Note: Eddie, the Golden Retriever in Marie's story is real. Eddie visits a nursing home on a regular basis and is loved by staff and residents.
Jerry and Eddie lived in a country home in a small suburb of Minnesota. It would get very cold in the wintertime but they didn’t care. They had a nice warm house to stay in and plenty of food. Jerry was a pretty good cook, or so people said. Eddie was his golden retriever with a beautiful golden red coat that glistened in the sun. He was a happy dog and loved to see people. He and Jerry were great pals and did most everything together. Eddie trusted Jerry and Jerry felt there could not ever have been a more faithful and loving dog. Everywhere Jerry went, Eddie was one step behind or ahead. Jerry’s property was large enough that Eddie could run by himself. He didn’t need to be tied because Eddie knew better than to cross the street or leave the property.
In the back of the lot was a small pond. During the winter the wild animals used to go there to drink water from the open spring, or just to get warm among the trees and high grasses that protected them from the elements. Jerry was an animal lover at heart and always tried to keep some type of food down there for the wild animals. There were several deer that would come, squirrels, rabbits by multiples, and all kinds of other furry and feathery creatures of the wild. There were Cardinals, Blue Jays, Sparrows, Wrens and all kinds of beautiful winter birds. There were wild geese and ducks that fed on the corn and oats that Jerry put out for them. Eddie liked to go down and visit with the animals and all of the animals knew Eddie and were very trusting of him. They knew him as their friend and helper.
One day Eddie came down to the pond and found a baby bunny that had gotten hurt. Her little paw had gotten cut on a piece of ice and was swollen and had been bleeding but had since stopped. The bunny didn’t know Eddie very well and at first was very afraid. Eddie could sense that and he was very gentle with the bunny, and eased his way into her trust.
Eddie didn’t know what to do. He thought about going to get Jerry but then thought better of it. The bunny may be scared of Jerry. It was a very cold day and the first thought that Eddie had was to get the bunny warm again. He wondered where the Mom was, but he couldn’t take time to worry about that right now. He ran back to the garage and got an old burlap sack and brought it to the pond. The bunny got a little scared when he got human scent but quickly decided he would trust Eddie.
Eddie bunched the sack up with his front paws and gently picked the bunny up with his front teeth and carefully put him down on the sack. The burlap was warmer than the ground she had been on and she instantly felt better. Eddie washed the baby bunny as much as he could and then made sure she was comfortable before he left. All he could think of was finding the bunny’s mother. He knew the bunny would be hungry soon.
Eddie ran to the deer that was grazing on some tall grass across the pond. The deer bent over to Eddie so he could hear. In animal talk Eddie asked, “I have found a baby bunny that is hurt. Do you think you have seen the bunny’s Mom”.
The deer had no idea where the mom was. Mr. Deer was very tall and had very large antlers, but was very gentle by nature. He suggested going to see Mrs. Squirrel over by the old oak tree.
So off Eddie ran to find Mrs. Squirrel. Finally, he came across her at the base of the tree that Mr. Deer had told him about. She was hunting for food for her babies that were in the nest in the tree. “I have found an injured bunny," Eddie said. "Do you think you have seen the bunny’s mom?”
And of course Mrs. Squirrel had not. She was very concerned because she knew how she would feel if one of her kids was missing. “Oh, my goodness,” she said in her very shaky, chattery squirrel voice, “ What are we going to do? What ARE we going to do?”
Eddie told Mrs. Squirrel not to worry, and that he would not stop looking until he found the bunny's mom. Eddie also asked Mrs. Squirrel if she had any idea what the baby bunny would eat.
Mrs. Squirrel was very busy hunting food for her own babies, but with a deep scowl on her face, she did take the time to tell Eddie. “Go in the house and see if your master has a carrot. She will eat a carrot, or lettuce or an apple. The bunny will eat vegetables. And apples. She would like apples.” Mrs. Squirrel always repeated herself a lot.
