Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

6 things you’d better get used to.

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

So you get a rabbit. He’s adorable (duh, he’s a rabbit), he does cute things every freaking day, he’s learned to use a litterbox, and you’ve got him conditioned to perk up his ears and come running every time he hears the vegetable crisper slide open. But there’s still some things that aren’t exactly perfect. Will he ever be the ideal pet you imagined when you first thought of getting a bunny? No. You can throw out that idea right now. Some things just take time and patience and effort, and of course we love our furry funny friends for all their flaws, but some things will probably never, ever, ever change.

1. Poop. It happens. Some rabbits are more polite than others, some have fantastic litterbox manners, most will keep their pee strictly in the box, but no matter what, expect to keep finding one or two little rabbit pellets rolling around somewhere forever. The good news is bunny poo is really clean. No joke, I looked at some under a microscope the other day and it looks exactly like what they eat. Actually, it’s significantly less messy than what they eat. Which brings me to number 2 -

2. Freaking hay freaking everywhere. My boyfriend found hay on the floor near his desk this morning. At work. Twenty-six miles away. The good news is if someone points out that you have a piece of it in your hair, you can finally use that line about the farmer’s daughter you thought up in college.

3. Jerkface co-workers making hasenfeffer jokes.

4. Rejection. No matter how many times people (and rabbits) tell me rabbits don’t like being picked up, I still wanna pick them up every time I see them. This has resulted in the rabbits running away every time I reach for them, even if I just wanna give them a little nose rub. If you have that rare bunny that likes being picked up – be freaking nice to that bunny.

5. Paranoia. Rabbits are experts at destroying things. Including their own digestive systems. You will learn to watch out for carpet nibbling, carpet digging, cords laying within reach, shoes laying within reach, houseplants that you thought for sure were out of reach, and bite marks on anything from scented candles (which by the way kill) to spider plants (which rabbits have no qualms about killing).

6. Being wrong. “They won’t jump up there. It’s too high.” Wrong. “They wouldn’t eat that, it’s not even food.” Wrong. “They won’t go in the cat box. It smells like predators.” Wrong. “They won’t escape from that pen. I used like four million clips.” Wrong. You get the point.

Despite these things, it’s impossible not to love our little lagomorphs – and even harder not to brag about how awesome they are and what wonderful pets they make.

By the way, my rabbits are completely awesome.

Cats + rabbits 4eva (or: Stop licking my eyeball, you sandpaper-tongued freak.)

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

We love kitties. We love bunnies. But what happens when we want our little fearsome predators and our little gentle herbivores to coexist? Horrible, horrible things? Love at first site? General awkwardness? Cuddles?

My boyfriend Gary and I decided to try it out. He has two cats, Wallis and Tibault, and I have two rabbits, Ellis and Linda. I had received the seal of approval from both of his cats, and he had received the seal of only-mild-disapproval from my rabbits. (Which is about where they rank me.) So, we decided to move in together.

Then he confessed his fear of the blood-drenched horror that could ensue. He, like many a cat owner, had seen his fluffy friends do unspeakable things to smaller animals. I tried to reassure him by telling him I wouldn’t write off the bunnies so fast – they’ve got some sharp teeth themselves, and those back legs could probably gut an inexperienced attacker. Somehow, this only made his vision of the worst-case scenario even more ghastly.

I asked around. Marcy, the founder of SaveABunny, has cats herself, and while she doesn’t let them near the rescue buns, the cats and the rabbits she lives with seem to coexist peacefully. Several of the other SaveABunny volunteers also have cats. The all-around advice was to take it slow and keep an eye on them.

The day Ellis and Linda and I moved in, we decided to keep the bunnies in the bedroom with the door shut and allow minimal contact. Better safe than sorry. “Right?” “Right.” “Right.” “Ah, what the hell, let’s throw ‘em in together and see what happens!”

We took it one cat at a time, in the smallest room of the house – the bathroom.

If they could all speak English, it would have sounded something like this:

Ellis: “Hey, a corner. I like corners. Yay.”

Linda: “Ooh, a laundry basket. Neat! Hey what’s that?”

Enter Wallis.

Wallis: “Holy crap what are those things?!?!”

Gary: “Wallis, these are rabbits. That’s Ellis, and that’s Linda.”

