August 2006


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I just had to post this amazing set of endoscopic photos which were taken during Beanbag’s recent dental trimming on August 29th, 2006.

The top pair of photos are the before photos of his left and right molars. As you can see, there are some sharp points starting to develop which would make chewing very uncomfortable for his cheeks and tongue.

The bottom set of photos shows the after with the dental filing tools still in his mouth. As you can see, the points on his molars have been removed and the teeth now have a comfortable flat surface for chewing.

This procedure was performed by Dr Dyer of Phoenix Veterinary Clininc in Wayland, MA. Beanbag has been much happier since his teeth were trimmed and is enjoying his fresh veggies with renewed interest.
-HRN Member: Liz-

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When I got the call that there was a house rabbit loose on the Lowell/Dracut line, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had looked for abandoned house rabbits before, but in both cases, they ended up being wild buns that were mistaken as abandoned. When I arrived at the woman’s home, I asked her to describe the rabbit and then she said butterscotch with long ears, I thought it might be a wild one. To a typical guy like me, butterscotch sounded like brown and long ears sounded like Jack rabbit.

As we walked around the house with her young son, she told me he was around all the time and was very friendly. After a little searching under the deck and around the yard, she spotted him in the neighbor’s yard. As soon as he saw her, he came right over and ducked under the fence. The woman sat on the ground and he came right up to her for petting. Her son had named the bun “Mixy” as they had been feeding him for over two weeks and saw him daily. She said he had been drinking from a crock they had out front and he always came by for the veggies they were offering. During the recent heat wave of 90+ for about four days straight, he had been squeezing himself under their front steps to keep cool. Having never lived in the wild, he was relying totally on this nice family, as he had no instincts to fend for himself. He was so domesticated, that I was able to pick him right up and bring him to HRN to get ready to find his forever home.

Except for the happy ending, ”Mixy’s” story illustrates just about every negative thing that can or will happen to a domestic rabbit released to the wild. It appeared that they chose this woman’s area to dump him, because in a busy city Like Lowell, the woods at the end of her street seemed appealing. Unfortunately for “Mixy”, he didn’t know what the woods were, as he had never been. He stayed close to the home where the people were. He was used to their loving contact and relied on them for the food he could not find on his own. His ears had become infested with mites that had him scratching often and in great discomfort. Luckily he found shade in the extreme heat and that it was not a season of extreme cold. There was also a main road near by that had claimed many domestic pets that most people think are wary of cars. Do you think a frightened house rabbit would no better than to run out?

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Thanks again to the nice family that cared for him and found people to come rescue him. This was actually the second time they helped save an abandoned bun. If every one was as kind and educated as them, house rabbits would never be released to the wild.
-HRN Volunteer: Ray-

It is not an easy answer, now is it? The best response that I have been able to come up with is simply that rabbits have their own distinct personality, and if you spend a little time with them, they just might surprise you.

Recently, Tricia and I have spent some time at Suzanne’s “Foster Home Central,” where we have interacted and had a chance to photograph some of the bunnies. We thought we would give you a glimpse of these bunnies, and so we have presented you with a few pictures and some kind words. One of them may just be the right bunny for YOU!

One rabbit that you would not easily forget is a new, young boy, Mixy. He has the biggest, most beautiful ears! His reddish brown coat is silky smooth, and you can tell by both his ears and feet, that he has some growing left to do. He is extremely personable, and will gladly welcome petting and snuggling. When we let him out into the exercise pen, he immediately had to explore everywhere, as sitting passively was not in his repertoire. He even showed his strength when he figured out how to jump up to the small bookcase that we were using as one wall of the pen. While I was lying on the floor with him taking pictures, he made sure to give my camera a good sniff and, of course, had to climb up on my back to see if he could find an escape route. All in all, he is one fun bun! He was rescued by, Ray, an HRN volunteer after someone had let him loose, and it would be great to see someone give him a ‘forever loving home.’

