Ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling. The sound of sleigh bells rang through the house as Jellybean’s nose nudged the antique bells that hang from an old leather strap on the front door knob. I paused as I pulled a plate from the dishwasher. “Ok, Jellybean, I’ll be right there.” Ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling. “I said I was coming my precious little fur ball.” Ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting-a-ling-a-ling. “Ok, ok, I’m coming! Aye, yai, yai!” After choosing a colorful winter snow suit for Jellybean to wear on her walk, she dutifully stretched her neck and allowed me to slip it over her head. Next she handed me a paw and pushed it through the first sleeve opening, then repeated the action with her other front paw, the her hind paws. Always the willing fashionista, Jellybean stood quietly as I pulled the snow suit over her back, making sure it looked perfect. I then reached down and hooked Jellybean’s leash to her collar and out the front door we went. Jellybean stood on the brick step and sniffed deeply. I am always in awe at what a pretty dog she is. Naturally I choose puppy outfits that compliment her white silky hair and deep, dark eyes. I try to make her such a little girly, girl. Much to my chagrin, it hasn’t happened yet. Jellybean’s posture clearly showed she smelled something that was pleasing to her. Her body was stiff, her long silky tail was up, and her head was cocked to the side. Her nose quivered as she frantically sniffed the air. Without warning, she leapt off the step and into the patch of grass by the front door. Jellybean sniffed again and then buried her nose deep down in the cold, wet grass. Her tail gave a little wag, and she scooped some unseen object out of the grass, turned her head away from me, gave it a chew and down the hatch it went. She moved to the left and repeated her actions. “Jellybean, no thank you. Leave it.” Her concentration was such that she gave no evidence of hearing me, so I gave her leash a little pull. “No thank you Jellybean. Leave it.” This caused her to pull even harder on the leash as she dived in to retrieve another tasty gem. “Really, Jellybean? It’s not like you haven’t eaten yet today. Why on earth do you need to eat rabbit poop? I can’t imagine it is that good. If nothing else, it seems to me it would be a bit dry.” Ignoring my barrage of questions, Jellybean pulled hard against the leash and stretched as far as she could to retrieve another round nugget. “Jellybean, remember the Vet said she would prefer that you not snack on rabbit poop. There are so many other better options….carrots, green beans, actual dog treats.”
Last June, when Jellybean had her yearly physical, her Vet had asked me if Jellybean ate rabbit droppings. I responded that unfortunately it was one of her favorite delicacies. I asked her how she knew that, and she shared the fecal test showed evidence of a parasite that is specific to rabbit droppings. Fortunately it is not harmful to dogs, although she would prefer Jellybean found some healthier alternatives for snacking. Still it remains an issue. It doesn’t help that our neighborhood is polluted with rabbits and Jellybean’s short little legs ensure that she walks with her nose glued to the ground. All instincts kick in when we near an area in which rabbits have left evidence of their frolic and play. While this is not an everyday occurrence, it happens often enough that it worries me a bit. Jellybean usually follows commands pretty well, and follows a “no thank you” or “leave it” quite readily, unless some of those delectable round nuggets are nearby.
It turns out that rabbit poop is actually loaded with various nutrients. It is high in fiber, digestive enzymes and a natural source of vitamins from the B family. It may be that this tendency comes from natural instinct developed long before dogs were domesticated, and it was a natural practice for them to ensure their diets were nutritionally balanced. Because rabbits are not carnivores, and get their nourishment from plants and grains, any diseases they may develop are not transferrable to dogs through their droppings. Just like chocolate and cheese for humans, moderation is the key. Who knew? Does anyone else have a pup that thinks rabbit poop is the best thing since milk bones?
Beverly Stiffler Smith