Linda: “Hi! I’m a rabbit!”

Wallis: “Gary where did you find these unspeakable abominations?! And why did you bring them into my house?!”

Linda: “You smell funny.”

Wallis: “God why do they hop like that???? I can’t take it!”

Exit Wallis. Enter Tibault.

Tibault: “Hey guys, I’m here. What’s up?”

Me: “Tibs, these are my rabbits. Ellis and Linda. Bunnies, meet Tibault. We call him Tibs for short.”

Linda: “Oh hi! You smell funny too. Hey look it’s Ellis!”

Ellis: “I do indeed like corners. The darker the better.”

Linda: “Oooh, I wonder what’s behind the toilet!”

Tibs: “Bunnies you say. Hmm. I’m a cat!”

Fast forward three months. Wallis has finally stopped fleeing the room every time she sees a rabbit. Ellis approaches the cat situation like he approaches most situations, with mild disapproval. Linda, after an initially strong curiosity about the cats, now mostly ignores them. Tibs, the attention whore of the family, has had a hard time accepting the unwillingness of the rabbits to either play with him or let him lick their eyeballs, which for some reason are irresistible to him. Gary and I are trying to resist the temptation to fit just one more adorable rescued animal in our one-bedroom condo. The answer, according to both physics and the homeowner’s association, is always no.

Overall, the cat-rabbit experiment has gone significantly better than our worst expectations, and significantly better than my previous dog-rabbit experiment. We keep trying to get all the animals to cuddle together on the bed, but so far no luck. I promise I’ll post a picture if it ever happens. So far I just have these:

Tibs: "Let's play! I'll be the cat, and you be the rabbit."

Ellis: "How about you be the cat, and I'll be over here."

Ellis: "Don't. Go anywhere. Near. The eyeball."

Tibs: "Dammit. Why does he thump at me every time I try to wash his eyeballs?"

A sort of harmony. Note: Wallis is nowhere to be seen.

5 rabbit necessities that no one tells you about.

Friday, August 7th, 2009

I got my first rabbit, Ellis, from SaveABunny one year ago this month.  We’ve had many adventures together, and some misadventures. And some boring days spent sitting around, reading and chewing on books. I’ve learned about litterboxes, bonding, finding a vet, traveling, housing, bunny-proofing, and grooming. The bunnies themselves have taught me things I’d never read about, and other SaveABunny volunteers like Mai and Carly have shared what they’ve learned, too. But even browsing a year’s worth of blog entries, and scouring the thorough information on the SaveABunny website, there are some things that have been left out.

1. Vigilance. Even when you think everything is fine, even when you give your bunnies a grooming session twice a month, even when you’ve bunny-proofed everything and pamper them and love them, things can go wrong. It’s all too easy to give them too many treats and let them get overweight, or not notice them sneaking into dangerous places you wouldn’t even have thought they would venture, like the cat box, or to accidentally give them some greens that might kill them.

2. The Internet. Obviously, if you’re reading this, you have access to the Internet, and if you’re anything like me you spend entirely too much time on it. But having a connection handy should not be taken for granted. It’s kept my bunnies out of some serious trouble more than once. Most recently, I bought some greens at the farmers market that I assumed were safe – an Asian mint with leaves that were purple on the bottom – and when I was rinsing them off to give to the bunnies, I gave them a sniff. Not minty. Wondering if they would even like it, and just generally having a suspicious feeling, I googled a description. Results: “potent respiratory toxin most commonly affecting horses and cattle.” Yummy side dish for humans, deadly for herbivores.

3. A plan. And I don’t mean, “Get rabbit, live happily ever after.” At SaveABunny, we get rabbits returned to us way more often than we’d like. Someone gets knocked up? Rabbit goes. Someone gets married? Rabbit goes. Someone starts dating a jerkoff who hates animals? Rabbit goes. Someone gets cancer and has to do chemo? Rabbit goes. Someone gets laid off and loses their house? Rabbit goes. Now obviously some of these are more valid than others, but before you get a rabbit (or any pet, really), ask yourself what your priorities are. What happens to the rabbit when the unexpected happens? If you find the love of your life and everything changes, make sure he or she fully understands rabbits and the challenges of having them from the very beginning.

