Sean Harrison never described himself as an animal person. Everything changed when he unexpectedly had to take care of a rabbit. Although his time with his first pet didn’t last, he received another chance at love through unusual circumstances.
Sean documented his story through Instagram, where he and his rabbit now have tens of thousands of followers. Before, he never wanted a pet, and now he can’t imagine his life after rescuing a bunny. Read his inspiring story here.
A Loss, And A Gain
On September 21st, 2017, King Nutsy passed away. The “little king,” as he was called, ruled over Sean Harrison’s home and heart. For years, Sean ran an Instagram account, Man and Bunny, to post adorable photos of his grey rabbit Nutsy.
Hundreds of followers mourned Nutsy’s passing, and some even sent gifts and memorial artwork to Sean. He never confirmed whether he would get another rabbit, but one month later, a special someone would unexpectedly come into Sean’s life.
The Truth Behind The Scenes
Despite what Sean posted on Instagram, he never described himself as an animal person. “I’ve never really been much of a pet person,” Sean later said. “I always thought, ‘Do they really mean that much?’ You know, ’cause it’s just an animal.”
In autumn of 2016, Sean’s girlfriend encouraged him to keep Nutsy in his Reading home for a couple of weeks. At first, Sean was reluctant. “But I thought, you know, it’s only a couple of weeks,” Sean later told The Dodo.
A Love He Never Anticipated
But after a few weeks passed, Sean couldn’t let Nutsy go. “I was surprised that we bonded,” he said. “I didn’t expect it. I’d never had a rabbit or anything before.” What was meant to be a brief foster situation had turned Sean’s life around.
Sean’s friends were shocked that he had changed from a no-pet person to a bunny lover within a couple of weeks. “I’m losing my street cred!” he later joked. He ended up keeping Nutsy for around a year.
Starting Up On Instagram
On November 2nd, 2016, Sean posted his first rabbit photo on Instagram under the handle @manandbunny. He uploaded a picture of Nusty going for a walk on a leash, with a caption from Nutsy’s point of view. “Off for a walk with my pops,” he wrote.
Sean would continue to post Nutsy’s antics throughout the year. Nutsy loved to lay on Sean’s bed and eat Rice Krispies with him. Soon, his follower count grew from tens to hundreds to thousands.
Terrible News Hits
In September 2017, bad news struck. Nutsy became lethargic, a huge warning sign for rabbits. “[I] took him straight to the vet,” Sean said, “’cause he just wasn’t right; he wasn’t really moving.”
Unlike other pets, rabbits don’t openly display it when they are sick. Usually, their energy levels decline, and their appetite will drop. A rabbit owner has to act quickly when they see these signs, and Sean got Nutsy help as fast as he could.
A Pet Gone Too Soon
Although Sean did everything he could, nobody was prepared for Nutsy’s sudden deterioration. A few hours after the rabbit arrived at the vet, he passed away. The vets said that Nutsy likely had an underlying heart condition or cancer, and it silently crept up on him.
Nutsy’s unexpected death took a toll on Sean. “It was horrible,” he later told The Dodo. “I never really thought I’d be that worried for an animal. It was really sad.”
Trying To See The Bright Side
Although he had lost his first pet, Sean tried to look at the bright side. “I was like, ‘Do you know what? I can get my lounge back. I can have my carpet free from having holes in it.'” But his optimism didn’t last for more than a few weeks.
During these weeks, Sean posted memorial photos to Instagram. His friends didn’t think that he was ready for another pet, and Sean agreed. However, the feeling of emptiness eventually prompted him to look again.
Would He Adopt Again?
Although Sean wasn’t expecting to adopt another pet anytime soon, his loss drove him to see other rabbits. “I thought, ‘I’ll just have a little look, [and] see if there’s any other little rascals available,'” he told The Dodo.
Sean went through a foster system to find other rabbits up for adoption. He found one baby rabbit put up for adoption in a nursing home. When Sean visited, he didn’t expect to see such a sad animal.
An Abandoned Bunny
Sean visited a six-month-old bunny. At the time, the rabbit’s foster parents decided that they didn’t want him in the house anymore. One parent took the bunny to the nursing home where she worked. There, they kept the rabbit in a shed out back.
The foster parents had entirely neglected their rabbit. “They just wanted to get rid of him basically,” Sean later said. He felt terrible for this animal who was living in a dangerous situation.
…A Life-Threatening Situation
Although the foster parents probably didn’t know it, the rabbit was in a life-threatening situation. Depending on the conditions, it’s dangerous to keep rabbits outside, especially during the colder months. In England, the temperature would be close to freezing in October.
Rabbits can’t regulate their body temperature as other animals do. When Sean saw him, the bunny was wet and scared from a recent rain. “He was living alone in the cold and dark with almost zero human contact,” Sean later said.
Giving The Bunny A New Life
Rabbits are social animals. The young bunny had little to no interaction in his small shed, which made him shy and depressed. Sean felt terrible when he saw the rabbit’s living conditions.
