A grandmother from Wiltshire who decorates her bunnies’ home for Christmas, with wrapped presents and a tree, said she got the pets on the advice of her GP to help her cope after her 30-year-old son died three years ago. .
Sharon Hooker-Badley – who billed herself as the “rabbit version of the crazy cat lady” – got Pippen and Bobby after her son Richard died just after his 30th birthday and her mental health reached a low point.
Sharon decided to get two bunnies, who now have Instagram followers in the thousands, because bunnies can get depressed when they’re bored and one of their luxury needs is a companion of the same kind.
The 58-year-old, the reservation supervisor for canal boating holidays, feels as if she has no one to take care of, so she goes the extra mile with her pet bunnies, especially during the Christmas holidays.
Sharon is divorced and lives alone so her bunnies provide her some company after she gets home from work.
Sharon decorates Pepin and Poppy’s 60-foot container with a Santa sleigh, an elf on a shelf, and a Christmas tree filled with food and gifts. The enclosure also has bunk beds for year-round rabbits.
She has a pair of two-year-old rabbits since they were eight weeks old, saying, “My son died three years ago and I had a psychological accident, which is a really bad accident.
“When I was talking to my GP about this, they suggested having a pet.
“I didn’t want a dog or a cat because I work full time, so I thought it was a rabbit.”
Richard passed away on June 12, 2019, just after his 30th birthday.
Sharon said, “He was sick for a long time before he died of heart problems. He was sick for many years, in and out of the hospital and so on.
“He’s had two major heart surgeries.”
She added: “He had endocarditis and had had a splenectomy which meant his immune system was really compromised.
“He had an infection in October 2018, which moved to his heart and became endocarditis, and a large valve was replaced.
“He seemed to be recovering and six months later, he had another infection in his heart, so another valve was replaced.”
She added, “But he passed away a few weeks after his release.
“My other children have their own [children]I felt like I had no one to take care of.”
Sharon has a daughter, Chloe, 28, who has a son, Michael, who is about to celebrate his first birthday, and another son, William, 32, by 8-year-old Lacey.
She said, “It’s very hard to be miserable about such wonderful creatures. They are really excited and happy to see me.”
“Pipin is the boss, he’s really full of himself and he likes to prove it.
“If I bow to a poppy brush, he’ll jump on my back to remind me he wants some attention.”
She added, “Bobby is a little more shy, she’s okay with Pepin taking the reins.
“If I get a little sad, I go there to see my bunnies. Their antics make me laugh out loud every day and everyone needs that.”
Sharon explains how to decorate the rabbit coop this Christmas period as some fun, which she posts on her Instagram for the bunnies.
She said, “I put Christmas decorations in their little house and do elf work with them on the shelf.
“I put the elves in a jar of dried food with another elf trying to climb while they are trying to eat, like you would a child playing.
“Instead of cookies, it’s mostly things I make or buy myself.”
She added, “We have a wooden Christmas tree filled with apple leaves, stuff like that, and I’d rather feed it a normal diet.
“I would never dream of wearing their clothes, it is too stressful for rabbits and can be dangerous for their fragile skeletons.”
Sharon explained how her friends and family react when she decorates her pet’s barn for Christmas.
She said, “It’s a little sad but I find it fun. I think people think I’m the bunny version of the crazy cat lady.”
“Most people find it secretly strange, to be honest – a neighbor used to bathe their young daughter around the same time I got home from work and they could hear me in the garden.
‘I go to the shed and say, ‘Hi dears, did you have a nice day? Are you hungry?’ And she was telling me how cute she thought he was, but her face was saying “Oh my words.”
She added, “But I think if something makes you happy, and doesn’t hurt anyone else, it doesn’t really matter what other people think.”
Soon after getting the bunnies, Sharon created an Instagram page for them, which now has just under 10,000 followers.
“At first, it was just because I thought they were so cute and it was fun to look at the other animals,” she said.
She added: “But I also learned a lot – there is a lot of misinformation about what rabbits eat.
“A lot of the pet stores you go to, they’ll tell you that the cheap stuff will do.
“The cages were for rabbits in the Victorian era but they didn’t want to move – they just wanted to fatten them up.”
She added: “My roof has been converted which is where they sleep and play and then I have a tunnel to an outside track that is resistant to foxes so they can get fresh air.
“I live in a very small cottage and it would be impossible to give them too much space inside, so they have 60 square feet in the garden.”
Sharon said anyone who has lost someone close to them should consider getting a pet.
She explained, “They really made a difference for me, they really did.
“I would highly recommend anyone in a similar situation to consider getting a pet, it doesn’t have to be a rabbit – some people may prefer a cat or a dog.
“As long as a person can provide what a pet needs, I recommend it.
“It really helps to have something to form a bond with.”
#Rabbit #version #crazy #cat #lady #decorating #cage #Christmas #pets #helping #deal #sons #death