The World Though the Eyes of an Endearing Little Rabbit

Abigail tells us how she sees the world every week. She talks about her private spaces, her home, her relationships, different food experiments...and trying to navigate the human world while maintaining her marvelous rabbitness.

CHAPTER 21 – Seasons Change

Abigail sensed a chill in the air. She noticed Dad didn’t leave the door open as much, now.

She also noticed the days were getting shorter. The nights were longer. And so was her shadow.

The season was changing.

“Abigail, look at this video,” said Dad, “It’s so funny!” Dad turned the tablet towards her. A human was tossing a pile of leaves at his rabbit. The rabbit jumped into the pile each time he threw it. “Do you want to do that?” he asked. Abigail didn’t know. She had never seen leaves before.

Fall had arrived. Outside, the trees were turning a brilliant warm gold, dotted with bits of red and green. It was apple season, too. The apples were big, ripe, and juicy. Dad collected a box of brightly colored leaves, making sure they were all clean and freshly fallen. Some gold. Some red. Some green. Then he picked a nice, plump apple.

He took them inside and peeled the apple, cutting it into small slices. He tasted one. It was so sweet. He picked a slice for Abigail.

“Abigail, it’s Fall. Time for new tastes and smells!” Dad placed the box of leaves on the floor. Abigail hopped over to investigate. She hopped into the low-sided box. “They smell nice,” she thought. She took a bite of one. “They taste pretty good, too!” she thought, as she crunched on a leaf. She liked the way they rustled under her paws.

“Here. Try this,” said Dad. He held out a small slice of apple. Abigail sniffed and took a bite. “Oh yum! This is good!” She liked apples. So sweet. So juicy. So crunchy. “You can only have a little bit a time,” said Dad. “They have a lot of sugar,” he laughed.

Dad tried tossing some of the leaves at Abigail to see if she would like to play the same game as they saw on the video. But Abigail just stared at him. “What are you doing?” she wondered. She much preferred to just hop through the box of leaves on her own.

The lazy days of Summer were gone, but Abigail decided she liked Fall, too. Each season held new wonders for her, and Dad would bring them in for her to experience.

CHAPTER 20 – Adorable

“Crunch, crunch, crunch.” Abigail munched on a large dandelion leaf – her mouth chomping away, non-stop. In less than a minute, she had devoured the entire leaf. Dad watched with fascination. He half expected to see it come out the other end. “You know what’s funny, Abigail? I would never want to watch a human wolf down food like that, but when you do it, it’s SO cute!” Abigail rolled her eyes. “I’m just eating,” she thought.

Meal finished, Abigail began to bathe. It was important to keep her coat clean. She licked her paws and wiped her face and ears. Dad let out an, “Awwwww.” It was cuteness overload. “OMG, I’m just washing,” she thought.

Dad could spend hours just watching Abigail be a rabbit. Eating. Washing. Chewing. Foraging. Running. Binkying. It was all cute. Better than TV. Dad looked at Abigail and said, “You are SO adorable. I bet if you looked in the dictionary under the word ‘adorable’, your picture would be next to it.” An idea popped into his head.  

About a week later, Abigail was having a chew on some Small Pet Select hay when her ears detected footsteps coming to the front door. “Could that be more hay being delivered?” she wondered. Dad opened the door and brought in a package. It wasn’t hay. “It’s here, Abigail! I made something for you.” Abigail wondered what it was.

Dad unwrapped the package and pulled out a sign. He grabbed a hammer and a nail, and hung it right above Abigail’s spot. “It’s SO you!” he chuckled. Abigail hopped over for a closer look. She stood up tippy toes on her back feet, front paws against the wall to balance herself, and stared at the sign. In dictionary font, it read:

                 ador-able

                         adj \ extremely charming \ syn ABIGAIL \ See below.

 

“Wow,” she thought, “I guess it’s true. I am the definition of adorable!”

CHAPTER 19 – Moods

One bright sunny morning, Abigail sat crouched in her spot, surveying her territory. She was about to start her morning patrol, to see if anything had changed overnight in her area. Just then, Dad came in the room with his laptop, ready to work.

“Aww, Abigail, you look so cute!” he swooned. “May I give you a pet?” he asked. He knelt down beside her and reached out his hand. But right away, he could tell from her body language that she was not in the mood. “Not now!” grunted Abigail, “I need to go on patrol!” She ran off.

“Oh, OK,” said Dad, trying not to take it personally. He sat down with his laptop and went to work. Meanwhile, Abigail made the rounds around the room. She checked behind the couches. She peeked behind the bar. She checked out her bolt-to entrances to make sure they were clear. And then she stopped by her breakfast tray for a little mid-morning snack.

Patrol completed, she loped over to her rest spot and washed her face. Dad watched out of the corner of his eye, trying to resist her cuteness. As any bun parent will tell you, there’s nothing cuter than a bunny washing her ears.

All done, she settled into her loaf position. A few minutes later, Dad heard a chattering sound. He looked over at her. Abigail chattered her teeth at him. He chattered his teeth back at her and waited for a response. Abigail chattered back, “I’m ready for my pet, now!”  

Dad knelt down in front of her, and held out his hand. Abigail sniffed it, and lowered her head, granting him permission to pet. Dad obliged, and began to rub her head. Abigail closed her eyes and relaxed. “Now I’m in the mood!” she thought.

Bunnies – just like humans – have moods. There’s a time and place for everything!    

CHAPTER 18 – RETURN TO SENDER

“Firefighters rescued pets from homes near the fire and brought them to a local shelter,” reported the TV newscaster. Abigail and Dad sat on the floor watching the evening news together. Scenes of walls of flames and houses burning flashed on the screen. It was scary. Abigail looked at Dad and wondered, “What if that happened to me? How would you find me?”

