Emma the rabbit, armed and dangerous.

Each of my rabbits had a unique personality. Some were timid and cowered at the back of the cage when humans approached, while others were outgoing, leaping into one’s arms when the cage door was opened. Some were passive and others were aggressive, and one in particular had a well-developed sense of humor. Emma, a cinnamon-colored doe, always provided a few laughs when it was her turn on the grooming table.

To harvest wool, I first set the rabbit on a tall grooming table about two feet square. The small table top allowed a minimum of space for movement, encouraging the rabbit to sit still for grooming. I piled a brush, toenail clippers, and a pair of scissors at the edge of the table.

Most of the rabbits ignored these implements while their beauty regimen was under way. Each rabbit reacted differently to being groomed. Some enjoyed the luxury of having their hair brushed and toenails clipped, while others gritted their teeth and endured it with grunting and stamping of feet. But only Emma used her vantage point on the table to launch attacks on her enemies.

When I groomed rabbits in the summer, I placed the table under a shady tree in the yard. Two or three of the dogs usually wandered over and lay down at my feet while I worked. Soon the dogs were fast asleep, but the rabbit on the grooming table remained wary. The rabbits recognized the dogs from their occasional visits to the rabbit shed, when the dogs ran up and down the aisles, barking at the terrified rabbits in their cages. The rabbits were not fond of the dogs.

Each time I groomed Emma, she peered over the edge of the table. If she spotted a dog lying near the table, she reached out to grab the brush or scissors with her teeth, then she leaned over the edge of the table and dropped her missile onto the unsuspecting victim.

The dogs reacted as if Emma had dropped a live grenade. They yelped and scurried away, tails between legs. From the safety of the shrubbery, the dogs cowered and peered owlishly out, trying to guess what possibly could have happened. But soon they had forgotten the incident, and they wandered back over and fell asleep at my feet again. Emma was waiting. She dropped her bomb, and the dogs repeated their terrified performance.

–from Keeping Watchby Kathryn A. Sletto

© 2010 by the Minnesota Historical Society