Once upon a time, there was a little girl. She loved animals of all kinds and was very eager to have one of her very own.
In the summer before she turned 12, her parents allowed her to buy a bunny. It made her tremble with excitement since she'd wanted a pet all of her own her whole life. And so began her "love affair" with rabbits.
That little girl was me. And I loved my bunnies with my entire being.
My first rabbit, a Himalayan dwarf I named Mittens (or "Mitsy-Bitsy"), was my best friend. She heard my secrets, felt my tears on her fur, kissed (literally) my sadness away, and ate cookies with me (okay, not that rabbits should ever eat cookies)..."grasshopper" cookies were her especial favorite. When she died, my whole world crashed. I didn't know what to do with myself. I missed her terribly. I still had another bunny I loved named Willowby, but she was a big girl of a different breed and not quite the same as my little dwarf girl.
Soon after, I got another "himi" bunny and named her "Bitsy" since she was a bit of "Mitsy." She'd been a breeding doe at a rabbitry and was older when I got her, but with lots of love I soon had as sweet as her predecessor. I had her for about four years. She died in my arms, a few months before we moved to England.
I had contacted a few rabbit breeders in England before we moved there since I was hoping to find another "himi" friend. I found "Pipsqueak," and she was beautiful. Perfect markings, sweet disposition. But, sadly, I only had her two months, and she died from complications of a huge furball and worms. I was devastated.
Then it became my quest to find another one like her. It took another four months and tons of phonecalls around England. I spotted her in the window of a local petstore...sitting with a sibling in the woodchips, peering out at me. I immediately bought her and named her "Peepers." She was my "soul mate" of bunnies; we bonded immediately. She went everywhere with me (watch out for a book about the bunny who saw England from the top of a woven straw bag). When I returned to the States to attend university, Peepers came with me. She lived with me another four years and then went to "bunny heaven" to hop with the others.
I felt so empty. I'd always had bunnies. I was lost without her.
After I returned to college, I started calling around the petstores to see if they had any of the breed I loved. Nope. Nada. Not one to be found. Then one day... He (I'd always had "she"s) had been owned by another girl for about 18 months, but she'd gotten tired of him and needed a good home for him. She worked for the petstore and figured someone might buy him from there. My roommate and I drove 75 m.p.h. to get to the store. And it was love at first sight (as always). He became Wellington...because he thought he was a duke and acted like a general...and because Himalayan dwarfs always have grey or brown feet. And he was perfect. A natural fit to my line of sweet pet bunnies. He had tons of personality and loved the freedom to romp around our dorm room and chew things and play games with us.
He journeyed to Honesdale, Pennsylvania, with me when I went to work at Highlights. Then he came back to Reading when I took a job at the newspaper. He had a special relationship with Stuart, and he became an official "Foote" after Stuart received his green card, and we had a pretend "adoption" party to celebrate Stuart.
Then a week after Emily arrived, Wellie hopped off to "bunny heaven." Stuart and I were so sad. We'd wanted Emily to know bunnies, to love them like we did.
I remained "bunny-less" for another six months. I wasn't ready to take on another one when I had a little baby "human" to love and care for.
Then Stuart found "Lulu," a giant version of Wellington. She was so cute and funny and grew to be huge, nothing like my dwarf rabbits. I tried to love her the same as the others, but I began to miss the dwarf rabbits I'd always had.
We went to the Reading Fair, our county's "country fair." I'd been so good for so long (almost six years)....but I remembered that the rabbit breeders who showed their bunnies often sold some afterwards....I knew I'd find another Himalayan dwarf.
I didn't know that I'd find two. Oops.
Since I didn't tell Stuart before we went to the fair (though somehow he knew already), I felt "guilty" and named the pair "Bonny" and "Clyde," in honor of the pair of notorious crooks. (Though I changed the spelling of Bonny's name to the version that meant for "pretty.")
Bonny and Clyde went on to sire "Bubble" and "Squeak" and later "Clementine" and Emily's "Earl Grey." Bonny was one of the best "mommies" I'd ever owned. She took excellent care of her kits, even laying with her boys during the first few bitterly cold days of their life. (Rabbits don't sit with their babies. They feed them twice a day and then let the babies keep each other warm under the "blanket" of fluffy fur from their mother's chest. Somehow Bonny knew they needed more warmth.)
Now, we had six Himalayan dwarfs, and I was in heaven for nearly five years.
Sadly, Bonny left us yesterday. Stuart found her in her cage. It was a dark day in our house.
You see, while we have (now had) nine rabbits (three others are Holland Lops), each is special to us. It's like losing one of your nine kids. The pain is very real and very deep. And while everyone knows that death is inevitable, no one is ever really prepared for it.
But people who have never had bunnies don't always understand this.
Over the years that I've had rabbits people have chuckled at me, thinking that they are "pocket pets" that are easily replaced....like fish or hamsters or mice. (Though I don't agree that any pet is easily replaced.)
Those people have never owned a rabbit -- never had one hop its way into their heart. There's nothing quite like it.
Bonny will be missed...every bit as much as her predecessors. And there will always be a Bonny-shaped hole in our hearts. That's inevitable, too.