Posts Tagged ‘confessions’

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.

Rabbit cover letter.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you might remember that I (Thea Kinyon, SaveABunny Blogger) randomly moved to New Mexico last year and have been blogging long-distance ever since. It’s been… let’s see, how do I put this… dry, sun-burn-y and creatively sapping a valuable experience. But I’m finally moving back to San Francisco in about three weeks and despite (or because of? I do love a challenge) the utter lack of any kind of job throughout the entire state of California, I’ve been trying to brush up on my cover-letter-writing skills.

While banging the keyboard with my head and cursing the inventors of jargon, my little bunny rabbit Linda Maureen handed me a copy of her own cover letter for inspiration. Apparently this is one of the many ways she keeps herself entertained while I’m at work. Maybe it’ll inspire you, too – I know there’s a lot of us out there right now wishing we could get paid to just save bunnies all day.

To whom it may concern,

Hi! I’m Linda. As a Junior Bunny Rabbit, I have spent the first year of my career eating hay, pooping, and chewing on every kind of media. My creative specialties include the even distribution of hay throughout an entire room, the literal ingestion of entire published works, from dictionaries to rare first-edition literature, and the strategic planning and development of holes in any kind of floor covering, no matter how expensive. I work efficiently both alone and in a team, and have completed many successful projects alongside a mid-level rabbit, with whom I share responsibility and management of the litter box department.
I’m currently seeking a larger living room with adequate traction for running, playing, jumping, and expanding my personal knowledge of binkying. The position would preferably be in the Bay Area. Thanks!

Linda Maureen Francisco
Junior Bunny Rabbit
415.568.5119

Linda Maureen Francisco, copyright Gary Boodhoo 2009

Add two rabbits. Stir. Garnish with basil. (ch. 2)

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

Firstly, humongous apologies for making you wait so long for a sequel. I was on vacation, you see. It was awesome. It so awesome that I got pharyngitis and couldn’t think straight for two weeks.

Since I’ve been gone, you may have noticed a small change. I would like to officially (and belatedly) welcome DKM to the SaveABunny Blog as our second contributor. She has astonishingly good timing, as it turns out, and I hope she will continue to make me feel less guilty for infrequent blogging for a very long time.

But back to business.

As you may or may not remember (it was awhile ago, I know) I acquired my second bunny, Linda Maureen, outside a whole foods one day in a cardboard box.

I brought her home and dropped her in the bathroom with some hay. I was excited to introduce her to my first rabbit, Ellis. I was hoping they would fall instantly in love and that I would be able to leave them alone together when I left town in a couple weeks. Why not hope, right?

Now, rabbit bonding isn’t really a straightforward, one-step process.  It can take weeks – months even. Every rabbit is different, and every rabbit couple has different dynamics. I’m excited to share some first-hand experience but in addition, you should check out the official bonding guide recommended by SaveABunny. I didn’t exactly follow it. I tried though.

The first thing I did wrong was completely throw any modicum of patience I had out the window. Linda had been out of her box huddled in the bathroom corner for about five minutes before I decided to bring in Ellis and see what he thought of her.

What’s wrong with this idea?

1. Who knows what kind of weird diseases she might have been carrying around. Sure, she looked extremely healthy and was definitely still less than a year old, but what if she’d had something? Then Ellis would have gotten it, and then I would have two sick bunnies. I should have kept her quarantined until her vet visit that weekend. I did, at least, give her a good once-over to make sure there was nothing obviously wrong with her. And to make sure she actually was a girl. But I recommend a full quarantine. Better safe than sorry.

2. She had just come from a cardboard box, and before that a house with four kids in it, and before that, a school with who knows how many kids trying to pick her up and grab her and poke her and who knows what. And before that, I have no idea where she was, but any way you look at it she was traumatized. Then I decided to introduce her to a big scary boy rabbit without so much as warning her first. Ok, well I did warn her, but I don’t think she understood me.

All I had to do was open the bathroom door a nudge, and there was Ellis, just dying with curiosity to meet this sweet-smelling new lady I’d brought home for him. He immediately came up to her, sniffing her out. She retreated even farther into the corner. He started licking her face. She shivered. All seemed to be going well. Ellis was in love at first sight. I don’t blame him, she was a total cutie.

Then he started humping her, which when introducing rabbits, you should expect someone to do. It’s a normal dominance behavior. Please, please make sure at least one of them is fixed first though. (Ellis had been fixed since I got him from SaveABunny. Linda has an appointment next week.)

I let Ellis hump her a little until she started making these adorable little whimpering noises. Any time a rabbit makes a noise it’s bad. Unless they’re purring. Any other time = bad. But it caught me totally off guard how extremely cute her little noises were, which may have made me not take them as seriously as she would have liked me to. But I eventually shooed Ellis off of her and sent him back into the living room.

Now, let me backtrack a little. I chose the bathroom as their first meeting place for two reasons: one being that it was a small space and they couldn’t get into too much trouble in there, and other being that it was the room Ellis had spent the least amount of time in, so it was the most neutral territory. That’s an important thing to have when bonding – neutral territory. It’s in the guide.

