This sweet creature is teaching me that even the most hard wired instincts and pre-conceived notions can be overcome.
How is it that she trusts me? I am a natural predator! It feels like I am glimpsing heaven when she comes up to me and wants to be picked up, to be stroked, to be told that she is loved. I am so honored to experience every day, that we have broken through an evolutionary barrier.
Today in the garden, where she runs freely and usually has much to discover and eat, I felt her front paws on my back as I was weeding. She wanted to cuddle in the midst of her precious outdoor time!
Obviously, her natural fear of humans has been bred out of her over the two thousand years that rabbits have been domesticated, but I feel like each sweet and trusting moment together is a small miracle.
She lets me know that she wants to live here with me. Every day when I come home she hops right out to greet me. Even when she escapes, she stays where I can see her, and always eventually lets me pick her up to come home.
What a difference it makes in one’s life—to have a living thing to pick up, kiss and say “good morning!” and “I love you”to.
Her play instincts are so different than cats and dogs. She doesn’t chase things. She has no desire to catch anything at all. If an object is moving, even a small one, she runs away – never toward it. She is not the least bit curious about let’s say, pawing at large bugs the way a cat would be.
Our play involves her running in circles around me if I am sitting on the floor, or around my feet. She may pick up things with her mouth and “throw” them. Then she runs at warp speed through the house, punctuated by joyful leaps straight up in the air. I pretend to be an animal chasing her and she loves that.
Makes sense: she is born to be chased. That is her game. The big pay off — survival, is granted by successfully running away, not catching things.
She’s a little vegetarian at the bottom of the food chain. With her sweet, non- violent disposition, all she asks is that there always be lots of grass, dandelion and hay.
Of course she eats a more varied diet than that, with pellets and plenty of vegetables She discovers new things all the time: latest favorites include bok choi, wild strawberry leaves and the leaves of string bean plants. Here she is hiding behind a string bean plant!
Bananas, apples and pears are very high on her list as well. The other day I caught her licking some dark chocolate I left laying around!
Chocolate and bananas would rank way higher on Sandra’s list than carrots in case you’re interested. She could take or leave carrots. Don’t worry, I don’t let her actually eat chocolate!
Does she wonder why all these animals desperately want to eat her – can she relate to that, being a vegetarian? Everyone’s trying to get her but she’s not trying to get anyone. I guess she just takes it for granted by now.
Although she generally loves the darkest, smallest, most cramped spaces she can find, I set about building her an outdoor house that she can freely go and from via a cat door on the porch. Here it is the day it was built, with architect Alex Hanewich.
It’s a huge customized hutch with a house of her own, plenty of yard space and a special ramp leading right up to the porch. All enclosed with chicken wire, even on the bottom, so she can’t dig out and predators can’t dig in. The “yard” has plenty of grass growing through it now.
Sandra now spends plenty of time in her outside house, and it brings me great joy to see her coming and going, dozens of times a day.
She has made her main home out there, even stays there at night and in the rain. This is a stool on it’s side, with a plastic tray on top. I call this her Bus Stop.
Basically, she comes inside only to get a break from the heat, to eat and to say hello to me!
Here she is coming down her ramp that connects our homes!
Since we built her house, she is even more content, affectionate and independent than ever. When I come home she rushes out, often for a just a quick hello, and then she goes hopping right back out.
But I know she’s glad I’m home … and I’m always overjoyed that she’s home.