Bonding


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.

I’m not sure if the pantry is really neutral territory since it was used to bond Bean & Lookout, but its as close as we have outside of the bathtub in our house. So all 3 of our buns got to spend some time together (about 2 hours) in the pantry. For a while, Matt and I were in there with them to keep an eye on things and act as referree if any fights broke out. As predicted with Echo acting as littlle miss scaredy-bun, the few skirmishes that took place were very mild. Eventually, Matt drifted off to to deal with some bills and I brought my computer out to the dining room so I could resize some photos and put them up while keeping an eye on the buns. So here’s some photos of this evening’s progress.

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-Liz:HRN Member

We had a very funny rabbit incident yesterday that I just have to share. Lookout was on the bed “helping” us while we folded laundry. (For her, helping fold laundry consists of re-arranging the socks and underwear and trying to unfold the dish-towels and t-shirts. She enjoys the game and we find it funny enough that we don’t mind re-folding a couple things.) Because Lookout was behaving really well, we decided to bring Echo out and see what would happen when they interacted.

So we put Echo down on the bed and she and Lookout nosed at each other once or twice. Echo meeps in consternation and runs off to hide behind Matt. Lookout expresses interest in her a couple times, but generally, Echo runs away. No fur flying, no nipping, just curiousity and retreat. Interesting and very impressive since Lookout has been so agressive before. I think Lookout is beginning to settle down and become a more sweet-tempered bun who just doesn’t like being held very much. (See my other post about Lookout’s behavior changes.)

So eventually, Lookout goes over to the headboard, shoves her butt up against the slats, and manages to carefully pee off the side of the bed, barely getting the pillow wet and almost entirely hitting the floor. We’d forgotten to bring a litter box onto the bed, so this was an incredible display of bunny respect and restraint, considering that she could have just peed on our bed but chose not to. We didn’t have to change the sheets! Just one pillowcase and a bit of clean-up with some papertowel. I was impressed. I scooped her up and took her back to her cage so she could finish her business in peace.

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I grabbed Beanbag and the litter box and brought them both to the bed, setting the litter box in easy reach of both buns. Beanbag walked toward Echo and tentatively stretched his nose out in the rabbit body language of a tentative “Hello?”. Echo meeped and ran away to hide behind me and lick my face! After a couple more minutes of interest from Bean and Echo trying to run away, we decided to force the issue by taming one bunny with scritches and then plopping the other bunny down beside them. We got a couple minutes of side-by-side scritching where Echo and Bean were both trying to be the submissive bunny in a game of nose wars. (“I’m on the bottom!” “No, I’m on the bottom!”) Then Beanbag would try to groom Echo’s paw and she’d jump up and run away to hide. (Go figure, we’ve got a bunny with a paw grooming fetish!)

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After about 10 minutes of Bean and Echo time, we decided “hell with this” and retrieved Lookout from the cage. We figured, if Echo is going to run scared all the time, we might as well bring Lookout back because the likelyhood was that she and Bean would be curious about Echo and Echo would just run away. This proved true; Echo would try to run when they expressed interest in her and we would scoop her up and bring her back so they could all smell each other.

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It was just so comic to watch Echo doing this little scaredy-bunny routine. Who would have thought she’d be affraid of both of the other buns and that Lookout would be so well-behaved and restrained. I think we’ll be trying to put the three buns in a pen together this week so they have to spend some time getting to know each other. So far, this is the third time we’ve gone through the rabbit bonding process and each time has been different. We’ll see what happens next and how this all works out in the end. We’ve just got to convince Echo that they aren’t going to hurt her and that she’ll get groomed and cuddled if she sticks around to make friends. Yes, there are pictures of all this BTW. I’ll try to post some when I get time tonight or later this week.
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Oh, and this is what Echo thought of the entire experience:
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-Liz: HR N Member-

Our youngest bunny, Echo was spayed about 3 weeks ago. Her surgery took place later in the day, around 3pm, so she was still pretty dopey when we got her home that evening around 7pm. She was contented to spend that evening being cuddled while wrapped in a towel. I sat comfortably in one of my favorite chairs, my computer on my lap and the bunny on my chest and shoulder. One hand typed and surfed the net while the other scritched the bunny on the head. Occasionally she would get up and reposition herself in the bundle of towel. Mostly, she was just content to lie there quietly accepting scritches and the comforting warmth of my body. (Hey, I can play living heating pad if she wants it!)

Since then Echo has recovered remarkably well. While she was ready to get out and run the day after surgery, we didn’t actually let her get any out time till a week after surgery. We discovered that the stress of surgery had caused her body to purge itself of a large number of pinworms, a common intestinal parasite found in rabbits. Luckily, treating for pinworms is fairly easy and they aren’t terribly harmful to the body of a healthy bunny. Aside from that, Echo has been a happy, healthy bunny who doesn’t seem too concerned with the bald spot on her belly or the healing stitches where her spay took place. For the first couple weeks after surgery, when she did get out time, it was in short half hour sessions. As her body healed, we have her longer sessions out of the cage. Her fur is already growing back nicely on her belly, and its only been about 3 weeks since the spay. Her litter habits have started to become more consistent. She also seems less inclined to scent everything in sight.

