Adopted Bunny is a Dream Come True 5 Years in the Making

For Will, a rabbit named Oreo was his dream come true.

Will + Oreo

At age three, Will fell in love with a stuffed rabbit. Five years later, he adopted Oreo, whose sass and spirit had her hopping into her family’s heart.

"To this day, I don’t know what it was about that first stuffed and raggedy bunny … but I do know there’s something freeing in his unabashed love."

It was a simple beginning as most beginnings go. My 3-year-old son, Will, came to help set up my classroom for the incoming Kindergarten class. A lonely old stuffed bunny was sitting in a basket, and Will was immediately drawn to him. “He’s mine and his name is ‘cute cute bunny.’” Soon, Cute Cute Bunny became an extension of Will: carried under his arm, sitting in his car seat or the dinner table, and ALWAYS next to him to sleep.

Will always wanted a bunny

Will’s love of rabbits grew, and so did the Cute Cute Bunny gang to induct Yellow Bunny, Blue Bunny, Red Bunny, Rainbow Bunny, and a dozen more. As a Kindergarten teacher, I watch children use imagination play with dolls, superheroes, or trucks, but Will’s steadfast love meant that every time we played, we had to “play bunnies.” I marveled as he grew and playing bunnies turned into drawing bunnies or writing volumes of books about bunnies: “The Adventures of Blue Bunny, Volume 6: ‘I Survived’ an Attack by Cooper the Vicious.’” Shopping for shirts included finding quotes like “I Just Freakin’ Love Bunnies,” to “I can’t hang out, I have to spend time with my bunny.”

Oreo the bunny

The debate in our house raged, “When would we get Will an ACTUAL bunny?” We pushed off the idea, assuming he would eventually grow out it. But as he turned eight, his love showed no sign of receding. It was no special day, except for a special surprise, when we finally went to the Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter in search of fulfilling a five-year wish. We pulled up to the shelter and I told him, “Will…today’s the day. Today is the day you get a bunny.”

Oreo the bunny

Will moved from cage to cage, speaking to each bunny. In the end it was Oreo, the spitfire lion head, who poked her head out of the cage and leaned into his hand for scratches that made the decision. At home, she quickly showed our Gordon Setter who was boss—jumping up and booping his nose as he was trying to be as submissive as possible. Can a dog get lower than a rabbit? Cooper could.

Oreo the bunny

It took Oreo awhile to feel comfortable enough to let us pick her up, but Will’s commitment to gently caring for her encouraged her social personality and sass. Oreo now enjoys free reign, bouncing around Will’s bedroom before setting up in her cage to sleep. We just celebrated her first birthday, complete with a bunny birthday party, and her fame is growing among the students in Will’s third grade class with her Instagram account, oreo_the_fluffy_bunny.

To this day, I don’t know what it was about that first stuffed and raggedy bunny that made my son’s imagination soar, nor how it spurred his love for all things bunny. But I do know that there is something freeing in his unabashed love of bunnies. It’s something that inspires a unique confidence that comes with exclaiming, “Yeah… I’m a boy, and yeah… I love bunnies.”

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Brooke won Upper Peninsula Animal Welfare Shelter in Michigan a 2018 Holiday Wishes award.

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