Monday April 30, 2018

Finals Week at Roesch: Take a Break With a Bunny

By Maureen Schlangen

Therapy dogs from the Miami Valley Pet Therapy Association regularly draw dozens of stressed-out students to Roesch Library for a mental break and a friendly nuzzle. They’re a tough act to follow … but there’s a new animal in town. At 5 p.m. Wednesday, May 2, Roesch will welcome its first therapy bunny.

Certified through the MVPTA, Rocky, a soft, short-haired rex, started out as a foster rabbit for Amanda Lindsay, a reference librarian at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Lindsay had already fostered more than 50 rabbits over a two-year period for the Humane Society, but she couldn’t let this one go.

“He was an owner surrender due to allergies, which is unfortunately very common for bunnies,” Lindsay says. “He’s what we call a ‘foster failure’ because I ended up adopting him.”

Pet therapy is as good for Rocky, now 4, as it is for the people he visits, Lindsay says.

“He got into pet therapy because he is extremely social and would get depressed if he hung around the house too long,” she says. “He seemed like a good candidate and passed the initial meeting with the trainers, so we joined a class with the dogs.”

AT LIBRARIES, ROCKY’S A REGULAR

Certified in June 2016, Rocky is a regular at area libraries’ reading programs; MVPTA animals also serve at hospices, hospitals, nursing homes and schools. Rocky is the MVPTA’s second therapy bunny; since he earned his credential, several others have been trained and certified, Lindsay says.

Rabbits are not as receptive to training as dogs, she says, “but he does know his name, and he knows the word ‘cookie.’ It's fairly easy to clicker-train rabbits … and there are groups who even do agility training for rabbits.”

Rocky’s favorite treats are dried blueberries and pears; he spends his free time perfecting cardboard destruction — but the books will be perfectly safe, Lindsay says.

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