…continued from “Bunny Blues”
To this day, I do not feel that I wasted time researching the care that is required to own a rabbit. I gained a lot of knowledge about pet rabbit care. In fact, I even learned some very vital lessons. The most important lesson I learned is that I needed to determine what I wanted to get out of the experience of owning a pet. In order to make this determination, I needed to know myself first. What were my needs? Would my emotional needs and physical limitations have a bearing on the type of animal that I could bring home? What kind of life could I offer a pet? I should have defined my answers to these questions before signing adoption papers.
I injured my back for the very first time in 2001 when I was a sophomore in high school. Thankfully, though, I was fortunate enough to complete my high school education without any further episodes of pain or injury. However, in 2005 I re-injured my back. Since that year I have had a slow but gradual decline in the number of activities that I am able to participate in or the amount of time that I can use to accomplish a task. If I spend too much time sitting, walking, or idly standing, I put myself at risk for injuring my back later when doing something else, such as lifting a filled laundry basket. In the past, I have hurt my back so bad that the resulting pain has made it nearly impossible to lift my leg to step into the shower or to even put on my socks. When I still lived at home, there was a period of injury that prevented me from walking down the two full flights of steps to access the living room, dining room, bathroom, and kitchen. Instead, I had to carefully slide down the steps on my butt so as not to jar my back when my butt hit the next step. Upon injury, weeks of bed rest and a lot of crying are inevitable as the pain I feel resembles that of several people taking steak knives and stabbing me and my capabilities are reduced to that of an infant. After I have recovered enough to walk, weeks of only light lifting subsequently follows and my capabilities are increased to that of a kindergartener. I think it goes without saying that for me a large animal as a pet is out of the question.
However, because of back injuries, I have not worked since 2005. This has given me the luxury that most people don’t have- time. I have the time to give attention to my animals. I do not have to pay someone to do it for me and the animals appreciate my presence and constant loving care.
I have suffered from major depression since I was in elementary school. The depression is not so debilitating that I am unable to care for another living being, as might be the case with some individuals. In my circumstances, having pets works as a form of therapy. I have to share my attention with my animals. I have to care for their basic needs, such as providing food, water, and shelter. The time spent doing these things is time spent not dwelling on how depressed I feel. Therefore, it is beneficial for me to have the types of pets that show they are in tune with my emotions and feelings.
I wanted a pet that would allow and welcome me to show him or her love and affection in ways such as petting, snuggling, cuddling, etc. and one
that would reciprocate that love and affection. Having a pet that needed me just as much as I needed him or her was very important. Unfortunately, because I did not define this need until after I had brought Pumpkin home, I exposed him to undue stress by taking him away from the shelter for two weeks and then returning him. I think I chose Pumpkin partially because he was so cute and I wanted a pet immediately. It would have been wise if I spent more time at the shelter observing the bunnies’ behavior outside of their cages and asking the knowledgable staff more questions about their personalities. Taking these steps would have allowed me to make an informed decision and choose the rabbit that fit my personality and needs the best.
I learned another lesson and that was animals need time to settle in after they have arrived at their new home. The pet, though, determines how long this adjusting period will take, but the human can put forth the effort to make the pet’s new surroundings more conducive to the adjustment. Who knows? Maybe I would have gotten to see more of Pumpkin’s true personality if he had stayed longer.
In the weeks that followed, I’d occasionally log onto Pumpkin’s petfinder webpage to see if he had gotten another chance of having a fur-ever home. One day, right next to his picture I saw the words, “Pumpkin-Adopted!”
To be continued…