4. A big rug. I really, really, really wanted to think that I could have both rabbits and hardwood floors. I love hardwood. We all love hardwood. Except bunnies. Bunnies hate hardwood. Their little feet slip and slide on it and if they’re forced to live on it they eventually develop orthopedic problems and probably sore hocks – especially if they’re larger bunnies or if you’ve fed them too many treats. I tried getting a bamboo rug with more traction, but it’s just not enough, and the hard surface did indeed result in sore hocks after a couple of months. Get a rug if you don’t have a carpet, and make sure it’s big enough for them to run on. 5′ x 8′ or larger, preferably cotton and preferably washable. And make sure they don’t eat it.

5. Sunshine. Bunnies, like people, don’t produce their own vitamin D. You can’t keep them back in a windowless laundry room. Plus, there are few things more satisfying and adorable than seeing your bunny looking out the window, waiting for you, when you get home.

This is what happens when you abandon your rabbit in the wild.

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Read the full press release here.

“Oh but it’s just one rabbit,” you say. “Oh but he’ll be happier in the wild running around with cottontails and jackalopes,” you say. “Oh but I’m an irresponsible jerk who didn’t bother to learn about rabbits before getting one and now I can’t keep/afford/stand my rabbit so I’m just gonna drop the little bugger off on the side of the road and forget about him,” you say.

If you’ve ever wondered why we insist on spaying and neutering all our rabbits before we adopt them out, this should give you a pretty good answer. They’re rabbits. They breed. Think about it.

We save bunnies because we like bunnies. Not because we like saving them.

In related news, we really, really need foster homes.

Awesome Rabbit Homes, episode 1

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Rabbits. They’re adorable, they’re eco-friendly, they’re fluffy – and they fit in perfectly with the modern urban lifestyle. Unfortunately finding a rabbit home as chic as your pet can be a real challenge.

I’ve been looking out for the perfect solution since months before I got my first rabbit, almost a year ago. Every time I go to a furniture store, a cabinet of about the right shape and size will catch my eye – but cabinets just aren’t designed for the habitation of small animals. A cage is too easy, too cliche – and it feels, well, cagey. Plus they’re almost always too small to keep a bunny locked up in while I’m away. I want a solution the rabbit can use as a home – not a jail. Right now I have a big folding pen that I use to section off the bunny area, and the eventual goal is to rabbit-proof the entire house and let them have free run. Even then, a fashionable place for the hay and litter box is a necessity. My current temporary solution is an old TV stand from Thrift Town.

Some recommendations from the SaveABunny website provide a great set of guidelines for the kind of set-up that will keep bunnies happy and healthy. But I know there’s other rabbit people out there like me who are looking for that perfect setup, the one that fits your beloved pets as well as your carefully-thought-out interior design scheme. So here is the first in a series of great finds by myself or other rabbit people. Submit yours in the comments section!

This awesome house rabbit hutch is from Design*Sponge, and comes with full instructions on how to create your own. Awesome job guys!

How to Become a BFF: Your Bunny’s Best Friend

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

by SaveABunny volunteer Mai Salvado-Da Rocha

How to Become a BFF: Your Bunny’s Best Friend
For the single-bunny households

My husband and I adopted five bunnies from SaveABunny: two bonded pairs and one bachelor bunny. The two pairs – Nibbles & Laxmi, and Cameron & Peri – provide each other with lots of comforting grooming, sniffing, and snuggling, but Frankie, our bachelor bunny, doesn’t have a bunny mate to snuggle with, so I have done my best to be as good a best friend I can be, considering that I’m not a bunny.

I have worried that Frankie is lonely because he doesn’t have a bunny mate, but attempts to introduce him to other bunnies have failed. He is a paradox; when he’s around other bunnies, he’s aggressive, he makes a sweet growling noise (obviously meant to be very fierce) in his throat, and he comes out of his corner swingin’, no matter how gentle the other bunny is. However, when people come around, he runs out right into the center of the fray, honking with happiness and excitement. When I change my sheets or rearrange my furniture, he doesn’t hide in safety. No, Frankie comes out, sits on my clean sheets, hops under furniture that I can barely hold, makes figure 8s between my legs when I’m walking, and just generally makes his presence very, very known. Because he gets the growlies around other bunnies, yet acts like a puppy when people visit, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is a “people bunny,” not a “bunny’s bunny.”