“Well, Abigail,” explained Dad, “First of all, I always keep your carrier handy with some emergency supplies just in case we have to evacuate quickly. But, if I’m not home, there’s a Small Pet Select sticker on the front window that tells fire fighters that there’s a rabbit in here that needs rescuing. And, you have a microchip implanted in you. The vet put it there while you were asleep. So, if you are rescued, a vet or a shelter can scan you, and they’ll be able to contact me. It’s kind of like a return to sender label.”

Abigail wasn’t sure how all that worked, but she felt better knowing Dad had a plan. But then she wondered, “What if I run out of the house and get lost?” Dad had a plan for that, too. “I have a lot of photos of you, so I could make up flyers and pass them out, and send out notifications with your photo through our neighborhood watch system so people could keep a look out for you.”

Dad continued, “But Abigail, it’s just best if you never go outside. My gosh, any number of things could happen to you. There are cats, dogs, coyotes, and hawks that would all love to chase after you. You’re so tiny, they could easily carry you off!” Abigail shuddered at the thought. She had no desire to go outdoors. Even when the door was wide open when Dad was bringing in food from the magic garden, she never went over to look outside. She was very content in her indoor kingdom.

Dad did wonder about one thing, though. If she was at a shelter with other rabbits, would he be able to pick her out of a lineup? As special as she was to him, she did look like a lot of other chestnut brown Netherland Dwarf rabbits. As he petted her, he studied her markings and drew an image of her in his mind. Of course, his phone was loaded with photos of her, too!

But he wondered, would SHE recognize HIM if he came to find her?

Just then, Abigail hopped over to him, and he just knew – they would both recognize each other right away. They were bonded for life.

The Great Divide

CHAPTER 17 – The Great Divide

Abigail hopped down the hallway and peered into the guest room. “I wonder what’s in there?” she thought. It looked interesting, but there was a one foot section of hardwood floor separating the carpeted hallway from the carpeted guest room. She was afraid to cross it. To a bunny her size, it seemed like “the great divide.”

Abigail disliked hardwood floors. Carpet was OK. Even the tile entryway was OK. But there was just something about walking on hardwood that she didn’t like. It made her uncomfortable. “No traction,” she thought, “It’s like trying to walk on ice!”

Her territory was surrounded by hardwood floors. On one side was the kitchen. It was completely hardwood floors. She never stepped foot in there. On the other side was the guest room – with the hardwood border. Even though the doors to these rooms were always open, she limited her territory to the carpeted living room and dining room. “This is enough space for me to have to defend,” she thought to herself.

Many months passed by. One day, Abigail was on her morning patrol and came to the edge of her territory. Like many times before, she stared into the guest room, wondering what lay beyond “the great divide.” This morning, curiosity finally got the best of her. She decided to face her fears. She took a running start and hopped right over the hardwood floor onto the carpet in the guest room. “That wasn’t so bad,” she thought. With so many new smells and new sights to explore, she soon forgot all about her fears. She slinked under the bed and began snooping around.

“Abigail, breakfast is ready!” announced Dad as he set down her orange tray of fresh greens. But Abigail was nowhere to be seen. “Oh Abigail,” he called out, “Where are you?” He searched all her usual hiding spots; behind the couch, under the dining table, behind the bar – even her bolt-to tunnel. No Abigail.

“Where could she be?” he wondered. The only space he hadn’t checked was the guest room. Could she be in there? He scanned the guest room but didn’t see her. Then, he knelt down on his hands and knees and peered under the bed. Sure enough, he spotted the familiar silhouette of Abigail’s tiny round body. Abigail paused her investigation and looked up at him nonchalantly and thought, “What?” Dad said, “Why Abigail, aren’t you the brave explorer today?”

Having conquered her fear of crossing “the great divide,” Abigail decided to claim this space as her territory. She left a few little “poop signs” to let everyone know that this was now HER territory. From then on, her morning patrol included the guest room, too.

For some bunnies, it just takes time to work up the courage to explore something new.   

My Protector

CHAPTER 16 – My Protector

Thump!

Abigail sat in the middle of the living room floor, facing the front door. Ears up. Nose twitching. Ready to thump her foot again. She was signaling, “Red Alert!” It was a warm summer evening and the main door was open, with the screen door letting in the breeze. Abigail heard a strange noise outside.

It’s every rabbit’s job to warn the warren whenever they sense danger. In Abigail’s case, the only other member of her warren was Dad. But she still felt the need to warn him, and she liked it when he would run over to her side when she thumped. She felt safer, knowing he was there. He was her protector.

Dad heard her thump resonate through the house. It was amazing how that tiny foot could make such a loud thump. He rushed over to see what was the matter. “What’s up, little one?” he asked. Abigail looked up at him and wondered, “Did you hear the noise?” Dad looked where her ears were facing, and the two of them sat on the floor, staring at the front door.

Dad went over to investigate. Abigail watched as he opened the screen door and looked outside. “He’s so brave,” she thought. He found nothing, and came back to report to her, “It’s OK Abigail, everything’s fine. No need to worry. You’re safe. Besides, I’m right here. I’ll protect you.” Dad laid down next to her and waited until she felt sure the danger had passed, and she went back about her business.

Abigail loved to explore late at night. For her, play time was from 11 PM to 2 AM. But if Dad went to bed early, she would just stay close to her base, where it was safe. She liked it when he stayed up late and laid on the floor near her. She’d explore new spaces and run through the rooms, skipping as she went, carefree, knowing that she was safe because Dad was nearby to protect her. She felt brave!

Together, they were a team. They were a warren!

CHAPTER 15 – EYE TO EYE

Abigail’s little white cotton ball tail bounced up and down like a ping pong ball as she hopped away. Dad laughed and said, “You have the cutest little butt!” He was laying flat on the floor, with his chin resting on the carpet, getting a rabbit’s eye view of the world. Everything looked so much bigger from down there.

