As the title suggests, I wanted to write this week about my pet rabbit. Her name is Gia and she's a spot lionhead mix. Her favorite treat is cilantro and for reasons I can totally understand, she is most chill when watching Joe Bob Briggs. I adopted her through a special drive 3 years ago in one of the best decisions I've ever made. This particular bunny has changed my life in more ways than I was prepared for and I'm so grateful for her.
I guess I've always felt a kinship to rabbits. When I was a little one, I remember going to my first Chinese restaurant and looking intently at this special placemat set before me. It was one of those Chinese Zodiac wheels showcasing all the animals, along with the unique traits and years of each. My mom pointed out that she was a rabbit and what do ya know-so was I. Upon further investigation into my year of birth, I learned that I was a "fire rabbit". Sweet.
Seeing this slick yet innocent animal as a part of my identity, I've always been fascinated by all they represented. Rabbits have been described as sensitive, compassionate, creative and even lucky. For obvious reasons they are also adorable on the most basic of cuteness levels. I've collected symbols of my favorite animal over the years, from little trinkets to a couple kissing rabbits as my wedding cake topper. In fact, shortly after getting married, I begged and begged my husband to also let us adopt a bunny of our own. Beyond the basic desire to have this adorable creature in my life, I now needed to have a meaningful purpose for introducing a rabbit into our home. So the research began...
Rabbits have a reputation for being vulnerable creatures. Hunted often, they fill the role of easy prey and in many ways they are. However, they are constantly aware of their environments as well as adept at assessing danger. When scared, they are quick to flee and when cornered, their bite is formidable.
They love to establish their comforts when they have a home and safety therein. Understandably they like their spaces nice and dare I say lavish. Kept in a home, they are litter-trained and need a consistent routine. They should ideally be fed on a wholesome diet (primarily of hay and leafy greens). Playful in nature, they tend to seek out places to hide as well as to explore so it's important to bunny-proof where needed.
Since rabbits don't make much sound (unless displeased), communication is primarily visual. Being around a bunny, you learn quickly to read the cues of their body language. From "relaxed mode" to the joy of seeing a "Binky" (a special happy bunny dance) , it's beautiful how expressive these creatures are at communicating their state of being.
A close friend of mine told me they would make ideal pets for me because of all this. Suffering from a potent combination of Bipolar Disorder and C-PTSD for years, I came to realize rabbits had a similar level of alertness and even a reputation for being torrential in nature. In being around a rabbit of my own I thought I might even learn more about myself.
Then I found Gia. She had already been named, and after one good look, I took it as a sign that this sweet little ball of white fluff shared the same name as my favorite supermodel, Gia Carangi. Wild and from a fractured life in her own right, my Gia was one of the infamous Gowanus rabbits who were seized by the ASPCA and needed immediate care. They even threw a "Some Bunny to Love " event to get the word out that these little ones urgently needed homes. Not all were able to be adopted and many had a myriad of health issues requiring constant care. I was lucky with Gia for many reasons, including the fact that she was in good health on the surface. Her first weeks at home were interesting to say the least. She didn't behave exactly like the textbook bunny. She was very on-edge at times and that's when I realized, besides the basics, it was time I threw my homework away.
Gia and my relationship became one built on intuition and the truest of presence. In my years with her, I've learned to listen to my gut. In my caring for her I've learned to care for myself. I've wanted better for her and thus improved my own quality of life. Gia responds to the security and love with utter joy. She dances in the air. She jumps on me and gives me kisses. She relaxes in the feeling of safety my husband and I have given her.
The more care and love you give these gentle creatures, the more you'll get in return. Provide them a little room to play and you'll find yourself in absolute awe of how they reconnect you with what's important: feeling into each moment, taking care of yourself, and leaving room for the spontaneous happy dance.