For The Love Of Sandy Rabbitry: Sorrowful Event Turned Passion Project

For The Love Of Sandy Rabbitry: Sorrowful Event Turned Passion Project

"Talking with Anna and watching her with the bunnies, you can see the passion in her eyes and hear the excitement in her voice."
439
views

Loading video...

Imagine coming home from a tiring day of work to find your four children brokenhearted because they found their family pet had suddenly passed on. How does a parent even begin to help their children process and heal from a traumatic experience such as this? Anna Gonzalez-Smolski, Howell, New Jersey resident and owner of For The Love Of Sandy Rabbitry, would know a thing or two about healing.

Growing up, Anna was always a bunny lover and passed that love on to her four children. “[Before the rabbitry] Sandy and Sydney were the last family bunnies, both were lops. We didn’t know not to keep bunnies outside. In mid-October, we would bring them in, but Vinny built them a hutch [for outside]. Back then, it wasn’t about keeping them inside.”

Since the bunnies were in a hutch outside, they were exposed to various elements (weather conditions and unwanted animals). They were also known to be quite the Houdinis and notorious for getting out of their hutch. Gonzalez-Smolski recalls the life-changing afternoon for her family:

It was October 2011, and it was a hot month, so Sandy was still in her hutch. Before Vinnie went to work, he saw a neighbor’s dogs outside on top of our pool cover. He shooed them away but never thought to check the hutch. That afternoon the kids got off the bus, and Aidan found Sandy underneath a tree. He was only eight at the time. He said, ‘Sandy is sleeping under the tree.’ Sandy was domesticated. She would get out of her hutch, and go to the same tree and wait for us, but she was not sleeping. It was probably the neighbor’s dogs that did it; they were acting on instinct.

The Smolski family had a wake and funeral for their beloved family pet and buried her under the family tree. The family tried to heal, but the kids were very angry. It was hard for the children to see those dogs roaming the streets often; just another reminder their Sandy was gone. It also didn’t help that everyone kept saying, ‘Oh, it’s just a rabbit.’ As Anna argues, “but she was a member of the family.”

Sandy and Tyler

You can never replace a beloved pet; however, after the period of mourning, the family was ready to give their love to another bunny. This adoption sparked an idea for Anna. “We went to a local breeder. When I met the owner and saw the love and the setup she had, it inspired me to breed bunnies. I decided to start the rabbitry after Sandy. I wanted to give the kids something positive after negative.”

In 2012, For The Love Of Sandy Rabbitry (FLS) was started with three bunnies. Since that time, FLS has 10 (soon to be 12) girls and five boys. FLS specializes in purebred Holland Lops and Lionhead’s, with lines of chocolate, blue eyed whites, torts, broken patterns, and harlequins. Anna keeps a record of all the hundreds of bunnies and gets to keep in touch with some of the owners.

Talking with Anna and watching her with the bunnies, you can see the passion in her eyes and hear the excitement in her voice. Contrary to popular belief, her focus with FLS is not about the money; it is quite the opposite. “This is not to make money. All the money I make goes back to the rabbitry.” This is all for the love of bunnies--especially Sandy.

Diesel and Anna

Having lots of bunnies to love requires a lot of helping hands. The kids help feed the bunnies and clean the cages while spending quality time with the bunnies. Moreover, Anna’s husband, Vinnie, was a huge support system. “He thought I was crazy, but once he saw the personalities, he fell in love with the bunnies. I would come home, and he would be folding laundry with bunnies around.”

FLS not only helped the Smolski family move on after Sandy, but it was also a source of comfort to the family after their patriarch passed away. When asked how the bunnies helped in the healing process, Anna replies, “To answer your question. The bunnies have given us unconditional love and holding a baby bunny and knowing how much he was a part of their everyday care and love for them has helped me immensely in the grieving process.”

Life throws a lot of unexpected challenges, but it is what we do with those obstacles that define us. Anna turned a tragic event into a positive outcome for her and her family by bringing the furry joy of bunnies to other families, and she has no intention of slowing down. Anna one day hopes to have her own 4-H club to “teach people to understand how amazing rabbits are and what joy and comfort they bring.” She also hopes to one day be involved with pet therapy for seniors and children with developmental disabilities. For now, Anna is satisfied with her rabbitry, “I would love to do it as long as I can.”

For more information on For The Love of Sandy Rabbitry, please check out their website, Facebook page or Instagram.

Loading video...

Cover Image Credit: Anna Gonzalez-Smolski

Popular Right Now

College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
48881
views

The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Reality Of Cat Shows

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special.

58
views

As a self-declared cat lady, when I decided to attend my first cat show I was hyped to pet all the kitties, and watch them do tricks, or show off their beauty. After attending a few, I know they're totally unique and amazing events that everyone should be attending.

Upon arriving, you will probably need to pay an entry fee, and maybe there's an area for donations for local animal shelters (yes, animal breeders support animal shelters!). You might be overwhelmed with the sheer amount of cats, as far as the eye can see. Having a game plan of cats to visit might seem fun, but just roaming and visiting is a lot more fulfilling, and you may discover breeds of cats you never knew you would love. Usually, cat shows will feature visiting areas for guests attending the show to view, and sometimes pet, the cats. As well as areas where cats are judged and given awards, sort of like miniature stages.

Visitor areas are pretty self-explanatory as you can roam around and look at the dozens of different breeds, of kittens and cats alike. The diversity will amaze you and the cats are all special and loved by their owner. Because cats can catch sicknesses while surrounded by so many other cats, it's important to sanitize your hands before petting, as well as asking the owner if you can pet their cat or kitten. Some may even let you hold their cat, but this would be rare and you shouldn't get your hopes up! While viewing cats, you may find some that are up for adoption and could find a new family member. Some cats are actually people's household pets, and are scored differently from a cat who was bred for its looks!

The competition side is where the cat shows get interesting. You can view any and all competitions, although there will be many occurring at a time. That's because cats will initially be ranked against the cats of the same breed as them, and within those breeds, by gender and color style. Winning best in the breed is the first step to becoming the champion of a cat show. Watch as owners get nervous and excited as the tiny plastic awards go up, showing which cat was victorious. Although all judges can be different, it's fun to see beautiful and friendly cats win awards and look pleased with themselves as their owner smiles with pride.

Later in the day or weekend, one cat will be chosen as the grand champion out of the best in breeds. Usually, fans can vote on their favorite as well, and award a special cat a top prize, although unofficial, for its cuteness and spirit. A hairless cat has won fan favorite at every show I attended!

Go in with an open mind, because cat shows may seem totally bizarre, but are incredibly fun and special. The group of people who participate will love to tell you about their amazing cat and let you in on cat show secrets. A place where cat lovers unite, what could be better?

Related Content

Facebook Comments