CHAPTER 7 – THE PRIVILEGE OF PETTING
Abigail sat by the window, grooming herself. She was very proud of her chestnut brown fur coat and always kept it clean. Her mother had said, “Take care of your coat, and your coat will take care of you.”
It always baffled her when complete strangers just reached out to pet her. “The nerve,” she thought, “They don’t just go up and rub each other like that unless they know each other really well, so why do they just assume they can pet me?” To her, petting was a very personal thing. “You have to trust someone a lot before you let them pet you,” she pondered. After all, how did she know if the hand that was gently petting her wouldn’t suddenly grab her and carry her off – or worse. She needed time to observe the person to decide if they were a threat before there could be any trust. To her, petting was a privilege, not a right.
Just then, the doorbell rang. She had learned that when she heard that sound, it meant some commotion was about to happen. She sat up, ears erect, waiting to see who was there. Dad opened the door and invited in some strangers. Right away, she heard them call out her name, “Hello, Abigail!” She didn’t recognize them, so she stayed at her home base, ready to bolt if anyone came too close. That was one of the nice things about being a free roam bunny, she could run and hide if she wanted to, unlike the old days in her cage where she had no choice.
The guests sat down and talked. She watched them for awhile. They seemed friendly enough, so she decided to venture out and check them out and see if they passed the “sniff test”. Like Goldilocks, she went around to each of them to check them out. The man was wearing some sort of scent. It was so strong, she could smell him from three feet away. “My, my. A bit overpowering,” she thought. She didn’t get too close. “Who knows what he’s hiding?” she thought.
As she approached the next person, the woman reached down and put out her hand for Abigail to sniff. “My gosh. What did you just touch?” she wondered. The woman’s hand smelled like some kind of food humans ate. She didn’t want that smell rubbed all over her nice clean coat! She backed away.
Finally, the third person lay down on the floor at her level and spoke to her gently, “Hello, sweetheart,” she said. She reached out her hand, and Abigail sniffed. She seemed OK. The woman placed her hand in front of Abigail’s head and paused for permission. “May I pet you?” she asked. “I like that,” thought Abigail, “This human respects me.” So, Abigail granted her the privilege to pet, and lowered her head. Since she didn’t know the woman very well, Abigail stayed crouched on her feet, ready to run if anything funny happened. The woman gently stroked the top of her head between her darling ears.
Abigail, who had not had much human contact before coming to live with Dad, eventually discovered that sometimes new people could be friends. Some people besides Dad were worthy of “permission to pet”!