When it comes to advice, some folks are full of it. I found out this truth the hard way many times in my life. One of these incidents happened in November of 2006. I visited the Redwater Public Library for a book signing session one afternoon. Aping a certain local author’s selling approach, I handed out bookmarks and told people that rabbits make great house pets. What I neglected to say was that they aren’t the sort of animal for children or house-proud people.
A blond woman took one of my bookmarks but rushed off before I could explain more about bunnies. I shrugged and continued with my pitch as more library patrons came to check out my display.
Three months later, that woman phoned me. “My name’s Theresa,” she began. “I got one of your bookmarks. I have a bunny but I don’t want her anymore. Would you like to have her?”
I thought it over for a few seconds, then replied, “Can’t you look after her yourself?”
“No. If you won’t take her, I’ll give her to the SPCA.”
I agreed to take the bunny, though I felt upset that Theresa bought her from a breeder on a whim. I felt responsible for the rabbit being in a home where she wasn’t wanted so I decided to make amends for my error.
On the ninth of February, Theresa brought over the rabbit. She handed me a cloth bag and said, Here she is.”
I put her in my bathroom, next to the litter box so she could become acclimatized to her new surroundings. Since she was named Sierra, I decided to keep her name.
In retrospect, it was good that I adopted her. Sierra was feisty and destructive. She shredded toilet paper, chewed door posts, and stripped the wallpaper. Even after being spayed, she was a pint-sized troublemaker. Worse yet, she lost her litter box habits a year later and had to be confined to a pen. I put up with her wetting in the wrong places until 2010 when I reluctantly placed her in a wire-bottom cage.
In May of 2011, I came downstairs to feed Sierra and found her laying on her side. She was unable to move and her back legs quivered when I touched them. She ate a spoonful of pumpkin when I placed it under her nose but she couldn’t get up at all. I placed her on a towel in my bath tub and called the vet. He agreed to pick her up the next day.
The next afternoon, the vet gave me the bad news. He said Sierra had meningitis and he asked if I wanted her put to sleep. I reluctantly agreed, knowing that Sierra wouldn’t have a good quality of life if I tried to keep her in that state.
I now warn potential rabbit owners that these creatures need special care and that homes need to be rabbit-proofed. They aren’t like dogs and cats but they do make great companions for those who are prepared to look after them on their terms.
My When a Man Loves a Rabbit memoir contains helpful tips that I learned while living with house bunnies. It’s available through the Bruce Atchison’s books link.