NOTHING NEW: Finding a used hybrid

Some additions to the family require a lot of stuff.

Babies, for example. Having my first child at age 37, I could not believe all the gear I supposedly needed to take care of this kid. I learned, as most new parents do after about a year or so, that I could have done without about 80 percent of the stuff I bought — and about 95 percent of the stuff people bought for me. Things look so cute in the store but often prove to be utterly useless at home in the trenches with an infant or small child.

Pets can sometimes precipitate purchases of cute and marginally useful stuff, too.

My son has been begging for a pet — a dog, specifically — but we’re not getting a dog. Our 8-year-old Golden Retriever died in the Spring of 2009 of oral cancer and it was heartbreaking. Then we had a really bad experience with an adopted dog resulting in an ER visit and several stitches dangerously close to my son’s right eye. No more dogs, not anytime soon. I would love to have one but not until my boy settles down a bit.

We have a cat but she is my cat, won’t even acknowledge my son’s presence or come out from hiding when he is home. A very smart cat, actually.

So I started thinking about a rabbit. Low maintenance, cute and cuddly, can play with my son but also has her cage for solace. For me, a rabbit has the added bonus of producing fertilizer for my garden.

But we’ve taken The Compact, so that meant finding a used bunny in a package deal with a used cage and gear.

If you haven’t ever used Craigslist, check it out. It’s a message board, organized into local regions — Vero is covered under the Treasure Coast Craigslist — and people list goods and services they want, need or have to sell or give away. It’s also a popular place to look for rentals and jobs.

It’s totally green, no paper required, and it’s a free and easy way to recycle or reuse things you no longer want or need.

So I went in search of a “gently used” rabbit and cage. Found lots of rabbits, found lots of cages and hutches. Then I found a deal for a rabbit and a cage together in southeast Palm Bay. All for a bargain price of $20.

I called and found out that the rabbit was a little over a year old, female, very docile and that she’s a Velveteen breed rabbit.

Thinking the woman was joking, playing on the famous book, I Googled it and found that the Velveteen rabbit breed is for real. It’s an experimental cross-breed. Evidently, they were looking for a a caramel color, medium-sized non-lop ears and velvety fur.

Our new bunny is a hybrid, so we are now the proud owners of a hybrid Velveteen rabbit named Cinnamon.

She came with a nice cage, two water bottles and even a couple of days of food. We’re having fun with her and she’s definitely doing her part to contribute to the organic garden.

Health and safety items, purchased new, are permitted on The Compact and I regret to say that we did have to buy one thing, which after a few days of having the bunny, I realized was defitely a health and safety item.

Cinnamon’s previous owner told me she needs to be taken out and exercised for a good while every day. We have a huge, private back yard, but I didn’t think giving the bunny the run of the place was a good idea. So I cobbled together some leftover wood and garden fencing borders and some lawn furniture to construct a makeshift pen. The idea was my son and bunny would play in this controlled area.

We tried this for three days. Twice each day the wily wabbit got out of the pen and a race ensued, rivaling the Cannonball Run.

Score: Rabbit, 6 — Mommy, 0.

I came very close to busting not only my rear end but my knees chasing after the rabbit. My son, who you think would be a help in this situation, being quicker and lower to the ground, was laughing so hard at me chasing the rabbit that he couldn’t even walk, let alone run.

It was obvious we needed something that was designed for the purpose of reining in a small critter.

After looking for another few days on Craigslist and Freecycle (another website where people give away stuff) and finding no small animal pens or suitable substitute, I broke down and bought a new one at Pet Supermarket.

Bunny now gets all the exercise she needs and I think I’ll avoid another pet-related $750 emergency room deductible for a while.

Any and all advice about raising a rabbit is greatly appreciated. We know not what we’re doing here.

Next up . . . networking with the crunchy, green set online and opening myself up to being judged.

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