teeth. I watched it for a long time, honestly expecting that the large muscles would bulge under the light fur in order to make a hasty escape from my heavy stare. But it didn’t move.
The sky continued to cry as I bent down and wrapped the wet rabbit in my plastic bags. Because the fur had soaked up so much rainwater, the little body was much heavier than I had anticipated, and when I gingerly picked it up, I panicked. Adrenaline shot through my veins, and for a moment, I almost dropped the corpse back onto the pavement. The body had not changed, but it was lifeless, rendered useless, and consequently, the entire scene was so unnatural that, to this day, dredging up the memory itself is slightly traumatic. Was it silly of me to think that a soul constitutes some of the body’s mass? Do rabbits even have souls? Something about the weight of that body simultaneously shook me to the core and made me feel very, very alive.
Last week, Tommy found a rabbit’s nest full of baby bunnies, and you can imagine the carnage displayed on our back patio. We will not be able to forgive him for a long time. There was one baby spared, though, and my sister Megan went out of her way to protect it. For a week, we kept the dogs out of the backyard, and Megan checked on her baby. About an hour ago, we found his tiny dead body, curled up peacefully in his empty nest. In a display of humanity, we took him out of his hole so that Tommy won’t dig him up like an old chew toy. Stupid freaking beagle. As we wrapped up the baby corpse, raindrops hit the crowns of our heads; as my pulse quickened, my stomach clenched. There’s something quite unnerving about the death of an innocent. Even at the hands (paws) of an innocent beagle.
I saw another wet rabbit foot today, and it is not a lucky thing.