Even if Frankie doesn’t want a bunny mate, I still want him to get all the benefits of being cute and furry, so I have compiled a list of the things I do with him to make him feel loved and assured that he’s not missing out on anything by being single.

Check ears and eyes at least once a day. When bunnies groom each other, they pay careful attention to the eyes and the ears because those parts of the body are extremely important.  Frankie, a survivor of the terrible Hayward abuse/hoarding case, has one damaged eye. He can see out of it, but it is lacking lashes, so things get into it, and it tears up often. So I pet his head and feel if there are any crusty deposits that have collected in the corners or if there are stray hairs on his eyeball. The crusty deposits are easily removed with your hand or a soft cloth, but when he gets a clump of fur on his eyeball, it’s very hard to remove. I gently manipulate his eyelids until the clump attaches itself to one of them and then remove it with my hand or soft cloth. Most bunnies don’t have this problem because their eyes have lashes, but it’s a good idea to check your bunny’s eyes just the same. And, when you look into his ears, make sure they’re clean and dry, with no fluid or dark flecks in them. If you couple these examinations with lots of petting on the head and face, your bunny won’t even notice you’re playing doctor. (Note: if you find something that seems as though it doesn’t belong, make sure that you contact your bunny doctor immediately.)
Frankie is at his most rambunctious in the mornings and evenings. So that is when I bring out the toys. Unfortunately, Frankie is too smart; he knows immediately which items to turn his nose up to, and which items to chew and bat with his paws. Every toy, wicker ball, sea-grass mat or apple stick we’ve given him has been completely ignored. Instead, he chews every cord he can, tears pages out of books, gnaws on homework (try that excuse with your professor!) and nibbles holes in pillows, sheets, blankets, clothing, and shoes. Note: This wouldn’t happen if we kept Frankie in an x-pen or otherwise contained, but he’s so good with his litter box that we let him have free run of the bedroom. We don’t care if he chews up the bedclothes or papers; we’ve just trained ourselves – or perhaps he has trained us – to accept that any object that he can reach is fair game. Except for the cords. He could hurt himself with those, so we keep those out of the way. He sure likes them, though, and when he’s eyeing one (I can always tell; he gets a naughty look in his eye), all I have to do is say, “Frankie!” and he’ll hop away guiltily. He knows that he’s being extra naughty if he’s contemplating the cords. So, if your bunny is active in the mornings and evenings, those are good times to have more active fun with him: give him paper to chew (phonebooks and newspapers are good) or play tug-of-war with him, tickle his tail, or give him an invigorating, all-over body massage. Experiment, see what he likes, and make sure that he has plenty of water and hay so that when you’re done playing, he can replenish himself.
Frankie, like our other bunnies, likes to nap for most of the day. If you are home at that time, you can slowly insinuate yourself into your bunny’s dreamtime. Our bonded bunnies like to sleep right next to each other, sometimes side by side, and sometimes face touching face. Getting cozy with your bunny when he’s sleeping will probably take you longer than it would if you were a bunny. So be patient. When it looks like he’s relaxed (when his back paws are kicked out behind him or he’s lying on his side or lying on all his paws with his eyes closed), get close to him and get into the rhythm of his sleep. Watch his breathing and pitch your breathing to his. Sit still for a while and calm yourself because no bunny wants to be abruptly woken by a restless human. When you’ve centered yourself and feel that you’re in communion with his sleep, try petting him very lightly – lightly enough so that you don’t wake him – on the head or back. Do that for a while, either until you get tired or until he gets restless. Try that a couple of times, making sure that he doesn’t mind it. If he does, he’ll let you know by moving away.

The next step is to sit with him and ground yourself while he’s sleeping, but this time, try laying your hand gently on his back or side or (as Frankie likes) on his forehead. Keep your hand there, still, for as long as you can. If you get tired, remove it and massage it to get the blood flowing again, and then repeat. The idea here is to get your bunny comfortable with another physical and emotional presence near him when he sleeps – comfortable enough to not run away and keep sleeping. This step might have to be repeated quite a few times, with your hand in different places, before he relaxes. If he did OK with the first step but shied away at the second, then go backward and do the first step over and over until you can try the second again.

