When my previous rabbit died last July, I was nowhere near ready for a new bunny, although I knew I wanted another one someday.
One day, while surfing adoptables on the web (just seeing what was out there- no intention to adopt yet) I came across a sad-looking little creature on the county shelter's website. It was a scrawny little thing, so thin its head appeared too big for its body. It was peeking out of a cardboard box as if it was afraid of what it might find in the larger world.
It was no beauty, but this bunny moved me in a way that none of the fat, sleek and happy rabbits on other sites had done. I checked the admission date. The little runt had been in gaol for more than two weeks. Oh dear. No one was going to rescue such an ugly, skinny thing in time. Surely its days were numbered.
I tried to put the depressing thought out of my mind, but I couldn't. My thoughts kept returning to that scared little face peeking out of the box.
So I drove to the county shelter. I asked about the rabbit. The girl at the counter consulted her computer in some surprise. "It's still here?" she said. "We usually don't keep animals that long."
A man came and led me through throught a labyrinth of noisy, smelly dogs to a tiny kennel at the very end of a long row of cages. The barking and whining of dogs was omnipresent, and this was the only rabbit in the joint.
And there it was. A little white rabbit, peeking out at me from a beat-up, dirty box inside a concrete and iron kennel in the dog wing. I was beyond appalled. The bunny ran up to the bars of the cage as if it had been waiting for me. I had some grapes in my purse and passed one through the bars. It took the offering as delicately as a princess accepting an hors d'ouvre from a silver tray.
"What do you think?" my guide asked me.
"I don't know."
That wasn't entirely true. I knew a few things. I knew this rabbit couldn't stay here. I knew it deserved better. I knew I could provide for it. But what I didn't know was if I was ready. My heart still hurt for my recently deceased bunny pal. I wasn't ready for a new friend.
But this bunny didn't have time for me to be ready. I returned to the lobby feeling sick. Ready or not, I was committed. I couldn't just walk away now.
"How much for the rabbit?" I asked the receptionist.
She didn't know. They didn't usually have rabbits. (I'd figured that much from the inappropriate food in the kennel. No wonder the bunny was so thin.)
"How about fifteen?" the receptionist finally said, after consulting her boss.
I paid. No paperwork. No questions. I could've been buying this rabbit to feed to my sister's python for all they knew. They just wanted it off their hands. So after what seemed an eternity, they brought me that skinny, ugly little rabbit in a cardboard carrier.
I hurried across town to my exotics vet and dropped it off, since the vet was in surgery and couldn't see it for a few hours. They called me at home just as they were closing to say it was a girl, she was healthy except for ear mites, and I could pick her up tomorrow.
It would seem I now had a new rabbit, and I had no idea how I felt about that.
So I picked her up after work the next day. They had shaved some of the fur on butt, since it was dirty and matted. They had cleaned her up a bit and said she loved timothy hay. No problem there. I still had a big box of it from my last bunny.
I took the new bunny home and let her out of the carrier. She exited cautiously and began investigating the living room. First slowly, then faster and faster as she grew confident that she was in a safe place. By her third pass around the room, she was almost leaping off the furniture. I couldn't help but be amused.
After that, she settled down to eat. And barely came up for three days. Seriously. She weighed only four pounds when I brought her home, and her fur was thin and rough. Two weeks later when I took her back to the vet for a follow-up on her ear mites, she weighed 6.5. Six months later she was beautiful, sleek and fat, weighing in at a correct and proper 7.5.
Which one of us could lose half their appropriate body weight and live? She should've been in a bunny graveyard.
I admit it took me a few weeks to warm up to Tidbit. (I named her when she was still quite small.) But once she got a little meat on her bones and came to understand that there would always be plenty to eat, she could relax a bit. Her personality started to come out and she proved to be a real snugglebunny. She loves laps, pockets, and being held close. She comes when called and dances in circles around my legs. She wags her tail when she's excited and stomps one of her big back feet when she's scared, annoyed or just wants us to notice her. She naps on her side or on her back, belly up, trusting us completely. She even likes the cat, although he's way too cool to admit he likes her, too.
We're not sure how old Tidbit is. Rabbits' teeth grow througout their lives, so you can't get a read on their age that way. But we think she's about two. Obviously I hope she's around for a very long time. She's nothing but pure fun. Every day she lets me know how happy she is to be here with us. And when she goes to wherever sweet bunnies go when their short lives are over, I know I'll take comfort in having worked a little miracle in her life.
You just never know when your lucky day might come!