As big a guy as Mixy is, Rose is as “petite and proper” as a girl can be. She is a Netherland Dwarf, and has fully grown to a shade over three pounds. Rose is usually reserved at first, but she opens up as she becomes more comfortable. She likes to be stroked and enjoys the attention. When out in her exercise pen, she loves to stand up tall (well at least for her) and check out the area. She can scoot along rather quickly as well! When it came time for pictures, she was very cooperative and docile. The pictures we took can only capture a fraction of her delightful personality. If you have the chance, you should go visit with this cute little pixie, we are sure she will leave your heart spellbound.

Another newcomer to HRN is Lexie. She is a beautiful, mature Lop with great expressive ears. We love to think of Lops as having “helicopter ears” because of all the ways they can maneuver them, and Lexie could easily serve as their poster child. She can be a little reticent at first, but that doesn’t usually last long if you stay and play with her. She loves to get out and romp around in the exercise pen. Her ears serve as signs for her behavior, as ears up, usually when sitting still, is when she is checking things out. When her head is low with ears low and pointing forward, she is in investigation mode, and while relaxing and playing around in the pen, those ears just bounce and flop around. Her soft, full coat of fur begs for a caressing touch, and if you would like to be the one doing the petting, call Suzanne and she will grant you an audience with Lexie. It could be the start of a beautiful relationship!

These are just three of those with whom we have had the pleasure of spending some time, but there are many more as well, like the young male named Sawyer who kissed me on the nose the first time I met him! Go to visit all the bunnies and we are sure you will meet someone special.

Matt and I were thinking this evening about rabbit names.

Why is it that you always think of the really good names when you are just throwing ideas around and yet when you really need a name for a new bunny, you just draw a total blank?

So I think we should start a list of rabbit names! Leave me comments to this post suggesting over-used names, horribly bad names, and truly clever names to give to a bunny. I’ll start the ball rolling with a couple ideas of my own:

Over-used names:
Bunbun, Oreo, Thumper, Flopsy, Peter, Harvey, Babs, Buster, Bugs, Nutmeg, Lucky

Horrible Names:
Stu (Or Stew!), Hasenpheffer, Princess

Good Names:
Charlotte, Mortimer, Duncan, McGee, Babbit, Abbott, Edgar, Sadie, Sophie, Wallace

Add your names to the list by posting a comment here. When we’re done, I’ll put the list of names up as a new page along with the instructions for the blog. Then none of us will ever draw a blank again when trying to name a bunny!

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It seems like this year that we are getting tons of calls about stray rabbits. I don’t understand why people think that these domesticated animals, who have lost their natural instincts and no longer have the brown coloring can survive in the wild. They are a different species than the wild rabbits that are living in North America.

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This week we were able to capture Hailey, a stray bun in Shrewsbury, and Mixy, a stray rabbit in Lowell. They were lucky in that we were able to catch them and they only had minor health issues. Both will be up for adoption soon. There were reports of a second rabbit in Shrewsbury with Hailey, but that one has not been sited in days and we don’t know if the bun is even still alive.

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In Woburn, someone witnessed a person dumping a rabbit in the woods. That one was lucky enough to be captured the next day. Apparently there was another rabbit dumped too, as a dead dutch rabbit was along the side of the road.

We also tried to capture a stray rabbit in Wayland. He hasn’t been spotted in over two weeks and at this point is presumed to be dead. Buddy, who was captured a couple of weeks ago, was also originally seen with another rabbit that has not been spotted in over a month.

Cheyenne and Dakota are two more strays that were captured earlier this summer. Dakota then quickly surprised us with 8 babies.

It is hard to understand why people let these beautiful creatures into the woods to fend for themselves. They deserve so much better than that cruel fate.

-HRN Founder: Suzanne-

Last weekend my husband and I visited Lorna at her foster home in North Central MA. Believe me, if I was looking to adopt a bunny or two, I would find it well worth the drive (about 12 miles west of 495).

