Strictly speaking, this post isn’t about bunny bonding at all. I know, I hear you… “awwwww”, right?
You see the boys have been officially bonded for a couple of weeks now. We moved them down from their bonding pen and into the living room, starting with a space in the living room a bit larger than their bonding pen, where they lived together 24/7… and I slept close by for a week, just incase…
Gradually, as they got used to the space and their good behaviour continued, we made the space available to them larger until, after a couple of weeks, the full living room was opened to them.
All of this wasn’t new to Bobo, although we have re-arranged things differently so it feels new. However, for Olaf… I honestly don’t think he ever had so much space to run around. I suspect he was an outdoor bunny with a hutch and, hopefully, a run.
Then the time came to remove the fence that separated the living room from the rest of our apartment, opening the whole apartment up to the bunnies.
Bobo’s been part of our family for over 9 years now, so we know his character pretty well. Although I nickname him Superbunny Bobo the Bold and the Brave, he’s a bunny which means he’s a prey animal which means that boldness and bravery don’t come naturally. So we knew that the furthest he would venture would be onto the rug underneath the dining table which stands directly beside the living room.
Olaf has been part of our family for almost a year and has never been free-roaming, as it wasn’t possible while they were bonding. So we didn’t know whether the rug under the dining table would be his boundary limit also. However, having watched him explore and run amok everywhere within the living room before we removed the final separation, we suspected he would be a bit more adventurous.
Little did we know how adventurous he would turn out to be.
As soon as he realised the fence had been taken away, off he disappeared, exploring. Totally un-bunny-like.
When Bobo and his previous partner, Forrest, went somewhere new or wanted to explore something new, they would do so slowly, cautiously and with a lot of head-bobbing (it’s a bunny thing).
Not Olaf… it was like setting free on the unsuspecting world.
It wasn’t that he would venture a little further away on his own, a little beyond the rug under the dining table, he just went for it. Without hesitation, without fear, without trepidation off he went, hopping right to the furthest possible corner of our apartment (which happened to be our bedroom).
The first few times I really struggled having him out of sight. We’ve never had a bunny like Olaf before. Both Bobo and Forrest were free to roam wherever they wanted, however, they liked to stay relatively close to home, their living room with the couch they would snuggle under and their trusty litter boxes.
So, for me, it was difficult to just Olaf explore. Although I didn’t worry about him eating anything he shouldn’t, I was worried about him getting himself into a predicament, getting trapped somewhere or caught.
I would manage to sit in the living room for about 30 seconds before I could last no longer. And off I would trot to see what he was up to. And each time he was just nosing around, exploring, doing no harm and just being a good bunny who just loved to explore.
However, being the control enthusiast that I am, for quite a few days (not quite a week, but almost) after granting Olaf his freedom, every time he embraced his freedom I would shortly follow after him, unable to fully let go.
It took a lot of concerted effort on my part to, one day, just sit on the couch and wait until he returned of his own accord. A few minutes felt like hours to me. However, I told myself to sit it out. I knew he should be safe and couldn’t come to any harm (I had already ensured that anything that could pose a threat or danger was either locked away or fenced off).
Even my husband struggled not to move… and he’s a lot more relaxed around the boys that this Mother Hen is.
However, my patience was rewarded as a few minutes after I watched his little cottontail bob away and into our bedroom, he returned, sprinting back to the living room and even doing a binky (a happy bunny leap) on the way.
And when he did reach the living room, before he dashed to his litter tray, he stopped by my feet and nudged me to tell me he was back.
It took a few practices for me to begin to relax and just let Olaf disappear, exploring, without me following or sitting anxiously waiting his return. However, I did get there.
Through time and practice, the control enthusiast within me slowly calmed, settled down, and relaxed. And I know that Olaf has more fun and can relax more himself without me hovering over him whenever he chooses to embrace his adventurous personality.
The control enthusiast within me, I appreciate, only wants to keep me, and those I love, safe. However, sometimes it can be a real party-pooper, often preventing me from letting go and enjoying pure, unbridled, childlike fun. It’s something that I have struggled with for many years – finding the balance of staying safe whilst letting go and having fun.
And, so, as I haven’t yet been able to find the solution on my own, I have chosen to turn to the angels for some sage advice and guidance.