Unfortunately Linda couldn’t stay in the bathroom forever, so I partitioned off a space in the living room next to Ellis’. I got her her own litterbox, and gave her some of Ellis’ extra toys that he was kind of bored with anyway, and I gave her a little water bowl and a nice stack of hay. She started to relax. They sniffed at each other through the partion. They laid down next to each other. Things were looking extremely good considering they had only known each other for two hours. Yay!

I let them out to play together the next day. Every time  Ellis got close to Linda, she would run away. It was kind of cute. Ok, it was totally cute, they’re bunnies, everything they do is cute, but I could sense Ellis’ frustration. All he wanted to do was prove to her his undying devotion, and she was playing hard to get. Or she was just terrified he would squish her trying to hump her again. I don’t really know what was going on her tiny little little bunny brain. I still never know what goes on in her tiny bunny brain. Women. I don’t understand them. Ellis, I get. Women, not so much.

This continued every time they were together for next three days. After the second day, in fact, Linda had somehow escaped her partitioned area  while I was asleep and had shared the living room with Ellis until I found them in the morning, realized what had happened, shrugged, and ditched the partition completely. They hadn’t killed each other so I figured they might as well get used to sharing the space.

This is not an advisable step in the official bonding guide.

They had been so cute, flirting through the bars of the parition before, that I figured eventually she would stop running away from Ellis and they would be bonded in no time. But, like I said, I’m impatient. Tricks were called for.

First, I forced them to share. I put down a big pile of greens and their mutual love of arugula brought them together for a few minutes of communal chewing. Then Linda ran off.

Ellis had some tricks, too. He had started sneaking up on her from behind, and when she was just about to scamper off, he would bite her in the butt. I tried telling him that was no way to impress a lady, and it wasn’t. It just made her more afraid of him, which made her run away more, which made Ellis even more frustrated. I don’t think he really grasped the whole psychology of the situation, though.

He eventually tried a new strategy. Pointedly ignoring her, he walked right by her and then flopped down, with his little feet out to the side, looking in the exact opposite direction from her. Totally smooth. Totally aloof. Except that his ears were following every sound she was making. I gained a new appreciation for his abilities as a slick lady’s man that day. What a move. It almost worked, too. After a few minutes, she slowly, timidly came up behind him and started sniffing, ears and whiskers forward. Then, unable to restrain himself any longer, he whirled around and chased her across the room. Nice one, Ellis.

It was my turn. I had read in the bonding guide that you can trick bunnies into grooming each other by smearing banana on their foreheads. I didn’t have any banana so I used a little piece of tangerine. Then I held them down facing each other. First I gently let Ellis up. He started licking the tangerine off her face with the excitement of a man who had just been given a supermodel covered in chili-cheese fries. Or, um, something else delicious but more attractive. He didn’t stop at the tangerine mark, anyway. He licked her whole face, her cheeks, and behind her ears before I stopped him. Next, I let up Linda. She gingerly licked the little orange mark I’d made on Ellis’ forehead. He squinted. Then I let them go.

About four minutes later, Ellis approached Linda in middle of the living room floor. She didn’t run away. He started licking her face. She let him. He groomed her all over and then finally laid down next to her. She stayed. She didn’t return the favor, and she was kind of huddled up and nervous-looking still, but she let him lay next to her. And I think she liked it.

They were bonded. Four days. How much do I rock??

I feel kind of like I’m cheating you with my bonding story because it was so easy. I mean, they just happened to be soul mates – who knew? Don’t expect it to go this easily. Read the guide. Comment if you have any questions or tips. And most importantly, be patient.

And don’t be afraid to smudge fruit all over your rabbit’s face. It’ll come off. Eventually. I promise.

Add two rabbits, stir. Garnish with basil. (ch. 1)

Friday, December 5th, 2008

As so many people who have had the pleasure of sharing their home with a rabbit will tell you, it’s almost impossible to just have one.

And not because of the stereotype that rabbits breed like crazy (pet rabbits should always be fixed!), and not just because one rabbit by himself looks kinda bored, and not just because humans love projecting their own loneliness onto their furry friends. You see, rabbits have this strange addictive property. I call it lagophetamine. (I made that up just now.) Once you realize you’ve fallen for a rabbit, it’s already too late. His big, pinkish blue eyes have cast their spell on you, and you’re doomed to have more rabbits – and more – probably until the day you die. Luckily it’s an extremely pleasant addiction with only positive side effects.

But I have to admit – wait, let me do this right -

Hi. I’m Thea. I’m an addict. A lagophetamine addict.

I started with just one rabbit – like we all do, I guess – but then, I couldn’t help myself. One wasn’t enough. I told myself he’s lonely, he’s bored, he needs company – but the truth is, I needed a second rabbit.

I went looking for one. Not very hard, I just put up a posting on Craigslist. I figured one would find me. I said I had a bunny who needed a friend, and if someone had a rabbit they couldn’t take care of, I would take her in and make sure she had a good home. I also went to the websites of the local shelters, and emailed them about fostering. Ideally, I would have gone to SaveABunny, brought my rabbit, Ellis, with me, and done the rabbit speed dating that SaveABunny offers, which is an awesome service. But SaveABunny was 1200 miles away and Ellis hates cars. Sorry, SaveABunny. I feel bad, but… I got to save a bunny out here instead.