He remembered reading some advice about what house rabbits like. Rule number one is get down on the floor. Rule number two is get down on the floor. Wise words. Dad seemed to spend half his life on the floor now. Sometimes, it was a little hard on his knees and back, but the carpet made it tolerable. Being on the floor meant he could meet Abigail at her level.

Abigail turned around in the other room and looked back at Dad. Seeing just his face, she thought, “He looks more my size now. Here I come!” She bounded in his direction, hopped right over him, and kept on going. Dad just giggled, “You’re so funny!” Abigail ran back and forth along the window, taunting him. “Bet you can’t catch me!” she thought. She was right. Try as he might, Dad could not tag Abigail as she streaked past. He loved how Abigail’s personality opened up when they played together.

Abigail ran to her "bolt-to" spot and started digging. Dad went over to the other entrance and began scratching the carpet with his fingers, mimicking her digging rhythm. Abigail knew what that meant. “I bet he has a Healthy Snacker for me!” she thought. Sure enough, she peeked around the corner and saw Dad holding a snacker between his teeth. Abigail ran over to Dad, stood up on her back feet, and took the snacker from his mouth.

After munching down her treasure, Abigail flopped down in front of him. Nose to nose, they stared at each other. Dad wiggled his nose to copy her. Abigail looked at him and slowed down her wiggle. Dad slowed his wiggle to match. Then she sped up. Dad did the same. Dad chuckled, “I know we’re communicating, but I don’t know what I’m saying. ”Abigail appreciated the effort.

When Abigail first came to live with Dad, whenever he tried to kiss her on the head, she would grunt and run away. But after months of playing together, she grew to trust him. Dad leaned over her and kissed her on the head. Then, he gently nuzzled her soft ears with his nose. Abigail closed her eyes and relaxed.

Little bunnies. Big personalities.

CHAPTER 14 – CHANGING COATS

Abigail heard footsteps approaching. “It’s probably Dad coming to get my tray for breakfast,” she thought. But when the figure came through the door, Dad wasn’t wearing his morning black pants and gray shirt. The figure had blue pants with a white shirt. Abigail sat up, ready to bolt. “Maybe it’s not Dad,” she thought. 

“Relax Abigail, it’s just Dad,” said the familiar voice. It sounded like Dad. And as he got closer, she recognized him. So she relaxed and went back to her loaf position. 

Humans confused Abigail. They were constantly changing their coats. Sometimes, multiple times in the same day! “Rabbits look the same all the time,” she thought. “If I’m a chestnut brown rabbit today, I’ll be a chestnut brown rabbit tomorrow. Even after I change coats, I still look the same! It’s not like when I change coats, I suddenly become a white rabbit!” 

Abigail changed her coat twice a year. Large clumps of fur would fall out. She hated that time of year. Her nice smooth coat would look all mottled for a few weeks. Dad would laugh at her and say things like, “You look like you’re wearing a tutu.” She wasn’t sure what that meant, but it didn’t sound very flattering. Dad would try to help her out by pulling off the loose clumps of fur, but Abigail would just lunge at him and grunt. “The nerve. It’s MY fur! How dare he steal it.” So, Dad would pet her and gently scoop the loose fur off as he stroked her. Abigail was no dummy and would, without hesitation, give him the stink eye, as if to say, “I KNOW what you’re doing.” 

As time went on, Abigail learned to recognize Dad by his voice and his walk. But Dad would announce his arrival anyway. “Hey Abigail. It’s just Dad.” To which Abigail thought, “It’s not JUST Dad. It’s DAD!” 

After all, she loved him.

CHAPTER 13 – FIXED, NOT BROKEN

Dad vacuumed up Abigail’s area and set the dustbuster down on the floor. A curious Abigail hopped over to check it out. It was shaped kind of like a rabbit. She sniffed it. It smelled kind of like a rabbit. “Could this be my mate?” she wondered. She circled around it, binkying and dancing, trying to elicit a response.

Dad chuckled, “Sorry Abigail, but that’s not your new mate. But I think it may be time to get you fixed.” Abigail thought, “Fixed? Why? I’m not broken.” Dad had read that female rabbits had an 80% chance of developing uterine cancer by age 4. Getting her fixed would eliminate that possibility. He certainly wanted Abigail to be around a lot longer than 4 years! And, this would also calm down her frustration to mate.

Dad called up Abigail’s vet to schedule an appointment. Her vet was nice and very experienced with rabbits. Even though this was a routine operation, he still wanted someone experienced whom he could trust.

On the morning of the operation, Abigail sensed something was up. After their usual routine of breakfast, followed by a massage, Dad came straight towards her with a deliberate look on his face. “I’d better hide, just in case,” she thought. She started to run off, but then she felt Dad’s hands wrap around her tiny body as he grabbed her. He never did that! “Put me down!” she shrieked, letting out a blood curdling scream that sounded like a bird screeching. It startled Dad so much so, that he almost dropped her. Quickly, he placed her in the carrier. In a soothing voice, he said, “I’m sorry, baby. I hate to do this, but it’s for your own good. Trust me.” Abigail worried, “Is he was taking me away? I don’t want to leave. I like my home!”

After a short car ride, they arrived at the vet. “Don’t worry, sweetie. I’ll be back for you later today,” he promised. Abigail put on a brave face, as rabbits do, but inside, she was terrified. The vet took her in the back, and put some drops in her nose. Soon, Abigail felt very sleepy. Try as she might, she couldn’t keep her eyes open, and she dozed off.

A little while later, she woke up and looked around. Nothing looked familiar. She noticed the fur on her tummy was missing. “What happened to me?” she wondered, “I want my Dad!”

