Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate, and Happy Sunday to those who do not. Since bunnies are synonymous with the holiday, I thought today would be an appropriate time to introduce you to a rabbit dear to my heart, and the cool story of how I acquired her.
I’ve loved bunny rabbits since I was involved with 4-H many years ago. I wanted an English Lop, a bunny with extremely long ears, similar to a Basset Hound. Well, I got my breeds confused, and answered a newspaper ad for French Lop bunnies for sale. They’re also large rabbits but with much shorter lop ears. Think of them as the Beagles of bunnies.
The man selling them raised his bunnies for rabbit shows and also for his magic act. A magician! How cool is that? I brought home a doe (female) with chinchilla-colored fur, and named her Cleopatra, or Cleo for short.
She was a big, beautiful bunny with a lush gray coat and expressive brown eyes, loaded with personality. She was more dog than rabbit, nudging my hand with her large head for attention. Cleo was friendly, and loved to pluck yogurt drops from my open hand. She tolerated well the gentle brushing and nail trims, but was never a fan of ear cleanings, not that I could blame her. She was groomed often, as I was into showing rabbits at the time, and Cleo fit the breed standard for a French Lop. However, she wasn’t the greatest specimen of her kind, as the judges noted time and time again in their remarks.
Show after show we would try for a ribbon. Sometimes we had success, and other times we left empty-handed. Aside from taking home a prize, it was a good day if your entry didn’t pee on the judge or hop down the table to visit the competition.
An inconsistent winner, the magician’s bunny had a trick up her furry sleeve. She went on to become a Grand Champion, a prestigious achievement in the rabbit show world. I had other rabbits reach this title, but somehow Cleo’s award was a bit more special. I knew she was close, just one step away from the big prize, but that last needed win eluded her for a long time. Persistence paid off, and she finally won the last leg required for her grand championship.
Although I was overjoyed by her achievement, that was not my proudest bunny moment. That came when we were on the show floor when a spectator asked to take her picture. Someone else saw in her what I did, and wanted to capture my big girl on film. I can’t remember her wins specifically, but I can recall this incident with great fondness.
After Cleo became Grand Champion Cleopatra, her rabbit show days were over. She was loved and spoiled the rest of her days, passing away around eight years old of what the vet suspected was a brain tumor. Our time together may have been short, but it was magic.