I’m quite familiar with this process, being a nearly-lifelong rabbit owner, so I thought I’d help guide you all through the stages of pet-rejection grief, should you ever encounter it. I’m working from my experience with rabbits, here, but you can insert any aloof pet: other small animals, many cats, and the occasional dog. Every animal, really, is capable of giving a permanent cold shoulder to its primary caregiver. The sheer fact that DisapprovingRabbits exists, though, is a testament to the unparalleled disdain with which rabbits view their owners.
Hope and Wonder ““ You’ve just brought home a little bundle of cuteness. You watch your new pet explore its new surroundings and you marvel at the incongruity of this adorable little magical creature in your unremarkable home. You imagine petting its softest and floofiest parts and cuddling on the couch. You almost want to smack it in the face for being so ridiculously sweet. I mean, where does it get off being so cute, anyway? You look forward to sharing the next several years of your life with this bundle of joy.
Rejection ““ Then it happens. Your pet scurries away from you. Flinches when you move. Grabs food out of your loving outstretched hand to go cower in the corner, frantically chewing while keeping one unblinking distrustful eye on you. Depending upon how stupid or stubborn your pet is, it will be anywhere from impossible to slightly possible to train them to stop reacting to your daily life and their basic care with abject terror. Prey animals are very hard to convince that everyone isn’t trying to murder them at all times. Oh, and situations that are legitimately frightening, like nail clipping? You’ll be so traumatized by the experience that you’ll feel like Apocalypse Cat.
Indignation ““ You won’t react well initially. You’ll be incredulous that you’re being rejected. How can your adorable pet fit so much scorn in its tiny little heart? Everything you do, from cleaning up its poop, to keeping its body and dwelling clean, to rushing it to the “exotic animal” vet at the first sign of sickness or injury “¦ it all means nothing to him? This is an animal that literally eats its own shit every day, and it thinks you’re beneath it? That you’re deserving of the stinkeye and the full force of a rabbit’s patented perma-frown? As Mercedes would say, Hell to the no.
Spite ““ It will start with verbal abuse, most likely heavy with sarcasm. “Oh yeah, I’m just so mean to you. How dare I cater to your every whim? How do you go on?” You start telling your pet, and convincing yourself, that you don’t need it. You can bring it back to the rescue any time you want! Or you’ll tell your bunny that you don’t want to pet its stupid impossibly downy fur anyway. When people come over and ooh and ahh over your unusual, delightful pet you’ll just go, “Oh, that’s Nibbles. He’s a little asshole.”
Sadness ““ Once you take to the Internet to commiserate with fellow rejectees, you’ll find just as many stories about loving rabbits that greet their owners at the door, snuggle in bed, and happily settle in for petting and massages. These anecdotes will inspire jealousy, but they will also make you think that maybe it’s your fault. Did you come on too strong? Not strong enough? Rabbits are great at holding grudges; maybe you did something during your second week together that it hasn’t forgiven you for. Not that it matters now. Your bunny has rejected you, and it will just flaunt its cuteness and velvety coat all over the goddamn place and you’ll never be anything but a spectator.
Acceptance ““ The thing is, rabbits are certifiably insane. Spend a little time with a rabbit or two during the witching hour and you’ll see enough ridiculous and funny things to make your heart explode. They’re so delightfully crazy that you can’t help but love them. One of my rabbits likes to step gingerly into the kitchen to explore; the minute he’s shooed out, he runs back to the living room carpet, does a celebratory binky and preens under the coffee table with a smug look on his little face. My two bunnies chase each other, watch TV together, hump each other’s faces, and otherwise wreak havoc in the McDoogal living room. It almost feels like they’re trying to make up for their crappy personalities by putting on a little show every night. And it leaves me feeling like maybe I’m not getting such a bad deal.