A new pet for the Olley family?


Hi everyone. I hope I find you well!

We're well into 2009 now and I have to say, I’ve noticed that it’s lighter for longer on the days when the cloud isn’t too thick. Roll on spring!

My 13-year-old son Billy asked to talk to me the other day, and I wondered what was coming! He had planned a little speech about how, as the youngest of three children, he’d missed out on some things that his brother and sister had enjoyed. I was waiting for his usual gripe (that he couldn’t remember the holiday we loved in Canada as he had only been three-years-old, and could we plan another) but he surprised me.
Billy's unexpected request…

‘Bex and Charlie had rabbits and guinea pigs as pets, but I missed out. And I need someone to love and cuddle and look after. And it would be good for me to learn about the responsibility of looking after an animal. A dog would be best’ he told me.  (He must have been reading Dale’s blog – the Franklin family have just added a Bearded Collie pup called Toby to their number.)

Well, we have a dog already, who is ten this summer, and I don’t think we need another. ‘A kitten, then,’ said Billy. We already have Buddy the tabby, strictly speaking he’s Rebecca’s. But a kitten? In 15 years time I’m hoping that Billy won’t still be living with us, but I can bet his cat still would be. And Olley and I have plans to travel in our retirement, without worrying about an old cat!

But Billy is right, really. He has always been the caring, nurturing child of the three, and would love to have his own pet. He suggested a parrot (!) so he could teach it to talk, a snake (to love??) or a ferret. It’s a no to hamsters as they make so much noise at night, so I’m thinking maybe a rabbit.

Should we get a rabbit?

What do you think? I’ve heard they can be house-trained. Does anyone have any experience or knowledge of that? It would be on a ‘Billy does the cleaning’ condition – I’m not going back to the days of mucking out hutches every weekend! We found a plan for building your own hutch and rabbit run on the internet which would give him a project until spring when baby rabbits may be available.
But I’m not sure – most of the time the rabbit would be on its own outside in its hutch. Do rabbits need company? Would he have to have two?

I think I may try to distract him onto some other idea, but I have a feeling I’m in for a long battle!

Best wishes,



  1. Caroline February 5, 2009 at 3:15 pm -  Reply

    Hi Kathy,
    I just wanted to tell you my own experience of owning rabbits. When my 2 children were younger we bought two sister rabbits, one each for them, we were told a rabbit on it’s own will be very lonely. They were kept in a hutch with an outdoor run and use of the garden (which has to be escape free). They both lived for over six years. Then when they were older we bought another female rabbit which we were worried about allowing in to the hutch and run with the other two rabbits so we bought an indoor box for her & she slept in it in my daughters room. Sadly she only lived 3 years due to poor health, but she was the most wonderful pet. She would jump up on to the bed and stretch herself out, run after my daughter, jump up on the settee & on to our laps and lick our necks and hands & make a “buzzing” sound when around my daughter which the vet said meant she had bonded with our daughter. Of course you have to be careful of electric cables & put them out of reach. Our rabbit was also very easy to house train & would go back to her box to do her buisness! It’s like everything else the more you put into the pet the more you will get out of them. It makes me sad when i visit my local Pets at Home and see young rabbits only a few months old needing a new home. They must be one of the easiest pets to look after and you will be rewarded by showing this little animal love and attention, what a lovely pet for a child. We have a 3 year old Golden Cocker Spaniel now but i miss having a pet rabbit.

  2. Margaret February 7, 2009 at 12:41 am -  Reply

    Hi Cathy, well if its any help how about a guinea pig they are so cute and are fine to have indoors to run around they can go back in the cage when you have had enough of cuddling them , the long haired ones love to sit and be groomed and it would give Billy some responsability to keep him and his cage tidy , it would spend time indoors instead of outside so he would always be close by and among the family, hope this helps , by the way we had ours until he was about 5 years old .

  3. Judy Wheeler February 8, 2009 at 10:29 pm -  Reply

    Hello Kathy – I have had pet rabbits for nearly 40 years – since I was a child. They are the most wonderful pets and are much more intelligent than they are given credit for. I currently have 3 rabbits – 1 of which is a houserabbit and they certainly can be litter trained.They love company – both human and bunny! They can become just as much a ‘best friend’ as a cat or dog and will give Billy lots of love and affection in return for his time and attention. I hope Billy enjoys his rabbit.

  4. Kathy Tayler February 23, 2009 at 10:28 pm -  Reply

    Hi Judy, Margaret and Caroline
    Thanks for your helpful comments. As you’ve probably read, we decided on a hamster in the end, as my husband Olley wasn’t keen on a rabbit or guinea pig. But reading about your experiences makes me think that if Billy is responsible about looking after Tilly, maybe he and I can persuade his dad that a house rabbit or guinea pig would be ok. I personally love the idea of having a rabbit lollloping around. Caroline, your daughter’s rabbit sounds wonderful and you’re right – you get out what you put in, that’s true of anything in life, isn’t it?
    Carry on enjoying your pets.
    Best wishes
    Kathy x

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