Bunnies...And Other Very Important Things

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plasticbunny

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CHAPTER ONE: THE STORY OF BUNBUNS

When I was growing up, the only animals I ever remember having were cats. I was never allowed a dog, a giunea pig, a turtle, a hamster... Only one or two cats and that was all.

One Christmas, when I was about eight or nine years old, I begged Santa for a bunny. I remember wanting that bunny so badly, it was all I ever talked about... And when Christmas morning came, I eagerly tore open my loot to find not one, but two bunnies - both of themplastic lawn ornaments. My parents said that Santa must have realized I was not quite ready for the real deal yet.

Flash forward almost 15 years. My boyfriend Rob and I had just begun dating and had moved in together right away. Oh, what a challange. Now, Rob is not a "pet" person. He loves animals, but doesn't want to assume responsibility for any of them, has a hard time dealing with poo...that sort of thing. I was in my early twenties, and was starting to feel that primal urge to make many many babies, and Rob was in his early forties and not interested in a long journey like starting a family. It was time fora compromise: I won't bug you for babies, but I need something to care for. I want a bunny.

Our first Valentine's day, Rob brought me on a surprise trip to a nearby pet store, where they had one little baby bunny. "I think it's a girl" the clerk said, and showed me the small broken orange lop. And so, with cage, food, and bunny in tow, we headed home. I named the new addition Bunnylicious, BunBuns for short, and it didn't take me long to fall in love. She was everything I wanted a bunny to be - puffy, loving, curious, but aloof. A creature that didn't like to sit on your lap, but loved to sit beside you.



BunBuns was with us for almost four years. In the summer of 2010, she began to have signs of GI stasis. I spent days and nights syringing her pumpkin, pineapple juice and mashed pellets. My boyfriend (who was now quite fond of BunBuns) and I rotated four hour shifts with her, so she was never alone and was eating every half hour. On the third day of pulling her through, I decided to try something new. I gave her an enema. Using a pediatric ear bulb, I mixed a few drops of mineral oilwith a few mLs warm distilled water. My poo-phobic boyfriend held BunBuns while I gently inserted and squeezed... We waited anxiously... Within ten minutes, BunBuns hopped into her box and brought forth the biggest bunny dropping I have ever seen. It was easily the size of a large grape! There was no chance she would have ever passed that on her own, no matter how many fluids or fiber or masages she had. The enema had saved her life.

BunBuns had lost so much weight during her ordeal. I free fed her pellets from then on, and monitered her eating closely. She was starting to fill out a bit by October, when our worst nightmare happened - She went into stasis again. This time, syringe feeding her was impossible. She just spit it out and it clumped under her chin. We tried the enema again, with no luck. It was late in the evening when she started to act very differently, and I knew she wouldn't make it to see a vet in the morning. Her eyes seemed dull, and she didn't move or react to my voice. I put her on the floor and her legs gave out beneath her.

I wrapped her in a soft towel and layed with her on the floor. I spoke to her and stroke her face. I told her what an amazing companion she had been, and that I would miss her. And when she started to wail, I told her she could go. And she did.

Rob and I drove out to a nearby protected nature trail, where all of our creatures have been laid to rest. I picked a tree and laid her at it's base, and we covered her in fallen leaves. We said goodbye before going home to our empty house. I swore I would NEVER have a rabbit again.
 

SOOOSKA

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Hi Erin, sorry to hear about your BunBuns.

She sounded like a Lovely Bunny.

Looking forward to reading more entries on this Blog. (and pictures:biggrin2:)

Susan:)
 

plasticbunny

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CHAPTER 2: THE STORY OF MOLLY

Still distraught over my loss, I knew for certain that I would never get another rabbit. They were too fragile, I couldn't take another loss. They got sick and died too easily.

Well, never say never.

In early December 2010, I was searching around my local Kijiji for... Well, I don't really remember. But I do remember stumbling across an advertisement for "Purebred Red New Zealand Rabbits". Curious, I opened the link. There was very little written, simply thet there were three available female red New Zealands, $10 each. No picture.

I wrote the advertiser, asking if she had a picture. She sent me this:




There wasn't even a thought. I knew I needed to have one of those little babies! But when I wrote back saying I wanted one of her kits, she asked, did I want the rabbit "prepared", for a small extra cost? I then realized that these were MEAT RABBITS :shock:.

Well, that was it - I would have to take all three, and I'd take them LIVE, thank you very much.

Two weeks later, the three babies were ready to come home. Rob and I drove an hour each way to pick up our new family members. We had decided that we couldn't keep all three, but we would keep one and find homes for the other two.

