Kelly Lawrence says her rescue bunnies are a big part of what has gotten her and her partner through the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other personal issues they’ve gone through.
“If I’m really having a bad day, I know there are two little furry things that are always gonna cheer me up when I come home. And it’s these two. So if I’m ever having a bad day, I could just come in here and sit with them. Patch will definitely try and lick my nose because he’s always trying to do that, and they just make me feel so much better.”
Kelly and her partner adopted Pepper, a mini lop, from a friend in February of 2021, not long after getting their own home together. They soon discovered, however, that she needed a friend, as rabbits are very social creatures who crave constant companionship.
That’s when they found Patch, a bunny who’d been left in a cardboard box in a park. Luckily, a stranger found him and brought him to a rescue center for rehabilitation and adoption. It’s unclear what his breed is, but he’s likely something between an English spot and a Dutch rabbit.
Kelly and her partner adopted Patch in July of 2021 and spent the next few months slowly trying to help him bond with Pepper, which can be a difficult process with bunnies. Kelly gave them progressively more space in their pen as a reward when they began acting more nicely toward each other. By October, Pepper and Patch were the best of friends.
“Over time, they started to feel more comfortable with each other. They were kind of like, ‘Okay, you’re not so bad actually. Maybe I will let you share my own space,'” Kelly recalls. “Now they’re pretty much inseparable. Pepper and Patch absolutely adore each other. They go everywhere together.”
Kelly has been an animal person her whole life and has had several bunnies, but this is the first time she’s had her own place, her own pets, and total control over the environment and treatment she offers them. She loves buying and making toys for them and constantly changing what’s available to play with to keep Pepper and Patch enriched and happy.
Kelly reports that her bunnies don’t act particularly grateful to have been adopted and to be so meticulously cared for. They have no qualms about biting her baseboards, tearing up her carpet, and chewing on electrical cords.
“I don’t think I realized the level of bun-struction, as we call it, that would go on in the house,” she says. “So it’s super important to rabbit-proof your house if you’re gonna have house rabbits.”
All the same, the bunnies have also offered Kelly and her partner so much love and affection and joy that it’s made it all worth it.
“I think one of my favorite memories with Pepper is actually the day before she had her spay operation, and she was going into the vet, and my partner was quite worried about her,” Kelly recalls. “He was like, ‘Pepper, please be okay. Please come home.’ She started kissing him on his forehead, kind of to say, like, ‘Dad, don’t worry. I’ll see you tomorrow. Everything’s fine.'”
Pepper is the braver and more sassy bunny of the pair and is very independent and destructive, although she reportedly shows a particular fondness for Kelly’s partner. “As soon as he opens the door, she’ll run straight over to him just like a dog, and she adores him so much,” Kelly says.
Patch, on the other hand, is quieter and more timid. But he is also a very happy bunny. Kelly says he’s “kind of one of those animals that just always wanted to be loved.” He enjoys doing “binkies,” which are a display of happiness wherein a bunny jumps up, kicks its hind legs out to the side, and shakes its head.
“He probably does 20 binkies every single day. He’s just so happy,” says Kelly.
Patch also shows his excitement and love in other ways, demonstrating to Kelly that she’s the cool bunny mom she always hoped to be.
“It was his first gotcha day, and I went a bit crazy,” Kelly recalls about her favorite memory of Patch. “I got him a super cute bunny-safe hay cake, which was totally fine for him to eat, but it was huge, and I was like, ‘Okay, Patch, happy birthday! We’re gonna sing a song.’ And he honestly just came to the cake, and he was like, ‘Mum, is this really all for me?’ Like, he’d never had anything like that in his whole life.”
Pepper and Patch make a wonderful pair, with Patch’s timid nature balancing Pepper’s outgoing personality. The pair complete each other in every way.
“Pepper will always go fast, and then Patch will follow her. He kind of asks her to check it out for him. ‘Is everything OK? Can I come? Is it all safe, Pepper?’ and then she’ll tell him whether it’s safe or not,” says Kelly.
Pepper and Patch have their own room in the house, which Kelly refers to as the Pepper and Patch Palace, and they get to celebrate their birthdays together on Christmas Day, which is Pepper’s actual birthday, althought Patch’s birthday isn’t precisely known. Kelly does her best to spoil the pair and make their lives as fun as they can be.
“My aim is just to try and create the best home for them possible,” says Kelly. “I love a quote that I’ve read previously that said that, to us, they’re just a small part of our world, but to them, we are their whole world, and it kind of puts it into perspective that they don’t really go anywhere else, they don’t really have a life other than the life that they have with us in our homes. For me, it’s just creating that awesome environment where they can have fun every day and eat the correct diet and have everything they need.”
Kelly hopes that Pepper and Patch’s story will help encourage other people to adopt animals that are in need of a loving home.
“Rescues are really overflowing, and they are at full capacity,” she says. “They really rely on our donations and support…I would really encourage [people] to look at their local rescue shelters and try to avoid breeders and really kind of open your heart and give your home to an animal that’s in need and really deserving of an amazing home.”
She, like most pet parents, believes no one will regret giving an animal a loving home, because they’ve always got so much to give in return.
“They’ve really given me a purpose. I know that they rely on me for so much, even though they never say thank you, they’re never grateful. And I don’t think they ever will be, and they will still try and chew my carpet. But that’s okay because, yeah, they do make a massive difference.”Whizzco