Late in the afternoon, the vet came in and announced, “It’s time to go home!” Abigail was excited. She peered through the bars of her carrier and heard Dad’s familiar voice, “Hi sweetie. Are you OK?” She was relieved. Dad had come back for her!

Dad knew that it wasn’t good for a rabbit to stop eating and pooping, so it was important to get her system going as soon as she could. He fixed a tray of her favorite foods and set it down in front of her. Abigail sniffed at it, but she didn’t feel much like eating. She was still a little groggy and sore. She just hunkered down by her home base, happy to be home and safe.

When darkness fell, Abigail watched Dad set up a bed on the floor near her. “I just want to keep an eye on you tonight. I want you to know I’m close by,” he explained. That night, the two of them slept soundly, side by side on the floor.

Sunlight filled the room the next morning. Dad opened his eyes and looked over at Abigail. She was already awake, staring back at him. “Good morning! How are you? Did you sleep OK?” he asked. As he headed to the kitchen to fix breakfast for her, he passed by her bathroom spot and noticed a small pile of poop.

As only a bun parent could understand, he was overjoyed! A pooping bunny is a healthy bunny. It meant her system was working again. She was going to be OK.

Dad turned and flashed a smile at Abigail. Now that she was fixed, they could look forward to many happy years together.

CHAPTER 12 – RABBIT HOBBIES

The sun peaked in the window and gently woke Abigail. She yawned and stretched, and sat up. It was still early. The house was quiet, and Dad was still asleep. Abigail began her morning ritual and headed over to her bolt-to spot for her morning workout. Being a house rabbit, she didn’t need to go foraging for food like her wild cousins. She had her hay tunnel, pellets, and water available all the time, and fresh greens served to her twice a day. But rabbits are industrious by nature, so they like to have a project or a hobby to keep themselves entertained. Some like to dig. Others like to chew. 

Abigail was a digger. She liked digging. It was good exercise. Her long term project was to widen the entrance to her bolt-to tunnel. Every morning, she would dig for hours on the carpet. It was slow going, but she was in no rush. To her, it was like humans going to the gym to work out. 

Usually, when Dad got up, she’d take a break to eat her breakfast and get her daily massage. Then, she’d go back to digging for awhile before she took her half-nap. 

One day, Dad brought in a grass mat and placed where she dug. Dad explained, “Here Abigail, try this. I read some rabbits like to dig and chew on grass mats.” Abigail looked at the grass mat and thought, “This is just in my way!” She grabbed it with her teeth and moved it aside, and continued to dig on the carpet. Dad just laughed. He didn’t mind that she was ripping up the carpet in that spot. It was hidden from sight anyway.

Whenever something new entered her territory, Abigail had to investigate. It didn’t matter whether it was a box, a piece of furniture, or a book lying on the floor. If it came into her space, she made it her business to know what it was. 

Rabbits also like to chew. Their teeth are constantly growing, so they have to chew to whittle down their teeth. In the wild, there was plenty to chew on. But in a house, there wasn’t. When left with no alternatives, rabbits tend to chew on baseboards, furniture, or their favorite, Apple cords! Fortunately for Abigail, Dad always provided more desirable alternatives, like oat hay in the foraging tunnel, twig balls, mobiles, and towels.

Sometimes, Dad would just lay a towel down by her home base. Bunnies are very particular about such things, so no matter how he arranged it, it was never quite right. Abigail would spend hours rearranging it just so. 

A bored rabbit is a naughty rabbit, so Dad always made sure there was something to keep her entertained. In turn, Abigail was a good bunny, and never destroyed his furniture. 

Want to learn more about setting up your rabbit cage and tying toys to sides for resistance? Watch this!

CHAPTER 11 – MY SPACE

The twig ball came rolling towards Abigail. Even though it was bigger than her head, she grabbed it with her teeth, and with all her might, flung it back towards Dad. Dad grabbed the ball and tossed it back at Abigail. Abigail liked playing this game. It usually went on for five or six times and then she’d get a Healthy Snacker as a reward.  

Just then, the ball sailed past Abigail and landed against the window by her home base. Dad reached over to grab the ball, but Abigail lunged at him and grunted, “Stay out of my space!” Dad pulled back. “What?” he asked. Abigail thought, “Doesn’t he know? This is MY space!” 

Although Abigail considered the entire living room her territory, she understood it was shared space with Dad. But there was a space along the window which she reserved only for herself. It was her safe zone. She had marked it with little poop signs, which, to a rabbit, said, “Abigail’s space. Keep out!” Any rabbit would know that, but humans seemed to think that stray poops were the result of poor bathroom habits, rather than signage. Abigail thought, “He must not read rabbit signs. How can I explain it to him?”

Abigail looked around. Running along the wall was a long black “root”. Dad had said something about “covering the cords” with it when he placed it there. Using her teeth, Abigail moved the root about six inches away from the wall, all the way along the window. “I’ll draw a line that he can see!” she thought. When she was done, she looked up at him, and with her eyes, said, “this is my space!” Dad watched her and smiled, “OK, I get it now. Don’t cross that line!” Just like humans, every rabbit likes to have their own personal space – a place where they can go to be alone and feel safe, and not be messed with. Abigail knew her Dad was smart enough to figure it out – and respect it. 

And he did.

 

CHAPTER 10 – Godmother to a Rabbit?

“I’m back!” announced Dad, as he burst through the door. Abigail sat up and rotated her ears towards him. She tried not to look too excited, but she was so happy to hear his voice. He had been gone for days, and even though someone had been looking after her, she was wondering what had happened to him. Did he get lost? Did he get eaten? She worried that he might never come back. As Dad knelt down to give her a pet, she flashed a worried glance at him. “Don’t worry, Abigail, I’ll always come back to you,” he reassured her. “But what if you don’t?” she wondered. Little did she know, Dad had it covered.

