First came the little bunny, then the Big C.

First came the little bunny, then the Big C.

Clintonville-based Ohio House Rabbit Rescue recently was presented with a $5,000 Holiday Wishes grant from the Petco Foundation.

The gift came after Brenda Bennett of Yellow Springs, who adopted her pet from the nonprofit organization, shared her story of how Crawford helped her cope after she was diagnosed with cancer.

The check was presented Dec. 16 to Ohio House Rabbit Rescue officials by Petco Foundation representatives at the Petco store on West Henderson Road on the Northwest Side. Bennett was on hand for the event.

Ohio House Rabbit Rescue was chosen for the grant after the Petco Foundation sorted through more than 5,000 stories submitted by people whose lives have been changed and enriched by their adopted animals, said Lisa Lane, manager of press relations and communications for the chain of pet stores.

More than 50 animal-welfare groups will share about $750,000 in grants from Petco, Lane said.

On her nomination form, Bennett said she couldn't say why her mind suddenly became set on adopting a rabbit.

"My husband and I had been happily pet-free for several years," she wrote. "But we found Crawford at the Ohio House Rabbit Rescue, and he joined our family just before Christmas in 2014. From the very first day he hopped into our household, we couldn't imagine life without him. He was a perfect fit for our family."

Bennett went on to recount how the bunny would patiently spend time with her in her home office, sitting under her chair and waiting for a pat on the head.

"Then I got cancer," Bennett wrote.

"Crawford was always there for me while I was going through the first medical tests. I was worried, but Crawford was always waiting for me when I got home, and was happy to sit beside me and listen. Rabbits are great listeners."

Bennett wrote that Crawford always could tell when she was scared or upset.

"He'll hop over and nudge my hand, urging me to stroke his forehead. Whenever I feel sick, Crawford plants himself by my bed where he knows I can see him.

"I don't know what prompted Crawford's previous owner to surrender him to the rescue group, but I'm very thankful that someone loved him enough to take him to a rescue group instead of abandoning him."

Ohio House Rabbit Rescue could be in line for up to $25,000 in additional grant money if it wins Petco's "people's choice" award. For more information, visit Petco Foundation's Facebook page or