I have a confession to make.
I am a hypocrite.
That’s hard for me to admit. Not because I’m flawless – I can promise you I’m far from it. I both recognize and accept my imperfections. But I rant and rave almost daily about all the pets listed for rehoming on Facebook and Craigslist. I preach about the responsibility of owning pets and the commitment it takes to raise an animal from birth to natural death. Day in and day out, I advocate for ownership and accountability. And yet, I can’t make the commitment I so whole-heartedly seek in others.
Hear me out.
In the past two years, we have lost two of our beloved pet rabbits. Maggie was a mixed breed bunny we “discovered” at a local pet store years ago (I know, I know). She lived 10-and-a-half years before progressive cancer and severe arthritis took her from us. Let’s just say that’s when the reality of “pet store bunnies” hit me. Donovan, as you read in a previous post, was our very first Holland Lop buck when we decided to start raising and showing rabbits competitively. He would have turned 10 this spring.
Only one of our original pets is still with us. Taffy, a jet black Polish mix who acted like she was 6 months old until she turned 10. Now she acts 10. *sigh* Taffy will turn 11 in June and while I hope we have many more years together, she just hasn’t been quite herself in the past nine months or so.
After the deaths of Maggie and Donovan, the idea of a new pet rabbit crossed my mind. Just tonight, a friend offered me back the first rabbit I bred who earned a Grand Champion certificate.
But something has changed, and the thought of “starting over” puts butterflies in my stomach.
I am 25 years old, and Taffy turns 11 this summer. Do the math – I was about 14 when she was born. 14 years old.
You know how generally aware and wise 14-year-olds are? Self-regulation and worldly experience were two things I lacked. After all, I took on three rabbits myself and coined it as a good idea. Of course, my family has been supportive and helpful and has put in hours and hours of rabbit labor over the years too. But their investment in the rabbits is on a more…uh…reasonable level.
To put this into perspective for you, Taffy saw me through middle school. She was here when I started high school, turned 16 and got my driver’s license. Here when I graduated high school. She was here while I started college, studied at college, went to more college, and graduated college. She saw me through my first job, my second job, my third job, and my first “real job.” And now I’ve been at said “real job” for two years.
In simpler terms, thats a LONG TIME.
When I was 14, I could make that commitment because I didn’t really understand what it meant. In reality, my parents made the commitment. But let’s face it – there wouldn’t have been a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc., etc., etc. rabbit in this house if I had slacked on their care.
And so, in some capacity, I was responsible.
I look at my life now and can hardly wrap my head around the same amount of time I committed to at 14. In 11 more years, I will be 37 years old. WHO KNOWS what will happen by that time! I could be married, I could have kids. It all seems so far off now, but the numbers don’t lie. How do I know if I will be in the position to be caring for a pet at that time?
Side note: For those who are wondering, show and breeding rabbits aren’t comparable as pets. I’m absolutely committed to their care, but if “life happens,” they will always have a dedicated caretaker on the line.
With our pets, who are good for nothing but love and cuddles (not that it isn’t enough), we’re exclusively responsible for their care. There’s no community support, no other option, no second chance. They have us, and that’s it.
That’s a lot.
I’m sitting here typing this without edits – just letting my thoughts go. I may regret publishing it publicly. After all, I’m always the first to cast stones over those breaking their commitments to care for a pet.
The difference is that some of us are awake at midnight debating their ability to care for their pets after losing others who lived beyond their life expectency. There are others who pick up an animal willy-nilly and only then consider whether or not a pet fits their lifestyle.
Maybe I’m just nervous. Like going on a first date late in life after a spouse has passed … or what I imagine that would be like. Or maybe I still haven’t quite accepted that the animals I shared half my lifetime with are nearing the end of theirs.
Either way, you come here to get honesty. This is it. Honestly.