May 2006


One of the most rewarding parts of fostering rabbits is hearing how the homes that have adopted are now full of happiness and love. My inbox has become quite full this past couple of weeks with updates and pictures. Oh, how I adore the pictures. I wanted to share some of the comments I’ve received.

Minnie and Rose (aka Nushi) are now living in New York state with their new parents. Their mom writes: “the girls are doing great and so are we…We just love them and they bring so much life to our home…”

Tumble is living with a cat named Jigsaw in New Hampshire. Her mom writes in the first few days of Tumble’s arrival: “I’ve actually gotten her to snuggle up with me. Though she does it rarely, the snuggling is a start. Hopefully I’ll get one [picture] of her with my cat to show you soon too.”

I also keep in touch with Chevy’s new mom and he’s doing great. Still working on getting along with his two new brothers, a mini rex and an english spotted, but she hopes soon they will all be together.

Even though it’s always sad the day our fosters go to their new home, we know in our hearts it’s the right thing. A bun has so much love to give if you let him/her into your life. You’ll never regret it, these creatures are truly amazing! I love watching people discover this for the first time.

PS: Keep the updates coming! We love to hear how your life is with your new bun(s)

~Erica, HRN volunteer, fosterer

Matt and I finally had the chance to bring home our next foster-bunny yesterday. We’ve planned to foster again since about a month after Beebie was adopted. Since we can only really foster one bun at a time, we wanted to take in one of the rabbits that has been having a hard time getting adopted for various reasons. After much juggling and consideration, itwas decided that we would take in Holly, an English Spotted bunny who has been fostered by Suzanne for most of a year now and hasn’t been permanently adopted yet.

Holly is shy, skittish, and scared. We don’t know if there’s a reason for this behavior somewhere back in her past prior to her arrival at the House Rabbit Network. Regardless of previous experiences, she’s a gentle bunny who is really uncertain about the world around her and needs some one-on-one time with humans who will work on giving her more confidence in her surroundings. Even through her skittish behavior, Holly never nips, pounces, or growls like some defensive bunnies. She sits quietly, tucking herself into as small a ball as she can manage when she feels frightened. When she’s not frightened, she’s a gentle, relaxed bunny who likes to munch on her hay, has fastidious litterbox habits, and shows a keen, if cautious, curiousity in the world.

We picked Holly up from Suzanne yesterday and drove her back to our house. I had a hand un the carrier for the entire drive to try to reassure her since her nose was twitching hard and she was breathing very fast. When we arrived at our place, we gave her a couple minutes time to come out of the carrier on her own. Once she’d ventured onto the hardwood floor, she snuffled Matt and I curiously, ears up and listening to the alien sounds of our world. After a little time to sniff the world and be cuddled, we gave her a quick brush and introduced her to her new cage then left her to settle in for the evening .

When I got up this morning I found that Holly was being very tidy with her new space. She’s got a good ammount of space to herself right now with 2 litterboxes available; one for pooping and one for just hiding out and sleeping. So far, Holly cowers every time Matt or I lifts the cage door right now. Once she decides that we aren’t going to hurt her, she’ll put her head down flat to be stroked. When picked up, Holly just snuggles her head in under my chin. She’s very uncertain and scared about life right now. But hopefully that will change in a few days as she gets used to the smells and sounds. I hope to give her some time to explore outside the cage tonight after we get home from meeting with our financial advisor.

I’ve been sick this week with what has turned out to be phneumonia. This is the second time I’ve been significantly sick in slightly over a month’s time, which is very frustrating for someone who’s constitution normally allows her to defy a winter full of Harvard student germs from all points of the globe. Needless to say, I’m a bit frustrated and unhappy with the experience. Were it not for a very understand boss, I’d likely be frantically worried right now about my job prospects.

The bright spots in my week have been my husband, family, friends, and our 3 rabbits. (Oh, and Erica’s post about the baby bunnies.) Matt has taken charge of making sure that our rabbits continue their bonding process as well as getting their romp time and meals each day. (Oh how lucky I am to have a partner who has become as smitten with these silly furballs as I am.)

