Shared by, Barbara Kelley
One day in the spring of 2011 a listing on Craig’s List offered three baby French Angora rabbits with severe birth defects. They were two weeks old and offered as snake food.
When the breeder realized I meant to raise them as family members she agreed to keep them with their mother until weaning. When they were eight weeks old the “most special ever” moved to my bedroom.
Angelique (because they are French) was the most disabled. Not only was she flat on her tummy with all four limbs rigidly outstretched but her hips were twisted so she traveled in circles. Hawke (because he needed a strong name) was also on his tummy with limbs out but he was more linear and moved like a caterpillar – quickly. He could scoot across a room in no time. Lastly, Esther (for Esther Williams the swimmer) who was the most mobile. Her arms were upside down and backwards and her hips weak but she just flew. Her movement was more like a kangaroo and she knew no boundaries.
We spent many Sunday afternoons walking around Como Lake with “The Babies” in their antique buggy. Everyone stopped to meet them. We would set a picnic on a blanket and let them scoot all over with their healthy bunny friends. But always you would hear “Does anyone know where Esther went?” There she was off to visit other people. At our booth at Pet Expos she could quickly be two booths down and moving. Because they were unable to get up to use a litter box all three had weekly baths and shaves. We called them our swimming lessons and they loved the special time. Wrapped in a big fluffy towel they lay on my chest and rubbed their faces on mine. Because they could not reach most of their bodies when anyone came near they wriggled and thumped in the excitement that you might rub their backs or better yet a good cheek scratch.
Esther was registered with Pet Partners as a therapy animal. Her specialties were Children’s Hospital and READ. She knew just what to do to bring comfort. She captured the hearts of everyone.
As 2014 came to a close I knew Angie was getting tired. Everything was such a struggle and she was almost 4 years old. She passed quietly at home with Hawke. He did not accept her loss. He cried every morning at the time she died and nothing Esther or I could do comforted him. Within a week he joined his beloved sister.
Esther continued to go everywhere with me. We had booths at Walk For Animals, Pride Festival where she had her photo taken with Police Chief Harteau, and lots of small Pet Expos. She visited nursing homes, schools for youth with disabilities, and memory care centers. In February 2016 as she was heading for her 5th birthday I saw her grow tired. In just a few days she quietly slipped away at home to join her special siblings.
The spirit and joy of these three showed the world that different is just perfect.
Thank You Sarah Beth for this amazing photo shoot