When my daughter was four years old, she asked for her first pet. Instead of coming to us, her parents, she went to her nursery teacher and told her she wanted a baby rabbit.
Mama rabbit, the class mascot, was a breeding machine. Every school term, she had a litter of five or six kittens. Twenty children put their names on the list and endured weeks of patience for their long-awaited bunny.
We could have said no to our child, but we were inexperienced parents. We did not want to feel emotional guilt when those pleading eyes burned a hole right through our soul. So, we agreed. Our family was about to get bigger, but little did we know what havoc the new arrival would wreak.
We spent a lot of time pouring over catalogues; strolled through numerous pet shops to get the best bedding and toys, and even compared different nutrition brands. At last, we were ready to welcome Thumper, a white bunny with red eyes. He was fluffy and cuddly, and it was instant love.
My daughter had a furry friend, but no way was she old enough to be a responsible owner. So, we took it in turns to be the carer, while she spoilt him with cuddles and let him roam free. Like our child, he was given what we thought he needed – nutritious food, toys, and gadgets. But we forgot the most important thing: bunny proof our home.
And so, it began . . .
One day I noticed water leaking from the freezer. When I opened the door, I got a shock. Every item in it had defrosted and needed to be thrown away. Somehow, the electrical lead at the back of the freezer had been chewed. A few days later, we had a visit from the telephone company. Friends and relatives had reported not being able to get in touch with us for two weeks. The phone cable had been chewed.
How can a rubber-coated wire taste better than hay or pellets?
We built Thumper an outdoor pen in the garden where he could be free to chew anything he wanted to his heart’s content during the day. He was happy and so were we. He lived happily-ever-after.
Fast forward to 2018. Another house. Another country. Another birthday. Another request.
“I want a pet rabbit,” said the same daughter with the same pleading tone in her voice.
“Nooooo!” was my reply.
Two days before her birthday, we went and got Romeo, a brown and white rabbit. We did not spare any pennies for his diet or toys. Did we forget something? But of course. We forgot to bunny proof our home. Again!
And the fun began . . .
And it is still going.
Cables chewed, wallpaper ripped, Persian rug damaged. We turn our back for a second and the irreparable damage is done. So often that we have become expert at organising a next day delivery with Amazon. When everyone is asleep, Romeo would stomp his foot until one of us would get up to tell him to be quiet, or to warn him where he could end up the following Easter.
But how can we stay mad for long? We cannot. He melts our heart when he follows us around and stands on his hind legs begging for a treat. When he joins me in a wild dance, hopping around my feet. Or, when we are sitting at the dinner table, he comes and nudges our feet asking for a head massage. All wrongs are forgotten.
The power of love
One can wonder if we did not learn from our mistake first time round. The thing is, once we commit ourselves to take care of another body, we commit to love them warts and all. Yes, love can be blind, and it has led to the happiness of the whole family relaxing together with Romeo laying in his proud sphinx position.
Besides, having a pet can lower your blood pressure, reduce cholesterol in the blood and increase the level of serotonin and dopamine. I admit we need to be better prepared before taking on such a big responsibility, but material things can be replaced. Would I get another rabbit in the future? Most definitely.