Yesterday morning, I came down early, as usual; let out the dogs and fed them, as usual; made coffee, as usual; let Dusty back out again for his morning wander, as usual; and then headed out with my freshly-brewed coffee to work in my LSH's office, as usual.
About an hour later, my LSH came down and asked where Dusty was. He had heard gunshots (we have a hunting stand not too far from the back corner of our property) and was worried. I immediately went to the back door, fearing the worst, and was relieved to see that Dusty was standing by the back patio, with something in between his front paws.
I thought it was his drainpipe at first, but I realized the something was black and white and furry.
Then I thought he was wrestling with Midge the cat, but the something had too much white fur and wasn't really the right feline shape.
It took my brain a comparatively long time to realize that it was Oreo, Secondo's beloved rabbit, between his paws. Oreo wasn't supposed to be there. Oreo was supposed to be locked safely in his hutch.
My relief that Dusty was OK turned into horror as I realized that the rabbit probably was not. Apparently I screamed very loudly, so loudly that both older boys woke up and came running to see what was the matter. Their father scooted outside in his bathrobe and bare feet to grab the rabbit so they wouldn't witness the carnage. Dusty was thrilled to see him. He left the rabbit and retreated immediately to the porch as requested, with his tail wagging happily.
That's when my LSH realized that the rabbit was still alive. Oreo was limp, his ears were hanging down, his eyes were sunken, he was filthy and soaked to the bone, but his nose was twitching feebly. We raced him down to the basement and alternated rubbing him with dry and wet towels as we cradled him in our arms. Slowly he returned to the land of the living, but he was still very shocky. Amazingly, he had no injuries that we could see: not one bite mark, not one broken bone.
Secondo spent the rest of the day alternating between holding and rubbing Oreo and letting him recuperate in the relative quiet and warmth of the basement. Every time he brought him out of the cage, the rabbit seemed to get a little stronger, and eat a little more upon his return. His ears and paws finally warmed up and he was fully dry by last night. (He is still very very dirty but we are reluctant to stress him with a bath at this point.)
So now the debate rages: was Dusty the hero who shepherded the rabbit back to safety after his master accidentally left the hutch door open, and held him until we found him? Or was he the villain who chased the rabbit all over and "played" with him until he collapsed in terror?
There were only two witnesses to the event, and neither one is saying a word.