Eleven years ago we were shopping in the local mall just before Easter. As we passed the pet store, I saw they had baby bunnies. I have always been dubious of the health of pet shop animals and whether they had enough human interaction to be good pets, but I couldn’t ever resist petting little bunny heads if I saw they had some.
Our family had one house rabbit as a pet and Thumper had been my favorite pet. Blaine and I wanted to get a pet or two now that we were living somewhere that we could. Blaine had suggested a rabbit since he knew that would be my first choice. I knew Thumper was going to be a tough act to follow though. He was a rare snuggle bunny. Another rabbit was going to lose in the comparison unless they really wanted to get to know me and interact with me. I wasn’t sure how to go about finding a rabbit that would choose me.
Anyway, back to the baby bunnies close at hand that day in the mall. The store had a good-sized pen and rabbits of all different colors and breeds. Some were flopped, some eating, some were bouncing around. None of them wanted to do anything with us except get away. We petted a few heads and as we turned to leave, a store employee walked up. He was carrying the most beautiful and unusually colored rabbit we had ever seen. He told us the tiger-striped bunny was his favorite. We talked with him for a few minutes and then left and headed home.
A couple of weeks later in early May, I was back in the mall on my own. As I walked towards the pet store, I saw they had a pedestal with a glass enclosure on top that they had pushed about a dozen feet outside the store’s doorway. From a distance I could see one bunny. I felt bad because I didn’t think the rabbit had good chances now of finding a home after Easter. As I walked closer, I was surprised to see the tiger-striped bunny. Being a staff favorite and having such beautiful coloring, I had expected this bunny to easily find a home.
As I stopped in front of the pedestal, I put my hand on the outside of the glass. The rabbit raced over, sat up on hind legs and placed both front paws exactly where my hand was. I was toast, the bunny rabbit wanted to interact with me. I picked the bunny up and got a real shock. I had expected to feel a chubby baby bunny body, instead the rabbit was skin and sharp bones.
The rabbit had a lot of energy, clear eyes and did not appear ill, but something was clearly wrong since the bunny was so thin. I realized I could put the bunny back down and walk away. I didn’t really want to buy a pet shop animal. However, I knew in my heart if I walked away, the rabbit would likely die soon. There was so much life and energy in this bunny who was wiggling all over and looking me in the eyes as I was checking all systems out head to tail. I knew I had to take a chance and give this beautiful rabbit a chance to live.
I called up Blaine who worked nearby and asked if he could take his lunch break and help me take our new bunny home. He said sure. While I waited for him to arrive, I began making arrangements for our new bunny. That is when I started to get some idea why the rabbit might be so thin. The store didn’t have anymore rabbit food and had been using guinea pig pellets. They had also been putting some vitamins in the water bowl which turned it neon yellow. I could only imagine what it might taste like. I picked out the cage and accessories, got a couple of litter boxes and pellet litter. They had some hay, so I got that too and some chew toys. The store gave me a bag of the guinea pig pellets to maintain the current diet. A vet visit and finding someone who had good rabbit food was on my short list for the immediate future.
Blaine arrived and asked about a name for our new little friend. He suggested Tiger. The name was right for the coloring but in our brief acquaintance, there was something very delicate about my new friend. I knew that it could take 3 or 4 months to really ID a boy bunny as male. This bunny looked like a girl, but I knew not to trust that yet. However, I really felt we had a little girl on our hands and wanted a softer name than Tiger. I had always loved Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. Tigger talked about all the other Tiggers, so there were obviously male and female Tiggers. Pooh’s Tigger was also quite bouncy. I thought whether boy or girl, Tigger would be a name that would fit a bouncy bunny rabbit. So I suggested Tigger, we agreed and took our new little Tigger bunny rabbit home.
Coming next, a little Tigger gets her first visit with the vet.