By Jennifer Hayes
He doesn’t type nor does he take messages. However, Walter’s the most unique worker to hit the Best Friends workplace in a while. He’s managed to break the species barrier by becoming our first-ever office rabbit — and he’s loving his new position.Pre-employment
His current happiness probably has a lot to do with his origin. When rabbits aren’t spayed or neutered, populations can get out of control — quickly. That’s what happened at his original home.
Living with so many other bunnies must have been hard. Maybe that’s why Walter prefers bachelorhood to bunking with another rabbit.
However, he does love people. That social nature made him the perfect candidate to live in an office.Things will work out
Claudette’s Castle, one of the office buildings at Best Friends, has hosted many cats over the years. However, Liz Finch, Best Friends’ senior manager of Community Programs and Services, wanted to offer that opportunity to a rabbit. She got buy-in from her co-workers and Bunny House management, and Walter got his new rabbit-proofed residence.
His first work assignment? Bathe.
After living in the orange soil for roughly a year, Walter sported a gray-and-brown coat. He spent his first day grooming himself. Imagine everyone’s surprise when they discovered his feet, belly and tail were all actually white.
But that wasn’t the only surprise Walter had to offer.
Three office cats also reside in the building: Seegone, Melissa and Banjo. Liz, who has had rabbits and cats in her own home for about 10 years, knows from personal experience that rabbits and cats can actually become best buddies if monitored introductions are done slowly and carefully.
Seegone only poked his head under the door, and Melissa was more interested in the new smells, but Walter’s first interaction through a screened pen with Banjo was a little more dynamic.
“When he and Banjo first met, Banjo was fixated,” says Liz. “He just stared at him and couldn’t tear his eyes away.” So they separated the duo, but not before Walter stomped and snorted. Liz notes, “He’s definitely going to lay down the law. He’s not going to let the cats intimidate him.”
Time has passed, and the novelty is wearing off. Now neither the cats nor the rabbit react to each other, and Liz feels comfortable leaving her door open, with a baby gate up, allowing the cats to come and go as they please during the day.Great companions
Liz feels rabbits, though often overlooked, make fabulous pets. With a little patience, their characters emerge. “Like people learn the personalities of their dogs and cats and get more attached, bunnies are the same.”
She feels Walter would make a great first rabbit. “He’s really sweet, he’s really charming, [and] he’s got a lot of obvious personality,” she says. Plus, now he’s accustomed to living in a homelike environment and is even litter box trained.Climbing the corporate ladder
Working at Claudette’s is not just a 9-to-5 gig for Walter; he now lives there 24/7. But before anyone calls the U.S. Department of Labor to complain, his time at the office seems to be all play and no work.
He has plenty of enrichment items like empty paper towel rolls, boxes, and pinecones. Walter even has his own radio to keep him company at night when no one’s around. (He likes 80s rock, particularly Men at Work.)
He’s certainly not alone during the day. Liz will often work on the floor, multitasking between her job and Walter. Her coworkers realize that meetings in Liz’s office are on the ground, but there’s a bonus. Walter enforces EEOC — employing equal opportunity companionship.
There only seems to be one hitch with his new job. Walter is currently negotiating his compensation package because he wants to see more green. His preference is dandelion and cilantro.Adopt a bunny buddy
Interested in adopting a rabbit? Walter is among the many rabbits available for adoption at Best Friends
.Photos by Molly Wald