She has a great group of adoptable bunnies, and we were hoping to learn a little bit more about them and to get some good pictures, to improve their chances of being adopted.

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The first bunny we met was Babita. She had just arrived in HRN foster care recently, but she is a friendly, relaxed bunny that doesn’t mind being held. I suspect she might actually be a “schmoosh” bunny but time will tell. She loves to be patted and she is quite active and inquisitive as well. Truth be told, I almost took this bunny home myself….

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The next bunny was China. China is a treasure. She enjoys pats and was also fine with being held. She is absolutely beautiful, and rather gentle. China has been in foster care for some time now. I think it is definitely time for a forever home for this sweet girl.

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Then we met Marlo. Marlo is fairly small, gorgeous bunny who loves pets but has a feisty side too. It’s a dwarf girl’s prerogative to be a bit of a diva, isn’t it? That said, she had just arrived at Lorna’s the night before, so she was still in the process of settling in. She is so photogenic that we almost finished our memory card just on her. Marlo is adorable.

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Breezy is a beautiful rex bunny with that velvet fur. She is very sweet and was calm during her photo shoot. She has a definite presence, and you can’t help watching her check things out. It would be pretty easy to fall in love with this bunny!

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Missy and Chloe are a pair of gentle, rather small, rex girls. They are very active and it was hard to get a good shot of the both of them. They are clearly devoted to each other. They are in need of a little extra TLC, as they came from a neglectful situation, so rabbit-savvy adopters would be appreciated by these lovely girls.

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The final bunny we met was the beautiful Rudy- 11 lbs of grey chinchilla loveliness. Rudy is a sensitive soul, but she just melts in the hands of her foster mom, Lorna. Their bond was undeniable. In fact, as an update- after our visit, Lorna decided to adopt Rudy herself. Rudy has a forever home and a mom who truly loves her! You have to love a happy ending!

Now if we could arrange a few more happy endings!

-HRN Member: Kathy-

If you have visited the House Rabbit Network website (www.rabbitnetwork.org) before and looked at the different bunnies that are up for adoption, you may have seen Harrison in the “Bachelors” section. His picture is OK, but nothing too memorable. That is unfortunate, because if you get to meet him in person, you may get hooked! Harrison is definitely a memorable character in person. Various HRN volunteers have taken a shine to Harrison and have made a variety of ideas of who Harrison reminds them of. One person thinks he reminds them of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz while another says he reminds them of “the Old Man of the Mountain.” My better half says he reminds her of Walter Mathau’s character in the movie “Grumpy Old Men,” a gruff looking guy who is really a big marshmallow. I’ve always thought that Harrison reminded me of that Chinese breed of dog, the Shar-pei, that have all those wrinkles, yet are as cute as can be!

When Tricia and I first met Harrison in person, he immediately made an impact. He came right to his cage door to greet us and was enthusiastically appreciative of all pets and attention he received. Although he is not a “youngster” by any stretch, he definitely was spry and lively each time we visited him at his foster home.

As Tricia and I became more involved doing Education Days for HRN at various local pet stores, we knew that having a lively, outgoing bunny to bring with us as an example of the kinds of bunnies HRN has available for adoption, would be a good idea. Our bonded pair of Lionheads, Hannah and Griffin, are plenty cute but also very timid. So we spoke with Suzanne and we all thought the best thing to do would be for us to be the foster home for the bunny we thought would do a great job representing HRN and at the same time, give that special bunny a chance for someone to see him in person and consider adopting him! We went back and forth between two bunnies. One was Nigel, a very young, outgoing black Mini-Lop. The other was Harrison. We picked Nigel and he has made us proud by being a great ambassador for the HRN at Ed Days. We also failed as foster parents because we ended up adopting him ourselves!

