Archive for May, 2009

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.


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 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.


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 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 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!


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.