Molly and her sisters coming home:





It was theraputic to have baby bunnies in the house. We found a home for one of the girls easily, and after much discussion, we decided to keep the two that were left. We named one of them Molly, and the other Rusty. It wasn't long before puberty hit, and the girls needed to be separated. I found a fantastic rabbit-savvy vet, and made appointments for the girls to be spayed as soon as they were old enough.

I noticed that these rabbits had such unique personalities. Molly was more reserved, and more possessive over her belongings. She nipped your clothing, hated sitting on your lap, and seemed to be indifferent about being petted. Rusty, on the other handwas one of the friendliest rabbits I've ever met. She was content to sit on your lap and snuggle. Whe you walked into their room, she'd periscope for head pets. She seemed to just really love attention... A real heart bunny.

Molly and Rusty together as babies:



In early March, on a warm spring day, I decided it would be really nice for the girls to spend some time outside on the grass. Molly went first. I fitted her for her harness, and we spent a good hour out in the back yard munching on weeds and such. Next it was Rusty's turn. She seemed a bit nervous, but soon was enjoying it as much as her sister. Our neighbour's son, who is quite nice and always comes to see the animals when they're in the yard, was out. He saw that I was in the yard, and came around the fence. Unfortunately, this startled Rusty. She instantly went into prey mode, flying around the yard on her leash, around in circles. When I was able to catch her, I calmed her down and brought her inside. I set her down in the livingroom and, to my horror, saw that she could not walk. She had broken one of her back legs.

It was late afternoon on a Sunday and the girl's vet wasn't open. Rob called around and found an emergency vet nearby, and we were out the door in minutes. Driving down the highway, holding my sweet girl, I noticed her body change. She seemed to go limp although she was still breathing. I knew she would let herself go if we didn't get to the vet right away.

We were served at the vet's right away. Everyone was very nice, though sullen. The vet explained to me that they weren't equipped to treat rabbits. Rusty's leg was shattered in two places, and it could not be saved. We would have to hope she would make it through the night to take her to her regular bunny vet. There was no way I was going to do that. I could never have my animal suffer, when the odds were against her even surviving the night to get treatment. I opted to have her put down.

At six months old, Rusty crossed to the bridge.



It was sad at the house for awhile. Rusty was only with us a few short months, but to be honest, she was my preferred bunny between her and Molly. She was friendlier, less skittish. I decided I would start spending a lot of time and effort trying to bond with Molly, especially because she seemed lonely without Rusty's presence in the room. I spent hours laying on the floor with her, letting her come up and sniff me and giving her pets. Eventually, she started tilting her head up for nose scratches. She stopped nipping my clothes and came to accept me into her space. She ran to greet me whenever I came in her room. It took a lot of effort, but Molly and I became friends.

Of course, life gets in the way, and I didn't always have as much time to spend with her as I knew she wanted. Even unbonded, I knew I wanted another rabbit to be in the room with her, a constant presence for when I couldn't be there. It was time to get Molly a companion.
 

Kipcha

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That is so sad to hear about, I have heard of people having problems with leashes and harnesses, I can't even imagine how traumatic that must have been for you. Both Rusty and BunBuns sound like wonderful bunnies. I am happy to hear your situation with Molly has improved, though.
 

TinysMom

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Wow - I have two white New Zealands but I'd never seen a red one before - GORGEOUS!

How heartbreaking to have that happen and have to make that decision. Poor baby - and poor you.

I'm glad you & Molly bonded more after that. (I'm trying to bond with Rosita - my white NZ who is cage aggressive).
 

plasticbunny

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Kipcha wrote:
That is so sad to hear about, I have heard of people having problems with leashes and harnesses, I can't even imagine how traumatic that must have been for you. Both Rusty and BunBuns sound like wonderful bunnies. I am happy to hear your situation with Molly has improved, though.
Thank you. Yes, both girls were wonderful, and Molly is wonderful in her own way as well... just more "animal" than the other two. But, I do see my stronger relationship with Molly as the silver lining to Rusty's fate.
 

plasticbunny

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Nancy McClelland wrote:
Every loss effects us greatly, but, we couldn't imagine a life without our bunnies.
It is true. My two losses have been very difficult, but I know that I will be a bunny owner for life. Heartbreak is, unfortunately, part of owning an animal.
 

plasticbunny

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TinysMom wrote:
Wow - I have two white New Zealands but I'd never seen a red one before - GORGEOUS!

How heartbreaking to have that happen and have to make that decision. Poor baby - and poor you.

I'm glad you & Molly bonded more after that. (I'm trying to bond with Rosita - my white NZ who is cage aggressive).
Ha, Peg... Molly is not actually a New Zealand. She was advertised as one, but has since turned out to be a Flemish. But that's the next chapter!

