Hop to it!

People seem to have an unlimited capacity for thinking up ways to spend time.

Who would have thought there was a rabbit hopping competition?

In Czech Town Hosts Rabbit Hopping European Championship we read that “Breeders from the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland arrived with their hopping rabbits” for the third European rabbit hopping championship. It took place in a stadium, and 105 rabbits competed in four disciplines.

Czech breeder Lenka Spilerova’s Rambo won the long distance jump (and beat the Czech record), jumping 265 centimetres.

Hilton, owned by Swedish breeder Fia Eriksson, won the high jump, jumping over a bar 90 centimetres from the ground.

According to the article, Sweden has a 30-year tradition of rabbit hopping competitions, and more people train rabbits than dogs there. A special breed is used for hopping, but practically any rabbit can compete. A rabbit can learn to hop within a month, and people need six to twelve months to learn how to lead a rabbit.

Guide dog blues

The tale of Lucky, the evil seeing eye dog, can be found on many websites and has repeatedly surfaced in the mainstream media. Stephen Fry used it as his end-of-show quote on a 2007 episode of QI (Series D, Episode 3: Dogs – shown as a repeat tonight here in Australia).

“We will not have him put down. Lucky is basically a damn good guide dog,” Ernst Gerber, a dog trainer from Wuppertal told reporters. “He just needs a little brush-up on some elementary skills, that’s all.”

Gerber admitted to the press conference that Lucky, a German shepherd guide-dog for the blind, had so far been responsible for the deaths of all four of his previous owners. “I admit it’s not an impressive record on paper. He led his first owner in front of a bus, and the second off the end of a pier. He actually pushed his third owner off a railway platform just as the Cologne to Frankfurt express was approaching, and he walked his fourth owner into heavy traffic, before abandoning him and running away to safety. But, apart from epileptic fits, he has a lovely temperament. And guide dogs are difficult to train these days.”

Asked if Lucky’s fifth owner would be told about his previous record, Gerber replied: “No. It would make them nervous, and that would make Lucky nervous. And when Lucky gets nervous he’s liable to do something silly.”

The supposedly true story has been passed around since at least 1997, according to Barbara Mikkelson at snopes.com. Mikkelson comments, “Stories that lack this much in the way of checkable facts (e.g., the name of an organization that could be contacted, or the names of victims whose obituaries could be checked) almost always turn out to be hoaxes.”

Hoax or not, it’s a compelling story!