As many of you will know, Spunky Nutella the bunny has been a fixture in our household for nearly a year now. My kids wanted a dog, I laughed in their sad little faces (I have three children, I certainly don't intend to have another) and adopting a rabbit (okay, buying him for cash) was the compromise.
Previously we'd had fish, but all but one kept floating to their watery graves in record time. When we finally worked out that the cause of this high mortality rate was that one fish was eating all the other fish's food, none of us could bear the thought of another fishy funeral. We let Jelly (the acquatic equivalent of Russel Crowe in 'Gladiator') live out his natural life (which only took a few more weeks) and then shoved the fish tank in the laundry, where it proved very useful for soaking whites.
If the truth be told, I wasn't keen on having a pet at all, unless it was a cat. I love cats. I grew up with Sam, and then Peanut, and they were beautiful companions. Attractive, self-cleaning, self-reliant, and, at the end of the day, a soft, purring pillow to cuddle on my lap whilst watching TV. Attached, but not clingy. Affectionate, but not needy. The perfect animal.
Sadly, however, it turns out that both my husband and my middle child are allergic to cats. Now, if it was just my husband who was affected, obviously we'd still get a cat and he could move out to the garage (or take Claratyne three times a day forever). But seeing as my daughter is afflicted too, I have to (grudgingly) do the right thing.
So, no dog, no cat, and no fish. That pretty much left a snake, a monkey, a giraffe, a hamster or a rabbit as a potential pet (or at least that's what the kids told me). I'm not keen on snakes, monkeys are pretty high maintenance, and I discovered that Boo was wrong about giraffes being domestic animals. In the end, it came down to a hamster or a rabbit as the next member of our clan.
We trooped to the pet shop en masse to make our choice, and almost immediately rejected the hamsters. They were far too reminiscent of mice for my liking (and, as mice make me scream and jump on tables, this might prove inconvenient should we take one home). Besides, they didn't have cute little bunny ears; not surprisingly really, seeing as they weren't bunnies.
But Spunky had cute little bunny ears, and didn't look much like a mouse at all. Out of all the rabbits in the cage, we recognised him immediately as The One. He would be our bunny. Spunky Nutella. The pet who would transform our family and bring us all closer together by our love for him.
We paid the money, and we took Spunky home, cradled carefully in our arms (okay, cradled in a little cardboard box). He was tiny, very sweet, and full of promise.
But the story did not end as well as we believed. Because very soon afterwards, things started to go horribly wrong....