Eddie asked Mrs. Squirrel, “What is a carrot?” “What do they look like?”
Mrs. Squirrel explained to the best of her ability what a carrot looked like, while the scowl was still on her face. She was getting a bit irritated with Eddie and his questions. She was busy with her own life.
“Ah, yes.” Eddie thought he remembered. So he left Mrs. Squirrel tending her chores and ran to his doggie door in the back door of the house. He sneaked into the kitchen.
“Now, how do I get a carrot?” He remembered that Jerry kept a big barrel of them in the cool basement, in a big bucket of dirt. Off he ran to the basement door. Luckily it was open. He ran down the basement steps and found the bucket. He dug in the dirt and finally came up with a big fat carrot. “This should last the bunny for a long time,” he said to himself. So off he ran with the carrot in his mouth, up the basement steps, out the doggie door and off to the pond to find the bunny.
It was a cold day and every step that Eddie took made a squeaky, crunching sound in the snow. In Minnesota, when the snow crunches like that, you know it’s a cold day. He placed the carrot by the bunny on the blanket.
The bunny looked at Eddie with wonder in her eyes. “I can’t bite into that big carrot. I have just a tiny mouth. I can’t bite into that.” The bunny started to cry. She was so hungry.
So Eddie, the kind dog that he was, sat at the blanket and bit the carrot into little pieces for the bunny. “Yuck” he thought, “how could anybody eat these things?” To Eddie the carrot tasted awful.
Then Eddie began to lick the bunny’s leg that was hurt. He knew that animals can heal just by licking the wound clean and keeping it clean so that is what he was going to attempt.
The bunny held perfectly still for Eddie, fully trusting everything that Eddie was doing.
Eddie felt sure that he had done everything that he could do for the night. He had better get back to the house or Jerry would start looking for him. So off he went, crunching his way through the cold, crisp snow on the ground, to the doggie door.
As he entered the kitchen, he felt the warmth of the house hit his face. He also smelled something very good coming from the kitchen. Jerry was cooking and as always when Jerry cooked, the house would fill with the loving smells. Jerry was a firm believer though that dogs should eat dog food and people should eat people food. But Eddie sure loved to hope that he would get some, even if it was a crumb on the floor that he could race Jerry for.
He found Jerry sitting in his big chair, reading his paper. Jerry said, “Where you been boy?”
Eddie just wagged his tail, licked Jerry’s hand, cuddled down on the rug next to him, and fell asleep. Eddie had had a big day. Tommorow would be more work for him.
Eddie woke with a start and his first thought was of the bunny. Jerry was still asleep so Eddie took this opportunity to check on the baby. He had to make sure the bunny was ok so off he ran before his breakfast. When he got to the pond, there was the bunny, sleeping soundly and resting peacefully. He started licking the bunny’s leg to make sure it was ok.
Then he checked the supply of carrots that the bunny had left. There were plenty. It had been a big carrot so it probably would last another day. He saw Mrs. Squirrel gathering more food for her babies in the nest. They exchanged morning greetings and off he ran until he saw Mrs. Deer nursing her baby fawn by the pond, and grazing on the tall grasses near by.
The fawn paid no attention to Eddie. He was busy getting his breakfast from his mommy. His head was butting her and his tail wagging as fast as he was drinking. His little behind could not keep up with his tail. What a sight to see.
Eddie saw the Cardinals and Blue Jays flying over head and singing as if to say it was a beautiful morning. Every time a chirp would come out of their mouths, a little burst of steam would evaporate into the air. The birds liked Eddie too and wanted him to play a game with them. They would swoop down at him as if to say, “Chase us Eddie, chase us.” And he would. He would chase and bark and have a good time with his friends. Just a perfect way to start the sunny winter day. The air was very crisp today; the sky was a blue that was so clear it was almost transparent with a few pieces of white marshmallow clouds floating as if they were hanging on a string from heaven.