When Abigail came into his life, Dad rewrote his will to make sure enough money was set aside to cover her expenses for the rest of her life. He calculated how much she’d need in food, supplies, and medical care every year, and then multiplied it by the life expectancy of a house rabbit – about 12 years. It wasn’t a trivial amount of money, but he wanted to make sure she would have a good life, even if he wasn’t there, and didn’t want her to suffer because her new caregiver couldn’t afford her. 

That was the easy part. The harder part was finding someone who would look after her with the same love and care as he did. “Who of all my friends would be the best guardian for her?” he pondered. He went through the rolodex in his mind of all of his animal-loving friends. Some would probably just put her in a cage, and that wouldn’t do. Some had other animals who might get along with Abigail – or might stress her out. She was so tiny. He didn’t want to take the chance. 

And that’s when Abigail’s Aunt Chelsea popped into his mind. Aunt Chelsea was a gentle soul. She was responsible. And she loved all living beings. In fact, it was Aunt Chelsea who had encouraged Dad to adopt Abigail in the first place. One day, Dad asked Chelsea, “I want to designate someone to take care of Abigail in case anything happens to me. Would you be her godmother?” Chelsea was taken aback for a moment. “Godmother to a rabbit?” she thought. But she adored Abigail, and without any further hesitation, said, “Yes! Yes, of course!” And with that, Dad had peace of mind, knowing Abigail would be in good hands should anything happen to him. 

So Dad wrote her into his will as guardian for Abigail. From then on, he shared all of Abigail’s antics and preferences with Chelsea – what she liked to eat, what she liked to do, how she liked to arrange her territory, what treats she liked, and how she liked to be petted – so that Chelsea would really know Abigail.

Dad looked into Abigail’s eyes as he stroked her little ears and said in a soothing voice, “Don’t worry, Abigail. Aunt Chelsea is your godmother. She will look after you if anything happens to me.” Abigail seemed to understand. She liked Aunt Chelsea. She knew from the moment she met Chelsea that she could trust her. Abigail closed her eyes and relaxed. She had a godmother!

 

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CHAPTER 8 - THE SPA TREATMENT 

“Good morning! How’s my little girl?” asked Dad. Abigail, who had been digging in the corner, ran back to her home base where she felt secure, and waited for Dad. It was time for her morning massage – it was not just a pet – it was a massage! Dad knelt down beside her and reached out his hand and paused for approval. She sniffed and then lowered her head. 

No matter how busy he was, Dad always made time for this. As he began rubbing her head, he explained, “You know, Abigail, when I was a little boy, my mother would rock me for 10 minutes every morning. No matter how busy she was, she would always make time to do this. And I knew she loved me. So this is our version of that.” 

Abigail had learned she could trust Dad, so now she just relaxed and enjoyed the experience. She closed her eyes and sunk into the soft carpet. Ever so slowly, Dad ran his fingers along her nose and through her darling little ears. Though they were the typical short ears of a dwarf rabbit, Abigail would imagine they were long, silky ears as he slowly ran his fingers all the way to the tips. It felt so good. She couldn’t help it, her teeth chattered with approval. Dad gave the best massages! “You’re lucky I studied massage when I was younger,” laughed Dad.

Next, he’d rub her temples and jaw muscles. With all the chewing she did, it felt good to have her jaw muscles massaged. He worked his way around to her neck. That was a touchy spot for her. After all, that’s where predators would grab her, so it had taken her awhile to overcome her instinct to run. Dad would rub her neck muscles, and then her shoulders. And then he moved to the base of her ears. Those muscles were constantly in use as she rotated her ears like radar antennae. He knew just how hard to rub so it felt good but didn’t hurt. It was magic. He ended with the “1000 hands” technique, using both hands, one after another, down her entire body, so it felt like she was being massaged by 1000 hands. She felt worshipped.  As a rabbit should!

Sometimes, he’d softly repeat the word “love” to her as he massaged her. Sometimes, he’d sing to her. But most of the time, he would say nothing, and only the soft chirping of birds off in the distance would interrupt the morning silence. Abigail would drift off, almost in a trance. No words needed to be spoken. They communed through touch.

CHAPTER 9 – SUMMER HEAT

Abigail flopped on her side and sprawled out on the carpet. It was no use. No matter what she did, she couldn’t cool off. In the blink of an eye, spring had turned to summer. In one day, the weather had gone from pleasant to sweltering.

“Hot today, isn’t it?” asked Dad, as he breezed through the room, wearing shorts and a T-shirt. “Are you OK?” he asked. Abigail looked up at him, forlornly, and with her sad eyes said, “If you think it’s hot, try wearing a fur coat! Can you do something about this?” It seemed to Abigail that Dad was the god of light because he could make the darkness disappear at night, so maybe he was the god of weather, too. 

Dad knew rabbits didn’t handle heat well. But it was late in the day already, so he had to make do with what he had. Opening the doors and windows didn’t help. It was even hotter outside. He grabbed some ice packs from the freezer and wrapped them in a towel in front of a fan, and aimed it at Abigail – homemade air conditioning, so to speak. It might have helped. A little. But Abigail still looked miserable. 

Fortunately, as the evening progressed, the outside air cooled down so Dad could open the windows. On TV, the weatherman announced, “Tomorrow’s forecast is more of the same." Dad looked at Abigail, still flopped on the floor, and vowed, “I’m so sorry, Abigail. I promise, I’ll do something tomorrow.”

