Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Rabbit agility becoming more popular.
Let's start with the fun stuff; this article on Rabbit Hopping in the UK has some incredible photos. You go, little rabbit rocket! (You'll note the copyright on the photo. It's not mine. I have not asked permission. I'm not making money off of this, but I AM saying that this is some of the best photography I've seen of rabbits in this agility sport!)
As a person who views rabbits as intelligent companion animals, I've long had an issue with 4-H and their treatment of rabbits as primarily show animals or livestock. Being from the midwest, the philosophical and realistic quandries of animal husbandry, vegetarian/vegan lifestyles and general humaneness towards all life are often in my heart or on my mind.
I can't say that I support 4-H (although as a child growing up in the Midwest, I was an active member -- in things like photography). And county and state fairs with their large rabbit shows are both a draw and a depression. BUT... I can say that over the years, I have seen a sea change, and more youngsters in 4H are seeing rabbits as intelligent animals deserving of respect as individuals, not just livestock. And with Rabbit Hopping (or any other way to say competitive rabbit agility) becoming more popular, this is only increasing.
Back in the day, many people felt rabbits were dull, dumb creatures. Of course, their only exposure was to a scared, unsocialized, depressed rabbit sitting in the corner of a cage or hutch outside all day. (As I like to say for illustation, "Take a child and place him into a cage barely large enough for him to move, leave him in there for many months and then tell me how likely you are to know his true personality if you stand in front of the cage for 5 minutes." It amazes me how many times I see a lightbulb go on in people's heads and they say, "Oh, I get it..." to that statement.)
Seeing rabbits out and about, doing skilled tasks and being social will help people understand how intelligent these animals are.
(Rabbit hopping isn't for everybunny. Some buns simply don't have -- and won't have, even with concerted development -- the outgoing personality that this activity requires. That's okay -- that's all part of respecting the animal as an individual.)
I missed this rabbit hopping article when it came out earlier this year.