Long Live Fluffy
The Martins and the Howes are neighbors in a posh NW section of Wilmington, De., not far from the Bidens. Both the wives and husbands are retired executives of Dupont, and both husbands, as restless as they are, have started their individual consultancies. As such, each has the occasional trip out of town to handle brief assignments in various parts of the U.S. Most often with these short engagements, the respective wife would travel with her husband for a mini-vacation. Whenever this was the case, the other husband would provide care for the traveling family's pet. For the Martins, the pet was a white rabbit appropriately named 'Fluffy'. The Howes owned a Golden Retriever named 'Harold'.
During the non-winter months, both pets were housed in elaborate cages in the backyard. Additionally, the Martins' backyard had a wired border that permitted Fluffy to explore the yard without fear of him escaping. However, Harold had full coverage of both yards with his ability to jump the fence between the two yards. Each pet was friendly with, but somewhat indifferent to, the other.
On the first Monday in July, Bob Martin and his wife Barb left for a trip to Denver for a 4-day consulting assignment. They would be returning on Saturday. As such, Bob had informed Ted Howe Sunday night before the trip of their departure so as George could handle the care of Fluffy until Saturday. The care required providing food and water to the rabbit as well as daily access by the rabbit to the Martin's fenced-in back yard.
Early on Monday morning, Bob woke and quickly dressed. While his wife did her morning ritual of dressing and makeup, Bob went to the backyard to attend to Fluffy's needs for the day. He approached Fluffy's cage and lifted the cover over the door to provide food and water. To his great dismay, the 12 y/o rabbit had passed during the night. Given the urgency of getting to the Phily airport for the trip, he closed the cover with the intention of properly burying Fluffy upon his return on Saturday. He decided to not tell Barb of Fluffy's death until their return so as to not spoil the trip unnecessarily.
In the early Monday afternoon, Ted received an unexpected call to go to Charleston. Expecting that he would be back Tuesday evening, his wife decided to not go with him on this trip. She would stay home to take care of Howard. She was not involved with the care of Fluffy. Ted knew that there would not be an issue with Fluffy's care during the short time he was to be gone, and that Bob would have provided for the rabbit before he left on his trip. However, it turned out that Ted could not return until late afternoon on Wednesday. Once home, he went directly to Fluffy's cage to provide the rabbit with food and water. Upon lifting the cover to the cage's door, he was surprised to see Fluffy asleep on his back. Fluffy had never done that before. He petted the rabbit on his stomach but then realized the rabbit had in fact past on. His first thought was that he had failed the rabbit by returning a day later. While first feeling sorrow that he had failed the Martins, his second thought was "Hmmmm, don't all white rabbits look alike?" After all, he was a successfull executive, now consultant, that successfully addressed major challenges during his professional life. The solution here was quite simple. He lowered the cover and went to the house to change into some comfort clothes before heading out on an errand without providing any details to his wife.
He spent several hours visiting various pet stores in the area. Finally in South Phily, he found what he thought was an excellent replacement for Fluffy. He made the purchase and returned home. Before he went into his house, he went to the rabbit cage. He first removed Fluffy and placed the rabbit he had purchased in the cage. He then buried Fluffy in his backyard covering with several stones to prevent Harold from digging up the rabbit. It was now cocktail time, and he wanted to slip into several dry martinis. Until the Martins returned he would provide the PROPER care for the 'new' fluffy.
Early Saturday evening, the Martins returned from their trip. The business trip had been very successful for Bob, and he suggested that the two of them enjoy a bottle of Veuve Clicquot on the patio before they had dinner at the Eclipse Bistro in Wilmington. Bob was working up to tell Barb about Fluffy's passing. Having finished the bottle, Bob said he would call Eclipse for reservations. Suddenly, Barb sat up from her Chaise Lounge and blurted. "Oh my gosh!, I forgot about Fluffy. He needs to get out and run a bit." She was up in an instance and headed for the cage. Bob, startled, said "Wait Barb, we need to talk." But it was too late. She had lifted the cover and opened the door. The rabbit immediately jumped to the ground. Bob uncontrollably blurted out "He's Alive! Fluffy's Alive!" Barb turned to face Bob as he was approaching the cage, and the rabbit began scurring around the yard. "Of course he is alive Silly." Barb said calmly.
Years later, Bob would dicusss at cocktail parties how long his rabbit had lived beyond its normal expected life span. He would continue to explain how he purchased only the best rabbit feed and gave the rabbit extensive freedom in the back yard. "Those were the tricks for his long life." Ted never confessed.