A Bunny for the Holidays: My Adoption Story

rabbit at christmas tree

Many individuals, especially around the holidays, find delight in their pets. People who acquire new dogs are typically overjoyed to have new furry friends, but Tam Tangonan has had a totally different experience.

Tam brought Penny, a new rabbit companion, home on November 29, the day after Thanksgiving. Penny is a 7-month-old miniature Dutch mix bunny with a lot of activity and a soft for for tiny carrots, which Tam adores. Her entrance, on the other hand, is bittersweet at this time.

Jojo, Tam's six-year-old rabbit buddy, died in July. Tam adopted Jojo when he was nine years old, and he died last summer after a lengthy fight with tooth illness. This Christmas and New Year's Eve will be her first without the buddy who has been there for her for so many years.

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"It hit me like a ton of bricks as I was going through my Christmas decorations and came across the small stocking I made for him," Tam said. "And it hit me like a ton of bricks that he's not here with me anymore." It made me want to get a new rabbit even more."

Room for Another

Tam had always known that when Jojo's time with her was over, she'd want another pet. However, because I am allergic to both cats and dogs, it appeared that another rabbit would be required.

Tam was first worried if she could handle having another rabbit in her life after losing Jojo. She is, however, remembering that Penny isn't here to "replace" Jojo, but rather to provide her with a new kind of emotional support and companionship.

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Tam explained, "I wanted to obtain her before the holidays for my personal purpose of having her as a friend during that time." "Because the holidays are difficult for me, especially since I've always spent them with Jojo."

Jojo had been Tam’s certified emotional support animal, and Tam is hoping that Penny can bring her a similar sort of joy.

Tam’s known since she was a little girl that bunnies are her go-to favorite pets.

"My grandma, who used to give me bunny items for Easter, ingrained in me a passion for bunnies," she remarked. "And I recall when I was five years old and I insisted on rabbits nuzzling together as my curtain fabric!"

The Memories Live On

Tam had accompanied Jojo since he was three years old, driving him from Baltimore to Los Angeles. Until Jojo died, the buddies had had countless snuggles, park romps, cuddles, and snacks throughout the years.

Even though it was difficult to live without Jojo, Tam knew he was still looking out for her and wanted her to be happy. She was intrigued by Penny's story after viewing images of her on NextDoor when a friend emailed her a post for a "free rabbit."

“I went in thinking it was a free bunny and thought that was strange,” she said. “Turns out, I’m glad she wasn’t “free” literally because it meant she was vaccinated and spayed.”

The listing was really advertising adopting Penny the rabbit through a local rabbit shelter, rather than being genuinely free. Tam applied to adopt Penny, presented her room to the shelter, spoke with her foster mom, and finally brought Penny home to her Los Angeles apartment.

Figuring Each Other Out

Penny is now warming up to Tam and letting her pet her and giving her binkies (a bunny’s way of bowing to show a willingness to be pet and given attention), but she was initially quite skittish.

“I was excited but she was quite terrified,” Tam explained. “She has been through a lot, like when she was first rescued, she was with a homeless man who was trying to sell her and had matted fur!

She added: When we first got her, it took her 30 minutes when we first brought her in for her to come out of her cage. “It’s still taking her some time to get used to everything.”

Penny, on the other hand, is warming up every day, grinding her teeth and flopping on the floor to show she is safe and satisfied. Tam loves playing with her, despite the fact that she misses Jojo.

"It's difficult because I'm trying not to compare them," she explained, "particularly because Jojo was more sociable and allowed me to pet him more easily when I first acquired him." "Penny is much more circumspect."

Tam is sincerely appreciative of her new buddy, despite her treasured recollections of Jojo. "Penny has given me something to look forward to and someone to chat to," she explained. "I have a connection with her, and it's still superficial, but I'm trying to learn more about her." "I'm trying to give her room and allow her to come to me because I feel like she's been through so much."

Tam says rabbits in general have changed her life by helping give her a routine and someone to give her love to, as well as the ability to take care of something other than herself. 

"As someone who has had a lot of craziness and stuff happen to me," she added, "I absolutely need it." "They provide me with security via routines, and I can even regulate my emotions with them."

"When I had Jojo, I'd come to him when I was having panic attacks," she explained. "He'd approach me and lick my face." I'm not attempting to replace Jojo in that manner since he was his own soul, but I hope that when I'm depressed, I can turn to Penny for comfort and she can console me."

Tam said that she hopes that anyone who may be thinking about getting a rabbit, remember that it is a lot of responsibility and not just something to look at in a cage. 

"It's a full being to look after," she explained. "Be aware of it, especially with the holidays approaching, when many gift their children rabbits as a family pet." It has the potential to consume more of your time. It's gratifying, but it's also a lot of effort!"

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