Now this is the payoff. When your bunny feels secure enough to sleep with you sitting right next to him with your hand on him, try putting your face right down next to him, first maybe next to his side or back. We all know how tempting it is to bury our faces in their soft fur; if you approach him carefully, as is outlined here, not only will you get a greater chance to do that without him scrambling away, but he will benefit, too, because your presence will be a friendly, caring one, and who wouldn’t want to sleep with that next to him?
Chances are that you’ll have to lie down in order to be comfortable enough to put your face right next to your bunny. Make yourself as comfortable as possible when you’re doing this because constantly shifting will wake him up, and he’ll probably be grumpy without his juice and slippers. At first, try the side and back. Put your face just close enough to touch (and inhale, if possible, that good bunny smell). After doing that a few times, hopefully lying there long enough so that both of you enjoy the experience, try putting your face next to his face. Be careful here; if your bunny is a biter (like Frankie is), that could result in some interesting facial scars. Or, if you accidentally bump your bunny’s nose, he’ll probably be startled awake. So try to angle yourself so that you can touch his face with your face while you lie in a position that’s comfortable for you, too.
When you are finally able to do this, it’s guaranteed relaxation. You get to be very intimate with your bunny, close enough to inhale when he inhales, and feel his breath on your face when he exhales. You can feel his whiskers tickling your skin, and maybe his soft facial fur against your cheek. I’m lucky; Frankie has unusually furry cheeks (we call them his “muttonchops”) so I can easily feel his fuzzy face next to mine. Lying like this with your bunny will calm you, help you forget the trials of the day, and maybe even bring your blood pressure down. And it will give your bunny a sense of companionship, someone who loves him so much and whom he loves so much that he can sleep in his or her presence. If you can manage to do this once a day, depending on your respective schedules, it will be a good way to bond with him and make you both feel appreciated.

When we feed the bunnies their nightly greens, Nibbles and Laxmi dive right in to their bowl, heads first, as though we hadn’t fed them for days and as though they hadn’t been supplied with fresh hay all day. They just love those greens. And when they eat, one of them will often snatch a piece of parsley or cilantro right out of the other bunny’s mouth! But since they love each other so much and there’s no competition for resources, nothing happens; there’s no battle for treats. They just go on, placidly eating, until the food is gone. Now, I do not recommend snatching the food from your bunny’s mouth while he’s trying to eat, but there is one way that you can bond during dinner time. You can take the greens out of the bowl one by one and feed them to him. One of the cutest and most amusing sights in the world is watching, close-up, a bunny eat. He’ll mow down the length of the stem and then crush the leafy parts into his mouth, dripping water or bits of leaf if it’s all too big for him. I like to lie on the floor and feed Frankie and get a very close look at his mouth. His upper lip is divided like a lion’s so that he can squash more food at a time in his mouth, and his little front teeth show through his lip when his mouth moves. His lower jaw moves in a circular way, and he just downs that food faster than you can say, “Greedy bunny!” Feeding him allows him to associate your scent with a reward – his greens – and it affords you much entertainment. Make sure that you wait until he’s done eating before you go because, chances are, he will lick his little paws and give his face a thorough grooming, another adorable scene to watch.

There is no way that you can be exactly like a bunny mate, but in some cases, that’s good. Making your bunny happy is a matter of observing him closely, seeing what he likes and dislikes, experimenting slowly and gently with petting, massaging, toys, and games. As in every good relationship, there’s give and take, so the more time you spend with him, learning about him, the more fulfilling your relationship will be for the both of you. And if you REALLY want to try to be as bunny-like as possible, you can do what I did once and lick your bunny’s forehead. I don’t know if he enjoyed it or not, but it left me with a mouthful of fur and probably the beginnings of a decent-sized hairball.

Ever considered fostering? Now might actually be a pretty good time…

Monday, June 29th, 2009

At SaveABunny, we work in partnership with Bay Area shelters and other organizations, taking in rabbits that they don’t have room for or are about to euthanize. But sometimes (way more often than we’d like, in fact,) we don’t have enough room, either.