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Last weekend, we took a chance and put Echo in the bathtub with our other two bunnies to see how they’d get along. Echo got anxious and scared pretty easily. Whenever one of the other buns would express interest in her, she would immediately try to assert dominance by nipping and grunting. Lookout, our other female bun who is a fairly agressive bully, was amazingly indifferent to this behavior. She would either hop away, stand there just looking at Echo, or just put her head down in the expectation that she was eventually going to get groomed. Beanbag, who has always been the submissive bun in every relationship he’s had, was acting agressive and territorial. We aren’t sure whether he’s defending and protecting Lookout, or whether he’s just trying to establish himself as higher in the pecking order than Echo. Either way, we were very surprised to find that after 20 minutes in the bathtub, Lookout the bully of the bunch, was the one who’d been disciplined the least. Echo was pretty soaked from the number of times we’d had to squirt her with water for bad behavior. Beanbag had a couple of wet spots.

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We plan to try taking the buns to a foreign location next and seeing what they do when all 3 of them are in alien territory. Perhaps, if the weather is good this weekend, we’ll build a pen to put out in the back yard…

-Liz:HRN Member-

I said the previous post was the last post on bonding, but I lied. Actually, I promised you all some photos. Here they are.

This is Eve (top level) and Dorian (middle level) in the three-level bunny abode condo. They absolutely love it. Dorian REALLY likes it because he told me he really thought the temporary cage was some sort of ‘rabbit abuse’…thankfully, we will be taking it back to Suzanne’s today.

Eve and Dorian

This picture is of them cuddling during their afternoon nap. The bunny condo is near our front livingroom window, so they soak up the rays of the sun all day. They generally have the option of running around their huge x-pen (which takes up half our living room), but they would rather sleep, generally on the second level of the condo. The pedestrians taking their daily walks with their kids or dogs often stop to say, “oh, look! There are bunnies in there!”

Aren’t they cute?! Two bunnies is much better than one! I highly recommend a bonded pair for everyone!

Dorian and Eve, resting

I am warning all of you, this is not the last post either. It might be the last post in the “bonding” catagory, but I intend to post multiple pictures of my adorable bunnies in the future…

This, I hope, will be my last post about bonding for Eve and Dorian. We decided to let them sleep in the same cage and they were wonderful, kind, well-behaved bunnies. I got up twice during the night (not specifically for the buns) and checked on them. Each time, they were sleeping quietly on the second level, once, they were snuggled next to each other. They have been together in the cage ever since…

We fed them greens together in the cage, and treats. No problems.

We are leaving them in their huge cage at least until evening, we would like them to do a bit more exploring of the extra level.

I would say they still have to work out some things in their relationship. Eve can be on the ‘cold’ side. Dorian adores her. He is always trying to snuggle, but sometimes she doesn’t respond. I think he still annoys her at times, but the cage is so big that there is plenty of space for getting away.

Dorian did discover the litterbox, thankfully. We thought he was too distracted by the new cage and we would have to clean up bunny pee this morning, but no, he did fine.

The cage is absolutely huge with the third level. It is our highest ‘furniture’ and really has taken over the room!! We might move it to a different window in the same room so it is more centralized…something so big looks better at the center of attention. I just can’t believe how big it looks. These are spoiled bunnies! Since we didn’t know what size Eve’s bonding-mate would be (we ordered the cage before she chose a friend) we wanted to be sure they had tons of space. Well, she chose a dwarf and that makes them even more spoiled (less bunny bodies, more space).

For those of you that were looking forward to the ‘drama’ of fights, tussles, and other match-making problems, I am sorry to disappoint. Apparently, this soap opera has only run 13 days…perhaps I have paved the way for others to post about bonding experiences??!! C’monn everyone!

Rachel- HRN Member

Today, we let both bunnies out in the x-pen; we intended to clean their cages and then let them have their play time together. However, before we could close Eve’s cage door, Dorian ran into it (this was after Eve had already come out of the cage). Then, Dorian ran up to the second level of the cage (he figured the ramp out quite quickly). Soon after, Eve realized Dorian was in ‘her’ cage, she ran over. We were sure we were going to end up breaking up a fight at this point. But, we were wrong. There was some stomping on Eve’s part, but she did not attack Dorian. She ran up to the second level and he groomed her immediately. We didn’t expect this.

They were playing nicely and each decided to check out the other’s cage (this was after we cleaned the litterboxes). Eve is too big for Dorian’s temporary cage, but she spent a bunch of time in there.

Later, we decided to put the third level of the cage on. We had a two-level bunny abode and bought a third level in anticipation of them being housed together. Tonight, we put the next level on. Eve was comfortable with it almost immediately, Dorian still has not visited the highest level. Right now, he is sitting on the second level and Eve is on the third.