After a couple of weeks, I got a response. Not from the animal shelters, unfortunately, (not sure what their deal is), but from Craigslist. A 12-year-old had randomly brought home a rabbit from school one day, and his mom realized there was no way they could keep her. She emailed me this photo:

I couldn’t resist. That little scared bunny – she could end up with some unknowing family, locked in a hutch her whole life, or worse – Albuquerque has a lot of snake owners. (Don’t get me wrong, I love snakes – but I love bunnies more.)

We arranged a meeting in a pre-disclosed location. I was early and waited for several minutes, trying to look like inconspicuous. Then I heard a voice – “Are you Thea?”

It was her – she was carrying a nondescript brown box. That had to be the goods.

Of course she also had three kids with her and we were in front of Whole Foods in broad daylight… but appearances aside, the cold hard truth is that I was getting a fix. A lagophetamine fix.

“Show me the bunny,” I said. (Just kidding, I didn’t actually say that. But I wish I had.)

She opened the box, and inside was the 64 oz. of pure brown and white love from the picture. I was sold. Not that I paid for her – you see, the first dose is always complimentary, that’s how they get you hooked. Or so I hear.

The kid had already named her Linda. It means “pretty.” I couldn’t think of any name that would possibly suit her better.

I took my box of lagophetamine and went home. It was going to be an exciting weekend.

To be continued

An attempt at supressing instincts.

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

There is one – yes, only one – disadvantage to having a prey animal as a family member.

And it is made extremely clear when you attempt to bring home a predator.

Like, for example, this one:

Yes, that’s a cute puppy. And yes, that’s my laundry room.

You see, despite never having been much of a dog person, I’ve had this fantasy for awhile of having a dog. Why? For walks in the park, playing frisbee, exploring, that kinda stuff. I guess I could have just gotten a boyfriend, or a child, or park ranger, but for some reason a puppy seemed like less responsibility.

WRONG. (Ok except maybe the child part. I have no idea.)

But it did provide an excellent opportunity for a blog!

Now, I know there are many households out there where dogs and rabbits co-exist peacefully. I figured a puppy would be young and impressionable and able to learn that rabbits aren’t food pretty fast.

So I went on craigslist and found a puppy. She was an adorable 5 month old border collie and I named her Elena. Of course the moment I brought her home, my bunny, Ellis Jose, ran tearing off into his hiding place in the laundry room, immediately labeling himself as a really fun exciting toy to little Elena. Nice job, Ellis. Those instincts are really helping you out here. Stupid rabbit.

So Elena spent the night in a kennel, and Ellis spent the night huddled in a corner. Obviously, there were two very powerful instincts to overcome: a flee instinct, and a chase instinct. Bad combination.

On the second day, Ellis started to act relatively normal again, but poor Elena was cooped up in the bathroom all day while I was at work, which just made her even feistier and crazier when i let her out, and I couldn’t let her off the leash between the bathroom and the front door because she would immediately try to eat my rabbit.

I tried tying her up in the laundry room so she could hang out with me while I made dinner (it’s like the same room as my kitchen) but that also proved difficult for various reasons.

I’m sorry to say that I failed horribly at inter-species diplomacy and ended up giving her back on the third day. Ellis was freaked out and not eating very much, and I realized that if I gave Elena the proper time and training to be friends with a rabbit, the rabbit probably wouldn’t last that long.

I didn’t feel too bad giving her back because the nice woman I got her from had missed her and kind of wanted to keep her anyway. If I hadn’t already had a rabbit, Elena would have been a fantastic dog and I totally would’ve kept her. But, bunny wins. I like him better.

So unfortunately the only thing I can really give you out of this experience is a list of what not to do:

1. Don’t do crazy impulsive stuff like go out and randomly get a puppy after work one day. Plan it out a little!

2. Don’t get a big puppy. Knee-high is too high. If Elena had been too small to physically devour Ellis, I’m sure I could have given her a lot more time. Also, he might not have been so terrified of her.

3. Don’t bring home a dog that was bred to chase small animals. Border collie? Really? What was I thinking? Get something docile, and if it’s big, get one with three legs or no teeth or something. Don’t bring home a hunting dog or a herding dog unless it’s a little tiny baby. Or you have a yard or large extra room.

4. Don’t bring home a puppy who’s old enough to intimidate anyone. I’m pretty sure if Elena had been younger (and smaller) it would have worked out better.

5. Don’t experiment on a weekday. Wait until you have a long weekend or a vacation or get laid off to bring home a puppy. That way you have plenty of time to watch them and train them at a crucial phase. And make sure they don’t kill each other.

6. Don’t ignore your lease agreement. Have a yard. If you want to go the crazy impulsive route like I did and bring a puppy into your little one-bedroom apartment, all the other rules are about twenty times more important.

7. Don’t bring home a wild animal. Elena had been picked up two weeks earlier while chasing cars in the boonies. Try to make sure the dog is trained and well-behaved before you introduce it to your rabbit.