On Saturday 10 rabbits were rescued by Sonoma County Animal Services. This is from the email we got:

We have 10 rabbits that arrived at the shelter today. We have 6 female
babies, 1 female adult, and 3 male adults (one we were unsure of). The adult
female along with the adult male was in pretty good condition.
Unfortunately the other 8 have severe urine scalding. The 6 babies and the adult lionhead were the worst. We bathed all of the rabbits using bunny bath:) and tried to get as much of the urine off as we could. We didn’t bathe 1 of the
adult males because he seemed to be pretty clean. From what I heard the
scalding was caused because of their horrific living conditions.

The officer that transported them had told me that the cages themselves
looked pretty clean but what the previous owner had done was put a whole bunch
of lettuce in the cage. All the lettuce in the cage was preventing the
urine and feces to drain down to the bottom tray so the rabbits were basically
sitting in the feces and urine.

If you’re wondering what urine scalding is…

this might give you a pretty good idea

this might give you a pretty good idea

Sorry it’s not the most pleasant thing to read about  – but if I only wrote happy blog entries, this would be a severely skewed view of animal rescue.

If you’re in the Bay Area, let us know if you can foster to help us make room for these bunnies. Here are a couple more photos of them:

A little cleaning up, a little medical care...

and a little love - then theyll be ready for adoption.

Bunnies. Don’t eat them. Just… don’t.

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

It goes without saying that SaveABunny does not condone the consumption of bunnies. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to, you know, save them.

So when we see rabbit on the menu at local restaurants, our knee-jerk reaction is to grab the waiter by the apron and cry at him, “How could you??? THEY’RE BUNNIES FOR CHRIST SAKE! BUNNIES!!!” Fortunately we’re able to contain ourselves (most of the time), but unfortunately for those restaurants, we have a blog with which to let out all that pent-up frustration.

Before I go naming names, I’m going to back up a little and try to give this issue a fair analysis. Because it’s not just one or two restaurants – it’s a growing trend. And it’s restaurants we used to like, serving people who care about the same things we do. (Except apparently bunnies.) So what’s the deal?

A report was released by the UN a couple years ago about  how the livestock industry is a larger factor in global warming than transportation. That’s right – you might drive a Prius and carry canvas bags with you to Whole Foods, but if you’re still eating steak, we get to blame you when Florida disappears. (Or was it thank you?)  Now if you haven’t heard about this yet, it’s not because I’m making it up – it’s because no one cares. The agriculture industry is in the pockets of every politician between Fresno and – well, anyway, I’m not here to rant. I’m here to talk about bunnies. My point is, it’s the high-end, organic, local-produce-touting restaurants that are serving rabbit – because it’s more eco-friendly than beef. Which sucks because we liked the high-end, organic, local-produce-touting restaurants. I mean come on, we’re based in Marin.

I can’t really argue with their reasoning – I’ve mentioned how eco-friendly rabbits are before. I might even be flattered that I somehow influenced their decision – if they weren’t TOTALLY MISSING THE POINT AND KILLING THEM INSTEAD OF LOVING THEM.

What I can do is say this, to all of you who might go to these restaurants or work in them or even own them:

1. “Meat rabbits” are not somehow different than pet rabbits. Many of the rabbits we rescue were bred and raised for meat, and they are loving, affectionate, intelligent creatures who make wonderful pets.

2. “Eco-friendly” does not mean cruelty-free. The rabbits raised for meat at these restaurants spend their lives in tiny cages, live short, unstimulating lives, and simply get culled when they get sick. They never get to run free, hop in the grass, stretch out in the sun, dig a hole, chew up a phonebook, do binkies on a fluffy bedspread, have their ears groomed by another bunny, or grow old. They’re born, they spend some time in a cage, and then they die. That’s it.

3. Rabbits are intelligent, social animals, who live ten years or more. They learn tricks, have unique personalities, and form lasting bonds with each other, with humans, and with other pets.

4. The real eco-friendly option is to not eat meat at all. As illustrated by the UN report on agriculture that I mentioned earlier.

On that note, the restaurants we no longer go to because they serve bunnies can be found here.

If you know of any others, send ‘em over.

A Day in the Life of Bunny Huggers

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

SaveABunny Volunteer Mai sent in this account of time spent with some of our special bunnies.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s because you’re a fellow bunny lover. You know the delights of binkies and happy honking and whisker tickles on your face. My husband Mark and I love them so much that we adopted five bunnies from SaveABunny. And if we had the room, we’d adopt five more. It’s a problem that many of us face: we want more bunnies but can’t accommodate them all at all times. I, for one, can never get my fill of bunniness. So, in order to indulge that lagomorphic urge, I groom bunnies with my husband at SaveABunny. Working there gives even the most voracious bunny lover more bunniness than she can ever contain.

