Hello, and welcome to Dolly’s Darling Rabbitry! Thank you so much for visiting my site and possibly considering to add one of my baby buns to your family! Before I get to far, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Larissa; Dolly is a nickname my parents gave me as an infant, and it just kind of stuck! All my friends, and family, still call me Dolly. I respond happily to both so either name works for me! I am 24 years old, and have owned, trained, rescued, and bred rabbits, in some sort my entire life. I take great pride in my bunnies and my rabbitry. DDR is located on our third-generation family cattle farm in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. Situated on 100 acres, only 45 minutes north of downtown Toronto, and 25 minutes south of Orangeville, it has been a true blessing to grow up and live on. We are a long-time registered rabbitry with the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association) and thrive to meet their standard of perfection in our buns! Rabbits have truly been one of my greatest passions throughout my entire life! This, in turn, developed another passion of mine. While taking, and posing the bunnies for photos, I quickly fell in love with photography, and specifically animal photography. I am ecstatic to say I am now working towards my certificate in Digital Photography through Sheridan College, as well as working two jobs (both with animals of course!) Ok, ok, that is enough about me! I mean you are here for the adorable little baby bunnies, right?! Then let me tell you a bit about them and how I came to start DDR….
Growing up on our family dairy farm, my grandparents, and then parents, always owned and bred rabbits. They specifically specialized in Flemish Giants, New Zealands, and Californians. If you are familiar with rabbit breeds you will know that these are all large breed buns and often bred for meat purposes…..I am sure you know where I’m going with this. Being a young child, I absolutely adored the bunnies and was so in love with the whole process of breeding them and watching the babies grow. I remember always checking the calendar, that my dad hung on the rabbitry door, to see when the next babies were expected. When the day would finally arrive, I would excitingly check the nest box every hour or so, despite constantly being told to leave them alone to deliver in peace and quiet. The happiness that came when I would go in to see a nest of momma buns hair, and there, in the middle, nested oh so carefully would lay these tiny little hairless miracles. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this was to witness and experience as a child. Over the next few months, I would smother these growing babies with all the love and care I possibly could. Before school, after school, before bed, I just wanted to be with them all the time. Then my least favorite part would come…..saying goodbye. Now as a kid, I had no idea that they were actually going to end up on someone’s dinner plate. I was always told they were going to live happy lives with families. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand in order for some people to eat meat, things like this had to happen. However, it was not something I was prepared to do with these tiny little nuggets that I have spent so much of my time watching, holding, loving, and socializing with. As soon as I was old enough to know the truth, I vowed to one day have my own bunnies and never let any of them ever go for meat purposes!
When I was 13 years old, my parents made me aware that they had decided to stop breeding bunnies entirely. They had bred them for over 20 years, but unfortunately the ever growing and expanding cattle side of our farm required more of their time, and attention. I, being completely in love with bunnies, begged my parents to let me take over. I was most certainly not prepared to live without these majestic little creatures in my life. At first, they responded with some hesitation; I think was fair considering how much time and responsibility would be required to be placed on a 13-year-old; even with the knowledge and past experience I had with rabbits. Eventually, we came to an agreement. I was allowed three bunnies, one buck (male) and two does (females). It would be completely up to me to pay for, take care of, breed, and sell the bunnies and their kits (babies). At first my parents just assumed I would stick with large breed rabbits and continue selling for meat purposes, but I had my own plan! That spring we attended an annual animal sale, the same sale that I previously had been buying rabbits off meat buyers, making absolutely no profit and placing in loving homes, usually through kijiji. I came back to our truck with three little bundles of fluff! I had been putting away all my money I earned from doing chores and work, and had finally bought my bunnies! Three purebred double mained lionheads! When I brought them home and explained that I wanted absolutely nothing to do with rabbit meat industry and would focus on the pet side instead, my dad gave mixed reactions. He was very understanding of my beliefs, but just couldn’t see why anyone would actually pay and want these little “mini bunnies” as pets. I knew there were people out there just as in love with them as I was! After about a year and a few successful litters, I had finally showed him that people loved bunnies in their house as family members and that they weren’t just a barn pet or a meal. I had successfully bred, delivered, raised, advertised and adopted out a few litters. I showed my parents that there wasn’t just a demand for my bunnies, but also that I was responsible and committed enough to continue, expand my passion, and little bunny herd. I was given one whole section in our barn to start my own rabbitry and get more bunnies, I was finally able to make all my own decisions! For the next little while I bred and owned different breeds, including Angora, Dutch, Harlequin, single mained Lionheads, Flemish Giants (as pets) rex, etc.