And yes, it was a horrible dicision to have to make. I've since gone through an immense amount of guilt, and questioning myself if I made the right choice. I feel in my heart that I did, but I do still sit with Molly on occasion and have a little cry. :)

Too bad you need her uterus so badly, or a good spay could help with Rosita! It certainly tries our patience, doesn't it?
 

plasticbunny

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CHAPTER 3: MOLLY'S IDENTITY CRISIS

Towards the end of May 2011, When Molly was 6 months old, I decided it was time to have her spayed.

At the vet, Molly weighed in at 11lbs - what is considered normal for a full grown New Zealand, not a 6 month old. The vet estimated that her full size weight would be around 16 lbs. DEFINATELY big for a New Zealand.

Later that night, I decided to do a little research. While looking through pictures of New Zealand rabbits online, it became clear that she was not one of them. Her size was off,her body type, the shape of her head... None of her characteristics matched the breed.

So, what was she?

The only other breed I could think she may be was a Flemish Giant. I posted a thread on this forum, requesting the imput of other members. And the verdict came in: Molly was indeed a Flemish!


 

TinysMom

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plasticbunny wrote:
TinysMom wrote:
Wow - I have two white New Zealands but I'd never seen a red one before - GORGEOUS!

How heartbreaking to have that happen and have to make that decision. Poor baby - and poor you.

I'm glad you & Molly bonded more after that. (I'm trying to bond with Rosita - my white NZ who is cage aggressive).
Ha, Peg... Molly is not actually a New Zealand. She was advertised as one, but has since turned out to be a Flemish. But that's the next chapter!

And yes, it was a horrible dicision to have to make. I've since gone through an immense amount of guilt, and questioning myself if I made the right choice. I feel in my heart that I did, but I do still sit with Molly on occasion and have a little cry. :)

Too bad you need her uterus so badly, or a good spay could help with Rosita! It certainly tries our patience, doesn't it?
Right now its not that I need her uterus (although I did go ahead and try to breed her last week) - but I need the $$$$$ more right now.

She is still fairly young and I have other girls that are ahead of her in line for spays based upon age, etc.

(I try to spay my girls when I retire them so they can live longer).


 

TinysMom

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Ah yes....I remember that - she HAS to be a flemish giant...look at those awesome ears....
 

Kipcha

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I love how dissaproving she looks in that pic.

"A New Zealand you say? Ha, fool... My luxorious ears and magnificent size make me nothing less then the best."

I look forward to reading more :)
 

plasticbunny

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CHAPTER 4: THE STORY OF GUS

Molly may not have cared for her sister that much, but she seemed to miss having another bunny in the room with her. I had to put my grief aside and find her a room mate, and someone who she could potentially bond with in the future.

Rob was out running errands when he called me on his cell phone. The pet shop where we had got BunBuns from had just recieved a new shipment of 8 week old Holland Lops, and they looked JUST like little BunBuns when she was a baby. Perhaps one of these new babies would make a fitting friend for Molly?

I knew I wanted a male, to make the bonding process easier. I asked a sales girl if I could sex the bunnies, and one by one, they all turned out to be girls. I was so disappointed.

Well, she said, there's one more lop over here... And she picked up a teeny little black lop. Oh, this little one HAD to be a boy. Of course, it was love at first sight, and if it had been a girl I probably would have taken it anyway! :biggrin2: But to my delight, it was a little buck!

Gus came home. This was how small he was his first night with us:



Gus was super sweet, even when his hormones got going. His litterbox habits were impeccable, and by his third day home he wasn't having any accidents at all. He was content to sit on my lap and cuddle, something I had never experienced from a bunny. But then he got neutered.

After his neuter, Gus developed a lump near where his left testie had been. I lovingly nicknamed it his "gusticle". It turned out to be residual swelling from his operation and needed to be iced several times a day. By the end of that week, his swelling had disapated, but now he was absolutely terrified of me. He would not go anywhere near me.

Only now, after two months of hard work trying to rebond to him, will he let me close enough to pet him. It's hard to take sometimes, and he may never be the same loving bunny he once was. Rob calls him a "rabbit's rabbit", because he's as stereotypical rabbit as they come. Skittish, nevous... But I won't lose hope!



 

plasticbunny

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CHAPTER 5: THE STORY OF LEELA

There once was a young couple who decided to move in together. This life change made both of them feel very grown-up, and suddenly, getting a puppy together sounded fun and very exciting. After a brief search, they found a sweet little Chow Chow puppy, and named her Chewy.

The girlfriend (let's call her Jill) was very fond of the puppy, and bonded very closely to her. The boyfriend (let's call him Jack) was also fond of the puppy, but not as much as Jill was. Jill was absolutely in love.

One day, Jack and Jill decided that they did not want to be together anymore. They divided their belongings, and went their separate ways. It was obvious that Jill would get possession of Chewy, because they were so close. But Jack was very mad at Jill for some reason.