Bonding sessions in the livingroom this week went fairly well, at least for some definitions. There was a little bit of herding behavior and nipping from Lookout, aka Little Miss Mom as I am now starting to think of her. She got squirted for her bad behavior and immediately backed off which is a huge improvement from our early bonding sessions between her and Bean where she’d have to get soaked before she acknowledged the water as a disciplinary. Otherwise, there was a bit of curious nosing at each other, a bit of grooming, and a lot of Echo running away. She really is going to end up being the first bunny ever to be below Beanbag on the pecking order if she keeps this up.

Everybunny got separate romp time as well as the bonding time. I was delighted and relieved to have Lookout and Beanbag spend an evening romping a bit and cuddling under the coffee table. I was especially glad to see Beanbag kicking up his heels and dancing around a bit, he even indulged in a game of chase with Lookout. He’s so quiet and reserved most of the time that its always good to see him let loose and play. (Now that I’ve seen both, a fun game of chase between two rabbits and herding or running another bunny out of claimed territory are two very different things.) Its still not uncommon in their romp sessions to see a little bit of herding behavior from Lookout. We’ve come to expect it. But this week, they’ve been getting along very well. I watch them during the day as they snooze side by side in the sunshine, paws tucked in forming that goofy bunnyloaf pose that rabbits feel so comfortable with.

Echo has been having a grand time romping in the way that only adolescent bunnies really can. My old roomate used to call this particular behavior “getting chased by snigglets”. Most bunny owners call this behavior doing binkies. So what’s a snigglet you ask? Snigglets are those invisible flying bugs that cats are always watching or chasing. In the case of bunnies, the snigglets chase the bunnies instead causing them to pop up in the air, twirl, skitter sideways, and unexpectedly flop. Being an adolescent, Echo is still having a great time learning all the things she can do with those spring-loaded hind feet for jumping power. This week, she ran sideways like a crab for at least 5 feet, popped straight up in the air, clearing the top of the coffee table by a good foot, and figured out how to use my slipper comforter as a ramp to slide back to the ground after visiting my on the couch. she’s been so busy romping, that neither my husband nor I has gotten a single face washing from her all week. Though maybe she hasn’t washed my face because I smell like I’m sick right now. Come to think of it, she hasn’t been spending a ton of her romp time coming up to me to get scritched either. Maybe she knows I’m sick? I wouldn’t put it past her.

In my last blog entry I wrote about a stray rabbit that was found wandering around Belmont. Well yesterday morning she began to make a nest. We were hoping that maybe she had a false pregancy (a rabbit can think she is pregant). But just in case it was a real pregnancy, we gave her more hay and strips of newspaper to make a nest. At 10:30am Andy left for work and there were no babies nor hairpulling, so we were becoming more hopeful it was a false pregnancy.

At 4 pm I came home to 8 babies. Mom was lying on the other side of the cage and the babies were huddled beneath a blanket of hay and hair. Jessica, another HRN volunteer, came right over to see the newborns. We checked each one out and placed them in the basket.

Babies and proud Mom

Newborn bunnies are born hairless, deaf, and blind. They are so ugly that they’re adorable. One of the babies had the hiccups and Jessica comforted her in her hand. She named the baby “Bean” because she was jumping with every hiccup like a Mexican jumping bean.

Bean

It’s an exciting experience to witness new life coming into the world. Yet, at the same time it’s sad. There are already so many beautiful, wonderful rabbits in foster homes waiting for their forever homes. These babies will be cared for until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered. We don’t want anymore surprises. Please spay/neuter your pets. It gives the love of your life a more healthier and longer life with you.

~Erica, HRN fosterer, volunteer

Before you call animal control on me, let me explain. Scout and Savannah did not like each other. In fact, they hated each other. It was purely for my convenience that I wanted them bonded and they wanted nothing to do with the situation. I admit it, ok?

