A few weeks ago I got in touch with my local rabbit rescue about fostering a bunny in need. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, but with being away for traveling and working like crazy, it was just never the right time. But then the time is never right, is it?
There are always valid reasons not to do something, but none so valid as the reason for doing the thing… if that makes sense. I was sitting in my tiny apartment thinking about how little room there was for a rabbit (there already isn’t much room for the stuff that’s in there now), and imagining a bunny on top of it all seemed a little cramped. But then it dawned on me…. So what? Who cares if the area becomes cramped if it means that I can rescue a rabbit. I was sure the rabbit wouldn’t mind. So I made my mind up to go ahead and fill out my application to become a foster.
A little history on the topic of Heather and bunnies: When I was a teenager I very much wanted a rabbit. Specifically I wanted a little holland lop rabbit which is more or less the most adorable type of bunny you can get (in my opinion). I remember getting really close to adopting this little lop named Bambi who looked something like this:
If your insides are screaming from the cuteness, you are not alone. I was obsessed with the idea of bringing Bambi home until I finally voiced the idea to my mother who kindly reminded me that our dogs would give him a heart attack if he was lucky enough not to be eaten by them first.
Ohhhh yeah… okay probably not the best idea after all. So little Bambi hopped out his life with someone else and the idea faded away, although never completely. Fast forward to present day and getting a bunny still seems like a bad idea. BUT, a foster bunny, that’s totally doable.
So I filled out the application, waited around a few days, did a phone interview, waited a bit more, and then at last I got approved! It was time to get a bunny. I wanted to request a lop, like the one I always wanted as a teenager, thus fulfilling a long standing childhood dream. The rescue worker I was in touch with said she did have some lops available, but that there was another bunny who they were trying to place more quickly, she sent me some photos…
It was this guy…
This is the photo originally sent by his owner who was surrendering him. His name was Hubble, and he’d spent most of his life living in his tiny rabbit cage. He wasn’t being given attention, nor treats, nor vegetables, nor time outside his cage. Hubble’s owner knew that he wasn’t giving Hubble the life he deserved. It was a sad story, the man’s wife had died a few years ago, and Hubble was her rabbit. I think in Hubble’s early life he must have been well loved and cared for, but after the wife’s passing there just wasn’t time for him anymore. His owner was not a bad person, it was just a really unfortunate circumstance. He took Hubble out of his cage for a few more photos:
The night I received that email I just stared at these photos of Hubble. He was not the adorable tiny lop rabbit of my childhood dreams, and yet none of that mattered because he was the bunny who needed me. Bunnies are just like us, born how they are born. People generally want the most obviously cute rabbit (as I said, I’m no exception), but perspective was slapping me in the face: fostering was about helping a rabbit, not about helping the cutest rabbit. DUH. That was that. I started to fall in love with Hubble. I wanted to bring him home as soon as possible and I literally couldn’t stop thinking about him. Knowing that he was out there somewhere, in his cage, all alone… no treats, no play, no fun. It killed me. I told the rescue I didn’t need to see any other bunnies, Hubble was the foster for me.
A couple days passed by with me just wondering when they would bring him to me. In the meantime I was learning everything I could about rabbit care, watching rabbit youtube videos, and just generally obsessing. Then I got a phone call- Hubble lived quite far away. Like a 2 1/2 hr drive… they wouldn’t be able to get him to me for quite a while.
I thought about having to wait that long, actually mostly I thought about Hubble having to wait that long, and decided that was totally unacceptable. They said if I wanted and was willing to drive then I could go get him myself, and so that’s exactly what I did. His owner and I got in touch and agreed to meet halfway. So on Saturday morning my boyfriend and I woke up, got in the car, and got on the highway. An hour or so of driving later, there he was: scared little Hubble with no idea what was happening or how much his life was about to change. His owner said goodbye and we transferred him to my car and then drove him home where his life was about to be turned upside down.
When we finally got him into the apartment he was too terrified to even move. We went very easy on him. I just opened the door to his cage expecting that he would hop out. He didn’t. I sat on the floor opposite him, just waiting. I offered him some banana and a carrot and a bowl of greens and he didn’t so much as sneak out to sniff them or anything. He just stayed perfectly still, pretending to be invisible.
After about an hour and a half I wanted to show him that he could hop around, that he wasn’t confined to his cage anymore, and so I took the top off. Now he was sitting there like this…
“Okay they can’t see me if I just stay still. They can’t see me if I just stay still.”
I read that rabbits need a lot of patience and that if you want to earn their trust you need to get on their level. I spent hours on Saturday just lying on the kitchen floor across from his cage. A couple times he poked his head out but he didn’t dare to actually hop out. That night we left him and went to bed hoping that without interference he would feel bold enough to venture out. When I woke up the next day he was in the exact same position and there were no shavings whatsoever on the floor to indicate that he had traveled at all. I spent another long while just waiting patiently, but to no avail.
I thought it was time to make a move. I wanted to clean out his box and get him sorted in his new space and so we decided to make the big decision for him. We picked him up out of his box and put him on the floor. I took his box away and got to work scrubbing it clean and replacing his hay and litter. This seemed to be the impetus he needed to start adjusting to his new life. With no choice in the matter, Hubble started hopping around and exploring the strange new area which was his new home. I left him a cardboard box to have some shelter in, and a bunch of toys (which he couldn’t make heads or tails of) and I prepared his area.
And to my supreme happiness and joy, Hubble has quickly been coming out of his shell and showing us his personality. He’s a really cool little bunny! I think he’s a bit overwhelmed with all the attention he’s getting, so I’m trying to leave him to his bunny time… but it’s amazing to see how quickly he’s adjusting and how brave he really is. He’s very sweet and friendly and loves to hop right up to my face and give me a sniff. He’s already become used to my pats and seems to love being scratched between the ears and having his fur stroked.
It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve done and such a joy to see him hopping around, playing, and discovering. I’m completely in love with this little bunny and it feels so good to be able to give this kind of life to him.
Do any of you guys have experience with rabbits? Or rescue animals in general? What was it like for you?
I’ll end this with a few photos of him curled up in his favourite spot.
And of course, because I’m a huge nerd, I also started an instagram page for him. If any of you guys are interested (I don’t know why you wouldn’t be) you can follow him @hubblethebunny!
Okay that’s it for today. Hoppy Tuesday everyone!
(don’t mind the bunny pun)