Monday, September 03, 2012

To the Fair

A rabbit joined our Dr. Doolittle–wannabe home last year. Named Bonnie the Bunny, she’s a cute little thing with black-and-white fur and those soft velvety ears that bunnies have a patent on.
Bonnie lives in a rabbit shantytown in our backyard and receives daily visits from the youngest Huffman. She leads a leisurely life, noshing on bunny pellets and fresh veggies while taking a break for the occasional bunny bath.
But this past week, that all changed. Bonnie was off to her version of The Show — the Napa Town & Country Fair.
Gone were the cushy days of lounging in her private hutch. Bonnie went from being the only bunny on the block to the equivalent of a bunny cattle call at the fair’s 4-H showmanship competition.
There are rabbits galore at the fair — white bunnies that look like they’ve popped out of a magician’s hat, black bunnies, brown bunnies with long floppy ears, big fat bunnies that are supposed to be super-sized, and bunnies with fur that’s so long and shaggy it looks like they need a haircut.
Before and after the showing, the bunnies at the fair reclined in their temporary two-story bunny condos. Each cage was decorated with a hand-painted sign announcing the home of “Pinkie,” “Socks,” “Fastrada,” “Amber,” and others.
On the designated day and time, the 4-H kids put on their white pants and shirts and got ready for rabbit showmanship.
This isn’t some kindergarten show-and-tell. It’s a complicated process with an inch-thick bunny breed book and specific steps. You have to show off the bunny’s eyes and ears. You have to prove your bunny is bug-free and that your bunny has all of her toes. You have to wiggle the bunny’s tail for her to make sure it’s not broken.
At one point the bunny owner is supposed to flip the bunny over onto his or her back in one motion and expect that the animal will just lie there without complaining.
And just when you think you’ve gotten this bunny thing down pat, the bunny judges may throw in a trick question such as “Who is the president of the American Rabbit Breeders Association?” This stuff is not for wimps, I tell you.
Before the judging, one experienced rabbit raiser practiced her showmanship routine. The younger 4-H rabbit raisers gathered around to watch the master at work.
Using her hands, she formed her bunny’s little body into a fluffy ball shape that judges expect to see.
I’m training him to hold his pose, she said, removing her hands.
The bunny remained frozen in position. Not even a whisker quivered.
She actually tickled his head to see if he would move.
No dice.
She was a real live Bunny Whisperer. The 4-H kids stared at her in awe.
Later that morning, the judges announced the showmanship winners. Our girl had won a shiny belt buckle and two blue ribbons, which she promptly hung outside Bonnie’s cage.
Here was proof. She was no longer just Bonnie the Bunny. She was now somebunny.

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