My wife, Jenny, and I have three animal loving children, and we also have an array of animals to suit their affinity.
On our 10-acre hobby farm, we have a Boer goat, two fainting goats, three bunnies, two dogs, three leased dairy animals that are not quite a year old, 27 laying hens and 30 pullets.
Having this many animals allows our kids great experiences and teaches them responsibility.
They have morning and night chores and are asked to make sure their animals are well taken care of. We try to emphasize to our kids the animals are indeed theirs.
Last week, our kids had to deal with the toughest aspect of having animals – saying goodbye.
One of our bunnies, Oreo, who was 6 years old, died. Jasper, our youngest of three, asked if I would go with him to feed the bunnies some grass and water when we noticed Oreo was laying on the ground flailing its legs like it forgot how to walk.
We tried to pick Oreo up and help her regain her balance; it was for not.
It was quite clear that Oreo was dying.
After we finished chores and had supper, we came back out to check on Oreo. She had died.
Jasper immediately started crying and talked about why he loved the 3-pound Oreo so much. We got Oreo and her sister, Willow, shortly after they were born. Jasper went on to recall fond memories of Oreo with his brother, Mason. Many involved transporting the bunnies to the trampoline and either jumping or petting them there.
Other memorable times included washing the bunnies or having search parties when they burrowed out of the cage.  
But, the bunnies had it made, and the boys made sure of that.    
After Jasper’s tears, he shared the news with his siblings. They decided we should find an appropriate spot to bury Oreo. After all, Oreo had been a part of more than half of Jasper’s life. We’ve buried many different animals on our 10 acres that sometimes I wish I would have made a plot so when I’m burying one I don’t accidently dig up another.
We subsequently found a spot near some sumac and trees and dug a hole. But before we could place Oreo in the hole, Jasper, while hugging his mom, had to share some more details why he loved this black and white bunny so much.
Before the last shovel of soil had been thrown on Oreo’s site, the conversation flipped. Jasper started talking about owning another bunny.
He talked about the color, the breed and the pen he would put the bunny in and how good of care he would give it.
The experience for him and for our whole family is a reality check on the circle of life for our animals. It also emphasizes the importance of enjoying the times they have with their animals because, like with Oreo, they don’t know when that last day is coming.
But, with the passing of an animal, there is also opportunity.
This might be a chance to bring in a different breed of bunny or perhaps try raising a completely different animal. There are very few animals my kids haven’t liked so anything is in the realm of possibility.  
Whatever Jasper decides to do next is up to him, but I’m sure he will be a great steward of whichever animal he chooses.