Adopted Rabbit Becomes Girl’s Best Friend

For Shayna and Monarch, it was love at first hop.

Samantha + Monarch

Monarch the adopted rabbit brought love and laughter to his new family and inspired young Shayna’s interest in a future veterinary career.

"The veterinary clinic has always been impressed with the care Shayna gives to Monarch, and now to the second rabbit we've adopted as well. Being Monarch's primary caregiver has allowed Shayna to realize that she wants to become a small/exotic mammal veterinarian."

Adopted Rabbit Monarch

A week after we adopted our rabbit, Monarch, from the local House Rabbit Resource Network, our daughter’s pet frog of several years died. Our daughter, Shayna, would have been devastated if not for the love and bonding between her and Monarch. Monarch had been a stray and likely had been a Future Farmers of America (FFA) reject, because she didn’t meet the mark for a perfect English Spot. But he clearly loved little girls! When Monarch and Shayna cuddled, he was super patient, and she was very attentive to his every need.

Monarch was very bright, as is Shayna, and she learned of rabbit agility and hurdle jumping. Shayna decided to train Monarch in these activities. We even bought them a small rabbit hurdle kit for Chanukah. They put on several agility and hurdle jumping shows for us and her grandfather! Both Shayna and Monarch seemed to enjoy this until Monarch reached middle age.

Adopted Rabbit Monarch

As I mentioned, Shayna is quite bright. Two of her science experiments have involved Monarch. The first tested what rabbit-safe toys were most appealing by seeing how often he binkied (an expression of bunny happiness), and how long he played with each immediately after receiving them. In the second experiment, Shayna tested Monarch’s and our other rabbit’s heart rates while listening to five different genres of music on three different occasions. The practical application of this is that if certain music is calming to rabbits, then it can be used in the car, by veterinarians, etc. This experiment qualified for the Austin Regional Science Fair! The rabbits even trusted Shayna to use a stethoscope on them. That’s true love!

Adopted Rabbit Monarch

As both rabbit and child have aged, Monarch’s medical needs have changed and Shayna’s awareness of that has increased. She recently noticed the smallest pimple on Monarch’s ear that the treating veterinarian wasn’t sure she would have noticed herself! The veterinary clinic has always been impressed with the care Shayna gives to Monarch, and now to the second rabbit we’ve adopted as well. Being Monarch’s primary caregiver has allowed Shayna to realize that she wants to become a small/exotic mammal veterinarian instead of a generalist veterinarian. And it has allowed Shayna to develop a relationship with one of approximately only 22 of these recognized specialized diplomate veterinarians in the nation!

Adopted Rabbit Monarch

Ultimately not only has Monarch changed Shayna’s youth, but he may also very well influence her life long into the future. I can’t imagine our lives without Monarch — especially Shayna’s.

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 Samantha won House Rabbit Resource Network in Pflugerville, Texas a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.