Turning her love for rabbits into a full-time career
24-year-old Dawn grooms and runs a boarding hotel for rabbits from home.
Dawn Yeo has been working from home long before COVID-19. In fact, her love for rabbits led her to open D. Fluff Lounge, where she looks after others’ rabbits all from her own home and “de-fluffs” the furry animals.
As if taking care of others’ rabbits wasn’t enough, she also owns five of her own rabbits.
I got the chance to visit Dawn at her home, and talk to her about what it’s like to run D. Fluff Lounge and live with so many animals.
“Rabbits poop a lot, at least 100 to 200 little pellets. And I have five rabbits, so how much poop is that?” she said with a chuckle.
Although Dawn pointed out how dirty rabbits can be, I couldn’t help but notice how kempt her place was. Aside from the sacks of hay in the living room, there was little evidence that there were five or more furry animals living there.
It all started when Dawn was 17 and brought her first rabbit to a groomer, who offered to teach her how to groom rabbits. She worked part-time as a rabbit groomer throughout polytechnic and university, only stopping when she graduated at 22 and got a full-time office job.
She soon realised an office job was “not her thing”, so she quit in 2019 to start a rabbit grooming and boarding service, D. Fluff Lounge. Now, at 24, she runs a successful business from home.
Grooming the cute but delicate creatures
Handling rabbits isn’t an easy task. They are notoriously fragile creatures, and will get stressed or even fall sick just from being in a car. As a result, most of Dawn’s customers opt for house calls instead of bringing their rabbits over for grooming.
She said: “Most of my customers are very nice. Some treat me like their goddaughter.
“During the festive season, I go around grooming rabbits and collecting presents. A bit paiseh (embarrassing)!”
As I interviewed Dawn in her home, I had the opportunity to watch her groom a boarding rabbit.
She carried the rabbit out of its set-up and got into a playpen, where she placed it on her lap.
“I’ll cut your nails, okay?” she asked the rabbit in a soft tone, before cutting its nails with precise care.
She then proceeded to clean its privates, trim its fur, powder it and clean its ears. Throughout, she treated the rabbit with gentle love and care, akin to how a mother would handle a newborn baby.
Although it must have been daunting to care for such a delicate creature, I could tell that caring for rabbits was second nature to her, and she thoroughly enjoyed what she was doing.
Acting as the rabbits’ caretaker
Dawn usually only takes in four to five rabbits for boarding during the festive season. Although fewer people are travelling now, she does still get customers – usually owners who like to give rabbits their very own staycations.
She even has a customer who is allergic to rabbits, and sends her rabbit for boarding whenever she needs a break from her allergies.
For owners who wish to supervise their rabbits, Dawn will set up CCTV cameras for the rabbits. When asked if she felt the CCTVs pressured her to do better, she said: “Not really. I think I already do my best. I’m quite confident with my amount of care.”
Dawn also does medical boarding, when she takes care of rabbits that require extra attention, usually after surgery. If the rabbit is likely going to die, she makes sure to put up the CCTVs – but first, she tries to convince the owners not to bring the rabbit for boarding.
“You’ll feel more comfortable if your rabbit passes on in your own home than a stranger’s home,” she said, “But sometimes, really bobian (no choice), they have their own jobs.”
If she has to take in a rabbit that requires stringent, 24/7 care, she doesn’t let herself sleep. Since they can pass on anytime, she even puts them in her own bedroom.
Whenever she feels like a rabbit is on its deathbed, she carries it around while going through her usual tasks, and tries to make it feel better. Most of the time, those rabbits end up dying in her hands.
“A few minutes or hours later, if it starts to have difficulty breathing or a bit of a seizure… that’s when you know,” she said solemnly, “You have to just hold and comfort it as it passes on.”
Connecting her passion with her profession
When asked to describe her life with numerous boarding rabbits and five of her own, Dawn had a simple, one-word answer: “Slave.”
Her family of six loves all the rabbits sharing their home, often buying food for them and treating them as their “personal indoor petting zoo”. But Dawn is the only “slave” who cleans the rabbits’ space at least twice a day.
When she’s not caring for her five rabbits or any boarding rabbits, Dawn still slaves away at work, going from one grooming appointment to the next. Even her clients have warned her to maintain a work-life balance.
Although it can get busy and tiring for Dawn, she wouldn’t trade her job for any other.
She said: “I enjoy it. If not, I wouldn’t be here, right? I’d rather hustle for this.
“I’m in my major comfort zone. I love grooming and I love working with the animals, which are so cute. This is the best job I could have.”