My rabbits made me laugh tonight. Not canned laughter, the kind you produce almost on reflex while watching mindless sitcoms. This was the kind of laughter that explodes spontaneously from your gut, without warning, totally unexpected and infused with sheer joy. Rabbits do that to you. I thank God for that, especially right now, when personal problems in my life threaten to overwhelm me. I cling these days to whatever bright moments I can find. My rabbits are almost always the source for these all-too-brief flashes of happiness and appreciation.
Take tonight, for instance. I happened to look at the right moment at my oldest bunnies (nine years old) Ruby and Cocoa. Cocoa found a paper sack which had contained his favorite treats, tiny mini-toasts. He picked up the sack and hit Ruby on the head, sending a spray of crumbs all over Ruby and the carpet. I laughed and delighted in watching him lick the crumbs off Ruby's head even as she gobbled up the ones on the rug. Being in that moment, caught up in their mischief, I was able to forget my problems in the joy of this playfulness on the part of my rabbits. Each moment like this acts like a salve on my sadness. I truly can't recall the last time any human being did that for me. I am not even sure any two-legged could make me feel as happy as my rabbits do. Is it their cuteness (face it, there is no such thing as an ugly rabbit)? Is it the innocence of their nature? I don't know. I do know there have been many studies proving that pets provide incredible stress relief. Rabbits provide an added bonus--comic relief. These days I am profoundly grateful for it. Never underestimate the healing power of bunny.
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Each night after I give my disabled rabbit Woodstock a bath, I admire how as he dries off on the sheepskin mat, he manages to struggle to his feet. I help him balance, but otherwise, he is keeping himself up on his own strength. For the first time in weeks, thanks to acupuncture and chiropractic care, he is now able to groom himself. As I watched him do this last night, I thought how happy he must be, how it must feel to be able to do rabbit things again. I mused, everyone has the right to the dignity of his or her being. That means animals too.
Of course, animals have no concept of abstract concepts like dignity, even as they exude it in their natural behaviors. Even when Woodstock couldn't move and he would lie all day in the same position, he never outwardly displayed signs of misery--he simply adapted. Yet watching him intently lick his back paws, I felt certain that he was one very relieved and happy rabbit to be able to exhibit the behaviour his kind always engages in (rabbits are very clean animals, obsessively so.) We should all be so fortunate when we find ourselves near the end of our days, perhaps disabled, or physically challenged in such a way, that others will let us keep our dignity by helping us help ourselves. If we see ourselves as normal and we feel good about that, we will fight on. Just as my rabbit Woodstock fights so hard every day. He feels good enough, he feels rabbit enough to do so. When we are stripped of our dignity, when we no longer feel human, what truly is left of ourselves?
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Monday, January 3, 2011
I am thrilled that this is the Year of the Rabbit. Really. It provides rabbit rescues and rabbit advocacy groups lots of opportunities to promote the joys of living with lagomorphs. But this also carries a darker side, yin to the yang, as it were.
Think about it. Rabbits as status symbol--this will attract so many people to the idea of possessing a rabbit since this is the "year" for it. You can already see it in the media. In Japan people are dressing their rabbits in kimonos for photo shoots. The SPCA in Singapore is publicly pleading people to deeply consider what adopting a rabbit entails. In 1999, the last year of the rabbit, 625 rabbits were abandoned in Singapore, a 116% increase from the year before.
So yes, I am always happy when rabbits get the attention they deserve--how often they get forgotten when competing with dogs and cats! But the attention must not be counterproductive to their overall welfare. It is up to us involved in rescuing and advocating for rabbits to get out there and educate those tempted to impulsively buy a bunny. For every family who would be perfectly suited for a high maintenance pet such as a rabbit, there are sadly many more that are not.