It takes a special person to adopt a rabbit, not extraordinary, just special. It is one thing to fall in love with a cute little bunny, or even an older rabbit with lots of personality. It is quite another to make a commitment to an ordinary rabbit who looks like so many others you’ve seen, or who is quiet or withdrawn, or one who has special needs, or who the people at the shelter have termed “aggressive”.

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Someone who adopts an ordinary rabbit is a person capable of seeing beyond the surface – past the rabbit who scratches or nips, past the shabby, dull coat or the matted one, past yet another white rabbit with pink eyes or a checkered one with an imperfect ‘butterfly’ and irregular spots. Such a person knows it may not be love at first sight. And such a person also knows that there is a spirit inside of this ordinary body that just might be sparked by a little bit of loving.

Taking an ordinary rabbit into your home or your apartment will require time and patience. Many rabbits have been neglected for a long, long time before they are given up. Sure they have received food and water and may even have had their hutches cleaned regularly. But rabbits who well-meaning people have lost interest in usually sit in their hutches 24 hours a day, seven days a week, receiving little or no stimulation of any kind. Understandably, their trust will only be gained gradually, with a lot of perseverance and consistency on the adopters’ part.

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Adopters of ordinary rabbits have to be willing to possibly receive no positive feedback until their new rabbit-friend has determined their new human-friend will be around for the long haul. Quite often this can be very difficult because it is hard to care for another being who may show no interest in us at all.

Very often our reasons for getting pets has a lot to do with what they can do for us, and the good feelings we will get from having them around. Rabbits who race around and jump through the air, or who show us lots of affection, or who delight us with their antics in any number of ways, as only rabbits can, are easy to have in our life. The kinds of people who love ordinary rabbits, though, are people who know from the outset that they are taking this particular animal into their lives because of what they can offer it. They are not expecting this small creature to meet their needs. It may be a long time before a rabbit who has been neglected for years indicates any happiness at all at living with us. He or she doesn’t know that we are any different at all than the last person they lived with. And if the rabbit never changes? Then what?

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There aren’t many things in life that don’t change in some way when they are loved, no matter how bad the shape they’re in. Give a plant a little bit of water, and tell it every now and again that it makes our world just a little bit brighter, and it will thrive. We’re no different than plants and neither are animals. Given time, most ordinary rabbits will respond positively to our gestures of affection and attention, in their own unique way.

People who adopt ordinary rabbits and make them members of their family give them the best care they can for the duration of their rabbit’s life. And in the end there is something that we and our families receive in return for caring for these ordinary rabbits. As we like to say around here, “Loving the earth and all the earth’s creatures makes us better human beings.”

Jo Marchant