Adding a new baby to the family may be stressful, especially when pets are involved, but Jenn Eckert had no idea how quickly her bunnies, Alfie and Amelia, would fall in love with her when she delivered her daughter, Bailey, last June.
There was no doubting Alfie and Amelia adored their new baby sister from the moment they met. At the hospital, they stood tall next to the newborn in her carrier, their enormous ears nearly as big as hers.
Eckert told The Dodo, “Alfie tried to get into the car seat, while Amelia merely sniffed.” “But they were both so kind, I knew they’d be great friends.”
Eckert was correct. Though rabbits might be distant at times, Alfie and Amelia, who live free-roam in the Wisconsin family’s home, made it obvious straight immediately that nothing else mattered when Bailey was in the room.
“She is constantly the center of their attention,” Eckert explained. “They’ll sleep next to her. They have a tendency to hover, as though they instantly perceived her as their job to protect.”
Bailey adores bunnies since she has spent her entire life with them. She frequently rolls over to observe Alfie and Amelia when they enter the room and enjoys feeding them snacks. The rabbits are both Flemish giants that can weigh up to 20 pounds, so they’re the ideal size for her.
Bailey’s family and the bunnies will be there every step of the way to teach her about the world as she grows older. Alfie and Amelia appear to be teaching her a lot about compassion and respect already.
“They are unquestionably protective of Bailey,” Eckert added. “If Bailey is weeping, Alfie thumps. When Bailey is asleep, they [continue] to smell her to check whether she is awake.”
Unfortunately, many families are forced to rehome their rabbits because some people do not believe they can cohabit with children. While children should always be supervised and careful with rabbits, the animals can be excellent friends for individuals of all ages and frequently have plenty of affection to share.
Because Alfie and Amelia are so gentle with Bailey, Eckert has started training them as official therapy bunnies through Pet Partners. After they are trained, they will begin visiting hospitals and nursing homes on a regular basis to meet and snuggle with patients.
The couple already has a lot of experience at home, and they’ve been having a great time going on practice runs at hospitals. Eckert keeps a Facebook page called Rabbitat For Humanity up to date with their success, both in therapy and at home with Bailey.
“I believe people are really interested [about them] since rabbits aren’t the first pet people think of when they think of a baby,” Eckert said. “With Bailey, I now have the opportunity to demonstrate to others that just because you have a kid does not mean you can’t keep your bunny. I will continue to advocate bunny therapy since it demonstrates how wonderful they can be with children. It also allows me to teach others about rabbit care – they aren’t just animals that can be kept in a cage.”
Rabbits, which may live for more than ten years, are very clever and form deep connections with their bunny companions and human families. Many bunnies, such as Alfie and Amelia, have free reign of the house, allowing them to have plenty of exercise and socializing.
Though they dislike being picked up as prey animals, they are frequently content to sit near to their people and receive food or pets. “They are such peaceful animals by nature, and because they don’t bark, they can be less scary to a child,” Eckert added.
Eckert initially became interested in gigantic rabbits five years ago, when her husband brought home a female Flemish giant named Betsy as a pet. Betsy quickly became Eckert’s best friend and supporter, despite the fact that she had just lost her mother. Soon after, the family adopted a rabbit called Walter, and Eckert began training both of them to be certified therapy bunnies.
Betsy and Walter’s enthusiasm continues on in young Alfie and Amelia, who expose people to the joys of house and therapy bunnies. Bailey, their younger sister, was one of their first “patients,” and it’s apparent they’ll always adore her a little more.
“The rabbits have always been my kids, so seeing how quickly they responded was fantastic, and witnessing the relationship deepen as they interact more is truly a lovely sight,” Eckert said. “Because Bailey is still so young, all three are entirely reliant on us for food, a secure place to sleep, affection, and so on….” In many ways, I believe they are aware of this. It’s as though they have their own language.”