Care And Personality

Thank you for your thoughtful and loving comments about Candy. What comes through is that you knew her. You understood that she was demanding, crotchety, sociable, curious and imperious. She had a wicked sense of humor, but was never mean. You knew this because Candy lived a life where she was able to express who she was. You knew her because you paid attention. You knew her because you didn’t want her to be anything other than what she was.

It’s a message that I try to get across subtly, sideways through the stories that I write about my animals. But, let me be blatant here. Candy lived where she could fully express who she was. She had an interesting environment that changed through the seasons. She had other animals to interact with. She had human caregivers who were kind and consistent in their interactions with her.

Candy and Goats

If Candy had lived alone in a hutch and had been visited but once a day, her life would have been boring. She would have been boring. Also, Candy felt safe. So much so that she’d tease the dogs so that they would chase her from the other side of the fence. Secure and free from fear, she had plenty of energy and time to get into mischief! Give an animal an interesting, safe and appropriate environment and that animal will blossom.

But, it wasn’t just the environment that brought out Candy’s full personality, it was that I was willing to see it. Candy was as adorable as could be. Often, with a pet as cute as that, we allow our own desires for “fur-babies” to obscure the true nature of the animal. This can result in improper care because it becomes geared more to the owner’s needs than what is best for our companions. Want an example? House chickens. Need I say more?…okay, I will… little dogs who are carried everywhere.

In caring for my animals, I try to be as consistent as possible. This allows me to be alert to changes in behavior. It also opens the channels of communication. For example, I always let Candy out before attending to the chickens. One day, I opened the chickens’ door first. Candy rang her bell in annoyance. She quite clearly expressed her outrage. Without the schedule, without me paying attention, without her confidence that her actions had an effect, the bell ringing wouldn’t have happened. She would have remained simply a cute bunny, and we would not have seen the inner imperious queen.

Years ago, I adopted a dog from a shelter. She was a gorgeous ball of white fluff with grey rings around her eyes. She had first been dropped off at the shelter with her litter mates, and was quickly adopted. She was brought back 2 months later for excessive chewing and other misbehaviors. She was immediately adopted, A month later she was returned to the shelter yet again. By the time I got Nimbus, her dossier included destructive behavior and biting. Nimbus was very smart and she rightly believed that no one was as intelligent as herself. Certainly, no one communicated anything that made sense. It took me a month to convince her that I would listen to her, and finally she listened to me. Later on we took up agility. We made it to the masters level. Such stories are not uncommon with dogs. But, they are not often applied to other animals, and yet they should be. All animals communicate with us. We could have simply loved Candy for her adorableness and enjoyed looking at her. But we did more. We paid attention. We communicated. And she talked back. All animals have unique personalities. Luckily for us, Candy was an Empress. How fortunate we are to have been her subjects during her reign.


  1. So true! I’m glad that your son picked Candy and, even though you knew she would be a handful, you let her blossom into her Royal Highness. Animals have amazing personalities and it is such a joy when we slow down and notice.

  2. What a wonderful story Terry. Sending Blessings for Candy & your family.

  3. Well said Terry! The animals in my life have always appreciated consistency and predictability in their day to day routines. I’m so glad that Candy ended up with your family!

  4. Brilliantly said Terry, I do feel that no dog should always be carried everywhere especially in a bag, they always turn out to be the most aggressive little monsters… I do have to say we have 3 dogs and a cat we did have 2 cats but we had to put our dear kitten Clarrah down in October 10 days before her first birthday she had Feline Leukemia and it caught up to her quickly. My point is that all of pets have.such personality like Faith is the chicken protector Mika is the lap dog, but the friendliest lap dog you ever would meet we.adopted him at 2 years and before he came to us he belonged to a 4 year old girl who dressed him up and pushed him around the house in a stroller he still think a little doll. Alex our 14 year old Maltese that we adopted 8months ago is full of personality even while being mostly deaf and 75% blind. We always just let our animals be what they are only with rules and order with me and Rob being at the top of the hierarchy

  5. So true and so good of you to share so soon after losing Candy. We have only had our four chooks six months now but I can’t imagine life without them and as you say their personalities shine through and it’s amazing how quickly you learn to communicate. I know all their different sounds and love the interaction with them.

    • We got hooked on your blog only a month ago, and love watching the chooks and Candy on the webcam! Candy would bring a smile to our faces! And today when we checked the blog we were saddened by the news that she has past on. But happy in the fact that you gave her a life that most rabbits would dream of. Keep up the great work. We love your blog. Ciao from Rome, Italy. x

  6. On one occasion I saw you let the old girls out before Candy. I asked myself, “What is Terry thinking of?!” Candy would get so upset. What a character, she would run down her ramp and run to the hens ramp, blaocking their exit. I had a dog that was with me 24/7, she knew what I was about to do next before I did! Animals are amazing creatures if you stop and listen to them. Thank you for sharing your animals and thoughts with us.

  7. Was “off grid” when Candy passed- I’m so sorry for your family- and the hens, but thank you for sharing her and your wise and entertaining stories of her with us!

