This past weekend we gave our fluffy little bunny rabbits, Marsha Mallow and Graham Cracker, away. It was harder than I thought it would be.
For the past two years we have played with, nurtured, fed and humored these two bunnies. We have given them baths (which we weren’t supposed to do, I later found out), clipped their nails, and fluffed their fur with talc-free baby powder. We kept their food and toys natural and chemical-free, treating them no different than any other members of our family. We cuddled them when they would tolerate it, and gave them space when their fuses were short. We spent ridiculous amounts of money on their cages, dishes, playthings and health. In short, we loved them.
In the course of planning our move to the new home, we neglected to determine appropriate housing and play areas for the rabbits. Owning two Labrador Retrievers (one of which LOVES to chase vermin) restricts our ability to let the rabbits have run of the new back yard. And even though I love them, I am not about to let them inside my new home to chew my new baseboards and pee on the new hardwood floors. (Crosses arms, taps toe, and scowls…)
As moving day grows closer, we have come to realize two things: 1) our rabbits don’t have room to run and jump and twist and play the way they are meant to, and 2) we do not have the time to devote to monitoring their exercise and giving them the attention they deserve. We have spent the entire summer sloooooooowwwwwly coming to this conclusion. Dom would have gladly vamoosed the rabbits a year and a half ago; I foolishly held out hope that he would grow to love them. However, even I began to find their maintenance tedious about nine months ago when we had to take Marsha to the vet for a $132 bladder infection. I know, right??
We have been conversing with the kids throughout the summer about the possibility of finding new homes for Marsha and Graham. Amazingly, both children finally conceded that the bunnies needed to be cared for by people who can give them more attention than we can. And then the search was on to find out who in the world would be willing to take two 8-pound rabbits. I fully intended to call all the pet stores and vets’ offices and even the wildlife zoo who took Isaac the Squirrel off of our hands. But after only one phone call, I was spent and my attention went elsewhere. I realize now that there was a reason I kept “forgetting” to make more phone calls.
My mom called our favorite pet store on my behalf and found out that they would gladly take the bunnies and find them new homes. She called me right away to share the good news. “Pet Zone will take Marsha and Graham, with cages or without, and find them new homes! They open at 9am tomorrow, so I figured you and the kids can take care of that first thing in the morning.”
I thanked her and then surprised us both by bursting into tears.
The kids were excited that our beloved pet store was willing to take Marsha and Graham, though the thought of giving them away saddened everyone except Dom. Victoria naturally compared the transaction to the giving back of the hermit crabs, which did nothing to lighten my mood. She understands the difference, in that giving up the bunnies is entirely in their best interest, even if it’s not what we want to do. We all know it’s best for Marsha and Graham. It just sucks for us.
The Pet Zone employees were wonderful as they assisted me in getting the cages out of my van and wheeling them into the store. We handed them all of the rabbits’ food, toys, and other accoutrements. Victoria and I shed tears as we said our goodbyes, and the employees comforted us with sweet words and understanding nods. The shopkeepers took immediately to Graham and Marsha because of their inherent “cuteness” and said surely they would find homes by the coming week. I dried my tears long enough to buy a bag of dog food for Mabel, and we were on our way.
As we drove away and Victoria sobbed over leaving Marsha, I explained to my children that when you know you are not enough for a situation, especially as it regards another living being, the kind and gentle thing to do is make the situation better for the creature, be it pet or human. Emotional relationships must be built on a selfless love if they are to prosper. Vic nodded her little tear-stained cheeks, and Aaron chimed in that it was hard, but he knew it was better for Graham too. We will always remember the bunnies, and we will always love them.
So the chapter closes for us and our two little Velveteen Rabbits. I will miss their twitchy little ears and their nightly grooming rituals. But I am grateful for the lessons my kids learned from owning them. True love made us keep the bunnies. And true love made us give them up.