So Friday night we were spending time on the living room floor again where we had reached some level of tolerance when out broke a fur-flying bunny-ball fight that took half a spray bottle and two shoes to break up. I scooped up two soaking wet freaked out bunnies and cradled them together in my arms. After a long conversation about getting along (which if they understood, they didn’t show it) I looked for a new neutral space for them to spend some time.

I’m in the middle of moving and my house is in shambles but sitting there in plain view was the very neutral dryer. In went the buns. It didn’t take them long to nip at each other but a slow turn of the drum and all footings were lost and those freaked out buns couldn’t possibly fight.

Here is a shot of them in the dryer.

In the dryer

After a few minutes in the dryer, they headed to the washing machine. Out of order, yes, I know, but this time they were in a box on top with the washer on agitate.

From there the box went to the floor and Jazz sat watch over them for a bit.

Here are the silly boxed buns.

Boxed Buns

When finally I had the patience to watch them again Savannah and Scout, two very freaked out bunnies, joined me and Rocky back in the living room.

The five of us (Savannah, Scout, Rocky, Jazz and I) spent the night on the hard wood floors (sold the couches already.) I literally had the spray bottle in hand and squirted each scuffle in my half sleep. Finally at about 4:30am things went quiet and I drifted off to an uneasy achy sleep on the floor thinking that the buns had decided to get along. Jazz woke up at 5:30 (thanks for sleeping in) and when we got up, I found Savannah and Rocky, but no Scout. The fighting had stopped because Scout had gotten out and was now happily snoozing under the dining room table. AHHH!!!!

Well, long story still long the buns are all living together happily in the kitchen. They are getting along well and are sharing, cuddling, grooming, and playing. It is amazing and I cannot believe that it is here!

Special thanks to Erica and Andy for their help and confidence and to Suzanne for her constant bonding advice and support. Also to Jazz for watching over the buns when I was at whit’s end and for helping clean up the food (and not food) pellets left about by the buns.

And here are a few shots showing why it is all worth it. Got to love them!

Picture 103.jpg Picture 110.jpg Picture 105.jpg Picture 108.jpg

Well, I had two conversations with Dorian about his litterbox habits (D is Dorian, R is myself):

(This one was a week or so ago, before we got him a new litterbox)

R: Dorian, why do you pee on the floor?
D: Well, I am trying really hard, you see. The only litterbox outside of the cage is the blue one, and well, that is Eve’s.
R: Eve actually told you that you weren’t allowed to pee in it?
D: Well…uh…no…but Eve is big and bosses me around. I don’t want her to be mad at me because she is a cool big sister.
R: But Dorian, Eve never actually does anything mean to you.
D: Yes, but I don’t want to mess with the “sacred blue litterbox” that she spends hours chewing on. I will gladly hop in it, but peeing in it is another story.
R: Sigh. I guess we will have to get you another litterbox, perhaps like the one in your bunny condo?
D: YES! I love that kind!

(some days later, a nice, new Feline Pine litterbox arrived, just like the one in the bunny condo)

D: I love this litterbox! (as he hops in it and immediate pees before I have a chance to put litter in it) It is fabulous!
R: Well, you had better use it. Can I take the blue litterbox away?
D: NO!! I told you, that is Eve’s, the new one is mine.
R: Then why is it alright to share a litterbox when you are confined to your bunny condo at night and in the mornings?
D: Uh, well, that is different.
R: How is it different?
D: Come to think of it, I don’t know why it is different, but it is! I don’t remember why we can share one in the condo, but not outside.
R: Okay, since you two now have three litterboxes in the small space of 2/3rds of our livingroom, you had BETTER pee in ONE of those three boxes. I don’t care which one.
D: Alright. But I can’t promise perfection. I have a tiny bladder. And pooping while doing binkies is fun, so I might not poop in the litterboxes. I know Eve understands all these rules you humans have, but I am younger, newer and scared, and I don’t always get it. Your rules confuse me.

