Example: [Collected on the Internet, 1993]
One night, though, the man returns from a long weekend away on business. His dog is beside itself with joy to see the master return, but it's late, the man is tired, so he plops right down in bed and falls asleep, leaving the dog outside. In the middle of the night the man is woken up by the strange sounds that his dog is making outside the bedroom window, a kind of muffled whimpering. When he opens the front door he sees the dog standing there with one of the rabbits in its mouth! After a quick smack or two on the head the dog drops the rabbit on the ground, and the man immediately picks the bunny up and brings it inside where it's light. The rabbit is brown with dirt but apparently undamaged, so the man rushes to wash it off and dry it. He slips out the door into the dark night, returns the rabbit to the hutch, and brings the dog inside. Thinking the women won't notice, he falls asleep.
In the morning, as he's leaving the carriage house for work, he sees the two old ladies standing around the rabbit hutch, which he must pass by on his way out of the backyard. He figures everything's alright and the rabbit is unhurt, but when he walks up and says good morning he notices that the women are completely distraught and crying. In fact, one of the women is making the sign of the cross over and over again. The man knows that he's probably been caught, but he decides to be cagey and asks, "What happened? Did the rabbits die?"
"Well, one of them did," replies one of the women, "but we buried him three days ago and now he's back in the hutch!"
- In some versions the dead pet or the "killer" pet is a cat.
- The rabbit's owners generally believe some demented person exhumed their pet and replaced it in its pen. In a few versions, however, they think they mistakenly buried the animal alive, and it clawed its way back to the surface, only to die of exhaustion after reaching its cage.
- The dog's owners learn that the rabbit was already dead from the police, or by talking to the rabbit's owners across the backyard fence.
A reader tried to slip one past "Dear Abby" advice columnist Jeanne Phillips by submitting an even more twisted version of this tale to her as a first-person experience in September 2004. To her credit,
Later that day, our neighbor's dog dug up the rabbit. When the neighbor came home, he found the little body on his doorstep. Thinking his dog had killed Blossom, he panicked. He ran out, bought another rabbit that looked just like Blossom, and placed her in our cage.
When Edwin returned from work that night, he was stunned to find the rabbit sitting in its cage and immediately concluded that Blossom had returned from the dead.
Ever since, my husband has treated the rabbit like a little deity. He built an altar for her and sits in front of her cage in the lotus position and talks to her.
The neighbors have since moved, but last week I ran into the wife and she told me the story. Thinking it might help Edwin, I repeated the story to him. He became irate and accused me of trying to ruin the only miraculous thing that had ever happened to him.
Should I insist that Edwin seek counseling, or should I continue to live with this? I really don't know where it will end. - At My Wit's End
DEAR WIT'S END: You may not, but I do. It's going to end here and now. According to snopes.com, your rabbit tale is an urban legend, and so old it has whiskers. Thank you for sharing it with me. It's still a thigh-slapper.
We're told a non-talk show sighting of this legend appears in Jeff Foxworthy's 1989 recording, Sold Out, and this tale also formed the plot of an episode of The Chris Isaak Show ("Crimes and Punishment," original air date
Last updated: 10 August 2011
Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Curses! Broiled Again! New York: W. W. Norton, 1989. ISBN 0-393-30711-5 (pp. 151-156). Brunvand, Jan Harold.   Too Good To Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 40-43). de Vos, Gail.   Tales, Rumors and Gossip. Englewood: Libraries Unlimited, 1996.   ISBN 1-56308-190-3 (p. 216). Phillips, Jeanne. "Hare-Raising Tale Is Too Good to Be True." [syndicated column] Universal Press Syndicate. 8 September 2004.
Also told in:
Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill.   Now! That's What I Call Urban Myths. London: Virgin Books, 1996. ISBN 0-86369-969-3 (pp. 99-100). Healey, Phil and Rick Glanvill.   Gruesome Urban Myths. Bucks, Great Britain: Ginn and Company, 1995. ISBN 0-602-26200-3 (pp. 32-35). The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 41).