I first wrote this on March 14, 2006, nine years to the day that rabbits changed my life forever.
There was a knock on the door that evening while I was washing my dinner dishes. When I answered it, still wearing my yellow rubber gloves, there stood a friend holding a cardboard box. Inside was a brown and white mini lop, about six weeks old. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen and I fell in love instantly. I named her Maia, after a moon goddess, the herald of spring.
But I didn't know the first thing about keeping rabbits. Maia lived in a cat carrier at first while I scoured books from the library for information.
Thankfully, I soon found the House Rabbit Resource Network in Austin, Texas, and began attending their meetings to learn all about my new best friend.
Over the next year, I gradually became immersed in the world of rabbits. I volunteered at the local animal shelter, fostered rabbits after their spay and neuter surgery, served on the HRRN board of directors, gave talks and demonstrations at schools, and devoted more and more of my life to helping animals.
She moved out of the cat carrier and into a proper cage, but broke out of it repeatedly. She would wait for me to fall asleep, then spring the lock and jump into bed to lick my face. I eventually stopped locking her cage door, and Maia became a free-roaming house rabbit who was out 24/7. She often slept in the bed with me, and we shared everything in life. She became my greatest joy.
As I developed my freelance writing career, Maia served as inspiration with her antics, and I found a niche writing for pet publications. When I added a second career as a bodyworker, she inspired me with her healing energy and teachings. Maia's instruction became the basis for my book, The RelaxedRabbit: Massage For Your Pet Bunny.
Maia and I had many adventures together, which I shall never forget. She died suddenly on April 13, 2003. Not a day goes by that I don't miss her furry form, but I know her spirit is with us always. Every day I am awed by how she continues to touch peoples' lives, and enriches mine.
My life changed dramatically after Maia's death. I moved to England with a new partner and began a totally new life.
After living in London for a year, I moved to Brighton on the south coast. Once I began to feel settled in my new environment, I felt ready to accept another rabbit into my life.
Dexter was a brown and white Dutch who was born in the spring of 2004. We adopted him from Bobtail's Rabbit and Guinea Pig Rescue
in Surrey. Dexter started life as a house rabbit, but when his owner moved abroad, she couldn't keep him. To our great joy, he came to live with us by the sea.
Dexter couldn't have been more different from Maia. He was much more rascally and very athletic and active, and enjoyed running in the garden for a few hours a day, weather permitting. He grazed the grass and leapt over and under shrubs. Indoors, he practiced his sports by jumping the sofa. Dexter was a serious, traditional sort of rabbit who didn't break rules, but he loved an adventure. He was not a cuddle bun, but he did enjoy a nose scratch and a cheek rub.
Dexter died suddenly on May 12, 2010, from bloat, an acute and often fatal condition that comes on quickly. We miss him terribly and he's left a big hole where he once cast a mighty shadow.
We adopted a
lovely cream coloured lop called Emma as a companion to Dexter.
Emma was found as a stray wandering the streets. A kind person found her and tried to find her owners, but no one stepped forward. Thankfully she ended up at Bobtail's Rabbit Rescue, where she was later bonded with Dexter. Emma's background is unknown and she exhibits fear of sudden movement, noises, and hands. She is almost certainly deaf. But she's come to the right place and we are slowly establishing trust through loving touch. These days she can be seen binkying around the yard, chewing wicker baskets, and jumping onto desks.
Gilligan was originally
called "Preston" because he was found in Preston Park, Brighton. Someone was using him to bait foxes, which involved tying a wire to his leg and securing it with a peg in the ground,
then waiting for a fox to come along and eat him (they would have also shot the fox). He was about five months old at the time. Amazingly, some kind soul discovered him before any harm could come to him. He was taken to a local
vet, where our neighbor spotted him.
Gilligan is the sweetest, most affectionate rabbit, very trusting of people and a sort of "class clown". He went on to star in my DVD about rabbit massage. After unsuccessful attempts at bonding him with Dexter and Emma, Gilligan moved into the lounge to live, and now has bonded with Molly.
Molly was the victim of a divorce. When her owners separated, neither could accommodate her and she was taken to a rescue center. We knew Gilligan could use a buddy so we brought her home and they bonded very quickly. Molly is laid back and an "easy keeper" as they say. She learned all the household routines quickly and she likes a snuggle on the couch.
So here it is all these years later, and I'm still actively helping rabbits and meeting the nicest people in the world, all through my rabbit friends.
San Diego, California