A quick list includes Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit, Du Bose Heyward’s Country Bunny, Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram’s Little Nutbrown Hare, Kate DiCamilo’s Edward Tulane, and Margery Williams’s Velveteen Rabbit. OH, and of course the mother and toddler pair in Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd’s Goodnight Moon.
The little guy in the photo is Pepe, a handsome Dutch rabbit with a silky coat and a curious mind. Pepe lived with us the past five and half years, since he was two years old. Sadly, we had to say good-bye to Pepe recently.
Pepe was always happy to be petted, always ready with a dance around our feet when it was time for dinner, always willing to make up quickly when we came home after an extended time away. And often willing to “binky” down the hallway just for fun.
The back three rooms of our home were “his”–with electric cords encased in plastic and off the floor. His 4 x 4 crate in my office remained open from the time we got up until bedtime, and he could go anywhere he wanted in his three rooms. Stretched out at my feet while I worked at my desk was one of his favorite spots.
I’ve been thinking about our time with Pepe. Though our lives changed a lot, Pepe remained a constant. Here are five things I learned from this little four-pound wonder that I hope I always remember.
1. Enjoy what you’ve got. House rabbits are just that–HOUSE rabbits. Some owners do create outdoor pens so their house rabbits can enjoy fresh air and sunshine, but most house rabbits, or “urban rabbits,” stay indoors. Well cared for and well provided for, Pepe enjoyed his life and never complained.
I have MUCH to be thankful for, and each new day offers many gifts, even if I never do some of the things on my “if money and time were no object” list.
2. Ask for what you need. Rabbits are social animals who often bond for life. Whenever Pepe wanted his nose stroked or his ears scratched, he’d be right underfoot, nudging us until he got the attention he wanted. He came running to his crate whenever it was time for pellets or greens, and if I was late about putting them out, he stared at me until I complied.
Knowing what we need and being able to ask for it is a good grown-up skill to have. Other people are not mind readers.
3. Pay attention and ask questions. Pepe observed what went on around him, and he loved to explore. When the TV room became a bedroom and play room our grandson’s sleepovers, Pepe investigated every inch and every item. When we traveled and neighbors came in to care for him, Pepe sized them up quickly, decided they were OK, and came running to meet them from then on.
Live in the present–not the past or the future. Stay attuned to the people and situations around you today.
4. Stretch yourself to help a friend. During Pepe’s illness, I had to stretch–a lot. I learned to wrap him up in a towel–the “bunny burrito”–to force feed him when he wasn’t eating. I learned to give injections, meds by mouth, and fluids under the skin. I didn’t think I could do any of these things, but I could and I did, and they helped make things a little easier for Pepe.
Sometimes we just don’t know what we are capable of until we try.
5. Say “I love you” every day. I said this a lot while Pepe was sick. Then I wondered if I had said it enough while he was healthy and strong. I think I probably did not. I think he probably knew he was loved, but I wish I’d said it more, just the same.
Consider your actions. Live with purpose.
Despite all the bunny love in children’s books, bunnies DON’T make good pets for young children. They are easily frightened by too much noise, quick movements, and aggressive handling. But for older children and adults, if you’re willing to invest and learn and stretch yourself a bit, you just might find yourself loving and thankful for an intelligent, soft, furry creature with very big ears!
How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.–Psalm 104:24 NIV
We adopted Pepe from the Columbus, Ohio, chapter of the House Rabbit Society, a wonderful rescue and education organization. We also were blessed to find a veterinary practice offering specialized care for rabbits, Glenway Animal Hospital.
DIANEVisit Diane at www.abibleplace.com © 2012, Diane Stortz