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."
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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.

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Cover Image Credit: Anna Gonzalez-Smolski

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45 Things Day Care Workers Say All Too Often

Toddlers are pretty much tiny, drunk people.
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Being the keeper of tiny humans can be a very interesting job. You are constantly breaking up arguments, cleaning up messes, trying to keep them safe, and telling them not to do things that are well, sometimes pretty weird. They do and say the strangest things that'll make you wonder what is really going on in their little heads.

1. "No no no, don't do *something crashes to the floor* ....that."

2. "Bubbles in your mouths every body!"

3. "No, we don't eat our friend's snack."

4. "Hands to yourself."

5. "Get off of the table before you hurt yourself."

6. "Why do we even give them spoons?"

7. "We don't put toys in our mouths"

8. "Did you wash your hands?"

9. "Where do we run? Where are we right now?"

10. "Where are your shoes?"

11. "We don't talk like that here."

12. "Go tell them you're sorry"

13. "Get your finger out of your nose"

14. "Inside voices please!"

15. "Every one find a buddy."

16. "Ew ew ew, some body get me a tissue!"

17. "How did your shoes untie already? I just tied them five minutes ago."

18. "We do nice with our hands."

19. "Oh god, it's spaghetti day."

20. "Please, do not put noodles in your hair."

21. "Hold hands until we are on the play ground!"

22. "5 little monkeys jumping on the bed, one fell off and bumped his head..."

23. "Do you have to poop?"

24. "Well you should at least try."

25. "Why didn't you go to the potty before we went outside."

26. "If I hear "Let it go" one more time..."

27. "Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog.."

28. "Mommy and Daddy will come back, I promise."

29. "No, no biting!"

30. "She had it first, you'll just have to wait until she's done."

31. "Ew, why are you dipping everything in applesauce?"

32. "Now, are you going to eat the vegetable with the ranch or just the ranch?"

33. "Then why did you say you weren't eating snack?"

34. "Put your arms back in your sleeves."

35. *Five minutes before closing* "Where are your parents??"

36. "I finally got him to sleep, everyone be quiet."

37. *You see one eye open* "Oh no..."

38. "Wow, all your kids are still sleeping!?" (We wish we said this more often)

39. "Don't eat that, it was on the floor!"

40. "Glue the google eyes on here." *puts the eyes anywhere but there*

41. "Stop fighting over who's going to turn off the lights, you'll get a turn tomorrow."

42. "Don't shove so much food in your mouth at once, you'll choke!"

43. "Chew and swallow your food before you get up."

45. "Don't touch anything until we wash your hands!"

As weird as these small people are, they are some of the sweetest beings on the planet. And although they drive you crazy, at the end of the day, they make you love your job.


Cover Image Credit: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/1223221/images/o-KIDS-MESS-facebook.jpg

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