I wake to the gentle sound of rabbit grunts. They sound like guinea pig grunts, almost imperceptible unless you listen closely. The grunts mean my free roam bunny is happy. As a free roam rabbit, she has been trained to a litter box and is allowed to live her life with the same leisure as a domestic cat.
As I make my morning coffee, she balances on her hind legs, waiting for attention. As I reach down to pat her soft brown fur, she bows low with her tiny front feet. If I stop, her head pops up and she poises for a pounce towards me. Then, she pops into the air like popcorn. Her running, hopping, and twisting makes me laugh.
It’s easy to see how this one small animal brings joy to my life. I have always had pets. I grew up with dogs, cats, and rabbits. After discovering my daughter’s allergies, we have spent most of her life with small pets: hamsters, gerbils, fish—cute but not exactly the level of cuddle I am accustomed to. Then we decided to try bunnies. My daughter visited the pet store, pet them repeatedly, and had no reaction. Finally!
As someone with bipolar disorder, I have discovered first-hand how pets can reduce anxiety and depression. Who could be depressed when a fluffy bunny greets you at the door or runs circles around you when you walk in the room.
Having a pet improves my mood in a number of ways. First, it takes the focus of myself and my challenges for a little while. Nothing feeds a downward spiral like overthinking. Second, there’s physical contact. Patting an animal can actually produce serotonin (a “feel good” hormone) and reduce blood pressure. Finally, who doesn’t feel a sense of gratitude for their pet, even when they aren’t aware of the science behind the benefits.
So today, I dedicate this post to Pebbles the bunny and all of the other pets out there who help us live happy balanced lives. I would love to here about your pets. Feel free to comment below.