We decided to get Broccles a rabbit for his birthday. Being a rabbit himself, he’s a sociable beast, and we felt he could do with a companion to snuggle up with. The cats do not consider him snuggling material, owing to his tendency to enthusiastically mount them.
We trawled the rescue websites, and Bunty fell completely in love with this startling-looking thing, which he remarked was the prettiest rabbit he had ever seen.
However, the decision wasn’t Bunty’s to make. I called Fairly Beloved Rabbit Care and asked the administrator, Bunny Green, if we could arrange to take Broccles over to choose himself a companion.
“Well – you see,” said Bunny, “we don’t have a rescue centre. All our rabbits are at foster homes.”
This struck me as a wonderfully civilized way to rescue animals – to place every single one into a caring home straight away. This foster network stretches across Scotland and currently cares for around 70 rabbits seeking Forever Homes. The logistics must be a gargantuan challenge.
Obviously, this meant that Broccles couldn’t choose his own rabbit. Bunny suggested we select a couple of rabbits from the website, and these would be brought to our home to see what Broccles made of them. Bunty and I reviewed ones that might be compatible with Broccles, till we had a shortlist of 4 – including the whacky-looking one. You see what’s coming. The only one ready for immediate rehoming was her. Bunty was over the moon.
Bunny Green brought her round on Wednesday. “Dorita” looked very small and afraid in the carrying case. She had been rescued along with 16 other rabbits from a place in Aberdeen. (Details here: http://forums.rabbitrehome.org.uk/showthread.php?353441-Rabbit-rescue-in-Aberdeen )
Bunny recommended that we put the rabbits together in a cage or small enclosure, so that the confines would mean they would have to get along. I suggested the front porch, as then we could sit with them and separate them if they got too fighty.
They didn’t get fighty at all. They veered away from each other, and Broccles, who is initially shy of all strangers, attempted to tunnel through me. After a few minutes, his ebullient nature resurfaced and he greeted Dorita. She nuzzled him back. They ate a cabbage leaf together, and all was well.
We signed the adoption form, paid a donation, and the superlative Bunny Green made her goodbyes, leaving us alone with our house full of animals. Broccles immediately decided to consummate his new friendship, and mounted Dorita’s head. Twice.
Dorita took extreme umbrage and they had a big scuffle, then stared at each other in a sort of Mexican stand-off. Dorita grunted at Broccles, and stamped her foot in the International Rabbit Sign Language for “sod off”. Broccles considered this for several long moments, then stamped and grunted back. As though unsure what to do next, they carried on like this for about twenty minutes.
Bunty suggested releasing them from the porch. I said we were supposed to keep them together in the small place until they had properly bonded. Bunty had been working his way through a cheerful bottle of Viogner, and he replied, “I am an anarchist. I don’t play by the rules.”
I opened the door-gate. Dorita immediately explored the whole house, and established the bedroom as her kingdom. Once she was out of sight, Broccles went back to his usual routine as though she had never appeared. At 4 a.m., he flolloped into the bedroom, as usual, to snooze on the carpet near me. In the shadows under the bed, he came face-to-face with the rabbit equivalent of Gene Simmons.
I was woken by wild under-bed scuffling that progressed to the living room. I got up to mediate. I found little Dorita standing haughtily in the middle of the floor, with Broccles backed against a book case, fluff sticking out all over his blind side. I sat and stroked them until they were calm and sleepy. Dorita returned to the bedroom and I went back to bed.
Broccles has now realised that having his blind side towards someone doesn’t make them physically disappear. His irrepressible friendliness and her irrepressible curiosity means neither can ignore the other for long, and early the second morning I was again woken by their skirmishes. I stroked them again, and they moved their faces very close together. Dorita began grooming Broccles, starting with a thorough gentle cleaning of his missing eye region, and moving to his cheek, his forehead, and the insides of his ears. He melted into the floor, looking blissed-out. Then she oinked and chased him around the room. I think she will make his life very interesting.