About 8 years ago, I adopted my first pair of holland Lop rabbits. I was immediately drawn to them for their floppy ears and being the smallest of the lop breeds. I was quick to realize that this breed had so much more to offer. They have the sweetest, cuddliest, calmest personalities, and truly are the “puppy dogs” of the bunny world. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to specialize in and focus my rabbitry on this breed! Right away I learned everything I could about the breed and registered my rabbitry with the ARBA (American Rabbit Breeders Association). Fast forward some years and I am now 23 years old, have between 25-40 bunnies at any given time (depending on current babies) and focus on two main breeds. I still specialize in Holland Lops and can honestly say I don’t ever see this changing, although I now also breed Netherland Dwarfs. English Lops have been a third breed in my rabbitry for a while now, but I am currently taking a break from them. I take great pride in my buns and focus on quality babies with amazing genes, personalities, and health records. All of the babies born here are handled and picked up from the very hour they are born. The mommas are all used to my scent and I do not have to worry about abandonment while I handle them this young. As the babies reach about 3 weeks of age, I start to introduce my nephew’s scent. He is three years old and lives with us at the farm. Mason is my number one rabbitry helper! He not only loves to help me feed, clean and care for the bunnies, but he is also a key aspect of the baby buns socialization process. Many of my babies are additions to families with children. Therefor it is extremely important to me that my bunnies be used to being with and handled by children. That’s where Mason steps in! All of our babies have daily “play time” which consists of running around in a play room with tunnels and activities. Most of the time Mason is right in there with them, giving them snuggles, letting them climb all over him, and just getting them used to what it’s like to be around children. Another key part of socialization in my bunnies is getting them used to possible “fur-siblings” in their new families. We have a few dogs here on the farm and they luckily range in size. Our smallest is Rilo, who is a Chihuahua (that thinks he is wolf size) and our largest is Bernie, who is a St.Bernard (and thinks he is mouse size). All our buns have play sessions with the doggos too. This allows them to not just explore each other and their scents, but also helps the buns get used to being around and sharing space with any potential future fur-siblings. In these sessions we do introduce other animals that might be in their future homes as well. These include other unfamiliar bunnies, cats, and guinea pigs. There are even the odd farm animal babies that I use for socialization as they are born around the farm. You can see a few photos of the bunnies with newborn mini pig babies, baby chicks, ducklings, etc on my Instagram!My rabbitry Instagram (@dollysdarlingrabbitry) has proven not only as a great way to share my photos with the world, connect with others in the bunny community, and watch many of my babies grow in their forever home, but also as a way to help families looking for a bunny find me!
My rabbits, and my rabbitry, have been with me through everything I have experienced in life so far, whether good, bad or ugly. They have been behind me with every first experience, every fight with my friends, every nervous first dates, every nasty breakup, every time I struggled with mental health, every loss, every change, every achievement, every failure. I cannot ever imagine myself without my rabbits and my rabbitry. I cannot wait to see where the future takes me and DDR. I intend to bond with, socialize, breed, adopt out, rescue and love bunnies my entire life. As well as maybe even someday pass along what I have built, my experiences and my knowledge to the next generation. I will do everything in my power to try to show families and individuals just how amazing and magical the bond between humans and animals can be. “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawaken.”