Two weeks ago, I would have never imagined myself sitting at my kitchen table writing an update as a small, gentle rabbit weaves around in playful circles around my feet. But then again, two weeks ago, the entire northeast coast was laughing in disbelief at the sudden announcement of a “Frankenstorm” hurricane that was to (again) make Halloween nonexistent.
I was busy preparing for a conference for my job, and so the high levels of stress from work plus life in general left me really unprepared for the storm, despite its warnings. When it hit ground, I figured I would be fine since my boyfriend and I live inland of New Jersey, yet we ended up losing power anyway, and my whole life was thrown into loops for about a week and a half. We were carrying bags of stuff (clothes and personal groceries) around Staten Island and New Jersey, sleeping in small beds, wearing many layers, getting bits of cell service and updates on TV, the office closed. It was a mini vacation I did not want but mentally I knew I needed which led to a lot of couch-potato moments. (I realize my situation was less severe compared to those on the shoreline, in Staten Island and Rockaways, and I reminded myself this every day).
In the middle of the week, not being in my home was trying my patience. But something wonderful happened: my good friend Tara called, saying one of her employers was looking to find a new home for a rabbit. This rabbit had been living in Bradley Beach when the owner’s landlord came to check if the apartment was “storm ready.” They found the rabbit, and he was forced to give it up. They called her “George.”
This moment fell right into our laps. Steve and I had been debating since the storm of seeking out a shelter in hopes of adopting a displaced animal, preferably a rabbit.
And so, we immediately grasped this opportunity. It seemed too good to be true. And it was:
We were able to pick her up in time to get electricity back to our apartment this past Friday (again, perfect timing. Fate, isn’t it?) We renamed her Bonnie, and she is three years old. We’ve already bought her a new, gigantic pen, and have stored enough wonderful pellets and fresh greens (her favorites) to melt her tiny little heart. She has free reign of our gigantic living room, where she loves to hop and skip and make “binkys” (jumps for joy).
At this time, the bunny has ceased circles, and is stretched out in relaxation in the middle of my carpet. She’s surely made herself at home. She looks like a tiny, regal queen, at home on her throne.
I cannot say that I ever dreamed of taking care of a rabbit. I had always found myself dreaming of one day taking care of a sweet, rescued dog which we could pour all our love upon. We are limited by our living space, and Steve insisted we find a rabbit who needed a home. After the hurricane, information trickled through television and the internet (when found) of impacting results from the storm’s devastation, from what happened in Seaside Heights to Breezy Point, Queens. I heard about shelters filling up with displaced companion animals. The ASPCA has stated that they have rescued a minimum of 6,000 animals following the storm. The NJSPCA is filling up with found companion animals and are also looking for donations. Beyond donating clothes and food to collection drives for various groups, and donating to the Red Cross (which you can very conveniently do through Amazon.com), what else could be done?
It seemed something so small could help, like helping Bonnie, who came to us by complete and utter happenstance. Though I do think it was more than that.
Bonnie has a beautiful personality. Besides her gorgeous gray splattered spot right on her nose, and her one pure white paw, she has such an expressive, explosive character. She’s smart and daring, playful and curious, but also sweetly affection and very warm towards us already (and we haven’t even had her a full week!).
I never realized I would love rabbits this much. I have a love for all animals but I think we tend to favor some as our favorites. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that rabbits as companions (“pets”) is a relatively new fad from the 1980s, and like all domesticated animals, there is a commercial market for them. I would always recommend adopting a rabbit. I am unsure how she came about to her previous owner (who was a children’s magician!), but to us, she was a bunny in need of a home. They are self sufficient, in that they can be litter trained and groom themselves, but they also require a lot of knowledge and responsibility from their caretaker. Female rabbits like Bonnie should also be spayed because ovarian and uterus cancer are common in female rabbits, but being spayed cuts the risk severely. Rabbits are fragile, kind creatures. You know this from just holding them, when they allow you to – they are light like feathers, and feel like feathers. They hurt easily, both physically and mentally, and so its important to nurture them, as they nurture you.
They are also perfect for a vegan household! It’s wonderful to tell people that we are a nice little happy veg family. Bonnie loves to eat leafy green lettuce and kale, and some carrots, along with her usual pellets and hay. Do not feed them anything else, no matter how cute or tempting treats in the stores may seem to appear. Rabbits are also extremely curious and have a flexible mind – they love to be mentally stimulated and challenged! Watching her “binky” across the living room from the joy of skipping around curves and through small crevices makes my heart skip a beat. When she’s tired, she will lay by me or Steve, and let us gently pet her ears and back, while she stretches out in complete bliss. I highly recommend reading more from The House Rabbit Society, especially if you are now considering a rabbit. Often times people think rabbits are a low-maintenance “pet” when in fact they are the opposite.
So, what can I say? Events such as the hurricane tear people apart, illustrate moments of worst case scenarios come to life which both challenge the spirit and the heart. But as small bits of news here and there show, it also brings groups of people to the forefront of action, through groups such as Occupy Sandy, and the work of the ASPCA/Human Society, along with individual efforts to help bring things back to “normalcy,” whatever that may be. For us, it was this small gift that somehow, but quickly, came into our small home and made it a million suns brighter. I hope that for every sad or unfortunate event that has occurred in the last two weeks, each individual has had the chance to find their own small sun.