It Was 18 Degrees Below Zero
Over the next few days, I tried to be patient despite the cold, but time was running out. Winter had come early to Calgary. It was -18 and had snowed most of the day, and now a blizzard was expected. That night I couldn’t catch Dalton. I put some straw at the base of one of his favorite trees, and I brought a cat cube and covered it with tree clippings thinking it might provide him with some warmth. The next night I went looking for him hoping to see some paw prints in the snow to track his whereabouts but there were none. I went to the places I usually found him but he wasn’t there. My heart sank. I made the slow journey home believing Dalton could not have survived the wind and the cold. I thought about him as I slowly went to sleep.
On my way to work the next morning, I crossed the park making my way to the garden center. The grass in the park had been covered with a foot of snow, and the fir trees had turned into mountain peaks and slopes. There were no sightings of small paw prints. I thought about Dalton all day. Although I felt he could not have survived the last two nights, I decided to look for him again. I called out his name. Behind the garden center I looked under the fence and then my eyes caught the sight of a shivering Dalton. I felt so sorry for him. I knew there and then if I couldn’t catch him that night I would never see him again.
I Ran Home to Grab a Blanket
Despite the deepness of the snow, I ran home as quickly as I could to grab the trap, food and a blanket. I was hoping Dalton didn’t think I had abandoned him. As I quickly filled the trap with food, I knew I was not going to use any gadgets to trigger the trap, but rather instead of positioning myself at the back of the trap trying to lure Dalton towards the food, I would place myself closer to the front of the trap and quickly flip the trap door to close it. This would require an element of speed on my part. I was breathless when I reached the area I had last seen Dalton, but would he still be there?
I looked under the fence and the poor little guy hadn’t moved. He was still shivering. I positioned the trap near the fence but despite not having eaten in two days, he wasn’t moving towards the trap filled with food. Perhaps he was too cold to move I wondered. I threw some smaller pieces of vegetables towards him. He was cautious at first and then possibly because he was so hungry, he gradually hopped forward and ate the offerings. To my astonishment, he then headed for the trap and without any hesitation hopped towards the food at the end of the trap. Seeing Dalton inside the trap I quickly flipped the door and it shut within the blink of a second. Dalton was caught! High above behind me I heard a yelling of “Halleluiah”; it was Jean. To my surprise, Jean had watched the whole episode unfolding through her binoculars! I waved to her and yelled that I had to get him home. As I said the words “home” I knew Dalton was finally safe, and the promise I made to the boy had been fulfilled. I threw the blanket over the trap and crossed the park carrying the trap for the last time.
I set up a crate in a room for Dalton, but I was determined that once settled he was not going to be a rabbit that lived in a cage. That evening I warmed some towels for him to snuggle up with. To my surprise Dalton hopped out of the crate and snuggled beside me. I started to laugh. I couldn’t believe after all these weeks of trying to catch him here he was snuggling beside me!
Since so many people in the community expressed their concern for Dalton, I wanted them to know he was safe. I put up “Good News” announcements. Jean spread the word to the residents in her building.
Within two weeks of being caught, he was neutered, microchipped and tattooed. I would not allow Dalton to be abandoned again; therefore, he became part of my family. Dalton has added so much joy to our household; he taught me a lot, especially the importance of endurance and compassion.
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