And Eve said:

E: Rachel, thanks so much for getting Dorian out of the “sacred blue litterbox.” I mean, he is allowed to play in it, maybe I will even let him try to dig litter out of it and fling it everywhere. If he is really lucky, he can help me chew it apart. But, you expected me to let him pee in it!! No way! Thank God you got that new litterbox…which, incidentally, I can pee, poop or do whatever I please in it in addition to the other two litterboxes because I am top bun…
R: Eve, you forget, I am top bunny…
E: Oh, I am so sorry. You are so right, you are top bun along with your bondmate, Peter. My bad.

Below: The “clowns” as we have nicknamed our silly bunnies. Each bunny in their separate box.
badbuns

-Rachel: HRN Member/Volunteer

Yesterday was my first successful rescue of a dumped rabbit. The only other time I went on a rescue, the bun turned out to be wild. Well this was definately a domesticated bun. A woman in Belmont noticed a white rabbit with black spots. The woman contact HRN with hopes that we could rescue it. I can’t imagine how this bun survived in all that rain!

I showed up with my artillery, which included exercise pens to close in on the bun, towels, carrots, and raisins. When I arrived at the woman’s home, she showed me across the street to where the bun was. The sweet rabbit was just resting under some trees. We set up the exercise pen and approached the bun cautiously. A busy road was right behind the tree she was under. I got down on the grass and held out some raisins in my hand. The rabbit came right over and ate them out of my hand. I swooped her up in my arms. She didn’t struggle at all!

This is by far the friendliest bun I have ever met. I don’t think she realizes that she’s a rabbit. When you enter a room she runs right up to you. She is already licking my and my fiance’s faces. I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t want this sweetheart or even think of dumping her.

Dakota

Soon she’ll be going to the vet to make sure she is spayed and to get a clean bill of health. We’ve named her Dakota, by suggestion of fellow HRN fosterer Liz. The bun is an English Spotted/Hotot with black around her eyes, making her look like a bandit. Dakota is a derivative of an Indian word meaning “theif.” Well this girl is only guilty of being a theif of your heart. She is precious.

~ Erica, HRN fosterer

Our bunnies got a bit more exposure to each other this morning while Matt and I were dressing for work. Its become habit to grab the rabbits after we’ve showered and let the three of them romp around on our bed where we can keep an eye on them (with a litterbox just in case). Echo continues to be a bit of a scaredy-bun. She runs and hides from the other buns as often as she can. She frequently uses Matt and I as a safe hiding spot, tucking herself in beside a hip or elbow, where she feels like she won’t have to deal with the other buns. Invariably, the other buns come over to nose at her and she zips away to the other side of the bed with a pitiful little noise of consternation. Its rather silly since the other two rabbits are being very gentle with her. But the good news is that there was at least one instance of 3 noses communing voluntarily this morning. Its a step in the right direction.

Beanbag is opportunistically using this change in the dynamics as an excuse to chase tails and agressively groom feet. He tries to maneuver himself and one of the girls into a position where he can mount them, but usually fails. Its good to see him taking some initiative and not being the beanbag he was so aptly named for.

Lookout has been remarkably good about this entire process so far (with much ensuing praise and pets from Matt and I). She occasionally nips at Bean or Echo, usually when someone grooms a bit more agressively than is comfortable. For the most part though, she doesn’t act agressive unless its in reaction to someone else’s behavior. This is a huge improvement for the bunny that was pulling clumps of fur off Beanbag every chance she got when they were first bonding. She has taken to “herding” Beanbag a little more often in their cage during the day, but he’s been nimble enough to avoid her most of the time and we are hoping that a new Leith Petwerks cage which should be arriving this evening, will change the dynamic and discourage her from herding him. (We are hoping that the cage, as neutral turf to everybunny, will become a good place for the 3 of them to continue working on bonding and eventually all live together.

