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Through Abigail’s Eyes: Play Days (168)

Abigail at her typewriter

CHAPTER 168 – Play Days

Abigail stared out the window, her mind wandering. She was content with her free roam space inside, but she loved looking out across the yard and seeing all that space!

“Penny for your thoughts?” asked Dad. Abigail thought, “I’m just thinking about the shelter bunnies stuck in their cages and how lucky I am to have all this space. Can we throw another garden party for them?” Dad replied, “No, sweetie. I’m sorry, but too many of them wanted to get into fights, so we can’t put them all together.”

Abigail thought for a moment. She looked up at Dad, “But Dad, they still need to get out once in awhile! Could you let them out in the play area one at a time?” Dad started stroking Abigail’s head, “Yes, I can take them out one at a time, but it will take a lot more time. I’d have to be gone for at least the whole day once a week. Are you OK with that?” Abigail pressed her head against Dad’s hand as he petted her and thought, “Yes, that’s OK with me.”

Fortunately, the San Martin shelter was very flexible and let Dad do what he wanted. Every Tuesday, Dad divided a large room in half to create two large play areas so he could bring two bunnies out at once. One at a time, he brought the rabbits out from their cages and let them play for 30-45 minutes.

Pam, a large black and white English Spot mix sat in her cage. A sign on her door read, “CAUTION: BITER”. She was tired of staring through the bars of her cage. She wanted to be free. She was grumpy. She watched as Dad opened the door to her cage. In a cheery voice, Dad asked, “Hi Pam! How are you today? Would you like to come out and play? May I pet you?” Dad placed his hand near her face and paused to wait for permission. Pam lunged and bit him. “What do you want?” she wondered.

Dad said softly, “Hey, there’s no need to bite. It’s OK. We’re going to go play.” He reached in and gently stroked her ears and head. Pam thought this seemed OK, so she didn’t bite, but she eyed him cautiously. After a couple of minutes of petting her, Dad said, “You’re too big to put in a carrier, so I’m going to have to carry you in my arms. May I pick you up?” Pam thought about it for a second and agreed. 

Dad gently lifted her up into his arms. Pam began to struggle, trying to bite him again. She was a strong rabbit! But Dad held her firmly and placed his chin on her head and stroked her while he softly said, “Calm down. It’s OK. You’re fine. It’s not nice to bite. It will be hard to find a home if you bite people.” He carried her down the hall into the play room and gently set her down on one side of the room.

Pam looked around and began exploring. Fleece lined the floor. There was a food buffet with fresh greens, some apple and banana slices, and some oat and alfalfa hay from Small Pet Select. Scattered around were a couple of tunnels and some fresh willow. Dad watched from outside the fence as she explored the area and sampled the treats. Before long, Pam was binkying and running zoomies.

Dad let her play while he brought out another rabbit and placed her in the second area. Then he climbed into Pam’s area and asked, “Are you having fun? May I join you?” He layed down on the floor while Pam continued her exploring. Eventually, she came over to Dad and sniffed him. “May I pet you?” he asked.

Dad held out his hand and Pam flopped down. Dad gently stroked her head and ears and gave her a kiss. Pam tooth chattered. She was a happy girl! Her true personality shined through.  

The transformation was amazing. One after another, the same thing happened. Bunnies would start out withdrawn or grumpy and by the end of the play session, they were binkying or flopped on their sides, relaxed.

It was dinner time when Dad came through the front door. Abigail was anxious and wondered, “How’d play day go, Dad?” Dad replied, “It went great. The bunnies were so happy to get out! Good idea, Abigail!” Abigail was happy. Hopefully, it made the bunnies less grumpy when they met prospective bun parents. She wanted them all to find happy homes.


Grumpy shelter bunny Pam transforms from a biter to a loving bunny after some out-of-cage play time.

Grumpy shelter bunny Pam transforms from a biter to a loving bunny after some out-of-cage play time.

Dividing a spare room at the shelter in half allows two bunnies to have play time at the same time.

Dividing a spare room at the shelter in half allows two bunnies to have play time at the same time.

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