What makes you keep doing this?

There are a few Facebook groups and a forum I frequent when I have a little extra time. It’s often to answer questions for others who are newer to rabbits or need a hand. But sometimes posts like this happen:

I want to know what drives you in the world of rabbit showing and/or breeding. What makes you keep doing this? Why did you start?

What is your goal if you’re breeding? Is it to produce your own line of fantastic rabbits that excel at any show they go to? Is it to just enjoy the breed you fell in love with and help produce more quality stock around your state/country? As a breeder, do you show your rabbits or do you find more joy in keeping it all at home? Do you prefer a single breed or many?

If you’re driven on showing, what do you want out of it? Are you looking to win so many awards with a certain title? Is it just fun and game when you head out to the show? What makes you want to show your rabbits? Do you like to keep it local or travel far and visit much larger high scale shows?

I like this kind.

The part that gets me the most is, “What makes you keep doing this?”

I ask myself that question a lot. Usually it’s when I’m scrubbing the tips off my fingers to clean wire or stretching under stacking cages with a mop or a sponge. Sometimes it’s when I’m removing tiny, limp bodies from a nest. Other times, I’m tediously and carefully plucking poop from a young Holland’s coat or spending hours clipping down a coat of wool.

Yeah. Never shy to share the glamour of the hobby.

And yet, it’s hard to imagine a different life.

My goals have changed a lot over the years. In the beginning, I was just excited for babies. “Purebred and pedigreed” was the equivalent of Best in Show at the National ARBA Convention, for me. It was top-of-the-line, the cream of the crop…all that and a bag of chips with a cupcake on the side. Breeding those rabbits was absolutely “bettering the breed,” because how many people had all that?

As it turns out, more than 23,000 people do – and that’s only an estimate of those actually registered with ARBA.

In rabbits, I’m constantly learning more, learning better. This hobby might eat my paychecks, but it doesn’t hold back on dishing out the reality checks.

After more than 12 years living with rabbits, my focus is a bit different than when I started. Our beloved pet rabbits are reaching old age, and our purpose as hobby breeders is becoming clearer to me every day. Rabbits simply aren’t built to live the long lives they enjoy with us. Domestic rabbits not only are different from their wild ancestors, but require constant modifications to provide the best lives we can for them.

Correct bone and body structure is so important in supporting domestic rabbits throughout their lives, especially into old age.  Careful selection for health ensures greater longevity and resistance to illnesses common in the rabbit community.

Every generation is more than rolling in the grass among precious baby bunnies. Every generation is greater than mourning the loss of a just-born kit.  Every generation will see us beyond the hours it takes to shear a tangled junior coat.

Every generation is the opportunity to not only put more days in the lives of our rabbits, but also put more life in their days.

Stop laughing – I recognize how cliche that sounds. But for those who have watched a beloved bunny age, you probably understand where I’m coming from.

“Bettering the breed” certainly doesn’t mean what I originally thought it did. It doesn’t mean “purebred and pedigreed.” You can put a pedigree on anything, and purebred is only a name for the animal’s lineage. At this point in time, a show win means more than a ribbon or acknowledgement.

Every breed was carefully designed in its highest quality to support health and longevity. If you’re in this hobby, it’s for one reason only: You’ve got to love the rabbits.

What drives you? What makes you keep doing this? Why did you start? Why are you breeding?

I love rabbits.

Showing is fun, socially and competitively. I love “keeping it local,” but enjoy traveling occasionally. But in the end, beyond the fun and games and friends and ribbons, I look at the rabbits I started with and feel two things: Blessed to enjoy many wonderful years with them and driven to preserve the same future for future generations.

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