I’ve learned so much about rabbits in my nearly four years as a volunteer for the Long Island Rabbit Rescue… but I’ve learned even more about people.
I’ve observed volunteers of all ages and walks of life care for rabbits that we’ve saved from brutal neglect situations with inspiring love, yet neglect their own selves—“burning out” from taking on too much or simply not feeding and caring for themselves the way they do our foster and sanctuary rabbits. These women and men would never let a rabbit go hungry or feed a rabbit a less than balanced, nutritious diet, but they don’t take the time to nurture themselves. They make sure every foster and sanctuary rabbit gets daily exercise time to run, hop and play—but they don’t seem to prioritize themselves. As dedicated volunteers, we recognize how much these gentle creatures need us. If only we remembered that we are gentle creatures too. Sometimes we need a little treat or a softer rug to rest our paws too. For my fellow volunteers, I wish you would “cover a shift” in caring for yourself. I am so blessed to work with each of you. Please take care of you, too.
I’ve talked with hundreds of people, almost always parents of young children, who are looking to rehome their rabbit, in whom their children lost interest or for whom the family feels they can’t (or don’t want to) care anymore. These people are often ashamed to ask for help. They perceive a failure in what they were wrongly told was a simple task—to care for a prey animal like a rabbit. So many times, if people are open to our support, we are able to make life better for the rabbit and manageable for the family. It’s important to see our commitments through, for our own strength and for our pet’s existence. For these people, I wish them faith in themselves and the strength to ask for support. Making positive changes in the current home or finding a new home will take work, for sure, but these innocent rabbits deserve the dedication!
And for all considering bringing an animal in their lives, do your research. If you want something that’s easy to care for and something that won’t suffer when your children move on to the next interest, please buy a stuffed toy. Please don’t use a living being to teach a lesson, unless you yourself are completely committed yourself to seeing that lesson through.
That said, I’ve learned so much in these four years of giving to the abandoned and neglected rabbits of Long Island. From these fragile creatures, I’ve learned that I need space, too. Sometimes there’s nothing more blissful than tossing the task at hand to this side (for me, returning some emails, for the bunnies, a woven grass toy or cardboard tube) and flopping out for a nap.