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A few years ago, on a lovely sunny day during Easter week, I went to take the cover off the sandbox that’s built into the very cool play structure that my clever husband built in our backyard. Much to my surprise—and the delight of my toddler, Luke—I lifted the lid and saw a little nest of tiny, newborn bunnies right there in the sand.

First reaction: OMG, how cute!

Second reaction—arriving approximately ¼ second behind the first—OMG, PEARL!

Pearl is our black retriever/mutt who considers it her supreme duty to chase squirrels out of her queendom…our backyard. She had been idly sniffing at a dandelion or something a few feet away when she saw or sniffed the new mysterious interlopers on her turf.

I instinctively scooped up Luke with my left arm to keep him from scooping up a days-old bunny. At the same time, I threw my right leg out to block Pearl, grabbing her collar as she made a b-line (that’s bunny line) right for the wriggling mound of adorableness a few feet away. As I did so, I dropped the hinged lid back on the sandbox BUT managed to catch it with my foot (ouch) on the way down to keep it from crashing down on the bunnies. (All-in-all, a pretty impressive maneuver I have to say.)

Charging mutt temporarily restrained (she’s strong!), I did the next thing that instinctively came to mind—started yelling for help. Thinking that some terrible fate had befallen his beloved, my husband came running out the backdoor with a pipe wrench in his hand (he’d been fixing a leaky faucet)…to discover his wife doing a very precarious balancing act—gleefully shouting babe in one arm, yelping and salivating dog wrapped up in the other.

What followed was a frantic call to our local wildlife sanctuary and an express education in the care of wild bunnies.

A few facts about wild rabbits:

~ Wild rabbits make nests just about anywhere—often in plain site. (I've discovered a few others in our yard since this first harrowing incident.)

~ Mother rabbits don’t stay with their babies. They nurse only for a few minutes at a time, normally twice a day (lucky them!) usually in early morning and late evening (if no one is around). Their milk is very rich.

~ It only takes about 10-12 days for most wild newborns to be up and out of the nest.

~ The best thing you can do for wild baby bunnies is to leave them alone…and keep dogs and cats away. Their mother may seem negligent, but she’s out there, and she loves her babies even more than we can. As for the father, don’t get me started on that deadbeat!

~ Remarkably, our story ended well. We used temporary fencing to create a safe zone for the bunnies. Pearl eventually seemed to forget all the fuss and went back on squirrel patrol in the rest of the yard. My bruised foot healed. The faucet got fixed.

Here it was, Easter week, with daffodils blooming, days warming, grass greening…and it seemed that baby bunnies delightfully squirmed their way into every family conversation. We were all desperate (and personally speaking, terrified) to know what was going on in our sandbox nursery.

After about a week (okay, maybe 5 days), I let Luke lift the corner of the lid and peek in to the dark sandbox. He saw no bunnies. I lifted a little higher. No bunnies. All the way up…no bunnies. Hooray! And, also, Rats! We really wanted to see those bunnies one more time, all fluffed up and ready for the world. But Pearl was delighted to have full range again. She must have spent a good two hours sniffing out that little sanctuary in the sand.

Every spring since, when we lift the sandbox lid for the first time, we’re a little hopeful and a little panicked about what we might find. Meanwhile, Pearl barks frantically, safely inside the house, at the window looking out.

"Be kind to bunnies and all their kin—let wild things stay wild.." ~ Cate Holly

This is a guest post by author Cate Holly. Please help me make her feel welcome and check out her new book, Bunnies & Kitties: A Cuddly Collection of Fur and Friendship, available everywhere.

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Learn more about posting as a guest on PetsWeekly.com by reviewing our writer submission guide. We offer a very limited number of guest posts each year.

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