Now, I know this has worked for some people, but I haven’t found any success stories with happy endings online to use as examples, and the official SaveABunny guide merely says, “Slow, supervised introductions are a must.” Obviously. I do know that Marcy, the founder of SaveABunny, has a dog who does not eat any of the bunnies there. I think she’s a lab. But I would very much appreciate any readers who have tried this, or who have read a happy story of someone who tried this, to please share, so that I can make a “Do” list to accompany this “Don’t” list.

Also, if you think I got anything wrong, let us know!

UPDATE: After reading around a little, I learned that better results generally come with an older, well-trained dog than with starting with a puppy, no matter how young it is. So ignore #4 above. And I’m starting a DO list:

1. Get an older, well-trained dog. And get one from a shelter. They need you more than a cute puppy does anyway.

2. Lock up the rabbit while the dog is out. I was reluctant because, you know, Ellis was here first and he shouldn’t have to give up his hard-earned living room privileges. But in hindsight, he probably would have felt a lot safer with some nice wire bars between them, and he wouldn’t have provoked Elena’s chase instinct. A barking-at-small-animals instinct is a different story, unfortunately.

Rabbit vs. Litterbox

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

As anyone who has been around rabbits for more than half an hour knows, our furry little friends are extremely effecient at filling their main ecological niche: turning plants into fertilizer.

But we love them anyway. That’s why it can be so frustrating trying to litterbox train them. Litterbox training a rabbit is a process mostly unique from what other pet owners go through, in some ways easier and in some ways harder.

Easier, because rabbits are weirdly OCD. Once they start doing something a certain way, they keep doing it that way. So the trick is to get them to do want you want.

And it’s harder, because getting a rabbit to do what you want is completely impossible.

So how do you do it? Honestly I’m still not sure. I’ll share what I read, and what I attempted, but in the end, I’m convinced my rabbit just ended up litterbox training himself.

The first thing I unpacked when I moved to Albuquerque was my new bunny friend, Ellis Jose Francisco. I let him out of his icky cage that smelled like a three-day road trip, deciding then and there that I never wanted to put him back in it. Since I hadn’t exactly told management that I was going to have a small animal running around the house all day, I decided to keep him out of sight in my bedroom. Plus, I was lonely.

I put down a little rug, on which I placed his litterbox, some hay, and a water dish.

He promptly peed in the corner. So, having remembered that the litterbox should usually just go where the rabbit likes to go, I cleaned the pee and placed the box directly on top of the soapy spot.

He peed in box. All was good! Until I wasn’t looking. Then he peed in the other corner.

Not having two litterboxes for him, I cleaned it up and hoped for the best. That didn’t work out too well.

You see, rabbits are very territorial. They mark exactly where they think their home is. And there’s no mistaking it once they do. Fortunately, I had modern veterinary medicine on my side and he was nuetered. (As every adopted rabbit should be!) This not only made him less hormonally inclined to pee everywhere, but it made his pee smell better, too. Relatively.

I realized that after having free run of my room, he’d decided it was, in fact, his room.

I should explain that at this time, I also came down with a nasty sinus infection. I was barely capable of driving to Target to buy Puffs, much less developing a litterbox strategy. Little Ellis Jose peed wherever he wanted, including on my bed, (fortunately I was sleeping on an air mattress, which only required a sheet change and brief scrub with an eco-friendly cleaning wipe,) and all I could do was cough negatively at him.

As a side note, please don’t tell my building management this story. That would be bad for me.

While stuffing my only bottom sheet into the washing machine for the third time in two days, I glanced down at the cage. I’d stashed it in the laundry room until I figured out which key opened the outside storage closet. (Turns out, none of them open it! I’m still waiting for that one.) Since I couldn’t smell anything anyway, I momentarily convinced myself it was fine, and brought it into the bedroom. The litterbox went inside. It was a terrible arrangement, however, and I ended up putting everything and the rabbit on a mat in the laundry room.

This actually worked really well. Since my laundry room has laminate floors that are impossible for furry little bunny feet to gain traction on, Ellis Jose stayed entirely on the mat. I opened the cage door so he could come and go (so to speak) as he pleased. He consistently peed in the litterbox, and almost solely pooped in it so long as I kept it clean.

But just to be safe, I resorted to the one thing I always dread resorting to: Instructions.

That’s right, when you adopt a bunny from SaveABunny, you get an instruction booklet. At least I did. I think it’s $2 extra, but if Marcy has anything to do with it, you’ll end up with one whether you asked or not.

Just as I’d hoped, there were two pages about litterbox training in there. Since a) it’s an entire two pages, and b) you should really put down the two bucks for a copy, I won’t recount everything I read in there. But I’ll share what was most valuable to my experience:

1. Your rabbit needs a place that’s just his. (An icky, road-trip-smellin’ carrier cage does the trick in a pinch – just, uh, try to clean it first. And DON’T put faux-sheepskin liner mats in the washing machine. It won’t be pretty. Trust me.) In order to make your rabbit feel like the place is just his, it’s essential that you not force him in or out of it. If he’s not already terrified of the place, it’s pretty easy to herd him into it. Do that if you need to. I just leave the cage door open with a tiny mat clipped to it, and it makes a nice ramp. He goes in there when he’s mad, scared, bored, or (yay!) has to pee.