Early the next morning, Dad left the house. A few hours later, Abigail heard his footsteps approaching. They were much heavier than usual, though. Dad came in and set a big box down on the living room floor. “I have your answer!” announced Dad. “It’s an electric cold air machine!” Abigail hopped over to investigate. For the next few hours, a curious Abigail watched as her Dad sawed, drilled, and painted. He cut a hole in the wall, built a frame, and placed the big white box in the hole. As he was doing this, the temperature began to climb again. Abigail dreaded another hot day.

Just as the heat was becoming unbearable, Dad announced, “OK, I’m done. Let’s try ‘er out.” He pushed a button and the big white box made a humming noise. Like magic, Abigail felt cool air blowing on her. “Ohhh, this is nice!” she thought, “I was right! Dad must be the god of weather!” She positioned herself on the floor right where the cool air was the strongest. She settled into her loaf position, ears back, and enjoyed the cool breeze. Dad laughed, “Nice, huh?” For the next couple of hours, Abigail parked herself there and didn’t move.   

Later that night, when the evening air had cooled down, she ran through the living room, binkying. It was her way of saying “thank you” to Dad. She was a happy girl!

CHAPTER 7 – THE PRIVILEGE OF PETTING

Abigail sat by the window, grooming herself. She was very proud of her chestnut brown fur coat and always kept it clean. Her mother had said, “Take care of your coat, and your coat will take care of you.”  

It always baffled her when complete strangers just reached out to pet her. “The nerve,” she thought, “They don’t just go up and rub each other like that unless they know each other really well, so why do they just assume they can pet me?” To her, petting was a very personal thing. “You have to trust someone a lot before you let them pet you,” she pondered. After all, how did she know if the hand that was gently petting her wouldn’t suddenly grab her and carry her off – or worse. She needed time to observe the person to decide if they were a threat before there could be any trust. To her, petting was a privilege, not a right.

Just then, the doorbell rang. She had learned that when she heard that sound, it meant some commotion was about to happen. She sat up, ears erect, waiting to see who was there. Dad opened the door and invited in some strangers. Right away, she heard them call out her name, “Hello, Abigail!” She didn’t recognize them, so she stayed at her home base, ready to bolt if anyone came too close. That was one of the nice things about being a free roam bunny, she could run and hide if she wanted to, unlike the old days in her cage where she had no choice.

The guests sat down and talked. She watched them for awhile. They seemed friendly enough, so she decided to venture out and check them out and see if they passed the “sniff test”. Like Goldilocks, she went around to each of them to check them out. The man was wearing some sort of scent. It was so strong, she could smell him from three feet away. “My, my. A bit overpowering,” she thought. She didn’t get too close. “Who knows what he’s hiding?” she thought. 

As she approached the next person, the woman reached down and put out her hand for Abigail to sniff. “My gosh. What did you just touch?” she wondered. The woman’s hand smelled like some kind of food humans ate. She didn’t want that smell rubbed all over her nice clean coat! She backed away. 

Finally, the third person lay down on the floor at her level and spoke to her gently, “Hello, sweetheart,” she said. She reached out her hand, and Abigail sniffed. She seemed OK. The woman placed her hand in front of Abigail’s head and paused for permission. “May I pet you?” she asked. “I like that,” thought Abigail, “This human respects me.” So, Abigail granted her the privilege to pet, and lowered her head. Since she didn’t know the woman very well, Abigail stayed crouched on her feet, ready to run if anything funny happened. The woman gently stroked the top of her head between her darling ears.

Abigail, who had not had much human contact before coming to live with Dad, eventually discovered that sometimes new people could be friends.  Some people besides Dad were worthy of “permission to pet”! 

CHAPTER 6: FORAGING FUN

One day, Abigail was sitting in her spot, contemplating what to do next for entertainment. “If I was a wild bunny, I’d be out foraging for food,” she thought. But since her food was served to her on a platter, she didn’t need to do that. 

Just then, Dad came into the room with an interesting-looking contraption. It was a collapsible tube with three legs, and was big enough for her to run through. “I thought you might like a foraging tunnel,” he suggested. He set it on the floor and then opened a big white box. The room filled with the scent of fresh hay. Abigail had never smelled hay like this before. So fresh! So fragrant!

“It’s imported hay!” Dad chuckled, “I got it from Washington!” Abigail wondered, “Is Washington near the magic garden?” “Who knew there were so many kinds of hay?” he asked, “There’s Timothy, Orchard, Oat,and Alfalfa.” She watched as he filled each leg of the tunnel with a different type of hay.

Abigail hopped over to investigate. Being a little wary, she stayed outside of the tunnel and went around to each leg and sniffed. It smelled so good! She pulled out some hay and took a bite. “Yum!” she thought. After sampling all the hays in the hay-buffet, she decided oat hay was her favorite. She liked the crunchy tips. Her second favorite was Alfalfa, followed by Timothy, and finally, Orchard. But they were all good.

“I hid some snackers in the hay,” said Dad, hoping to entice her into the tunnel. “Snackers?” thought Abigail. She loved rabbit snackers! If there was one word she responded to, it was “snacker.” Well, maybe two words. “Treat” was the other one. “Find the snackers!” said Dad, expecting it to take her awhile to find a hay snacker buried in hay. Abigail dove into the tunnel, rooted around, and in less than three seconds, reappeared with a snacker in her mouth. Dad shook his head in disbelief. Abigail rolled her eyes and thought, “It’s not that hard, Dad!” as she sat munching on her treasure.

As time passed, Abigail got used to being inside the tunnel, and sometimes, would sit in there and forage for just the right piece of hay, and munch on it. She loved having a variety of hay to choose from, and it was so much more fun than just eating off a platter! Foraging was fun!

CHAPTER 5: “MAY I CALL YOU DAD?”