Grooming is one of the many ways that people can volunteer at the sanctuary. It’s our favorite way because we get to pick up the bunnies and hug them while we clip their nails and check their ears and brush them over and over. Once they get used to the unfamiliarity of being on a table out of their pens, they usually love the attention. We could brush each one of them all day. But there’s never time for that – there are too many bunnies who need massaging and petting and are just waiting for their turn! Or maybe that’s just me projecting: I want to give every bunny his or her turn with the comb.

The variety of bunnies is one of the joys of grooming at SaveABunny. As we all know, each bunny has his or her own personality, so interacting with them one at a time allows us to meet them, get to know their likes and dislikes, feel the different energies that they emanate and, for the brief time that we’re with them, touch souls.

The last time I was there, I decided that I wanted to share the joy that is inherent in interacting with each bunny in the hopes that people might read this blog, read about each bunny, and think, “I think I’d really get along with that bunny. Maybe I should go meet him.” And this is the stuff of which long, happy companionship is made.

Poodalia

Our first bunny was Poodalia. She is a beautiful white angora bunny who suffered from neglect, Her fur was patchy, and we could see the delicate pink skin underneath. She was a wiggly one; we wrestled with her for a bit, but once we got her on my lap and started massaging her jaws, she settled right down. She had a big explosion of fur as a tail; it was giant in relation to the rest of her body…and it was just begging to be tickled. Because she was neglected, she is wary of humans and can be shy. She has to be approached gently, so for this reason, she would be a better companion for experienced bunny parents. It doesn’t take too long to earn her trust, though; even during the short time we were handling her, she got comfortable enough to grind her teeth and lick my hand. That’s all the thanks I need.

Sherwood

Sherwood was next. I had been looking forward to grooming him because he is a GIANT French lop. I wanted more than anything to pick him up and for once in my life have enough bunny to hold all at once. And I did! He was one huge, squirmy mass of bunny, and holding him was like holding a small dog. He struggled at first; after all, I was a complete stranger. However, it was easy to get him tranced out, and once we did, he was like fuzzy putty in our hands. Sherwood is one of the furrier bunnies, so we made sure to check his backside carefully. These long-haired bunnies can get their pellets or urine matted into their fur, so it’s important to check often to help them keep the area clean and healthy. Sherwood needed a little trimming and cleaning on his backside, and we thought he would resent the intrusion. I mean, every bunny has his right to privacy! But he didn’t struggle at all; in fact, I think he might have even enjoyed it. When we woke him out of his trance, he positioned himself like a ballerina and prepared to do a graceful grand jete right out of my arms, but I managed to hang onto him and get some extra hugs as a bonus. The interaction with him was boisterous, but he recovered from it quickly because, when we put him back in his pen, he settled right down and seemed to doze.

Scooter

Then came Scooter, one of Marcy’s Bunny Ambassadors and a little russet-colored tornado. He has one leg that was damaged in such a way that it sticks out now like a little bunny kickstand, but that does not slow him down one whit. He seemed to think that it was fun to make the big, clumsy human chase him around his pen, spill his water, land face first in his litterbox, and finally turn into a big pretzel. Scooter has street cred. He’s one of those adaptable little guys who can fit in anywhere and be adored by everyone. One might be inclined to pity him because of his leg, but you only have to see him interact with other bunnies to know that he’s far from the bottom of the hierarchy. He lives in a pen with three other bunnies, and he buzzed around each of them like a bee, getting a kiss here and a lick there. Scooter loved all of his bunny roommates, and they loved him back.

Grace

Grace is a special bunny both to me specifically and to everyone who interacts with her. She was the one who gave me my very first bunny kiss – and you never forget your first kiss. She is aptly named because she radiates grace and tranquillity, even though she is blind. Grace is like a little space heater of compassion. Marcy puts sick or new bunnies with Grace because she knows that Grace will be kind to them and show them the ropes. She can get nervous, especially when her toys and dishes are moved around because she does have to find her way around without seeing. With her, you can’t dither – you have to pick her up quickly and decisively and hug her closely – I use any excuse to hug bunnies! – so that she feels safe. Nervous or indecisive handling scares her. She, like the other bunnies, was nervous when I picked her up, but she, also like the other bunnies, calmed right down once she realized that she was getting a special spa treatment.

