From what I’ve been told (after it was too late) everyone who fosters eventually fails at least once. How do you fail at fostering? Not in the way you are probably thinking! You fail at fostering when the sneaky little bunny you’ve been fostering worms his or her way into your heart and you find that you can’t let them go! The results are a forgone conclusion. The bunny in question finally gets the happy ending that we always hope for with every foster-rabbit. You adopt your foster-bunny.

This, like so many other foster-rabbits’ stories, has become the ending for Holly’s story. We don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the line Matt and I both fell in love with her. She learned to trust us, which was a big step for a rabbit whom we suspect was abused and has lived in quite a few homes. With attention and affection, she just blossomed. Now she’s feisty, curious, affectionate, imperious, silly, active, and most of all happy. Granted, Holly still tends to scrunch up in a corner when someone comes over to clean her cage or give her food. She can still be skittish at times and twitchy about being touched in certain places. She in fact bit me not once but 3 times the other day because she didn’t like the way my bathrobe smelled! (How’s that for progress? Quite a change from a skittish bunny to one who bites you because you smell weird.) Overall she has made remarkable progress and will likely continue to do so as she finally realizes that this home is hers forever.

Will we regret our failure? Never!
Holly is worth every bit of effort we’ve given her. We probably won’t try to bond her with our other 3 rabbits for a little while yet. She needs time to continue getting comfortable in her own skin and we’ve already done the bonding routine twice this year and aren’t ready to do it again just yet.

So there’s really only one last question to ask of ourselves; does she keep the name Holly, or does she get re-named in honor of her fresh start as a bunny-with-a-home?
In our household, rabbits have “rabbit names” rather than people names. What qualifies as a rabbit name? For us, rabbit names are names given based on each rabbits’ particular personality quirks or physical features. Its a little like the rabbit names in Watership Down, only with our own personal touch. (In our case, the current rabbit names in our warren are Beanbag, Lookout, and Echo.) Only one of our rabbits has ever been re-named (at age 4) when we adopted him. The other 2 rabbits were adopted nameless and given true names when they “told” us what they were supposed to be called.

I suppose we might end up re-naming Holly. Because she is the first rabbit I’ve ever met that actually reminds me of her close genetic kinship to horses, I have taken to calling her things such as Holly-Hobby-Horse, Holly-Pony, or just Pony. So perhaps some variant of these nicknames will slowly become her true name. (With our bunny Fuzzface, we didn’t realize that she had re-named herself until we took her to the vet one day and they asked us what name we wanted to have put on her records.) For the moment, even though Holly is a human name, we will stick with it. The name does seem to suit her well and she recognizes it as her own name when it is called.

So yes, like so many other volunteers, we have failed at fostering in the best possible way. Our aim as HRN members is to break the cycle of breeders and pet stores selling rabbits, people buying them then abandoning them when they realize that a rabbit is a lot more work than the glorified goldfish they thought it would be, shelters overflowing with abandoned animals which they have to euthanize. One bunny adopted, by us or by a new-to-bunnies adopter, might not seem like much. But in the larger picture, I like to believe that there is a difference made somewhere in the world. Holly has a home. We have a wonderful companion. HRN gets another rabbit adopted. And somewhere in the world, there is room at a shelter for one more abandoned bunny to be taken in.

-Liz: HRN volunteer-