March 2013

Silas was at the shelter for a only little while. When he came to us he wasn’t just shy, he was nearly paralyzed with anxiety. When it was his turn for play time, he sat crouched in the corner of his exercise pen; at all other times, he just sat crouched in the corner of his cage. It was as if the immensity of the world had begun to overwhelm him.

When bunnies like Silas come to the shelter, we know that somewhere inside that frozen animal is a being with its own unique personality and claim to life, waiting to make itself known. But what works to draw one bunny out of his shell, is not guaranteed to work for another. All we can do is be patient. We snuggle and pet the bun. We give him different toys. We encourage new activities. Everything we do for that bun becomes like a lighthouse or a beacon, telling him unremittingly, You are loved. You are loved.

And very often, we’re successful. As with Silas, we can and very often do help a rabbit move from a place of fear to a place of calm and trust. And that’s when he begins to come out of his shell: He reacts when you offer him food. He starts to explore the exercise pen. He starts to play with his toys. And then one day, someone takes else him home.

What we’re not always prepared for when we begin as volunteers is that these rabbits will enrich our lives immensely. Immeasurably. Even though they’re not our own. A shelter bun may have an appointment with a prospective adopter, and if circumstances permit, he might even go home that same day. Very often, we volunteers don’t have a chance to say goodbye.

So here’s to Silas. The next time I go to the shelter, his cage will be vacant. It will be empty and spotlessly clean, ready for the next bun who comes to us. But I am unequivocally happy for Silas. And I can’t wait to meet the unknown bun who’s on his way here to fill that place.

The House Rabbit Network offered another rabbit education event on Saturday, March 16, at the Petco store location in Brighton, Mass.

On duty as spokesbun that day was the lovely Marlene, a New Zealand white currently in residence at the HRN shelter (and currently available for adoption). Operating the education booth were HRN volunteers Diane Mayer and Sadie MacMillan, who invited Petco shoppers to meet Marlene and learn a little bit about the challenges and rewards of rabbits as animal companions.

Marlene checks up on the HRN volunteers at the education booth.

Marlene checks up on the HRN volunteers at the education booth.

Diane behind the House Rabbit Network education booth at the Brighton, Mass. Petco.

Diane behind the House Rabbit Network education booth at the Brighton, Mass. Petco.

Education events like these are a valuable opportunity for HRN to answer many of the questions people commonly ask about house rabbits: Can they get along with dogs? Can they get along with cats? Can they be litter-box trained?

Less straightforward but also of interest was the issue of rabbits in rental situations. A properly rabbit-proofed apartment, as the volunteers explained, can in theory be just as good a home as a house. (The lack of a yard makes no difference, since house rabbits should never be kept outdoors.) But different landlords may have very different policies about animals in their rental units, and HRN will never sanction the adoption of a rabbit if it violates the terms of the adopter’s lease.

The volunteers fielded these and other questions, and at the same time encouraged visitors to say hello to Marlene.

The lovely Miss Marlene keeps an eye out for the next admirer.

The lovely Miss Marlene keeps an eye out for her next admirer.

Marlene was a natural choice for rabbit representative because she’s outgoing and self-assured — not to mention drop-dead gorgeous. Just about everyone who passed by the HRN booth came over to pet her, and she — never one to turn down affection — sat gamely in her box for each encounter. She welcomed everybody, both children and adults. And when an Italian greyhound stuck his nose between the bars of her pen, Marlene, imperturbable as ever, stuck her own nose right up to his to say hello.

Rabbit meets dog; rabbit makes fun of dog's size.

Rabbit meets dog, thinks dog is just adorable.

These education days are a fun way for HRN to turn people on to the idea of rabbits as meaningful and rewarding companion animals. Many thanks to Petco, to the volunteers, and of course to Marlene, for making this one possible.

The next HRN education day will take place at the Woburn Mall on Saturday, March 23, at 296 Mishawum Road in Woburn, Mass., from 11 am — 2 pm. Stop by and say hello!

Like his name implies, the big bun will run your home and run your heart! Ten pounds of love and play is what Cassius will bring to your home. He took a couple days to warm up in his foster home, but now he is ready to be part of a family! He does an amazing amount of binkies – and watching a bun his size do them is amazing. Some times he goes for heights, sometimes a cardio work out of how many he can do in a row, sometimes he tries for the mid-air pretzel! He is a binkie machine!

Like most buns, he will rest a lot of the time too. He loves to watch TV with us at night but he’s not up to sitting on the couch with us. He’s a floor bun for sure. Sometimes he sleeps under the chair, but a lot of the time, square in the middle of the floor. He’s tentative to go outside on our porch, but we’re working on that.

Here are a couple videos of him playing and resting after a nice long play time!