Phoenix

Phoenix didn’t really need to be groomed, but, since he’s such a special and brave bunny, we decided to check in on him anyway. He was doing just fine – doing tiny stationary binkies and hopping rambunctiously around his pen. I tried to pick him up, but he clearly was not in the mood…I think he wanted his tribute from afar, in the form of pets and back scratches. We gave him this tribute and paid homage to him to let him know that we understand that he’s the king.

My husband and I go to the shelter to groom bunnies as often as we can, and each trip is a delight. We intend to do much more grooming, so stay tuned for more days in the lives of bunny huggers!

–end–

Grooming Little Joe – Part 2

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Mai sent me the first part of her volunteering story, Grooming Little Joe, a couple weeks ago. Here is the much-awaited conclusion:

So there I was. I had severely dampened my self-confidence by creating the debacle with the Shop-Vac, and I was trying to massage Little Joe, who was a faster bunny than anyone might think, given that he only had three legs. I had to be down at his level to support his hindquarters but he hopped in circles around me so fast that I twisted the soft, imitation-sheepskin rug into a vortex of confusion, and all the other bunnies were hopping and hiding or scrambling. Grace, another of Little Joe’s pen-mates, huddled in the corner, and that’s when I knew I had to stop. Grace is one of the rare gems of bunnyhood, the Koh-I-Noor of the many bunny jewels at SaveABunny. She’s a New Zealand White, blind, but she radiates a gentle healing energy that is so perceptible that Marcy puts the bunnies who are new or sick into a pen with her. One of the first bunnies I ever held, she made me her grateful servent forever by bestowing on me my first bunny kiss – she licked my neck as I held her. I knew without asking that Marcy had put Grace in the x-pen with Little Joe and Scooter to help soothe them through the difficulties and discomforts of their leg problems.
When Grace got scared, I stopped and petted everyone. I unwound myself from the pretzel into which I’d made myself and just let Grace’s calm transcend the chaos in a soft, misty tide that slowly broke over our tableau.
Since I had been “helping” Little Joe run laps around the communal area, I decided that I would join Grace’s calm aura with my own and do a little massaging. So I petted Little Joe until he calmed down, sat very still, and rubbed his flank and the sides of his body, loosening the muscles. I wasn’t sure that I was doing any good, but Marcy came in as we were leaving, and she said that he looked more comfortable. I couldn’t tell a difference, but since Marcy is the original Bunny Whisperer, I trusted her judgment.

The Bunny Trifecta

The Bunny Trifecta

By this time, a little bunny trifecta had formed: Grace, Scooter and Little Joe huddled all together, allowing me to pet all of them at the same time. And this is where the healing started – for all of us. Little Joe had his tight muscles massaged and got support so that he could hop somewhat normally for a little while. I massaged Scooter’s kickstand leg and the muscles around it so that he could rest a little from the tension that must accumulate when he moves. And Grace herself, the Bringer of Tranquility, relaxed into the symbiotic relationship, the give and take of healing energy accepted and transformed into gratitude for her. This silent interaction did not stop at the lagomorphic boundary; the bunnies shared themselves generously with the still-ashamed (because of the Shop-Vac Disaster) human.
When everyone had settled down and relaxed for a while, I stepped quietly out of their area to let them rest in that primal circle of touch, vision, and scent. Although I wanted to put my head right next to them and fall asleep inhaling their warm-blanket bunny fragrance, there were other bunnies to groom, other little furry beings to massage, comb, hug, and kiss. Mark and I spent the rest of our allocated three hours grooming the rest of the bunnies in that one room, taking our minds out of ourselves for one blessed afternoon and surrendering our world-worn spirits to the vagaries of bunniness: the calm bunnies, the nervous bunnies, the wiggly bunnies, the bitey bunnies, and the curious bunnies. We left reluctantly, as we always do, with our spirits soothed and our clothes covered with bunny hair. It had been a good day altogether, and I had learned one important lesson: to let sleeping Shop-Vacs lie.