For Easter, Crystal Metzger will once again put out treat-filled plastic eggs in her downtown toy store, Lexi’s Toy Box. But Nathaniel, the store’s fluffy white rabbit, is likely to remain in seclusion upstairs.

Nathaniel is a free-range bunny. In his salad days, he frequently hopped down to visit friends and nap among the store’s brightly colored toys. “We got him in 2008 from Midwest Rabbit Rescue,” says Metzger. “Kids love him. They sometimes think he’s a stuffed rabbit, and then he stretches, and they jump.”

But at eight and half, Nathaniel is semi-retired. Deaf and arthritic, he ventures downstairs only a few times a month. His most frequent visitors these days are patients of Susan Barrow, a therapist who rents an office upstairs. But on days when Barrow doesn’t have clients, friends from Lexi’s still go upstairs to pet him, take pictures, and bring gifts of carrots, lettuce, and dried cherries.