Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Siddhartha the Bunny

It is official.

We are an animal rescue center.

We didn’t have enough action with nine children ages 21-4 and their comings and goings and all the wonderful (and, rarely, not so wonderful) adventures that come in between.

The reality: the universe smiled down on us and our situation. Our children have blended into the most cohesive blended family smoothie imaginable. They look out for each other. They play like I haven’t seen children play since I was a child. The teen boys are kindred spirits and have a wonderful friendship. The college girls have grown into a place of love and respect for the well choreographed dance we do in this busy household to keep from stumbling over each other.

Life is busy. Life is good. We have no market on inoculating external chaos; it knocks on our door like every other family.

Enter the menagerie.

Banjo is our Cairn Terrier we have had now for almost 3 years. He’s smart, amazing and a great companion to our entire family. In April we rescued Roscoe, the 47 pound Welsh Corgi. If you aren’t familiar with Corgi’s, forty seven pounds is in the “HUGE” range for the stout, squat breed. These are the dogs that follow the Queen of England around. My husband, Stephen, is British so we smirk at the idea that we proudly walk these two prancing canine-step-brothers (they bonded even faster than our children did) on their combined lead; it is befitting we have two breeds that originated in the U.K.– and they prance.

Roscoe smiles and he smiles a lot. Roscoe now runs. Fast. And then he smiles more. Roscoe has lost, at last count 7 lbs, is consistently doted on and is absolutely an adored member of our family and Banjo’s best friend. Again, we’re lucky, or blessed or the universe smiled. And Roscoe’s smiles tell us that he knows he is lucky too.

Our daughter, Rachel, is an animal lover. Not long after she moved into her own apartment she found the perfect bunny. I’m not sure what his name is today, but at last check it was “Alvis.” Rachel had bunny-on-the-brain for a few years. We’d always had cats and dogs and she had a couple of rats in middle school, but what she came to realize is she wanted a bunny. Rachel litter trained Alvis and he had the run of much of her apartment.

Then someone needed a home for a cat.

Hmmmmm, bunnies and cats. They do not seem likely companions, but surprisingly, they loved each other. This animal thing was going so well that when she had the chance to rescue another bunny she didn’t hesitate.

But the mini-lop eared cutie that was promptly named Siddhartha, (yes, apparently after none other than Buddah), didn’t exactly play nicely with Alvis. Rachel had funded one bunny-neuter and being a struggling waitress/college student another bunny-neuter wasn’t in the cards (they are expensive!). Alvis became traumatized and his romping space finally shrunk to him staying in his cage most of the time. Siddhartha had to stay in his cage when he wasn’t getting his dose of human attention because he didn’t play nicely. His bunny existence wasn’t very zen-like– specially for a bunny named Siddhartha.

Enter discussion about naming a bunny Siddhartha– It symbolizes so much to me. The fact that Rachel has evolved into a young adult that is actually embracing the study of world religions and living a compassionate life is a thrill to behold. To watch your adolescent who’s mantra was “great my mom’s a therapist; this breathing thing is crazy” even while her friends gathered around the table to participate and were loving it– to watch her blossom into this person that is absorbing wisdom in such a way and developing a practice I admire is such a gift.

Rachel’s life it not easy. She is trying to be as independent as possible and we all know what that feels like at 20. But I don’t get emotional meltdown phone calls that are synonymous with that demographic. She recently told me that her friends were reading the HeartMath material at her apartment and thought it was “really cool.” “Yeah, everyone I hang out with is into mediation and all that stuff.”

When we go out to lunch our conversations do not consist of complaints about coursework or co-workers. Rachel, instead, talks about how she’s learning to center her self and how it is especially helpful when any anxiety rears. She describes how her personal hierarchy of importance has shifted. She ponders what her path in life will be and how exactly she wants to put her intention out to the universe. She reads voraciously. She has a practice. She sits with her discomfort. And she named her bunny Siddhartha.

We have a huge dog kennel and when Stephen learned that we had a family member Bunny in need of rescue he immediately imagined said kennel morphing into: bunny condo. He and our youngest daughter made it their project and she was thrilled, because guess what? She’s always wanted a Bunny. The Bunny would primarily be her responsibility and she let her four year old brother have some ownership as well.

This Bunny has the most amazing bunny spread ever. The space is at least 8 ft x 16 ft. He has a dome dog house and he is actually, for the most part, using his litter box. He comes out to you when you visit. He fell asleep in Ben “The Bunny Whisperer”’s arms. He also sprawls out legs stretched front to back; it must be nirvana to have space and be able to stretch after his tenure in such a small cage. I swear I see him smile occasionally.

A four and eight year old, however, do have a bit of an issue with pronouncing Siddhartha– forget understanding why anyone would want to name their pet Siddhartha. Rachel promptly agreed, of course they could change his name.

Meet Scooby Do. Scooby for short. Out of respect they felt the name should at least start with an “s.” But the grateful Bunny will always be Siddhartha to me.

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