Abigail looked at the man, high above her on the couch. It had been over a month since she came to live with him, but she still wasn’t sure what to make of him. He seemed nice. He always spoke to her gently. He brought her lots of hay and greens. He cleaned her bathroom. But he always wanted to pet her. Could she trust him? She knew there was only one way to find out. She was going to have to get up close and personal.

She hopped onto a cushion beside the couch to take a closer look. She was 2 lbs of rabbit, and felt awfully small. He seemed to loom over her. “One wrong step, and he could smoosh me,” she thought to herself. The man looked over at her. Shyly, she turned her back to him, not wanting him to catch her looking. “Really, Abigail?” he asked, “Are you ever going to warm up to me?”

Abigail thought about it for a few minutes. He had a point. She turned around to face him. The man looked over and said, “Well, that’s better.” She hopped up to the edge of the couch and put her front paws up on the couch and stared at him. The man looked down at her and smiled. “Hello there,” he said.

It was now or never. Every hour, every breath of her life had led to this moment. Abigail took a deep breath, screwed up all the courage she could muster, and leapt right onto the couch. It was scary being so far off the ground. But she was a brave and determined girl. The man looked surprised. Abigail cautiously crawled up his arm and gave him a nose bump – the bunny equivalent of stealing a kiss. Nose-to-nose, they looked into each other’s eyes. She felt so vulnerable. With one move, he could easily toss her off the couch. But the man just smiled.

“May I call you Dad?” she asked.

Looking into her eyes, the man replied, “You know Abigail, before I adopted you, I made a commitment.

I promised I’d always take care of you.

I promised I’d make this place your home.

I promised I would make you a priority and spend time with you.

And I promised I would love you. Forever.”

At that moment, she knew she could trust him.

She was right.

CHAPTER 4: THE MAGIC GARDEN

“Abigail, it’s dinner time!” called the man. “Dinner?” she wondered, “I thought I already had dinner,” as she looked over at the pile of hay, the bowl of pellets, and water. The man came in carrying a large orange tray, covered with green things. “I don’t know what you like, so I brought you a little bit of everything,” he explained, “These are all things that are safe for bunnies to eat. There’s cilantro, parsley, dandelion leaves, carrot tops, romaine lettuce, and some basil. And for dessert, there’s a little piece of fresh apple. See what you like.”

Abigail hopped over to investigate. She wasn’t sure what to do. Until now, all she ever ate was hay and pellets. She had never even seen greens before. She sniffed them carefully. They smelled good. She took a little bite. They tasted good, too! Abigail went around the smorgasbord, sampling little bites of each plant. Right away, she discovered that cilantro was her favorite, followed by parsley. She wasn’t sure about the dandelion leaves or the basil, so she decided to come back to those later. But when she took a bite of the apple, she thought, “This is good! I like apples!”

From then on, twice a day, every day, the man brought her the orange tray filled with fresh greens to supplement her hay. Abigail wondered where this endless supply of fresh greens came from. Was there a field full of fresh greens? She looked out the window, but didn’t see anything. One day, the man came through the door with an arm full of greens and announced, “Abigail, I’ve been to the magic garden!” She followed him over to the room where the orange tray came from, and watched as he carefully washed all the greens, cut their stems, and arranged them in a bowl of water like a bouquet of fresh flowers. The aroma was enticing. “Someday,” she thought, “I have to visit this magic garden.”

Every so often, he’d bring her something new to try. “Abigail, try this,” he’d say. He brought her different types of lettuce, kale, beet tops, mustard greens, and bok choy. Some she liked, some she didn’t. But she appreciated being given the choice. Abigail noticed that her chestnut coat grew soft and shiny. Food was interesting and exciting now. She liked poking around here and there throughout the day, picking out the bits she wanted right then. She thought it must be how her wild cousins ate. For the first time, Abigail had favorite foods, and she felt very worldly.

CHAPTER 3: SURVIVAL OF THE SKITTISH

Abigail relaxed in her loaf position, legs tucked under her, surveying her new territory. “I need a good ‘bolt-to’ spot,” she thought, “A place where I can run and hide in case there is danger.” Just then, the man entered the room and Abigail instinctively sat up, ready to bolt. “It’s just me, Abigail. There’s nothing to be afraid of,” he assured her. But she couldn’t help it. Even though she was beginning to trust the man, she didn’t know who else might suddenly appear.

To pretty much anything that moves, a rabbit looks like a good snack. Their only defense is to run and hide. After hundreds of years and countless generations, the rabbits who survived were the ones who were always on guard and ran and hid from their predators. So, the rabbits that are around today are programmed to be cautious. Abigail liked to call it “survival of the skittish”. 

She took a walk-about around the living room, searching for a good hiding place. First, she checked behind the couch. “Nope. Too open,” she thought. Then, she hopped into the dining room and looked behind the bar. “Nope. Only one entrance,” she observed. But as she came back into the living room, she noticed a little gap between the bookcase and the wall, just barely as wide as her head. “Hmmm, I wonder what’s back there?” she pondered. 

She stuck her nose into the crack and sniffed. Not sensing anything threatening, she made herself skinny and squeezed her furry little body into the crevice. It was tight, but she could manage. As she rounded the corner, she could see light at the other end of the tunnel. She pushed on through, and popped her head out the other side. The exit was in the corner of the room, hidden from sight. “This is perfect.” she thought, “Two entrances, completely hidden, and just big enough for a bunny.”

There were a couple of “roots” growing in the way of the entrances, but she could fix that. She set about chewing on the roots to get them out of the way, when the man came over to investigate. “What are you doing, sweetheart?” he asked. “Just clearing the entrance,” thought Abigail, as she paused and looked up at him with her big brown eyes. She continued chewing and tugging at the root. It was very stubborn. “Um, sweetie, you probably shouldn’t chew on those cords,” said the man. Abigail stopped. “Why not?” she wondered.

