Going to the rabbits

MERCEDES — Paula Sanchez watched intently as the judge in front of her held one of her three California rabbits between his hands, rubbed its fur and felt for thickness around its shoulders and rump.

Then, he grabbed two of them and walked the white bunnies with black ears and a black nose down to a cage on the far end of the table.

Immediately, she knew what that meant — her rabbits were good. The 19-year-old Harlingen FFA member couldn’t stop smiling.

Minutes later, she was deemed the first-place winner of one of the many classes of California rabbits at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock show yesterday.

But, for Paula, it was bittersweet.

This is her final year participating in the show.

A former Cover Girl contestant, Paula said she will miss everything about being part of the annual event.

One thing is certain. She loves showing her rabbits.

“I am going to miss showing most of all,” she said.

After participating for years, Paula knows what to do to raise some good meat rabbits.

She knows about feeding and grooming, two of the main components of having quality rabbits.

“I notice the judges looking a lot at the body structure and they are also checking the fur,” she said.

But, the work isn’t easy. Paula goes to school and also has a job.

She’s also trying to set an example for her niece, who she expects to show next year.

“To see that I have a first-place and I made it big,” she said. “I did it and didn’t give up.”

All of it is with a goal for Paula to become a registered nurse. She plans to join the Navy to help her pay for college.

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