We’ve reached our quota of bunnies at home, so we can’t foster Harrison, but we still enjoy spending time with him when we visit him. He loves to be snuggled, brushed, groomed, petted, and played with! We did a couple of photo shoots with him and he was lots of fun to interact with. His loves to explore everything when he’s in the exercise pen so it’s a challenge to get him to “pose” for you. If Slinky tossing ever becomes a medal sport at the Bunny Olympics, Harrison would be my pick to win the gold! He also befriended a couple of Beanie Baby toys that Trish brought with us, especially the one that looks like a dog. He loves to groom them and then toss them and then groom them some more. He started carrying the little dog around in his mouth in the exercise pen, so Tricia decided that Harrison had officially adopted the little guy.

We’ve posted some of the pictures from out time with Harrison and we hope they give you more of a sense of what a special rabbit he truly is. However, being a doubting Thomas myself, I think you should go see him for yourself. We know that if you spend some quality time with Harrison, he’ll win your heart just like he has ours!

Just a quick post because this really made my day and I thought I would share. We let Holly out last night for a while. (The terrible trio, while offered romp time, decided that they didn’t want to come out of their cage.) As is usually the pattern for us, Holly started her romp time with some social time with her humans. We plopped her down on the couch with us and let her snuffle around a bit. She really likes the squishy feather pillows we have for the back of our couch. After investigating the couch for a minute, she settled right into the squishy pillow beside me and put her head down to be scritched. I obliged and she scooted over so she was tucked up against my shoulder. When I stopped scritching, she would sit there very still and patient waiting for me to start again. She spent a good 20 minutes or so snuggled up against me getting nuzzled affectionately and petted before she finally decided it was time to explore the world. When she got active and started digging, we put her down on the floor. She immediately hopped back up on the couch. She really didn’t like the wood floor under her feet! I firmly put her back down on the floor, this time far enough away that she would have to at least take a couple steps to get to either the couch or the rug. She chose to make a scrambling dash for the rug then decided to tuck her feet under her and just hang out for an hour, watching TV. Hey, if that’s what she wanted to do with her romp time, its her perogative.

Well, it has been awhile since I posted, so I thought I would. Peter and I have been traveling and working out of the Boston area. Luckily, Eve and Dorian were cared by a very capable cat-lover who came every day, let them out and then felt guilty when she had to leave them! She went above and beyond the call of duty. She even picked up our CSA veggies for us and shared them with the bunnies. So, kudos to Erin, perhaps a future rabbit lover…

When we first got back from about three weeks away, Dorian seemed to not be very happy with us. If you remember, his strange personality and issues range from moody to aggressive to shy, but he can also be very loving. Erin had been working with him, the best she could, while we were gone. She wrote me an e-mail when I was away and said, “well, Dorian will approach me…and I can touch him on the nose a bit, but no real petting yet.” That is as far as she got! He is somewhat weary of strangers (except Liz O., for some reason he really likes her).

However, we soon left again, this time only for a weekend. We left the bunnies with an incapable house guest who had little familiarity with any animals. I don’t recommend this, but he was staying at our home anyway, so we figured he could handle a tad bit of bunny-sitting in exchange for a place to stay. He simply fed them, made sure they had water, etc. He did not let them out and he forgot to give them greens (yes, I feel bad). When we returned late Sunday night, Dorian miraculously turned into “sweet and cuddly bunny” (well, for him) and has been that way ever since. See, Erin was spoiling him too much!

No, seriously, they are both fine and doing well. We learned some things recently, though, so I will list them here for your personal enjoyment.

1) Eve trims her own nails. She is 5 years old now and that is how long it took me to catch her actually biting them. I always wondered why she never needed nail trims. Now, if I could just convince her to trim Dorian’s!

2) Dorian no longer needs a second litterbox when out of the cage. Yeah! We have made so much progress on this front. Dorian has not had a pee accident since mid-June. He is such a smart boy, we knew he could do it (Suzanne, aren’t you proud?)