-Liz:HRN Member-

Thought you might get a kick out of some of these pictures. I’ve been working on bonding Savannah back in with Scout and Rocky. It is going slowly. Though Savannah and Scout both like Rocky, they tend to nip at him after they get in an arguement with each other so the other day I took him away from them and set him on the couch with Jazz the 65lb boxer boy.

Here is one of them taking a snooz together and another of them just chilling.

Taking a snoozeHanging around

Last night Savannah and Scout were starting to claim areas of the neutral space as their own so we moved to the couch which belongs to Jazz. Here they are together.

Jazz, Scout, Savannah

That was going well so I put Rocky into the mix since he and Jazz are buds also. Here are a few of all four together on the couch.

Jazz trying to be bottom bun.
Bottom Bun

All four hanging out.
All Four

Jazz being amazingly tolerant with Scout on his back!
Tollerant

Ah, I’m such a proud mama. Now if Savannah and Scout would just agree to disagree but not fight about it I’d be so happy. Last night after out happy puppy session, we had our first fight that included a bit of blood. My poor babies.

When we adopted Dorian at the end of March, we knew he wasn’t exactly the ‘ideal’ candidate for adoption. Of course, we think he is actually pretty fabulous, but he has his issues and complexities. One of his problems is with litterbox skills, something that I honestly think is improving, however slowly.

Dorian’s litterbox habits became pretty close to 100% accurate when he started living in the same cage as Eve…but we soon realized this ‘perfection’ only applied to when he was INSIDE the bunny condo. As soon as we let him out, he does tons of binkies (very cute) and the little poops fly everywhere. But this doesn’t actually bother me. He has peeing accidents on the carpet as well and this annoys me. Mind you, his litterbox is close…actually, there is one in his cage and one outside. He wouldn’t have to go far either way. But he seems to miss the box, in fact, he has peed right next to the litterbox while I am watching, as if to tease me!

Originally, we thought this was because Eve had secretly claimed the litterbox OUTSIDE the cage and that Dorian was asked (in their secret bunny language) to only go inside the cage. So, he wouldn’t make it and he would pee on the floor. Good theory, right? Well, I don’t think that is all of it…afterall, why would she lay claims to the outside litterbox but not the one inside the cage?

Our second theory: he likes the box inside the cage better for some reason. It personally think it is nicer, maybe he does too. To try to combat this, we have purchased an identical litterbox for outside of the cage.

Third option: Dorian is just not a good litterboxer! I hope this is not the case…I THINK he is slowly getting better, but then all of a sudden, he has another accident.

Since his second identical litterbox arrived (made by Feline Pine–I highly recommend these boxes for bunnies who are diggers like my Eve) Dorian has NOT peed on the floor. But, then again, he has gone for three days before without a pee accident. Lets keep our fingers crossed…

The other thing we are doing is leaving the other litterbox (which Eve might have claims on) out as well. Now Dorian has a choice of three litterboxes in a fairly small area. He does not have to be nervous about peeing in the box while Eve is there because he can just go into the other box. We figure if this works, we can later remove one of the boxes.

Dorian is definitely a ‘quirky’ complex bunny; his litterbox problems are not his only oddity. However, Eve has her problems too. Between the two of them, we have to limit their space out of the cage, 1) because of Dorian’s sketchy litterbox habits and 2) because Eve is a chewer. Eve is horribly destructive…everything goes in the mouth. We have to keep her away from molding, cloth, plants, furniture and everything. So, she and Dorian have a large x-pen as their front yard to their cage. This way, Dorian has tons of litterboxes in a small area and Eve can’t get to anything to chew on.

Dorian doesn’t chew and destroy things at all and Eve’s litterbox skills are perfect. So, it seems, I can’t get a perfect pair no matter what!

But that isn’t why we have bunnies, is it? We don’t expect them to be perfect! We appreciate them for their individuality. We accept their shortcomings and celebrate their more wonderful points. We just love them for who they are…

-Rachel: HRN Member/Volunteer

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