When I started volunteering at GHRS, I knew exactly nothing about rabbits (unless you count the fact that they are freaking adorable). I had to learn fast when I got Russell and after a month or two, Edie started asking me when I was going to bond him.
Bonding bunnies is often a difficult and unpredictable process. You can try a dozen bunnies over six weeks with no luck. On the other hand, your first attempt can be a wild runaway success within five minutes and everyone stands around “Awww”-ing over the new lovebirds snuggling. Bunnies might scuffle or fight, one might be painfully shy and the other extremely dominant, or they might just ignore each other. It’s best to go through the adoptable bun bios wherever you’re going and pick out three or four who might be a good fit, temperament-wise. With Russell, who is nosy and curious and a huge attention whore, I knew it would be a bad idea to try an aggressive or obviously dominant female. It just wouldn’t work, so I ruled out those buns. Your input is important, but keep in mind that ultimately, the choice of mate is not yours. It’s your bunny’s. Let him take his time and really listen to what he is ‘saying’ about a potential mate.
Russell cracked me up during the “dating” process. I had been so anxious about the bonding that I had forgotten how adorably laid-back he is, and when the first two girls tried to provoke him into chasing them (a common bonding occurrence), he slid down onto his belly, feet splayed out behind him, and looked decidedly nonplussed. He wouldn’t engage with either of them, so we moved on to a black-and-white bun named Briar Rose.
The change in Russell was almost instant. He went quickly over to her and she lowered her head submissively, inviting him to groom her. After a few seconds of licking her head, she cautiously “offered” to groom him back. He presented his head and within 30 seconds they were full-on snuggling. Much “Awww”-ing followed.
The short version of this little romance is that they fell in love then and there and have been together since. Briar Rose became Eleanor Tennyson Fairchild – who goes by Jane – and they are so happy together I feel an occasional twinge of guilt for not bonding them sooner.
Did Russell change? Yes. He got more energetic, happier and a little more mischievous. Did our relationship change? Yup. Full disclosure: I cried for two days after bringing Jane home because Russell was so smitten he hardly noticed I was there. I was used to waking up to him excitedly circling my legs, begging for treats and hanging out with me while I worked. I felt abandoned and unwanted. I called Edie to cry about it and she surprised me by saying that his behavior was good news. He loved me, sure, but he’d been lonely – which accounted for all the early-morning leg-circling. Now I could be sure that he was not lonely; on the contrary, he was completely enamored of Jane and wanted nothing but to love her and be loved by her.
Please bond your single bunny with another single who needs a home. Bonded bunnies live longer, are much happier and do not require any more work or expense than a single bun, AND you get twice the fun and bunny love.