3) Dorian is a lot smarter than we had thought. We give the bunnies problem-solving projects. We wrap up a treat in newspaper and see who gets it open first. Eve gets so impatient that she eventually gives up and runs around looking elsewhere or trying to get us to give her another treat. Dorian, on the other hand, figures out how to open the paper and get the treats out. He then starts eating the treats…Eve rushes over and tries to get the goods. Maybe Eve is actually the smart one, but Dorian has much better problem-solving abilities!

Well, that is all the bunny news from our household! What about yours?

-Rachel: HRN Member/Volunteer

From what I’ve been told (after it was too late) everyone who fosters eventually fails at least once. How do you fail at fostering? Not in the way you are probably thinking! You fail at fostering when the sneaky little bunny you’ve been fostering worms his or her way into your heart and you find that you can’t let them go! The results are a forgone conclusion. The bunny in question finally gets the happy ending that we always hope for with every foster-rabbit. You adopt your foster-bunny.

This, like so many other foster-rabbits’ stories, has become the ending for Holly’s story. We don’t know when it happened but somewhere along the line Matt and I both fell in love with her. She learned to trust us, which was a big step for a rabbit whom we suspect was abused and has lived in quite a few homes. With attention and affection, she just blossomed. Now she’s feisty, curious, affectionate, imperious, silly, active, and most of all happy. Granted, Holly still tends to scrunch up in a corner when someone comes over to clean her cage or give her food. She can still be skittish at times and twitchy about being touched in certain places. She in fact bit me not once but 3 times the other day because she didn’t like the way my bathrobe smelled! (How’s that for progress? Quite a change from a skittish bunny to one who bites you because you smell weird.) Overall she has made remarkable progress and will likely continue to do so as she finally realizes that this home is hers forever.

Will we regret our failure? Never!
Holly is worth every bit of effort we’ve given her. We probably won’t try to bond her with our other 3 rabbits for a little while yet. She needs time to continue getting comfortable in her own skin and we’ve already done the bonding routine twice this year and aren’t ready to do it again just yet.

So there’s really only one last question to ask of ourselves; does she keep the name Holly, or does she get re-named in honor of her fresh start as a bunny-with-a-home?
In our household, rabbits have “rabbit names” rather than people names. What qualifies as a rabbit name? For us, rabbit names are names given based on each rabbits’ particular personality quirks or physical features. Its a little like the rabbit names in Watership Down, only with our own personal touch. (In our case, the current rabbit names in our warren are Beanbag, Lookout, and Echo.) Only one of our rabbits has ever been re-named (at age 4) when we adopted him. The other 2 rabbits were adopted nameless and given true names when they “told” us what they were supposed to be called.

I suppose we might end up re-naming Holly. Because she is the first rabbit I’ve ever met that actually reminds me of her close genetic kinship to horses, I have taken to calling her things such as Holly-Hobby-Horse, Holly-Pony, or just Pony. So perhaps some variant of these nicknames will slowly become her true name. (With our bunny Fuzzface, we didn’t realize that she had re-named herself until we took her to the vet one day and they asked us what name we wanted to have put on her records.) For the moment, even though Holly is a human name, we will stick with it. The name does seem to suit her well and she recognizes it as her own name when it is called.

So yes, like so many other volunteers, we have failed at fostering in the best possible way. Our aim as HRN members is to break the cycle of breeders and pet stores selling rabbits, people buying them then abandoning them when they realize that a rabbit is a lot more work than the glorified goldfish they thought it would be, shelters overflowing with abandoned animals which they have to euthanize. One bunny adopted, by us or by a new-to-bunnies adopter, might not seem like much. But in the larger picture, I like to believe that there is a difference made somewhere in the world. Holly has a home. We have a wonderful companion. HRN gets another rabbit adopted. And somewhere in the world, there is room at a shelter for one more abandoned bunny to be taken in.

-Liz: HRN volunteer-