Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blackie was my best friend, my baby girl and a huge part of my life.
On March 17, she went to “Rainbow Bridge.”
I got “Blackie” (rex rabbit) when she was approximately 5 years old from a woman that no longer wanted her and was going to let her go in the wild. I was not going to let that happen, so I took her home with me and we shared 12 wonderful years together.
She always had her own bedroom, fixed up just like a baby room, complete with rabbit-stuffed animals, rabbit figurines and rabbit books (that I would read to her at night). She had receiving blankets with rabbits on them, as well as baby quilts, bumper pads to line her play pen, baby toys to play with ó and she was potty trained to cloth diapers as well.
She even had a portable playpen for when we traveled. On trips to the vet, she had her own diaper bag with her picture and address on the side and extra sheets, diapers, food and hay inside. She lived in the Taj Mahal for rabbits.
Blackie was a full-time commitment. She always knew how to make my heart smile. We had a very special bond and shared memories to last a lifetime. There were many trips to the vet’s office to have her nails trimmed and for regular checkups.
In August 2007, Blackie took a turn for the worse. She ended up with her head tilted to the right, then she developed a heart disease, then started retaining fluid.
I refused to give up on her because she was a happy bunny and Dr. Griffin and his staff worked with me to help get her through it. The bills added up quickly, (well into the thousands, but that was not an issue. She was my child).
I was at the vet’s office on a weekly basis, giving her several different medications every morning, in the afternoon and in the evening. I work full time, but I would use my lunch hour to drive home and make sure she was taken care of. I worked with her and did everything I knew what to do to make her comfortable. She was a fighter, and a tough little girl.
She gave me an additional seven months for us to bond and we did just that. I did not take one day for granted. I will cherish our time for the rest of my life.
As sure as the sun rises, many will receive an “Easter Bunny” as a gift for Easter.
People underestimate the amount of care rabbits require. After the newness has subsided, many will end up in outdoor hutches, at animal shelters or let go in the wild, where they will starve to death or be killed by predators. Many will end up dead or abandoned before their first birthday.
Ask yourself these questions:
– Are you willing to spend more that $200 to have your bunny spayed or neutered? Bunnies become sexually mature between 4 and 6 months of age. They can reproduce every 28 to 31 days. Left intact, they often chew, spray, bite and smell.
– Are you willing to potty train your bunny and bunny-proof your home?
Bunnies need room to run and play. The average-sized cage for a small bunny is 24 inches by 18 inches. A medium-sized cage is 36 by 20 inches and a large one is 42 by 20 inches.
Rabbits can be litter box-trained as well. Do not use cedar or pine shavings, this can cause respiratory problems and liver failure.
– Are you willing to make a long-term commitment?
A bunny’s lifespan can average between 7 to 10 years. Rabbits kept outdoors have shorter life spans due to “solitary confinement” and are subject to extremes of weather as well as diseases spread by fleas, ticks, flies and mosquitoes, all of which can adversely affect their health and life span. They are susceptible to heart attacks from the approach of a predator, even if not attacked or bitten.
The best way to provide social stimulation for a rabbit companion is to house them indoors as a member of the family.
My advice to those who want to give something special for Easter is to give a plush toy or a chocolate bunny.
Sponsor a rabbit in a shelter or a rescue. There is a Rabbit Rescue in Simpsonville, S.C.
Carolina Gilbert runs the sanctuary and would greatly appreciate the help. She has done a tremendous job with the rabbits she has rescued. I have sponsored rabbits in the past. She will send you a picture of the rabbit that you sponsor and tell you about it. You will never regret knowing that you helped out.
Rabbits are the third most popular pet, behind dogs and cats. They are also the third most surrendered pet at shelters.
I would like to take this time to say a special thank you to the friends and families who played such a very important role in taking care of and supporting Blackie and me to the very end.
We also had many friends who would call and come by to check on Blackie. One in particular is Janet Barnes. She was a very big part of my support system.
The last, but not least or ever forgotten, is the group of people I work with at Haas CNC Racing. I am very fortunate to be around a group of understanding and caring group of individuals. Everyone seemed to understand exactly what was going on and was overly supportive. I am very lucky to be surrounded by a team that works together through everything.
Most importanty, I would like to thank Dr. Griffin and “Griffin Exotics” for all their support throughout this entire journey. I could not have done it without any of you. I am fortunate to have found a group of people who have hearts as big as yours. Each one of you played a very special role in Blackie’s care and support. Also, a special thanks to Carolina Veterinary Specialists, the staff at Lazy 5 Veterinary Services.You are true fighters for the bunny/rabbit population. I was ó still am ó overwhelmed with all the hard work and dedication you provide for the animals. You will always be a huge influence in my life. I admire the work you do.
If you are seriously thinking about getting a bunny/rabbit for Easter, please think twice. My advice is go to the Web site or write the Rabbit Sanctuary in Simpsonville, S.C. @ P.O. Box 80036, Simpsonville, S.C. 29680, and sponsor a rabbit there.
They need the help and it is for a great cause.
Contact Lisa Goodman at