I inherited a rabbit the new-fashioned way—my daughter moved out last July and left him with me.
“What am I supposed to do with a rabbit,” I asked her as she packed.
“I don’t know. I can’t take him with me; Emily has a dog,” my daughter told me without the slightest trace of remorse.
“Why don’t you make him your class pet?” My daughter teaches young fives, and not only is her rabbit, Leo, calm and cuddly, he loves people. Seemed like a win-win to me.
“Mom,” she said in disgust, “do you know what my kids would do to him? They’d pull his ears and poke his eyes and make his life miserable.” She tugged her sock drawer open and started loading all eighty pairs into an apple box. “No way am I doing that to Leo after I rescued him.”
My daughter had found Leo four years ago, caged in the corner of a dark basement. Since she was commuting to college and promised to take care of him herself, my husband and I agreed he could become the newest addition to the Goodreau clan.
I watched her pull out another armful of socks. “How about leaving the socks and taking the rabbit?” I asked with a hopeful grin. My daughter loves socks, and because she has so many cute pairs, I was a regular borrower.
“Well, what about making your mother miserable? I’ll be stuck feeding him and cleaning his cage and traipsing outside in the middle of January to change his water umpteen times a day when it freezes.”
“I tried to find a home for him, but no one wants a rabbit.”
“‘Well, I don’t want one, either.”
I let that little fib slide since this was her last day at home. She wasn’t sorry—not one little bit.
The next day, my daughter moved in with her best friend, and I became the reluctant owner of a rabbit.
After a few months of taking care of Leo, a funny thing happened. I started to really like the furry little guy.
As I mentioned before, Leo loves people. Instead of running away or cowering in a corner when I approached, he greeted me each time I came to his cage. When I got into the routine of taking him a carrot or apple every evening, I would find him waiting for me.
Who would have thought that I’d be flattered to have a rabbit bouncing around his cage in excitement when he sees me?
Leo’s friendly strain also includes dogs as well as people. My Boxer, Winnie, is his best buddy. Leo hops around her legs and submits to a slobbery lick or two with perfect contentment.
Now that Leo had me under his spell, my poor husband got roped into helping me build a newer rabbit home, which included a fenced-in yard. By helping me, I mean he did all the work while I told him what a great guy he was.
A few weeks later, when my daughter stopped over for a visit, she laughed when I proudly showed her Leo’s new digs. “Mom,” she told me. “That rabbit definitely doesn’t belong to me anymore.”
I looked at Leo as he happily munched on a dandelion leaf. She was right. Somehow, in the last few month, Leo had become mine.
How did our big God bless me with a small bunny rabbit I didn’t want? I think God knew I’d need someone to take care of and cuddle after my daughter moved out in July, my son left for college in August, and my husband and I joined the throng of empty nesters. He also knew that, since I work at home with my nose buried in a computer, I would be so lost in writing that I would let days pass without stepping foot outside. But, now that I need to take care of Leo everyday, I have the opportunity to gaze at our big God’s handiwork in my small back yard—the bumblebees on my blooming flowers, the brilliant fall leaves that crunch under my feet, the serenity of a lazy snowfall, the promises of the first robin.
Last August, when I began writing my first novel and developing my main character, D.J. Acker, Leo even became the inspiration for one of her pets.
In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s epic poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, he writes:
He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast
He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all
Our big God uses all things in his creation to reveal his glory, compassion, creativity, and love.
Even small bunnies.