Sunday, March 16, 2008

Joshua Clemens

Joshua Clemens
©Ken Harris, 2006

We had a rabbit experiment for a while when we lived in Auburn, California, back in the 1960s. It had something to do with our daughter, Patricia, and 4-H. From one reason or another, the experiment was a failure and the end of the experiment followed its beginning in very short order. We were left with one poor, pitiful excuse for a rabbit, Joshua Clemens.

We who are older than dirt remember Joshua Clemens as a character in the television series Davy Crockett. Our son, Eric, was responsible for naming all our animals. That’s why our brown steer was named Black Sam and the kitten who loved to chase the end of a jump rope was called Rope Racer. Eric never missed Davy Crocket and he especially liked the Joshua Clemens character. And so it happened that when this ridiculous excuse for a rabbit became his pet, he named the one after the other.

Joshua Clemens’ front legs splayed out. When he ran he had to take care to spread his hind legs wide. Otherwise, his hind feet would step on his front legs and he would fall on his nose.

His teeth grew in great circles. Uninterrupted, they would grow through the roof of his mouth. We asked our farrier what to do about them. He had us hold the rabbit on its back and he nipped off the teeth with wire cutters. Well, shoot, we had wire cutters. We didn’t have to hire a horse shoer to do our rabbit’s dental work. Every six weeks or so after the farrier’s demonstration, we’d turn Joshua Clemens onto his back and trim his teeth with wire cutters.

What Joshua Clemens lacked in physical perfection he made up for in charm. Everyone liked Joshua, even the neighbor’s dog, Rajah. One day we were sitting in our living room when we saw Joshua Clemens running across the lawn with Rajah in hot pursuit. By the time we got out to the yard, Rajah was running across the lawn with Joshua Clemens in hot pursuit. Just a game they played.

As might have been expected, Joshua Clemens did not live very long, even for a rabbit. Physically, he just had too much going against him. We accepted his loss, except for Eric who grieved.

It may strike you that some of my animal stories end with the death of the animal. Well, duh! That’s what happens to your pets. That’s what will happen to us, too. The death rate among living things is 1.0. Not a very good arrangement, but we’re stuck with it.

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