The man disappeared for a few minutes and came back with some tools. With one tug (he made it look so easy) he lifted the root off the ground and hung it on a nail, so it was no longer in the way. “That works,” thought Abigail. Now she didn’t need to chew the root herself. It didn’t really taste very good anyway.

It was time for a test run. Abigail bolted around the living room to build up speed and then made a beeline for the sliver of an entrance. Without even slowing down, she disappeared into the crevice. The man stood there, dumbfounded. He couldn’t believe she’d fit through the opening, let alone at full speed. She stuck her head out the other side and looked at him. “What do you think?” she asked. “I’m impressed!” said the man. From then on, the man was careful never to block the entrances to her bolt-to spot.

Now, when Abigail played out in the open, she felt more secure, knowing that she had a safe place to hide. 

CHAPTER 2: FINALLY FREE

The morning sun gently woke Abigail. She opened her eyes and saw the inside of her familiar cage. “Did I dream all that business about being moved?” she wondered. But when she peered out through the bars, everything looked different. Beside her was a big window that she could look out, and in front of her was soft carpet as far as she could see.

“Good morning!” said a cheerful voice. It was the man she had met yesterday. This was definitely not a dream. “Did you sleep OK?” he asked. The man opened the lid to her cage and slowly reached in to pet her. He seemed trustworthy so far. She didn’t back away this time, and granted him permission to touch her head. “Welcome to your new home,” he said, “Would you like to explore?” 

He slid open the door to her cage, and backed away. Abigail looked at the open door and was frozen with fear. She was all alone, about to face a new world. Rabbits are curious creatures, and curiosity soon overcame her fear. She hopped out onto the carpet. It felt good on her feet. It gave her good traction in case she needed to run, which made her feel more secure. She scanned the room for danger, but all was still. So, she bravely ventured out into the open. There were so many new sights to behold and smells to investigate!

“This is your new home,” explained the man, “It’s all yours!” Did she hear him right? The entire place was hers? “You never have to go back in the cage if you don’t want to,” he said. Yes, she had heard right! The man left her alone to set up her new space. It was so big! She was used to living in 8 square feet. This was a hundred times bigger! It was like walking out onto a football field.

Abigail explored the living room, and chose a spot by the bottom of a tall window for her home base. Behind her, she had an unobstructed view of the outside world where she could watch squirrels playing in the trees. In front of her, she could keep an eye on everything going on in her territory. The spot was far enough out of the way that she could run for cover if something unfamiliar showed up. It was perfect. She marked that spot with a few little poops to let everyone know that this was now her spot.

Then she chose her bathroom. “No more pooping where I eat and sleep!” she thought. She chose a spot as far away as she could from her napping place, but still close enough that she could make a beeline back to home base if needed. She left a pile of poops and a splash of pee to let the man understand this was her bathroom. He obliged, and put down a piece of cardboard and a towel. She understood, and from then on, faithfully used that as her bathroom. No words were spoken, but they were communicating! This man was listening to her!

Late that night, an excited Abigail ran laps around the dining room table and dashed through the living room. As she ran past her old cage, she thought, “No more. I’m never going back in there!” 

Her wish had come true. At last, she was free!

CHAPTER 1: WISH WITH ALL YOUR HEART

It was a bright and sunny morning, the kind bunnies love. Abigail, a tiny little chestnut brown Netherland Dwarf rabbit, sat in her cage, munching on hay. She peered through the bars of her cage, and could see sunlight filtering through a window. “I wonder if my family will let me out today,” she thought. Abigail loved it when she was let out to play. She would run as fast as she could, and then jump in the air for joy. Lately the family had been very busy, so there wasn’t much out-of-the-cage time.

Abigail wished she could play at night. That’s when she was wide awake. At night, though, the family was asleep and she was locked in her cage. One night, she looked up through the window at the starry sky and wished with all her heart that she could be free to run, play, explore, and rest wherever she liked.

The warm sun made her sleepy, and she started to doze off. Suddenly she was jarred awake by a big commotion. The family burst into the room. “Are they letting me out?” she wondered excitedly. But instead of opening the door, they picked up the entire cage and carried her outside. This had never happened before. Abigail was frightened. Rabbits like to be firmly planted on the ground, not up in the air. “What is happening?” she worried.

Outside, a man peered at her through the bars. She had never met him before. He spoke softly to her, “Well, hello there! Aren’t you cute?” She eyed him with caution. What did he want? The family opened the lid to her cage. She felt very vulnerable. The man reached his hand in to touch her. “Whoa, I don’t know you that well!” she thought. She backed away.  

Rabbits have four levels of defense; run, hide, lunge, and bite. Abigail looked around. There was nowhere to run in her tiny cage. She looked for somewhere to hide. The only place was under the green plastic igloo that she often perched upon for a better view. Abigail dove under the igloo. “Please don’t hurt me,” she begged.

The family lifted the igloo off of her, and just like that, she was again utterly vulnerable. The stranger reached in again to touch her. Time for level three of defense! She lunged at him, but stopped short of biting him. That was reserved as a last resort. “Back off!” she grunted. It worked. The man backed away.

She heard the family apologize and say, “She’s normally not so mean.” Abigail thought, “I’m not mean, I’m scared!” The stranger seemed to understand, and smiled at her and said softly, “Don’t be scared, little one. I won’t hurt you.” Again, she eyed him with caution. The man and the family talked, and then they placed a smaller box with a handle on it near the door to her cage. She hesitated, but it was somewhere to hide, so she hopped inside. The door closed behind her. She was trapped. She thought to herself, “I’m a tough bunny,” and put on a brave face, trying her best to not look weak even though she was terrified. “What’s going to happen to me?” she wondered. 

Although she didn’t understand, the wish she had made long ago was about to come true.

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