The secret to keeping in shape isn’t gym membership, jogging or a healthy diet, I should know. It’s a rabbit…


The rabbit is still with us. It’s taken over the hearts of everyone and has become the cherished member of the family I suspected it would. I couldn’t get rid of it even though I gave it some considered thought. Everyone seems to think the rabbit, or ‘Rabbit’ as she is now called, has a fondness for me over everyone else simply because she tends to stick close and follow me around. I agree. If I was her I’d stick pretty close. My children squeeze her too tight, often drop her, tug and pull her about, chase her around the house, try teaching her the basics of skateboarding, have her playing in the doll’s house dressed as a mermaid and given a few unsupervised moments, would give her a new haircut with pink highlights. A no brainer don’t you think.

As well as keeping her safe from the death clutches of the children, I take her out into the garden each morning and put her in our rather dodgy, makeshift ‘run’. That way she can get some air and enjoy a bit of space as well as earn her keep by trimming the lawn and fertilizing the garden. She knows the routine, she also knows that any opportunity of making a break for freedom must be taken at the moment when I am making the transfer from my arms to the outside cage. Every morning then, we have this routine, a daily dance that goes something like this; I pick her up from the hutch in the garage and take her in my arms upstairs to the garden, she cuddles up to me, licks and sniffs me and generally comes over as all lovey and cute. Being soppy and gullible I fall for this rouse each and every day and it earns her some stupid baby talk from me and a nibble at a chocolate biscuit I secretly still give her even though the vet would argue against it but which, judging by the way she gobbles it up and pesters me for more, I can confirm, she absolutely bloody well loves em!

The trap set, she prepares to make her move. As I take her out into the garden she kicks off big time. Now believe me, rabbits have one hell of a punch and so with the flexibility of a snake and some serious kicking and wiggling she fights her way out of my clutches and somersaults away. Landing catlike on her feet, she’s off, full speed down the lawn with me being left with no option but to give chase.

Have you ever chased a rabbit..? Like plucking a pig, it’s pretty hard to do. Not that I have ever tried plucking a pig but someone who I know who has, told me how hard it was. This may help qualify the difficulty. In the North of England they have this event where they set two greyhounds after a rabbit (maybe it’s a hare but come on, they are pretty much the same thing aren’t they) anyways, it’s a cruel thing but often the hare manages to out- maneuver and out-run the greyhounds. Hare coursing with humans would be a very dull affair even with an experienced rabbit chaser like myself as a competitor. I have neither the straight-line speed nor the ability to change direction as swiftly as a greyhound so the odds are firmly stacked against me. I think that adequately illustrates the situation.

The next ten to fifteen minutes involves much swearing as she runs me around the garden, into the flowerbeds and between the trees. Sometimes she stops and teases me, nibbling at the grass until I manage to get close, then she’s off again on her merry way. Eventually it gets serious and out come the big guns. The pool net with extendable pole makes its entrance. This is the game changer, with the odds now in my favour, ‘Rabbit’ goes for cover in the rose bushes, if I am quick I manage to catch her and like an alligator wrestler, roll about on the floor forcing her into a position of submission. Suitably subdued, she gets put into her run and a now panting, sweaty dad makes his way indoors for a coffee and a sit down.

In the evenings the routine is pretty much the same only longer and with the winter nights closing in, it’s usually in the dark. This means a torch is often required which further complicates the whole thing as keeping yourself on your feet whilst running with a pool net and one of those chunky billion candle torches is not as easy as it may seem, quick changes of direction are particularly difficult and ending up face first on the grass is a common result, which leads to even more swearing.

This evening ritual is often performed with an audience. The family seems to take some delight in watching this exciting event. I think my eldest is possibly running a book, taking bets on the outcome, certainly it seems to offer them all immense amusement. Yet rarely do they help, preferring more to cheer on ‘Rabbit’ with whoops and cheers and ‘you go girl’ before Cartoon Network draws them back to the sofa. They return every ten or so minutes just to tell me to hurry up as my dinner is on the table getting cold or to show me what book they want me to read to them that night. It would be nice if they were to help, once or twice they have but their dive bombs at the rabbit, if successful, I fear would lead to more vet bills.

There is however a positive side to this course of events though. Since we have been in possession of the rabbit I have managed to lose enough weight to now fit back into my Mickey Mouse T-shirt I treated myself to back in 2006, I’ve no flat pack stomach by a long way but I fit into it without the bulge screaming out ‘Old Tosser’. My better half reckons it still screams ‘Old Tosser’ simply because she thinks at my age you’d have to be one to wear it. But I like it regardless. I’ve also developed thighs, rock solid ones! I’ve never had thighs before and rather like the fact that sudden bending risks ripping my jeans, just like when Bruce Banner morphs into the Hulk. It’s a strange world don’t you think, all this unplanned exercise means my old T-shirts now fit me whereas my month young jeans now do not.

A few more weeks of all this running about and I may consider entering myself into a half marathon or one of those mini iron-man things, come to think of it, I could even wear my Mickey Mouse T-shirt. My training regime may seem unwanted and unconventional, but it’s working wonders as, according to my pedometer, each day the rabbit runs me around for 2.7 kilometers and now I don’t even break a sweat.

So forget expensive gym membership you’ll hardly use, forget riding a bike or forcing yourself to go through the punishment of jogging endlessly up and down the road. Get yourself a rabbit. Oh, and get yourself a pool net for when it just isn’t that funny any more!