2. Keeping some hay in the litterbox seems to help.

3. Be patient. I can’t tell you how to do this. I failed. But I’m sure things will work out better if you can pull it off.

4. Keep the litterbox clean. Seriously. I change it almost every day but it’s extremely worth it. It’s good for about two or three pees and then he stops using it.

The laundry room situation lasted about five days. I ended up feeling bad for him because the mat he had was so small, and he couldn’t get any sunlight (which, I don’t know about him, but is very important for my mental health,) and he looked really bored all the time. I gave him two paper bags to play with (more on those in a future blog), and I laid down a table cloth for him to get across the kitchen to the living room where he could run around, but he stopped using it after the first time and refused to leave his tiny mat. I had to find a better way.

On my first day at my new job, I found a giant stack of carpet tile scraps. If you’re not familiar with this seeming oxymoron, a carpet tile is a rubber tile, in regular tile size and shape, with carpet on one side. Carpet = traction. Rubber = pee-proof.

I made off with half of them. The receptionist gave me a funny look on my way out the door, but I had a plan! Sort of.

After trying many positions and layouts and many variations on those positions and layouts, I ended up with a carpet-tiled area in the living room, under a window, with ample room for the cage carrier in the corner, chew toys, paper bags, hay, a water dish, and even a little bit of hopping around. The plan was to get an x-pen to put around the area, but by the time I was finished with my creation, the pet store was closed, so, with high hopes but low expectations, I just let Ellis Jose run free in the living room for the time being. It’s not like I had any furniture yet anyway. I had one lamp, but the cord and plug were strategically hidden behind two boxes. And I had plenty of eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner.

After some momentary confusion, Ellis Jose became a very happy bunny. He now had the entire living room to run around in! And because he was happy, and he hadn’t peed on the floor yet, I was happy too.

I let him run free while I was gone the next day at work, thinking I would stop at PetSmart for an X-pen on the way home. I forgot, of course. But when I got home, my carpet was happily pee-free. He had somehow become litterbox trained.

I ended up buying an x-pen anyway for when the washing machine repair person gets here. I haven’t used it yet – which is both good and bad.

So take what you will from my story, if you managed to find anything worthwhile. Every bunny is different, so if you find something else that works, by all means go with it. And share, please!

Or if all else fails, read the instructions.

Confessions chapter 4: Rabbit names.

Saturday, September 6th, 2008

Duty number 2 on my road trip, (after getting us all to Albuquerque alive,) was finding a name for my new bunny friend. I don’t want to insult the wonderful volunteer who named him Chewy (whoever you are – it is a cute name), but with my overactive imagination, a name like Chewy for a rabbit starts to fall into the same category as Stringy or Medium Rare. Plus, I knew a guy in middle school named Chewy and he was lame.

My road-trip buddy Simin and I both figured something would inspire a name somewhere between San Francisco and Albuquerque. We read road signs, town names, bridge names, and wash names. We passed Joshua trees but he didn’t seem like a Joshua. We went through Wasco, California (where we got the air conditioner fixed,) but he definitely wasn’t a Wascolly Wabbit. We drove through Bakersfield, Tehachapi, Boron (Borox capital of the world!), Hinkley, Barstow, Dagget, Ludow, Needles, Topock and Yucca. None of the names seemed right. We stopped to take pictures of an unbelievably fabulous sunset, but none of the many colors in it were a fitting name for my white-and-gray bunny.

On the first night we stayed in Kingman, Arizona. Having learned in Wasco that my bunny fit very well in a canvas bag, I avoided any possible no-pets rule by carrying him into our room Paris-Hilton-style, gently pushing his curious fuzzy head back into the bag. No one was the wiser. I put him on a towel in the bathtub with some hay and a cup of water, and he flopped down happily. What a cute bunny!! I brushed him a little and asked him what I should name him. He stared at me, chewing hay. (Chewy – I get it now. It is a totally cute name for a rabbit. Oh, well, too late.) I did briefly consider naming him Hay… but naming an animal after what it ate seemed wrong. What if we named children things like Sweet Potato and Cheerio? Or Hamburger? Or Banana Cream Pie? (…That would be kind of funny actually.)

Well, back to business. The next day, we drove though Seligman, Ash Fork, Williams, then made a detour to the Grand Canyon (which was ironically foggy) and went though Cameron, stopped briefly outside Tuba City to look at some dinosaur tracks (Brontosaurus could have been a pretty great name,) then passed through Hoteville, Polacca, Kearns Canyon, and Window Rock. All remarkably bad names for a living creature.

The countryside was beautiful and inspiring. It made me want to paint and take pictures – but it failed to inspire a name for my rabbit.

We crossed the New Mexico border drawing a blank.

(Did you know I’m a writer? Like a professional writer. Like they pay me to come up with names for things. It was getting embarrassing that I couldn’t come up with a name for my own pet rabbit.)

Outside of Gallup it was starting to get dark. We were only two hours from Albuquerque. We were all tired and I was mildly nauseous from a 7-layer burrito I’d gotten at a drive-through. We were kind of sad that the road trip was almost over. And I missed San Francisco. I missed all my bars in the Tendernob. I missed Geary street. And O’farrel street. And Leavenworth street. And Jones street. Was my bunny a Jones? I looked at him. He was sitting there all sleepy looking handsome, but definitely not rugged. Jones was wrong.

