The Tale of An Unhappy Bunny

A short story by Warren Pilkington, May 2003
(mainly designed for children, but adults might find something in this)

Paula was an unhappy bunny rabbit. She had been in the local pet shop for months, kept in a little cage that was far too small for her to have a little run around. The food that the pet shop gave her was often cabbages or lettuce that had been purchased from the local supermarket that was just about past their sell by date. Paula could see the green leaves turn in colour as she was being fed - it didn't taste fresh and her teeth munched as much as they could to try and break down the bad taste. All alone she was, without a care in the world, as no one cared for her.

One morning, the pet shop opened. It was a bit early in the morning, Paula thought, as she awoke to the sound of a door almost being broken down at will. A couple of women entered the shop, with some large, burly looking men in tow. She couldn't make out why the men were so large but then she realised that they had protective uniforms on. Even on this hot day, she pondered. Soon the group started lifting cages and taking them away from the shop and she started to get frightened. She thought that the place was being burgled and that all the animals in the shop were going to be sold on for food. However, a reassuring knock on the cage was all that it took to make her realise that these people weren't like the horrible, nasty people in the shop who kept her cooped up and made sure that she didn't look well so no one would give her a loving home.

Paula could just make out the uniforms, they had the letters R, S, P C an A on them. Although she didn't understand what they mean, they looked official enough to be nice people.

"Hello Paula", said one man, as he gently lifted the door of the cage and stroked Paula. It was a feeling she hadn't felt in a long time as someone was being kind and loving enough to caress her. She tried to look at him with her eyes, but her eyes were badly hurt.

"Now Paula," said the man, "Your eyes look a bit swollen. Poor thing. Has this nasty pet shop been horible to you?". Paula nodded as the man had some eye drops for her eyes. "Now this might hurt at first", he said "but it's going to make you better. We're here because this pet shop has to be closed down because the owners have been so horrible to their animals, and we're taking you to one of our centres where you'll be looked after until someone comes along to give you a nice home."

Paula couldn't make out everything the man said, but she knew the man was speaking quite softly and sweetly, and that was more than enough for her to realise he was going to help her. Paula held still as the eye drops entered her eyes. She squinted at first as the pain of the drops hit, but after a few minutes she looked around the shop - and this time without any blurring. She saw all the other pets in the shop: fish, budgies, and some small kittens (whom thankfully were with their mother so they didn't get too emotionally upset). The kittens looked so lost and alone, even with their mother, and Paula hoped that she could see them going home.

All the animals were put into the RSPCA van for safety. Even in this temporary cage Paula felt safe. She had room to move, and stretch her legs a bit. She also had a nice piece of fresh lettuce, the water was on the surface and it smelt just right. She hurriedly ate the lettuce. She hadn't have been fed properly for so long she had forgotten what the taste of proper food was like and gratifyingly enjoyed every last piece.

Soon Paula and the other animals arrived at the RSPCA centre. All the animals were put in their own spaces, with even more room to move. Paula was put with some other bunny rabbits whom too needed a home. One of them came up to her and to say hello. She explained that she too had been put in another branch of the pet shop and that just yesterday the RSPCA men had come to rescue her too from the evil man who ran the shop. Paula felt relieved that at least she knew that the people who had taken her from the pet shop were good people who were going to love her and care for her. But inside, she knew what she wanted. She wanted a home with a family who would love her and care for her very much, and that would feed her and be as nice to her as she was being treated at the centre. Paula was pretty distinguishable from the other rabbits, she was mainly white, but with a couple of black sections on her body that made her stand out. She was easy to recognise from most of the others, and this meant that she would be perfect for a family looking for someone different.

One day, about a month after she had been resuced, a young couple, Mr and Mrs Parkham, with their seven year-old daughter visited the centre. They explained to the RSPCA officer on duty that day, that since their daughter Charlotte was a small child, she had loved rabbits and that her local primary school had allowed her to care for the two rabbits (Daisy and Dora) at the local school.

"We'd love one of our own", explained Mr. Parkham, "but we didn't want to go a pet shop and get one. We wanted to get one who'd been abandoned and rescued and that really needed someone special."

"Well," said the RSPCA man, "I know we've just rescued quite a few animals from the pet shops known as Petville, and some rabbits were rescued as part of that operation. We couldn't believe some of the poor animals and the way they were treated so badly by the shop".

"Yes," agreed Mrs. Parkham, "They were horrible, weren't they? They showed one of your raids in the newspaper, and I can remember saying to Charlotte, "Look, they're rescuing all these nice rabbits and putting them somewhere safe". I know Charlotte cried a bit about that, because she was so happy to see them being saved from being poorly or being mistreated."

"Mummy! Mummy!" shouted a voice to their right. Charlotte came running back from where the rabbits were happily playing in their space. She had a smile on her face.

"I've seen the rabbit I would like. She looks so lovely, and I'd love to give her a home and look after her. Her eyes look a little swollen, but she'll be fine with some care."

"I know the one," smiled the RSPCA man, "That's Paula. Her eyes were in a really bad way when we saved her, but with some careful treatment she's getting better. Now Charlotte, shall we all go and say hello? I'm sure Paula would like to meet her new owner."

They came to the space where Paula was, and Charlotte popped her head down to Paula's eye level making it easier for her. "Hello Paula", she said, "I'm Charlotte. I'm going to take you to your new home and me and Mummy and Daddy are going to look after you, make you better, and love you lots and lots." Paula could see the joy and happiness in Charlotte's eyes and looked at her lovingly. At last she was going to her dream home. The RSPCA people had looked after well and had nursed her back to health, she thought, but they needed to rescue other animals who were unwell or badly treated and needed the space so they could get better too.

Mr. and Mrs. Parkham had a chat with the RSPCA man, and he gave them some information about Paula's eyes and what they needed to do. Charlotte paid attention, while at the same time holding Paula in her arms and giving her a hug. Paula felt so happy.

Charlotte loved Paula lots, and she nursed Paula to health. Paula had a nice big cage to play in indoors, and they had a back garden where she would run around and chase Paula for hours on end. Paula was so happy and every night before Charlotte would go to bed, she'd always give Paula a cuddle and say "Night night." Paula felt safe, warm, and loved the nice lettuce she was fed. She lived with the family happily for the rest of her days.

Moral: Pet shops need to be nicer to animals, and people who wish to have pets should go to RSPCA Centres, the local Cats' Protection League (for cats) and the Canine Defence League (for dogs). Look them up and go there for your pets.