Lessons for Life from a Four-Pound Wonder
For five and half years, my husband and I lived with Pepe, a handsome Dutch house rabbit with a silky coat and a curious mind. Though our lives changed a lot during that time, Pepe remained a constant. Here are five things I learned from this little four-pound wonder that I hope I always remember.
- Enjoy what you’ve got. Some owners do create outdoor pens so their house rabbits can enjoy some fresh air and sunshine, but most house rabbits, or “urban rabbits,” stay indoors. Pepe had the run of three rooms and the hall of our house—all bunny-proofed (no electric cords in reach). Well cared for, Pepe enjoyed his life—sometimes so much so that he just had to binky down the hall! (A binky is a 360-degree turn in mid air.)
- Ask for what you need. Rabbits are social animals that often bond for life. Whenever Pepe wanted his nose stroked or his ears scratched, he’d be right underfoot, nudging us until he got the attention he desired. He came running to his crate whenever it was time for pellets or greens, and if I was late about putting them out, he stared at me until I complied.
- Pay attention and ask questions. Pepe observed what went on around him, and he loved to explore. When the TV room became a bedroom and play room for our grandson’s sleepovers, Pepe investigated every inch and every item. When we traveled and had neighbors come in to care for him, Pepe sized them up quickly, decided they were OK, and came running to meet them from then on.
- Stretch yourself to help a friend. When Pepe was sick, I had to stretch—a lot. I learned to wrap him up in a towel—the “bunny burrito”—to force feed him when he wasn’t eating. I learned to give injections, meds by mouth, and fluids under the skin. I didn’t think I could do any of these things, but I could and I did. Sometimes we just don’t know what we are capable of until we try.
- Say “I love you” every day. I said this a lot while Pepe was sick. Then I wondered if I had said it enough while he was healthy and strong. I think I probably did not. I think Pepe knew he was loved, but I wish I’d told him more, just the same.
Something about rabbits fascinates children—and children’s authors and illustrators. A quick list includes the ever-popular Pat the Bunny, Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, and of course the mother and toddler pair in Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon. My new Say & Pray Bible for babies and toddlers even includes a couple of cute bunnies.
But despite all the bunny love in children’s books, house rabbits don’t make good pets for young children. They are easily frightened by too much noise, quick movement, and aggressive handling. For older children and adults, however, if you’re willing to invest and learn and stretch yourself a bit, you just might find yourself loving—and learning from—an intelligent, soft, furry creature with very big ears!
Diane Stortz writes to make God’s wonders known to the next generation. Her books include Words to Dream On: Bedtime Bible Stories and Prayers (Tommy Nelson), The Sweetest Story Bible (Zonderkidz), and A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year (Bethany House). Her newest release, Say & Pray Bible: First Words, Stories, and Prayers (Tommy Nelson), is a board-book Bible storybook for the littlest learners. Visit Diane at www.DianeStortz.com.