He had asked Mrs. Deer and Mrs. Squirrel if they would help keep an eye on the bunny and keep an eye out for her mom. They said they would so Eddie ran back to the house before Jerry could miss him. He didn’t want Jerry to know about the bunny quite yet.
As he got near the house he shook all the snow off his coat and then entered the house. The warmth of the house and the smell of Jerry cooking made Eddie so hungry. Eddie knew there would be no sense to beg for the part of Jerry’s breakfast so off he went to his breakfast in his part of the kitchen. He would check for crumbs that Jerry dropped later. After he had satisfied his appetite on his food, he snuggled down by the fireplace and went to sleep. He had already had a big morning.
Jerry cleaned up the breakfast dishes and then put his coat on and went to the door. Eddie jumped up and ran to go with, but Jerry was going shopping and that was a place Eddie could not go. “I’m sorry Eddie, you can’t go this time. OK buddy?” Jerry was very conscious about leaving Eddie in the car when he went into stores. It would be very cold in the car and Jerry didn’t know how long he would be so he told Eddie he had to stay home this time.
Eddie went back to the fireplace and snuggled down. As he heard Jerry leave, he suddenly thought about the bunny, her mom and how he needed to find her. He ran down into the basement and grabbed another large carrot, just in case, and ran down to the pond. The bunny had gotten out of the protective bed that Eddie had made for her and was hopping along, but very slowly. She was still very sore but definitely on the mend. He was so glad to see the bunny would be ok. So Eddie told the little bunny to stay here and that she would be safe because Mrs. Deer and Mrs. Squirrel were going to look out for her. He was off to see if he could find Mrs. Bunny.
Eddie ran to the other side of the pond. He came upon Mrs. Skunk. He knew enough to stay a respectful distance from her but he had to ask, “Mrs. Skunk, have you seen Mrs. Rabbit? Her baby is over across the pond and is hurt. I need to find her”.
Mrs. Skunk just chuckled and said in her sweet ladylike voice, “I don’t see many, honey, because when others see me first, they hide. But yes I did see Mrs. Bunny yesterday over by the corn bin. She was trying to find food.” Sometimes Mrs. Skunk got her feelings hurt. She didn’t really understand why all of the other animals didn’t come near. She really was a sweet skunk and would not get upset unless she was threatened. She just didn’t understand.
Eddie ran to the corn bin. He just knew that he was going to find her this time. He got to the corn bin and Mrs. Bunny was no where to be seen. But he did get her scent. He sniffed and sniffed and finally found her trail. “I will find her now”, he thought to himself, “she is not far away.”
He was hot on the trail of Mrs. Bunny and he ran into Mr. Woodchuck. Mr. Woodchuck was very old and he had been on that same property for almost all of his life. He had raised 4 families there and he had no intention of leaving. He was rough looking character with big teeth and very evil eyes. He thought the corn bin and the corn area of the property belonged just to him. He thought of himself as the boss of the area. “Mr. Woodchuck, have you seen Mrs. Bunny”, said Eddie meekly.
Mr. Woodchuck looked at Eddie, stuck his nose up in the air and just walked away.
“Why would that lowly dog be talking to me”, he said to himself.
But Eddie did not give up. He had a baby bunny that was counting on him. “MR. WOODCHUCK! COULD YOU ANSWER ME PLEASE!” Eddie hollered.
That got the attention of Mr. Woodchuck. He turned to Eddie and his eyes narrowed. “What do you want dog”? Eddie repeated his question. “Have you seen Mrs. Bunny? Her baby is sick and I need to find her.” That question seemed to settle Mr. Woodchuck down. He was a softy for babies.
“Well, yes, I did see her just a little while ago”. He said in his deep, slow, Woodchuck voice. “She was over there by the watering trough drinking some water. She was pretty upset though. She did say her baby was missing. Now bother me now more. Do you hear me?” Mr. Woodchuck said very sternly and walked away. He had no intentions on answering any more questions.