Before Jill could take her beloved Chewy, Jack sold her to another family. :(

Jill was very sad, and somehow she found out who Jack sold Chewy to. Jill went to the family and explained the situation, and begged for the dog back... But the family did not want to give her back. They were very mean about it, too. There was nothing Jill could do.

Over the next three years, Jill moved on with her life. She met a man who she loved, and had a baby. She even got a new puppy. Jill had long forgotten about Chewy, until...

One day, the telephone rang. It was the local Humane Society, telling Jill that they had found her dog. Well, it turns out that the new family had never changed the information on Chewy's microchip, and she was scanning in under Jill's name! After three years, Jill would be reunited with her beloved Chewy.

Jill remembered how the family had treated her, and knew that they did not deserve to have Chewy back. But Jill couldn't keep Chewy for herself, with so much going on in her life. She posted an ad online for the four year old Chow, hoping to find a loving home where Chewy could live forever.

Meanwhile, another couple (a more STABLE couple :D ) had decided that they would get a dog. The girlfriend, Erin, had never had a dog, but knew that a Chow Chow would suit her lifestyle well. The boyfriend, Rob, had had Chow Chows in the past and loved the breed. But, they decided to not get a puppy because they wanted a dog that was already housebroken... So, one day, they looked online for older Chow Chows to adopt, and found four year old Chewy.

That day, Chewy came into Erin and Rob's life and hearts. She was renamed Leela. She was fairly obediant, except she needed some practice walking properly on a leash. Her favourite activity is sleeping.

Leela also took a liking to Molly, and especially enjoyed licking Molly's giant ears.

Life has become richer and more vibrant with Leela in it. And she is happy to have found her forever home.
















 

plasticbunny

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The time has come... Molly and Gus had their first bonding session! It went quite well, and I thought that documenting their progress over time may help others who would like to bond their own rabbits, but aren't sure how to get started.

First of all, let me remind everyone that both Molly and Gus are altered, and they're fully healed. This is important to not only avoid unwanted pregnancy, but also to relieve any hormonal and territorial behavior. Unspayed females can be very territorial, and difficult to bond. Unneutered males can be strongly driven by sexual behavior, and this can lead to annoying and excessive mounting. This is why it is good for both to be altered, not just one.

Molly and Gus live side by side in adjoining Xpens, and can easily see each other through the bars. They are very used to each other's presence. They also share the same play space (Molly during the day, Gus at night).

Molly and Gus have met in the past. It did not go well. After Gus was neutered and healed, I tried to bond them on neutral territory. I was planning to hold off on getting Molly spayed so that she could reach full size (spaying will stunt the growth slightly). But Molly was too territorial, and made Gus very nervous, so they didn't get along. When it became obvious that they wouldn't be able to bond, I opted to have Molly spayed sooner.

Now for their first date!

It is important to have the first introduction on neutral territory, somewhere where neither bun has been before. A common choice is the bathtub. This is a great spot because it's a small space where they can't help but notice each other, and it's slippery on the bottom so if they do fight, they can't get a good grip on the floor. I didn't add in a litter box because I didn't want either bun to claim it. I threw in some hay and fresh parsley to make the environment more appealing and to encourage them to eat together. Eating is a social activity and encourages the bonding process.




Next, make sure you have all necessary materials. You will need a spray bottle filled with water, so if the buns show any sign of aggression you can sray them with a stream of water. I rinsed out an old Tilex bottle.




Because bonding sessions can last awhile, it's a good idea to have some entertainment!




And now we can get started! You will want to add the calmest bunny first. In my case this is Molly, who's favourite activity is to sleep and eat at the same time :biggrin2:. The reason for this is that a calmer bun is less likely to claim the space in the time it takes for you to get the second bun.




Next, I added Gus!




Both bunnies will spend a minute exploring the new space. Worst case scenario is any sign of aggression - Lunging, circling, tail up and ears back - Learn your bunny body language so you can diffuse any potential fights before they begin. If aggressive behavior pesists, you may want to end the session early and try again later, or in a different area of the house.

Lucky for me, Molly instantly settled in to munch parsley, while Gus nervously explored.




Molly is very relaxed and self-assured, which I think Gus needs. He is a very insecure rabbit and can benefit from Molly's demeanor and size. He spent a lot of their date assuming the submissive position, and requesting to be groomed. He was obviously VERY fond of Molly.







And some grooming requests that turned into a five minute cheek snuggle:




It is preferable to end bonding sessions on a good note, so that the bunnies retain good thoughts and feelings of being with each other. When Molly and Gus both flopped over on their sides in front of each other, I recognized it as them being comfortable enough to relax in each other's presence, and ended the session. All in all, it took about 30 minutes.




This was an EXTREMELY successful first date, and I'm very excited!


 
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