“He came to me, [and] had a little sniff at my fingers,” Sean later said. “I thought, ‘I can’t leave him there.’ He looked too sad out there.” Although nobody expected him to adopt another rabbit, something about this bunny tugged at Sean’s heart.
A Second Bunny Entered His Life
Against all expectations, Sean adopted the six-month-old bunny. On October 27th, just over a month after Nutsy died, Sean posted about his new rabbit on Instagram. He named his new pet Chief Brody, after Chief Martin Brody from Sean’s favorite movie, Jaws.
Sean’s followers were ecstatic about him adopting another bunny; the post received over 5,000 likes. Although Sean had experience caring for Nutsy, he now had to care for an unsocialized and neglected rabbit. It wouldn’t be easy.
Adjusting To The New Life
As with all rabbits, Chief Brody was a little nervous at first. Rabbits usually take a while to feel comfortable around people. Plus, Chief’s previous experiences with humans hadn’t been so loving.
In the meantime, Sean worked to make Chief’s new home comfortable. He set out tunnels for Chief to run through and cardboard boxes for him to hide in. Within a few days, Chief was already flopping–when a rabbit falls over because they’re so happy.
Sean’s New Boss
According to Sean, it only took a few days for Chief to grow accustomed to the house. Despite being a baby, Chief immediately took over with his assertive personality. “There’s only one boss in the house now, and it certainly isn’t me,” Sean later said.
Sean let Chief have free roam of the house, “when he’s not being a rascal, that is.” While Chief once had a tiny hutch outdoors, he could now run around Sean’s entire home.
Exploring His New Home
Chief hadn’t lived in a large home since he was locked in a shed. When he moved in with Sean, he took full advantage of the new space. “Chief likes exploring,” Sean later said, “so if I leave the door open while I’m having a bath or shower, he’ll pop in.”
Meanwhile, Sean’s Instagram showed Chief adjusting to his new home. He was sitting in the laundry basket, jumping into the pantry shelves, and watching Sean clean the dishes.
Showing His True Colors
As time passed, Chief began to display his unique personality. He also became more comfortable around Sean. “He likes TV programs,” Sean later said. “He prefers sports, I think. ‘Cause he sees the grass? I think that maybe that’s it.”
For an abandoned bunny who had a harsh past with humans, Chief adjusted to Sean surprisingly quickly. “Chief and I have been best pals ever since I rescued him,” Sean said. “We love to share biscuits.”
Changing His Mind About Animals
Before adopting two rabbits, Sean didn’t consider them to be as unique or lovable as they are. “I just thought they were kind of just an animal that you have in the back garden,” he admitted.
Although many people view rabbits as dull and less intelligent than dogs or cats, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. “I genuinely didn’t realize that they have little personalities,” Sean recalled. “That shocked me.” But both Nutsy and Chief had very distinct personalities.
A New Daily Routine With A Rabbit
Like every pet tends to do, Chief Brody entirely rescheduled Sean’s daily routine. During an interview with Virtual Bunny Club, Sean said that Chief wakes him up every morning at 7:00 a.m. The rabbit throws his food bowl around to say, “I’m ready for breakfast!”
After work, Sean comes home to a bunny who’s ready for more vegetables. The two lounge while Chief starts “sprinting and doing binkies and getting up to total mischief.” Binkies are when rabbits leap into the air joyfully.
Sadly, Rabbits Are Often Abandoned
Rabbits are frequently adopted and abandoned, especially around Easter. People get one thinking that they’ll be easy to care for. But when rabbits aren’t the low-maintenance, cuddly pets they expect, they give them up–sometimes even abandoning them.
Sean once assumed that rabbits would be boring pets. “But then experiencing both of them coming to live with me, it’s changed me,” he later said. He is now the animal lover that he never thought he would be.
Changing His Outlook On Life
During an interview with Virtual Bunny Club, Sean said that Chief changed his outlook on life, despite being in his 30s. “It opened my mind up to why people form bonds and friendships with animals, which I never really had or understood before,” he said.
Sean emphasizes that rabbits are brilliant, high-commitment animals, who need plenty of space and time to bond with their owners. “They build a bond with you if you spend the time with them, and it’s extremely rewarding.”
Chief Brody Today
Today, Chief Brody lives a happy, comfortable life with Sean. Almost three years after Chief was rescued, Chief has become an Instagram star. The account Man and Bunny has over 67,000 followers and 1,200 posts.
Sean’s story has spread to news outlets, and videos about him have garnered over two million views. He encourages others to give rabbits a chance and adopt animals in need. Although Sean still misses Nutsy, he and Chief remain best of friends.
What To Do If You Find An Abandoned Rabbit
According to the Humane Society, rabbits are the third most popular pet in the US–and the third most abandoned. Many people don’t expect rabbits to live for ten to 12 years or for their needs to be so extensive.
If you see an abandoned or neglected rabbit, call your local vet or humane society. Domestic rabbits should not be released into the wild or kept in guinea pig-sized cages. And never abandon a rabbit; there are plenty of organizations that will adopt them out for you.