Off Eddie ran to the watering trough. There he ran into some crows. He asked the crows also if they had seen Mrs. Bunny. They all said no but they would be willing to hit the sky and see if they could spy her.
Off they flew. Soon one crow came back and said, “Eddie, Eddie, quick, come quick. We found her and she is in trouble”!
Eddie jumped to attention and followed the crow, Eddie running and the crow flying, to Mrs. Bunny.
Low and behold, there she was. Stuck in a trap. The neighbor man had set a trap for rabbits so he could sell them for profit. Mrs. Bunny had gotten tricked into the snare by a carrot. She had been hungry too and thought she could get some food quickly. But instead she got snared. Eddie said to Mrs. Bunny, “Don’t worry. I will help you get out of here. Your baby is lonesome and we have been looking for you everywhere.”
The first thing Mrs. Bunny asked, “Is my baby ok?”
Eddie reassured her that the baby was fine, just sad and lonely for her mommy. Eddie started digging a hole around the snare. If he could get under it Mrs. Bunny could crawl out and be free. Then he would take her to her baby. The ground was very hard, frozen by the winter air and the snow and the ice. But Eddie did not give up. He kept digging until his toes and legs were so sore and cold he didn’t know if he could dig another minute.
Finally, a breakthrough. Mrs. Bunny said, “Eddie, I think I can squeeze through there. Let me try.” Mrs. Bunny took a deep breathe, as if to try to make herself smaller, and began the struggle of crawling under the snare. She twisted and turned, grunted and groaned, and twisted and turned some more. With another deep inhale and a push she was free from the snare. She had lost a little fur and gotten some scratches and scrapes but her baby was worth it.
Eddie saw she was free. He was so relieved. “Come, Mrs. Bunny, I will show you where she is.” Eddie ran at top speed away from the snare, forgetting Mrs. Bunny was not only older but also much slower of a runner. So Eddie ran back to her and started walking beside her while she hopped he walked. Together they would go to baby bunny. As they passed the crows Eddie and Mrs. Bunny stopped to thank them for their help. Eddie could not have found her quite so fast, or maybe not at all, if it hadn’t been for the crows. As they passed the corn bin they saw Mr. Woodchuck. They tried to stop and say thank you but he put his nose in the air and pretended he didn’t see them. That was Mr. Woodchuck. He had always been that way and he would not change. Eddie and Mrs. Bunny had no time to argue with his pride so away they went to find the baby. As they passed each animal on the way through their journey, they stopped to say a quick thank you. As they did, the animals got in line and followed behind. They wanted to see this reunion.
Finally, they got very near. Eddie whispered in Mrs. Bunny’s ear. “See that brown sack over there. Your baby is bundled up in it. She is probably sleeping. Go over and wake her.”
Mrs. Bunny could not wait. As all the others watched her, she hopped over to where her baby was. She started washing the baby. The baby bunny woke with a start. She was so happy to see her mommy that she forgot all about her sore leg. She jumped up and started licking and kissing mommy too. What a reunion. All of the animal friends that were watching had tears rolling down their cheeks. Mrs. Bunny was now complete.
Eddie felt like he had done a week's worth of running. He was so tired. His job was complete now and he could go back to Jerry and rest. And he did just that.
Jerry was in his easy chair when Eddie returned. Eddie was very cold. He had been out in the cold air for a long time this morning. He hadn’t realized how cold he was until he came in and felt the warmth of the fire. Jerry looked up when Eddie strolled in. “Where you been boy. I was starting to worry about you.” He patted Eddie’s head and scratched behind Eddie’s ears.
Eddie licked Jerry’s hand as if to say, “It’s good to see you too.” Then he walked over to the rug by the fire and lay down. He had no more than put his head on his paws and he was fast asleep.
Eddie had done a good deed this morning and he felt good. Tired but good. And he slept. Good night Eddie.
By Marie Paulson (TOPINSMAMA@aol.com)