Bunny Susie brings the gift of joy to pensioner Alan
An abandoned white rabbit was rescued by our staff – and now has a new life as a therapy pet for a dementia sufferer who is thriving in her company.
In a heart-lifting series of coincidences, rescue rabbit Susie has found a new home with doting Alan Jordan – who lives 450 miles from where our colleagues found her.
Once-chatty Alan, 72, like many people with dementia, has become limited in his speech and has largely stopped initiating conversation.
But unprompted and out of the blue, retired construction engineer Alan said to wife Sue last month that he wanted a white rabbit for good luck.
And he added: “I’ll call it Susie if it’s a girl and Arthur if it’s a boy.”
Delighted Sue was so pleased to hear Alan so animated that she rang her daughter Emma Burns – who works for us as a customer manager – to tell her all about it.
Totally by chance, a week later, two of our staff found a white rabbit shivering in a bush in Dunfermline, Fife.
A third colleague crawled into the undergrowth to rescue the rabbit and brought it back to the office – where, as random luck would have it, Emma, who is from Maidstone in Kent, just happened to be attending a staff meeting.
Emma said: “I was at the office in Dunfermline, heard about the white rabbit getting rescued and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, what an amazing coincidence.’
“If it had happened on any other day I would never have known as I work at the opposite end of the country.
“But as I was there I said that my dad, who doesn’t talk much because of his vascular dementia, had only a few days before been speaking about getting a white rabbit.
“Everyone was saying, ‘What a coincidence – you should take her back with you’. If I wasn’t flying home I would’ve taken her with me. I had no way of getting her home until a colleague said she was hoping to drive down south for a meeting so could bring Susie with her.
“So I thought about it for about 10 seconds then said on impulse, ‘Okay, I will!’”
First, though, our vets had to check Susie over and remove ticks from her matted fur.
Next, we had to establish that she was indeed abandoned and not just lost – and as she wasn’t microchipped we posted numerous appeals on our social media channels asking her owner to get in touch.
We waited seven days – before going ahead with the rehoming. One of our team drove Susie to Peterborough, where Emma collected her.
Emma said: “I couldn’t wait to get her back to my mum and dad’s house in Maidstone so I could see his reaction.
“He was just so, so thrilled when I brought her in. His eyes lit up and I think Susie sensed how pleased he was because she went straight up to him to say hello.
“We popped her on dad’s lap so he could stroke her and he was just grinning from ear to ear. It was really emotional for me and my mum to see him so happy.
“Then he looked up and said to me with a sad face, ‘Is she going home now?’
“And I said, ‘No Dad, she is home, she’s come to live with you!’. His whole face lit up again and it was just a joy to see.
“She sits with him for most of the day or she sleeps under the coffee table in front of his chair and he’s noticeably more alert when she’s around.”
Emma pointed out that since rehoming Susie, she has been microchipped and has had all her vaccinations.
In a final touching twist to the story, lovable Susie has become best pals with Alan and Sue’s six-year-old dog Daisy.
Emma said: “We were a bit worried about Daisy – who is a cavalier cross bichon frise – but weirdly the dog and the rabbit have become great friends.
“They go round the house together like they’ve known each other for years.”
Our colleague who crawled into the undergrowth to rescue Susie – marketing executive Leona Clark – said: “Poor Susie was in a bit of a state when we found her.
“But she made a brilliant recovery and her and Alan sound like they’re just made for each other. She has a lovely nature.
“While we were establishing that Susie’s owner wasn’t going to come forward, Susie came to live with me and my partner in Edinburgh.
“It was great having a lodger – but she ate us out of house and home … we couldn’t buy the carrots quick enough!
“Emma’s keeping us in touch with how she is getting on and it’s like we’re all part of an extended family now.”
Emma said: “My dad has suffered quite a rapid decline and obviously that’s been very distressing for us all.
“But it really has been amazing and very uplifting to see the difference in him. It just goes to show the power of a pet to bring joy into someone’s life.
“I don’t think we’ll ever know what made him mention a white rabbit in the first place – it might be that I used to have rabbits as a child.
“But whatever the reason, it’s all worked out brilliantly and we’re just loving the way that such a totally random series of events can bring so much happiness.”