My first apartment was at Ellis and Jones, right in the heart of the Tenderloin. I loved that place. I’ve wanted to use the name Ellis for a long time, because it was also my grandfather’s name. It has extra meaning for me. But it’s such an old-fashioned name, and it sounds kind of like Alice if you’re not paying attention. He needed something else in there.

45 minutes outside of Albuquerque, I named him Ellis Jose Francisco.

But I usually call him, “What a cute bunny!!!!”

Confessions, chapter 3: How NOT to go on a road trip with a rabbit.

Friday, September 5th, 2008

I’ve discovered, since deciding to move there, that most people have no idea where Albuquerque is. I can’t really judge, though – I recently had to ask which cities the Twin Cities were. I’m still not sure which state they’re in.

Just in case you’re not sure, Albuquerque is in New Mexico, just south of Santa Fe, a day’s drive east of Phoenix, and 5,314 feet above sea level. To get there from San Francisco, it’s about a 15 hour drive (that’s if you don’t stop for snacks, gas, repairs, or a detour to the Grand Canyon) through America’s vast, dry, southern deserts. You pass through some of the most beautiful parts of the country on your way – but they’re also some of the hottest.

I was about to undertake this trip with my friend Simin and my new bunny, Chewy. I had a full tank of gas and an entire apartment boxed up in the back of a van I had bought the day before. It was 7am and foggy in San Francisco. We hit the road.

Central California is a beautiful land. Rolling hills, dotted with little oak trees, scattered with farms – then 9am hits and it starts to get hot. We pulled over and picked up some water. All good.

Then 10am hit and it was hotter than the fiery pits of hell. Air conditioner time!

Did I mention I had just bought this van the day before?

The vents were blowing hot air. We fiddled with the controls. Hot air. We gave it time to warm up (so to speak). Hot air.

We fiddled with the controls some more.

Hot air.

I had done some pretty extensive research about taking a rabbit on a road trip, and the one thing everyone said was, “Don’t let your rabbit overheat!”

I looked over at my little bunny. Of all the worst-case scenarios that had popped into my head, (I’m good at those, remember,) the air conditioner failing me had not been one of them. I had sudden flashes of what an expression of utter disappointment would look like on Marcy’s face. If I killed my first rabbit only 12 hours after getting him I would never forgive myself. And he was all cute and stuff.

We pulled into the first store we came across (which was another 30 horrifying, sweat-soaked miles) and bought a giant bag of ice. I put it in Chewy’s carrier with him. He made friends with it real quick.

Simin and I realized that we weren’t even close to the Mojave desert yet and the heat would only get worse. We had to get the stupid air conditioner fixed or we could all die. (That’s what I was thinking anyway – Simin was very rational and actually having a good time. Me – I was worst-case-scenario-ing my brains out.)

We pulled into a tiny, dusty shack off the freeway that looked like it might be a repair shop. It was – but they didn’t fix air conditioners. They pointed us to the guys down the street.

No luck. “Go about 20 miles that way – they can probably do it.” We wondered how anyone survived out here with no one that could fix an air conditioner. Why be a mechanic at all if you can’t fix one stupid air conditioner WHEN YOU LIVE IN THE DESERT??

Ok, so we drove 20 miles “that way” and came across and auto parts store. They seemed unreasonably busy for being in the middle of nowhere, but one employee suggested we buy a kit and install it ourselves. Considering I haven’t opened the hood of a car since I was 16, this seemed like a bad idea. But, he couldn’t tell us if there was even a repair shop open anywhere around, so we went ahead and bought it. He said he would show us how to install it as soon as he was done with the next customer. I imagined poor little Chewy sitting out there in the van with a melting bag of ice. We left.

Another few blocks down we came across a Big O Tires. I ran inside and asked them if they knew anyone who fixed air conditioners. They pointed us another couple of blocks to J & J auto repair. It was a slightly larger, slightly less dusty shack than the ones 20 miles back. But, they could fix my air conditioning and they had a nice cool office. I stuffed Chewy in a canvas bag with some hay and a water bottle and went inside.

At this point in the story, I’m pretty sure all of the SaveABunny volunteers are absolutely horrified with me, and Marcy is regretting ever having subjected one of her helpless rabbits to my utter incompetence. So why am I blogging about it? Firstly, I have nothing else to do right now, I’m sick, my only friend here is working tonight, my new job doesn’t start until Monday, and I live alone with a rabbit. I could be unpacking but I don’t really have any shelves yet to put my stuff on. Most importantly, though, I hope this tale of danger and woe provides a lesson to all you readers out there: MAKE SURE YOUR FREAKING AIR CONDITIONER WORKS BEFORE YOU START DRIVING THROUGH THE DESERT IN AUGUST.

Back to the story. Our mechanic Jose (one of the two Js, I assume,) dug around in the engine for about an hour and a half while I sat in the cool office with a very cute, very curious, and slightly damp bunny. I gave him little Styrofoam cupfuls of water. He peed on me. We bonded.

