September 20, 2022

A Special Visitor – an odd and marvellous story


Rabbits were a favourite companion of Valerie’s when she was young. Not pet rabbits, either, but wild ones.  Perhaps they were enchanted, but they were certainly drawn to her, the normally skittish creatures perfectly happy to follow her around. Ducks liked her too, waddling after her when she played in the back yard and the woods that edged it.

But this story is about rabbits.

It happened a few years ago now, back in 2015 and we’d not long moved into a house on a farm, with a small, dormant volcano a few paddocks over. Lots of odd and marvellous things happened to us while we lived in this house, and what happened with the rabbit is definitely both odd and marvellous.

We got up one morning and I let our small dog Maggie out the front door to do her business. A moment later and she was barking.

‘Mum, Mum, Mum,’ she barked. ‘Look, look, look!’

I went outside and followed her along the path around the side of the house. ‘What have you found?’ I asked her.

She repeated her imperative to look. ‘Bark, bark, bark!’

So I looked, then looked again. Quivering at the bottom of the steps leading up to the big sliding doors at the side of the house, crouched a large brown rabbit, sides fluttering with its quick breaths.

‘Good grief,’ I said. ‘It’s a rabbit.’

‘Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit,’ Maggie barked, then fell quiet and stepped forward to give the dun-coloured animal a good sniff to the left and right. The rabbit didn’t move, and I took a step closer and squatted down next to it.

Valerie joined me outside. ‘There are odd marks on the steps and around the door, made by some sort of animal,’ she said. ‘A sick one, I’d guess.’

‘Yes, by the front door, right?’ I’d seen them when I let Maggie out.

But Valerie shook her head, then saw the rabbit and crouched down next to me. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Right up the steps here by the side door.’

I looked at her and blinked. ‘What?’ I asked.

‘By the door right up there,’ she said, pointing back up the steps.

‘What sort of marks?’ I asked but didn’t wait for an answer. I got up and went to look for myself. Then stood there frowning, perplexed by what I was seeing. ‘Valerie?’

‘Mmm?’ she said, then shook her head. ‘This is an old rabbit,’ she said, and her hand hovered in the air near it. ‘Look, I think it might have some sort of wound on its side.’ She looked up at me. ‘It’s dying.’

‘It tried to get inside the house,’ I said. ‘The marks.’ I looked back down at the streaks of feces, following them with my eyes from the door down the concrete steps.

Valerie’s green eyes were wide. ‘I saw,’ she said. ‘But rabbits don’t try to get inside houses.’ She looked back at the animal in question. ‘This is a wild rabbit.’

‘There are the same marks at the front door too,’ I said. ‘Exactly the same.’ I gazed at the rabbit, which hadn’t moved, crouched on the path. ‘It tried both doors.’

‘But rabbits don’t try to come inside houses. Not wild ones. Not dying ones.’

I blinked at her, silently agreeing. ‘This is what Maggie must have been barking at during the night.’

Valerie turned back to the rabbit. ‘The poor thing,’ she said. ‘She wore herself out.’

‘Trying to get into the house.’

We stared at each other in silence for a long moment.

Then Valerie nodded. ‘I’m going to put the rabbit somewhere warmer, more comfortable. It’s the least we can do for her.’ A minute later and she was lifting it into a box and disappearing with it.

She came back, her eyes damp with tears. ‘I made a nest of straw for her in the old glasshouse,’ she said. ‘She was terribly tired and scared, but relaxed when I held my hands against her. I felt her relax and stretch out a little.’ Valerie’s cheeks were wet. ‘Then she died.’

I put my arms around her, and we stood there, thinking about the rabbit who had visited our house in the middle of the night, dragging itself from door to door looking for a way to get in. The large, wild rabbit who died finally and peacefully, comforted.

Valerie’s head was swivelling suddenly around. ‘Where’s Maggie?’ she asked and bolted across the lawn to the glasshouse. I heard her yell a moment later.

‘What’s happened?’ I asked, catching up to her outside the glasshouse. She turned to me.

‘Maggie was in there with the rabbit,’ she said, wrapping her arms around herself and shaking. ‘You look. I can’t bear to see what she might have done.’

Maggie was standing on the lawn, startled from Valerie’s shout, and looking at us. I gave her a frowning glance and stepped inside the glasshouse. My frown deepened.

‘I can’t see it,’ I said. ‘I can’t see the rabbit anywhere.’

There was the pile of straw where Valerie had lain down the rabbit. I peered closer and spotted a brown foot. ‘Found it,’ I said. ‘It’s under the straw.’ I shook my head. ‘I didn’t realise you’d covered the bun up.’

Valerie appeared behind me. ‘I didn’t cover her up. I left her lying on top of the straw.’

Lifting some of the straw away, we both stared at the rabbit. She lay stretched out, peaceful, as though asleep.

‘Maggie covered her up,’ Valerie said, and there was the same wonder in her voice that I felt. ‘I thought she was doing something awful – like dogs do – but she was in here covering the rabbit up.’ She left the glasshouse and returned with Maggie in her arms, and we stood there, marvelling at the rabbit who had wanted to spend its last hours with us, and the dog who cared enough to cover her body with warm straw.

I reached out and squeezed Valerie’s hand.

She’d not lost any of her enchantment with animals.

Katherine Genet is the author of the Wilde Grove mythic/visionary fiction series, as well as complementary non-fiction. She has been walking a pagan path for 30 years and is a shamanic Druid, spirit worker, and priestess of  Elen of the Ways.

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  1. Mandy

    Wonderful story. Thanks for sharing.

  2. abheda

    lovely, thank you:)

    wonderful to read of encounters that evidence our connection to the wild world, with the potential for deeper communion. this is the sort of experience that is possible for everyone, would we only open to it.

    • Kate

      There is definitely more that can go on in our lives than we are taught. The world is so much bigger than so many think.

  3. Lynn Herriot

    What a lovely heartwarming story. You both clearly have a wonderful affinity with animals. That’s quite some memory to have.

    • Kate

      It’s quite an extraordinary tale, isn’t it? How do wild rabbits even know what doors are? I marvel over it to this day.

  4. Lennie McDonald

    Wow thats an awesome story…curious tho why didn’t you take her into the house? I wasnt’ sure why Valerie put her in the greenhouse?
    Loved the fact that Maggie tried to bury her.

    • Kate

      I imagine we didn’t have anything to put the animal in, and the glasshouse was warm and comfortable with straw and a soft, ready-made bed. It was very unusual behaviour for Maggie – the house was on a farm, and that wee girl, she loved getting into things she oughtn’t, especially during lambing! It is an awesome story, isn’t it? I still wonder over it to this day.

  5. Catherine Eddy

    Kate.. this story made me cry… poor bunny… but she knew that you and Valerie would give her a place to pass over in Peace. Bless you both…

    • Katherine Genet

      I’m still gobsmacked about the poor bun. I don’t know how she knew but she did, that’s for certain.


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