My ex-home, the city Adelaide is struggling through several days of 45C (113F) summer heat, and we in Melbourne are dealing with a mere week of paltry 43C (109.4F) temperatures in what is currently the hottest week in over one hundred years for both Aussie states.
We're also in a seven-year long drought and are already under severe water restrictions and being urged on TV, radio and in the papers to restrict our water consumption to 135 litres per day, making it now essential to plug up the shower drain and bucket the soapy remains of human filth and shampoo fluff onto what remains of our dead gardens. Yep, life in the big city is getting rather hard and our tiny square of back yard lawn looks like straw matting and is now crunchy to walk on.
As I'm typing this, I see two stressed pigeons (yes, they do exist) drinking out of Milly the pooch's water bowl. That's a pretty brave move for creatures more used to pooping from power poles than dodging dangerous dogs. This set my heat-addled brain to thinking further along these lines whilst my FUIC coffee was chilling in the freezer and while I debated whether chocolate in this weather was worth the sticky-fingered, dropped melted dollops-on-the-crotch effort.* My thoughts veered from my own self-interested snack selections to animals and how much they really suffer in scorching temperatures. We at least, can wear less and laze about inside; they wear a fur coat that is not removable.
Pictured below is our bunny Skipper, taking it easy on our brand new red rug in the middle of winter last year. As you can see, he's rather cute, yet he severely tested the new friendship by proceeding to dig into and eat chunks out of the new rug and peed so frequently on the floorboards that they were stained white in scattered patches all over the house. And it was only when I was sorting through books to donate or keep that I noticed that he'd clearly gotten more than one thrill by scattering the tops of them with his butt-beans as well.
Skipper's salad days indoors soon ended when Love Chunks discovered that it wasn't his bronchitis preventing him from breathing or being able to speak without every second word being punctuated by trumpetingly loud sneezes, it was young Skipper.
LC was highly allergic to our adopted fluffy-puff and so he was banished to his hutch outside forever. In order to evade Sapphire's and my tearful and accusing stares, Love Chunks made a rather nifty little triangular, foldable playpen for bunnyboy to scamper about in so that he had ample opportunities for exercise, grass nibbling and stretching.
Today though finds him distressed and panting way too fast. His hutch is in the shade with a huge golfing umbrella over the top to combat the slanting afternoon rays and I venture out about once every half an hour to give him a few gentle squirts of water from the bottle in order for the evil north winds to blow through and cool him down. This does help him a bit, but it's not too gratifying to see him spy me opening the door, open his tiny little mouth in horror and scuttle into his bedroom to hide himself under the straw and newspaper. He may not have the intelligence to work out that being rudely squirted seems to result in feeling instantly cooler straight afterwards, but I still feel bad about doing it to him, and go to great lengths to explain.
"Look buddy, I know it's annoying for you, but it's helping you stay cool, trust me." God knows what our neighbours** either side of us think. "You're a spunky little fella and I'm just trying to help you stay that way, honest."
When the evening shade covers the lawn, his play triangle comes out again and the grass is sprinkled with the watering can so that he can have a little work-out in relative comfort.
As you can see, unfortunately, he doesn't quite make that connection and isn't overly impressed. Perhaps it doesn't help that Love Chunks isn't allergic to Milly the dog, whom Skipper can see lolling inside the house on her beanbag directly in front of the air-conditioner.
Should I remain being a horrible rabbit owner or sneak him inside and risk killing LC by asphyxiation?
* Of course it is.
** Two cottages on one side with cats that suggestively strut their stuff along the fence and annoy the poop out of our dog and a three-storey block of flats on the other that feature balconies full of heavy smokers, burnt BBQ cookery events and arguing couples.