The moment that Simin came in and told me the air conditioner worked, I was elated. I joyfully slapped down $200 and we were back on track. I left the half-melted bag of ice on the sidewalk (I’m pretty sure it sublimated) and replaced it with a fluffy dry towel to keep my bunny comfy.

Next stop: the Mojave Desert. Thank you, Jose.

Confessions, chapter 2: Finding a bunny friend.

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I emailed Marcy about a month ago with some mixed news.

The good part was that I was moving into my own apartment and I could finally adopt my first bunny!
And the bad news? The apartment was in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Of course I could keep writing the SaveABunny blog even if I moved to sub-Saharan Africa thanks to my trusty hp pavilion zv5000 widescreen laptop (you’re welcome, hp. Donations are appreciated) and I don’t really do anything for SaveABunny except write the blog anyway. So the bad news wasn’t really that bad.
And the good news was kind of awesome. I was finally getting my fist bunny!

So which bunny? I thought for awhile that it might be better to adopt a rabbit from an Albuquerque shelter, since there is no SaveABunny out there to help make sure the rabbits don’t get euthanized. But after looking at the local shelters there, I realized none of them had any rabbits. They only accept cats and dogs. I found one shelter in a neighboring town that had two or three rabbits, but I had no way of knowing if they were healthy, spayed or neutered, or if anyone at that shelter knew anything about rabbits. I guess I could have just called and asked, but after thinking about it, I decided I’d rather adopt from SaveABunny and free up a space for a needy Bay Area rabbit.

I wanted one that wasn’t likely to get adopted – but not a special needs rabbit. I’ve never had a rabbit before and I don’t (yet!) have unlimited income for vet bills. Especially considering my moving costs.

Since the hardest rabbits for SaveABunny to adopt out are the white ones with pink eyes, I went up for a grooming party and spent some time with four white/pink-eyed cuties. Mr. Pinkerton, Chewy, Lionel Barrymore, and Moonlight. I also spent some time grooming Noir, who as you might guess, is a black bunny, with non-pink eyes. I brushed enough fur out of her coat to put Bebe out of business.

Moonlight is a beautiful white rabbit. After grooming him for five minutes and starting to really like him, I found out that he has a spine defect and is a special needs rabbit. If he’s picked up and held wrong he could easily break his back. Having only picked up about three rabbits ever, I figured he was not for me.

Lionel Barrymore is another gorgeous white rabbit. He has a pretty white face and a cute little white nose, and is just a little bit traumatized but still very sweet. After being on my lap for awhile he started to get curious and sniff me out, and I became slowly enamored with him. Marcy told some lingering volunteers later that night that he lets out a bone-chilling scream every time the vacuum cleaners come on. He went to a foster home that night.

Chewy is laid-back white bunny with dark gray-brown Siamese markings on his nose, ears, tail and paws. And of course, big pink and blue eyes. He has these extra eyelashes on the corners of his eyes that make him look either kind of sad, or kind of high. He reminded me of my first pet, Ivory, who was a terribly inbred Siamese cat who my mom gave me for my sixth birthday. I absolutely adored him. I didn’t spend a lot of time with Chewy, though, because it was the end of the night and I was already trying to decide between Lionel Barrymore and Mr. Pinkerton.

Mr. Pinkerton is an awesome bunny. In the short amount of time I spent with him I saw more personality than in any of the other bunnies. He was fearless and outgoing and absolutely presidential. (Think Bill Clinton meets Roger Rabbit.) Marcy didn’t want to adopt him out yet, but since I am a writer and everything, she hoped I would pick up the Mr. Pinkerton blog if I adopted him. Which I thought would be fun. But – and this is the horrible and honest truth – I was afraid that if anything happened to him, I would feel doubly bad because he is such an important bunny to the organization. Not that I expected myself to be an irresponsible or less-than-caring bunny owner, I just have a bad habit of always thinking of the absolute worst-case scenario for any situation. I’m not a pessimist –I just have a vivid imagination. It’s good for working in advertising – but bad for coming across as sane.

I went home undecided. For the next week I dreamed of what it would be like to live with each of these bunnies. I saw myself taking them to the park, to my new office, watching them run around the house and eat hay, and of course in the car on the long trip to Albuquerque. I thought the most about Mr. Pinkerton and Chewy.

The night before I hit the road, I still hadn’t decided. At 5:30 I bought a last-minute van for the move, and I immediately drove it up to SaveABunny. Priorities!

This time I had to make a decision. I sat in the middle of an X-pen with Chewy for a few minutes. He sat there ignoring me. I gave him a little pet on the head. He put his little chin to the floor – which in cat language definitely does not mean “pet me more,” so I thought he didn’t like me. But as it turns out that’s exactly what it means in bunny language. He was saying, “Here, I have a nice soft head for you to pet. Go on, pet away.” How sweet.

Then I spent some one-on-time with Mr. Pinkerton, which was really one-on-one-on-everything-else-in-the-room time. He was extremely friendly and curious about all of the other people in the room, and the x-pen wire, and the floor, and oh-look-at-that-over there, and hey-what’s-that and who knows what else. He was delightful.

