So long, Robbin Rabbit

November 9, 2013

Robbin was less than a year old, but this is still the best photo ever.

Robbin was less than a year old, but this is still the best photo ever. Quintessential Robbin—friendly, curious, outgoing.

Robbin Rabbit exceeded all expectations. I’ve had rabbits with bigger personalities, but no one was king of the house like Robbin. This is his story.

Perhaps you wonder about his name. There used to be this place, the Robbinsdale Farm & Garden. It’s where I had been going to purchase my fifty-pound bags of Purina Rabbit Chow and I knew they sold animals. I was in the market for a new bun.* I chose the adorable little squirt with great grey splodges on white with a faintly orange stripe down his spine. In the car on the way home I wracked my brain about what to call him. I wasn’t feeling too creative, apparently, because Robbin after Robbinsdale is what I came up with.

Robbin's ears would wilt in the heat during his first summer.
Robbin’s ears would wilt in the heat during his first summer.
Yul, Dhia, and Robbin
Yul, Dhia, and Robbin
Dhia naps on Robbin
This photo made it onto 
Dhia naps on Robbin

I had two cats, Dhia and Yul, and the three of them fell in together pretty quickly. Both cats had lived since kittenhood with my previous rabbits so having a hoppity brother was nothing untoward. They welcomed him into the family.

The rabbit cage had a front door. When I was around to supervise, my bun could come and go as he or she pleased and have the run of the place, all the while being able to return to the cage for refreshments or bathroom breaks. Every rabbit was reliable, and once he or she discovered the location of the cats’ litterbox were very good about using it as well. However, I never felt like I could completely let down my guard because they were, after all, chewing machines.

The family that poops together…
The family that poops together…

That changed with Robbin. He had impeccable toilet habits and, strangely enough for a rabbit, seemed to have no interest in chewing on anything except cardboard. As a good rabbit mom, I always provided hay but Robbin couldn’t be bothered. I always joked that he would rather starve than eat hay (and he would—I tested him a couple times) or that he’d rather eat cardboard than eat hay. That was borne out by the evidence.

I grew bolder and bolder with leaving him out overnight while I was sleeping (no problem), with leaving him out during the day while I was at work (no problem), with leaving him out all the time (few problems). He had earned it. He was a free-range rabbit!

bunny date
I took Robbin to the Humane Society where he chose Bibi.
Robbin and Bibi
Hanging out
Robbin and Bibi
Matching buns

I had learned that rabbits are social creatures within their own rabbitdom and so I took Robbin on some bunny dates. He picked out Bibi and they quickly became best friends. Dhia and Yul welcomed Bibi and it was one big, happy, furry family. It didn’t take long before Bibi, too, earned her free-range stripes. But the joy was not to last.

The happiest family
The happiest family. Believe it or not, they lined up like this all on their own! Best photo ever! Dhia, Yul, Robbin, Bibi.

We said goodbye first to Yul and then to Dhia. Soon, CJ Cat came into our lives. She is a sweetheart but she was already about two years old. She hadn’t had the advantage of growing up with a rabbit like the other cats had. She just didn’t know what to do about Robbin and Bibi.

CJ would nip their ears or swat their tails, tactics cats use successfully to provoke each other into playing. As a prey animal, Robbin would become very defensive and chase CJ, comically so. They’d run back and forth until finally the rabbit treed the cat on the bed or the windowsill or any place where the rabbit wouldn’t immediately go. He was very protective of Bibi, too.

Dasie and CJ were never sure what to make of the rabbits.
Dasie and CJ were never sure what to make of the rabbits.

So Dasie the cat was added to our family for CJ’s benefit. Dasie a friendly goofball who also had no idea what to make of rabbits. After being chased around enough times both cats developed the technique of giving Robbin, and to a lesser extent Bibi, a very wide berth when they needed to pass by.

Unfortunately, Bibi was soon departed. Her malady was gut stasis, a common ailment of rabbits, but I still wonder if it wasn’t brought on by the stress of dealing with two new, semi-hostile cats. She came from a multi-species household when I adopted her, so I’m probably making that up, and yet the timing was so coincidental. Robbin reverted to being an only rabbit.

Robbin the mountain goat
Robbin the mountain goat
Is it suppertime yet?
Is it suppertime yet?

Robbin was a very athletic rabbit as opposed to Bibi, who was an utter landlubber. There was no bed or sofa that was too tall for him. It warmed the cockles of my heart to walk in the door after a tough day at work to find him folded up on the end of the couch in the front room. When we moved to my current place, all the stacked boxes waiting to be unpacked provided a nice climbing range for my mountain goat rabbit. Sometimes I believed that he thought he was a cat. He had, after all, grown up with two. He loved jumping up onto things, including the tin in which I kept his food, a not-so-subtle hint that I should feed him now.

Robbin camps out on my dad's bed
Robbin camps out on my dad’s bed
Getting a banana fix from his dealer
Getting a banana fix from his dealer
relaxing in the sheepskin basket
Relaxing in the sheepskin basket 

Robbin also always enjoyed my parents’ visits. Not only would he follow my mom around because she was his banana dealer, but he also would spend most of the day lounging on the poofy surface provided by my dad’s improvised bed of my big sleeping bag laid out on a futon. Robbin did enjoy luxury. While we had it, he could often be found in the sheepskin cat bed that I had put in a wicker basket.

A few years ago, Robbin had a health incident which I think was a seizure of some sort, and one hind side was temporarily weakened as a result. He seemed to recover fully but in the last months it was his back end that failed, particularly on the side that had been affected by whatever that episode had been all about. As he aged his flexibility declined, which inhibited his ability to do everyday rabbity necessities, and his quality of life gradually diminished.

Finally I could no longer deny that it was time to say good-bye. February 2003–October 2013.

Robbin, CJ, and Dasie
Robbin, CJ, and Dasie, the uneasy detente. Note the ear that remains cocked toward the cats.

*Disclaimer: Don’t worry, I long ago learned about [insert cute baby animal] mills. Robbin was my last pet not acquired from a rescue/foster organization.

One Response to “So long, Robbin Rabbit”

  1. Stephie Says:

    I enjoyed this history, sad that he’s gone. Lots of great pictures, beautiful furry family. (and banana dealer, that’s a great one.)

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