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.