I was torn. Chewy was sweet and vaguely familiar and very cute. Mr. Pinkerton had a personality I could impress my friends and coworkers with. But it was getting late and I had to go home and pack. It came down – and here is another example of how I am a shallow, lazy human being – to litterbox manners. Chewy had an impeccable cage. Mr. Pinkerton was kind of all over the place. Plus, I knew Mr. Pinkerton would find someone who just wouldn’t be able to resist his charm. His very own Monica Lewinsky, if you will. It was almost me. Sigh.

I packed up Chewy in the van and a few short hours later, we began our adventure together.

Confessions. And a useful link.

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Seeing as how this blog was only started about a month ago, I don’t expect anyone other than core SaveABunny members to know what I’m about to tell you. However, I think it’s important for the integrity of the blog, and interestingness of future blog entries, for me to share this:

I don’t actually have a pet bunny. …And I’ve never had one. In fact, I’d never even met anyone who had one until I met Marcy, founder of SaveABunny, a few months ago.

I feel a little bit like this makes me a huge phony, a fraud, and/or an impostor – but in fact, when I look at the big picture, it kind of makes me the perfect person to write this blog. This is because, like many of the people who I hope read this, I intend on becoming a bunny fosterer very soon.

I will briefly (relatively speaking) and honestly summarize the story of why I chose to foster a rabbit. I’m also asking for any of our other current, previous, or future SaveABunny fosterers to share your stories in the comments section, for the benefit of our readers who are considering fostering, or who just like reading stories with bunnies in them.

Here’s mine:
As a young, apartment-dwelling, San Franciscan college student, I have had many challenges in finding an animal to share my home with. I’m sure some of them will be familiar to you, no matter where you live. I like lists, so here they are in list form:

1. College is really expensive, and most pets do not enjoy eating ramen noodles. In fact, there was a time when I seriously, but very briefly, considered eating pet food myself when I found some unopened cans of Friskies in the basement.

2. Building owners are jerks. Many apartments don’t allow pets at all. My plans to find a cute pet, or any pet at all, went on hold for years at a time.

3. Roommates, boyfriends, and the rare but serious condition that happens when they intersect. Living with other people can be cool, and it can suck. When it’s cool, they were allergic to everything, and when it sucked, I didn’t want to subject a helpless animal to their mess/odor/clumsiness (I’m clumsy enough by myself – with two of us stumbling around, small animals are bound to get tripped over.)

4. The litterbox dilemma. “Do I want a dog that I have to walk outside to let poop, or do I want a pet that poops in my home?” Oooooh, that’s a tough one. Luckily I have a really terrible sense of smell, so I decided the litterbox was completely tolerable if the pet was cute enough.

5. I practically lived in a litterbox myself. Seriously. Every apartment in San Francisco that a college student can afford is just barely big enough for 1 animal: yourself. And I had roommates/boyfriends.

Luckily, challenges 1, 2, 3, and 5 are now being solved without the failure of a sensory organ! I have a great job at an ad agency and no longer have to eat ramen noodles. (Although I’ll admit I kind of like them now.) My next door neighbor has a big, fluffy cat that scratches the hell out of her door all night long (I can hear it, it’s kind of scary), so I can only assume the building management doesn’t care what kind of animal I have in my apartment. I’m going to be living alone for the first time starting this summer, leaving space in my home and schedule for a pet, while simultaneously reducing the chances of any tragic accidents caused by clumsiness, or antihistamine overdose. And last but not least, I finally have a normal apartment with a bedroom AND a living room! It’s so unbelievably amazing I can’t even begin to describe it. Oh, and I graduated college last week. (Now I have time to write more blogs! Everyone wins!)

So now that the major obstacles are gone, what kind of pet do I get? I’ve had a long time to think about this. I’ve nixed dog, because my mom comes to visit sometimes and she’s allergic to them. I’ve nixed cat, because my boyfriend was allergic to them. I’ve nixed fish because they’re boring. I’ve nixed muntjac deer because they’re illegal to keep as pets in the state of California, as well as about 25 other awesome pets that I considered. Finally I researched bunnies after learning that some people keep them in their homes. I found the SaveABunny website and began to visualize myself as a bunny owner.

I’d been slowly falling in love with the idea of having a bunny for a roommate instead of a person when two important things happened: 1) I made a drunken New Year’s Resolution to do some volunteering, and 2) the universe guffawed at my pathetic attempt to graduate college and put me in Professor Erdman’s astronomy class. Extremely necessary extra credit assignment: volunteer. I called up SaveABunny.

As everything fell into place and I learned all about bunnies and saving them, I knew I would have to, at some point, adopt one. How could I not? Marcy suggested I foster first. It made a lot of sense.

So that’s the plan. I am now in the process of slowly bunny-proofing my home, and learning as much as I can about bunnies – not just for myself, but for this blog, so that I can write about them without giving away the fact that I’ve never lived with one. My current resource: The Language of Lagomorphs.

I’m going post updates on my little adventure of trying to foster a bunny, for the benefit of those readers who are considering it themselves, and the entertainment of those who have already been there and now actually know what they’re doing. I’ll share resources that I find and do the best I can to explain the pitfalls so that you can avoid them. If you have any advice, recommendations, or stories of your own, please share them with us in the comments section!

Oh, and wish me luck!