A bear ate Karan Nixon's last charge, but she has a new one. Tubby has moved in to take the place of George, the crippled rabbit the Alaska woman last saw two years ago being carried from her yard in the jaws of a black bear.
She immediately gave chase, barefoot and unarmed, and became five minutes of famous in Alaska's largest city.
Never has one woman done so much for one pet, but alas it was not enough. George was never seen again. Nixon grieved long and hard. She considered his demise her fault for letting him out to enjoy the sun and grass in her Muldoon yard, and then not adequately patrolling the perimeter. Such is the nature of things in the Big Wild Life, as the Anchorage Visitors and Convention Bureau promotes the city.
The bears are not quite everywhere, but they are out there.
Chasing them unarmed is not, of course, a recommended practice in the 49th state or elsewhere, even if the bear has just snatched the rabbit on wheels that has become your pal. Authorities warned others not to mimic Nixon's behavior if their pet was snatched. Some thought Nixon a bit touched for even trying to wrest George from the jaws of an animal known to eat humans -- as well as bunnies.
They didn't understand. To all of them, sadly, George was just a pet.
To Nixon, he was family. She loved that paraplegic rabbit who powered his wheeled cart around with his front paws. It is an emotion apparently not all that uncommon among those who care for crippled rabbits.
"I am coming up on the second anniversary of George's death,'' Nixon observed the other day. "I still miss him.''
But Tubby has come along at last to help fill the void in Nixon's heart -- even if Tubby is no George.
"He does have the good personality that is typical of a Mini-Rex,'' Nixon said. "He's not George, but I still love him along with the two other rabbits I have."
Go ahead and chuckle about someone showing this much emotion for a crippled rabbit, but a lot of you reading this have pets -- dogs, cats, chickens, fish, whatever -- and you may as well confess to yourselves that you've had this thought a time or two, that your pet has personality, that your pet somehow shares your emotions, that your pet is, well, more than just a pet. That's the kind of rabbit George was; that's the kind of rabbit Tubby might still be.
He's a lucky rabbit, that's for sure.
"I got him from the rescue in Wasilla,'' Nixon said, "the place that took all my rabbits after the bear attack'' when the poor Anchorage woman was so distraught she didn't want to deal with any of her animals.
"Jeanette handed him to me,'' Nixon remembered, "and said 'here you take him. I was going to euthanize him after a few days, but then I realized he could use the cart, and he was still full of life. I couldn't put him to sleep."'
So Nixon took Tubby home, helped his crippled hind legs into George's cart, and he's been happily wheeling himself around ever since.
"He's not a school or mall bunny like George,'' not a therapy rabbit, Nixon said. Or at least not yet. But he's a bunny surely happy to be alive, and a bunny who makes Nixon feel a little better every day.
"I still look at the (George) story on the Alaska Dispatch,'' Nixon confessed. "I have the link and occasionally watch the video. The pain is subsiding although I can't allow myself to remember any details of that day."
She does, however, plan to remember to keep an eagle eye on Tubby. No beast is going to get this bunny.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com