  8. I hope your son is doing OK. I am grateful to him for exerting his own personality and picking the rabbit he wanted. I guess Candy turned into a family/barnyard pet, but certainly he was the one who started her off on her lucky wonderful life with you all. I’m gonna miss that bunny.

  9. I just want to add my condolences; I’m sad Candy is gone but glad that she went so quickly, to spare herself and everyone who loved her even more sorrow.

    And I just have to add- there is such ugliness on the internet, to the point that I, and many people I know, avoid reading comments because people seem to use them as an excuse to spread such unwarranted cruelty and unkindness. The outpouring of love and shared grief for this small creature in this and your previous post warms my heart and reminds me of just how remarkably sympathetic and thoughtful people can be. Quite an accomplishment for such a little bunny :)

  10. Well..that made me bawl too! Empress Candy…you will always be with us!

  11. I am glad that Candy had such a good life. I wish I could afford to build a inside/outside protected enclosure for my two cats. Unfortunately I don’t have my own house, and my mother doesn’t want something like that connected to her house. So they will have just have to live with our mud room and their old wooden window seat. I would definitely never let be outside/inside cats because we live in the city and it’s very very dangerous. I hope when the time is right for you and your family that your next rabbit will be a Emperor or Empress of the henhouse. Maybe you will be even to get a rabbit from a rescue or maybe get one of those type rabbits you liked last fall at the fair. Either an Angora or a lion head lion. Though it would like having a silkie chicken as a rabbit.

  12. Ah, you can put words where I cannot, where I instead am stuck with nebulous undefined understandings, of sorts. What you wrote is so beautifully true! I put your photo of Candy talking to the goats on my desktop. That was one of my favorite observations of her, and it is nice to see it close up. Thank you for writing!

  13. Oh Terry, your thoughtfulness and wisdom could be so well applied in our failing education system for children! Consistency would be as good for kids as it is for animals – And having high expectations for them to live up to their gifts and to who they are as individuals… So much to learn from our animal interactions

  14. Thank you for this blog. I, too, strongly believe in letting my pets be who they are instead of trying to conform them to a stereotype. After all, they love us for what we are so why can’t we do the same?

  15. The natural world can teach us so much if we could manage to sit and quiet ourselves even for a few moments. Terry you understand that gift. You walk the talk. Just look at Miss Candy and the boys. Cooking something up I bet.

  16. I couldn’t agree with you more. I know our cats would be safer if I kept them inside all the time, but they’d be miserable.

  17. Fabulous post, Terry! I learn something new every time I read your blog. Lucky animals living with you!!

  18. I am so glad I got to watch Candy a while back, when there was a huge snowfall (one or two years ago?) and she had an amazing snow realm with mountains and valleys and she went tearing about. What a treat.
    And, yes, you paid attention and the rewards were infinite. Thank you for sharing that.

  19. All teary here. Such a lovely post Terry. Candy was a lucky bunny to have lived as she did. Her life had a purpose and she really made HenCam just that little bit more special. Missing her lots.

  20. bravo, terry. this was beautiful. i let my rabbit’s personality shine around my house, but he’s awfully pushy and always wanting treats :) he and candy would have been good friends. i am so grateful for the animals we bring into our lives, they make our worlds sparkle.

  21. This blog encapsulates what makes your personal animal-spokesperson genius shine! You have said it perfectly. As a lifelong cat lover, I have watched my various felines and their personalities grow and blossom as my own understanding, patience, and observational powers have grown year by year. It’s tough sometimes living with an imperious empress, a noble but manly dolt, and a precious loving brat, all interacting and doing their thing in our small home. But what a privilege and joy to learn their unique talents and er, shortcomings, and have a long timeline to see them each evolve and learn new tricks, and reveal new depths as we travel through the years together. After hearing the still all-too-common comment by idiots, “oh I can’t stand cats — they are so cold and sneaky and boring” for 50+ years now, I am still visited with an almost overwhelming desire to jump up, and whap said idiot aside the head every time I hear it!

    Once you finish mourning Candy, won’t you be feeling curious about what kind of personality will be revealed in your next rabbit? Possibly one inner imperious empress is plenty, and the next time you will find someone completely different?

    Beautiful post. I am still sniffling. In my next life I want to be a dog, cat, chicken, bunny or goat in your home!

    • Thank you. I think that people who aren’t open to the individuality of the animals (and people) around them live rather flat lives.

  22. First let me say how very sorry I am for your loss of Candy. Second, how in the world have I missed your blog? I am SO very sorry and apologize all over the barn for that oversight. As well as not having your blog in my sidebar… Sheesh. I have just missed out. But no more!
    By the way, your words are wonderful. Each animal does indeed have their own unique personality if it is allowed to come through and be shine. Unfortunatley, some of those personalities are Alpine, but we all have our crosses to bear. :)

  23. Candy was so fortunate to reign over such a gentle kingdom and have her exploits shared so generously.

  24. Sending warm wishes from the UK. I have loved searching for Candy via the webcam’s. I was missing her and had to find out where she had gone. So sad to hear of her passing x she looks so much like my house bun Ziggy. What a fantastic and long life she as had!