This month Ruby, my white red-eyed rex rabbit, turns 8 years old. She was the bunny who started it all for me and to whom I credit not only my respect for ALL creatures big and small but for my vegan lifestyle. There is no question that a cat or dog never would have raised my consciousness as much as this sweet rabbit has--after all, we don't eat cats and dogs in America. Having a companion animal that others see as an entree changes your view on a lot of things--had my husband not brought her home impulsively from that fair in Virginia eight years ago, I would probably still be eating animals today. And let's not forget the other six rabbits who share and have shared our lives since adopting Ruby--I credit Ruby for saving their lives as well.
All that aside, Ruby was the rabbit who taught me all things rabbit. I had known NOTHING about rabbits till she showed up, and she had to put up with my anxiety as I learned all about her charmingly sweet and sensitive species. The first time she flopped over on her side in our living room, I panicked and called the vet's office--is she sick? Depressed? Suicidal? WHAT IS SHE DOING? Turns out she was just being happy--stretching out, content with her surroundings. Her back feet stretched out flat, her whole body pressed against the floor.
People who don't see rabbits as loving pets don't know rabbits. Ruby is to this day a very affectionate rabbit--as I learned over the years, not all rabbits groom their human companions, and she does it often and often very ardently. (I get nose nudges from my other rabbits--Ruby is the only one who licks.) She is also still, even at eight, very agile. She will jump up on me on the floor no matter how I am lying down. She is part mountain goat, I swear. And while she no longer speeds around the house as she did when we first got her, looking like a white bullet blurring across our living room, she still has her binky moments. She is very happy with her mate of almost 8 years, Cocoa, a brown and white velveteen lop rabbit who appears to worship the ground she hops on.
It is so hard to me to imagine my life without these love buns or the others who eventually came to live with us -- Woodstock, Cinnamon, Ghirardelli, Willow, and God bless her sweet soul, Polly who left us too soon for the Bridge two years ago. For all the joy infused in my life, for the newfound awareness I have of the natural world around me, for opening my eyes to the plight and delight of all animals we share this planet with, I give great thanks and hugs to a white rabbit with ruby eyes.
Happy Valentine's Day, Ruby. May I be blessed with many more years of your great influence and presence.
The Hoppy Vegan