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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Bunnies of Helsinki

Even though there are lots of parks around, I've been kind of surprised at the relative lack of animals in them.  I mean, I know I live in a city, but I live in town in Columbia, too, and my yard is full of squirrels (and lizards and frogs and toads and snakes and birds and possums).  Moreover, Helsinki seems to have many more parks with big trees.  With the killer chesnut trees across the street, I'm always shocked that the place isn't overrun with squirrels.  Guess it's the dogs in the area.

I have now, though, finally met urban Helsinki's "big" mammals: bunnies.

About three weeks ago, I was taking Ted out about 11 at night and no one was around.  In the distance near the building in the kids' part of the park, I could've sworn I saw a rabbit and, when Ted started running, I realized I did.  (Imagine Tweetie Bird here.)  I'd heard about the rabbits but hadn't yet seen one, so I had really mixed feelings: on the one hand, it was cool to see the bunny, on the other hand, I wondered about the tensile strength of the leash.  Rabbit dove between the fence and the building and disappeared.  Ted stopped right before the building and my arm didn't go out--whew.  But Ted didn't forget the bunny.  For the next 3-4 days his primary concern morning, afternoon, and evening was getting back to the spot where the bunny disappeared.  Pretty funny reaction given that he almost always ignores the wildlife in my yard in South Carolina.

I was talking to one of the staff here--hi, Maria!--and she told me that the bunnies in town actually aren't native to Finland.  They were introduced as pets that were let out or something like that and did what rabbits do.  Something about the layout of the city, wildlife management, or whatever seems to keep them in the city and the native species in the countryside.  Whatever the case, they were pretty much what I expected from wild bunnies: grayish brown with a big, white tail.  Both Ted and I had looked for more, but not a one in sight since

Until last night.  Once again we're out around 11--I swear I do that ca. half the time and don't see bunnies!--and we've just gotten to the end of the park.  No one's around, and we're walking back towards the Towers, nearing the building.  Suddenly a bunny goes right across the path and Ted takes off.  Truly.  Ted. Takes. Off.  I had no idea he could run so fast.  The leash unwinds like a fishing line with a marlin at the end, and I figure this is it: I'm hitting the ground or dislocating my shoulder because I sure as ---- can't let go.  I'll never see Ted again.  And Ted's got all these rippling muscles now.  And he's a pony in a dog suit.  So I brace just as Ted hits the end of the line.

Next thing I know Ted is flat on his side. 

But his head is still up tracking the bunny.

Now before those of you who know about Ted's abilities at injuring himself freak out, let me state categorically--he's fine.  He didn't even take a bad step.  I think he was torn between being shocked and obsessed, though, because he stayed in that position until I walked up.  Then he stood up and resumed the crouch/prance step that basically said, "Please, please, let the leash go.  I want to chase that bunny again.  And again.  And again."  (Of course, by now the bunny was across the street and well out of sight--thank goodness!)  So he pranced and I pulled our way back to the Towers.

Of course, this morning Ted the obsessed bunny hunter was ALL over the area those rabbits come from.  I figure this now means he'll be like this for another week at least.  Better warn my neighbors!

Imagine this with snow and/or ice.  I may not survive Helsinki, although I really didn't think bunnies would be my COD.

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