By Jason A. Heidemann
She played a middle-aged junkie on the Comedy Central cult hit Strangers with Candy. In Sex and the City, she was Sarah Jessica Parker’s literary agent, and on late night television, she’s David Letterman’s favorite guest. But at her apartment in New York City, actress, playwright, and comedian Amy Sedaris plays the role of mother to her beloved rabbit Dusty. In honor of Tattle Tail (Amy’s first rabbit) and Adopt-a-Rabbit Month this July, we talked with the proud parent about her bunny love.
Tell us about your interest in rabbits.
I was out shopping with Andy Richter and I saw a little Netherland Dwarf rabbit in the window and I decided to buy her knowing nothing about rabbits. I learned everything from those awful Petland stores that are everywhere so I was actually not giving her the proper care. But she did live to be 7 which is a really long time for small rabbits. This House Rabbit Society lady came to interview me and she saw everything I was doing wrong and she turned me around about rabbits and rabbit care.
Describe your involvement with the House Rabbit Society.
When Mary Cotter, who runs it here in New York, came to interview me we just clicked. She showed me how to properly care for a rabbit. I was giving my rabbit bowls of oatmeal, those awful rabbit pellets, cheap hay, putting her in kitty litter. Really, if social services came, they would’ve taken her away from me. She educated me and she talks as fast as I do so I would just call her and talk to her about rabbits for three hours at three in the morning. We hit it off and I just got involved. I just said whatever you need, I’ll put the word out there for rabbits so I’ve been working with her for years now.
Why do rabbits make great companions?
What I like about rabbits is the idea of having a prey animal in your house. Their instinct is that they’re always going to be eaten and I like letting her know that she’s safe, so it’s really fun for me. I like how dominating they are. I like that someone can actually put me in my place. She sleeps with me at night and I wake up to her in the morning. They’re really good communicators and I just happen to relate more to animals than people so I think we just really understand each other.
How have you arranged your apartment to accommodate her?
I just don’t rearrange it. Because she’s got it down. If she’s on the couch and she’s going to jump on the floor, if I move that coffee table, she could bang her forehead on it. At the same time, rabbits are so curious that it’s probably good to rearrange your furniture once in awhile because it gives them something new to work with and they won’t get so bored.
Do your fans ever acknowledge your love of rabbits?
Yes they do. A lot of people come up to me and tell me their stories about how their rabbit passed away. They don’t live long, so it’s devastating. I tell them where to order hay and turn them on to good hay websites.
What advice would you offer to someone who’s lost a rabbit?
Mary told me that the best thing you can do is get another one. I thought she was crazy. I’m not that person. I like grieving. I like going through that and thinking about it and turning the house into a shrine. And out of respect you want to give the rabbit at least a year. But she’s right because they need homes so bad, so the best thing you can do is get another animal because she’s never going to be like the other one. She is going to be different. And you keep learning from each animal. Everything I learned I was doing wrong with my first rabbit, at least now, because of her I was able to educate myself and give Dusty proper care and educate other people.
Your book I Like You is all about home entertaining. How do you entertain with Dusty in the house?
She’s a people person, but I would change my menu. I wouldn’t serve anything that’s going to spill because if it hits the floor it’s her territory. Smoking is very bad to have around a rabbit so maybe I’ll keep her in the bedroom. She does have a three-story hutch that Todd Oldham designed for her, and it’s never locked. It has a big tower in it and she can look out the window so she can go in there if she wants to get away from the crowd.
Do you ever do any home entertaining specifically for her?
Every year I do my little thing. I buy a carrot cake with her name on it. I take a picture of her with the cake and then I eat the cake. It’s more like photo opportunities, anniversaries, and Easter.
Do you have any advice or caveats for people interested in adopting a rabbit?
Well it’s true what they say, they’re not good pets for children because children are really quick and they’ll grab at a rabbit and that really freaks them out. You just have to remember that they are prey animals and they have a lot of fear and they need space. You can’t get a little cage. I would suggest going to your local House Rabbit chapter and talking to them and learning how to take proper care of them. But get one! They’re really great. They love to travel. I can’t think of a better animal. I’ll have rabbits for the rest of my life.