I still think Eve doesn’t like to have Dorian around all the time–he definitely adores her, but she sometimes finds him annoying. However, she is polite to him when he steps ‘out of line.’ For the most part, they get along. They aren’t ‘lovers’ yet…who knows if they ever will be?

We are debating about whether to let them sleep together in the cage. I think, at this point, it is doubtful that they will have problems, but I don’t know.

We have had Dorian for only 12 days, so I think this is amazing progress.

Rachel- HRN Member

We might be stuck in a rut, but I am not sure! As you can see from previous posts, were using the kitchen, a neutral area. They have been hanging out there for 2-3 hours, which, I guess, is pretty good.

Here are the issues. There are no fights, but they aren’t, uh, “chummy” with each other. Well, Dorian tries to be really friend and always grooms Eve, but Eve is afraid he will try to groom her butt and runs off. She is SO paranoid…any time he even gets close to her back side, she is gone. She isn’t MAD, per se, when she runs off, I would call it a subtle annoyance and avoidance. Dorian tries to groom her ALL THE TIME. I think he really likes her. But she is seeming a bit cold. Often, he suceeds, and grooms her face for for upwards of 5 minutes, but then he gets closer to her back side and she runs off again.

We decided to change things a bit and brought them into the livingroom which Eve had previously claimed as her territory and tried to hurt Dorian (this was the first day, when we had just brought Dorian home). Magically, there was no territorial tendencies on either of their parts. I gave them, again, the litterbox, food and toys. And it was more of the same. Dorian likes to chase her and I think he is doing it for fun because he does binkies and seems happy…she will play for a bit and be chased, but then it stops. He rarely catches up (his legs are smaller, I guess). But, I would like to see more cuddles, etc. The most cuddles we got were when we did bonding in the bathroom before. In the bathroom, Eve would park herself behind the toilet and demand grooming, Dorian would groom and they would cuddle. But since we have moved them to a larger area with more space (the bathroom is about the size of a small closet), they are not as friendly.

They aren’t uncomfortable. They beg for treats together, sit near each other, etc. Eve will often flop down when she is tired and rest. But as soon as Dorian gets too close, she gets paranoid about his ‘butt’ grooming tendancies and runs off. Dorian, too, will flop, but is usually too distractable to stay relaxed for any length of time.

I think part of the problem is that Eve is SO bonded to my husband and I. Everytime we pass them in the x-pen, she runs over to say ‘hi’ to us, seek affection (“pet me and I will groom you”), see what we are doing. If we go in the x-pen, she will lay her head on top of us and pay no attention to Dorian. Eve will still groom us for upwards of 5 minutes, licking our faces, etc, and she will do this in front of Dorian if allowed. It seems that she is VERY attached to us and seeking our reassurance at every chance she gets. I have had Eve since she was 10 weeks old (she is four and a half), so this makes sense. But I feel maybe I should be leaving them alone? But then I won’t see them if there are problems! Whenever we are there, she is really focused on us. When we aren’t, it seems, she is more focused on Dorian. I have ‘walked in’ on them kissing and grooming, when I see them, Eve stops and runs over to me! I guess since there are no fights, I COULD leave them for longer periods of time.

So, it seems they have worked out some territory issues, but they haven’t worked out, maybe, who is dominant? Eve demands grooming, and gets it, but Dorian chases A LOT. Also, Dorian has mounted a bit…though this has really been reduced to one mounting episode per bonding session. Eve HATES the mounting and shakes him off pretty quickly.

Should I be continuing the livingroom bonding sessions? It is remarkable that this living room was formerly Eve’s territory and she doesn’t have a problem with him being there. There is no marking with poops, either, so that is nice.

We can get forced cuddles if we pet them close to each other, putting their faces near each other. Usually, Dorian seems like he is in heaven (being next to his girlfriend AND being petted, how could it get any better) but Eve only seems tolerant. She enjoys it, but not as much as she enjoys pets with NO Dorian around.

What do you people think? Suggestions?

(sorry, no pictures from this session, we promise more sometime soon…)

Rachel- HRN Member

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Eve and Dorian are doing pretty well, these pictures tell you all you need to know (the human is husband, Peter).

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-Rachel: HRN Member-

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We started the bonding last night in the bathroom again, because that worked alright last time. There was more of the same; making out behind the toilet! But, after about 45 minutes, we thought we would change the scenary a bit…

We moved them into the kitchen. Since the kitchen is adjacent to the bathroom, we just opened the door to the kitchen and let them go in themselves, then we wrapped the x-pen around them!
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We also decided to put the wicker tent in as well as a litterbox, to see if they could handle sharing things. They were in for a half hour before we realized they were doing well and put a waterbowl in (we almost forgot this, although neither of them drank much). Mostly, the explored more than they interacted, although there was a fair bit of grooming. Eve would lie under the tent and have Dorian groom her like the slave-driver she is! Sharing the tent worked out well, and the litterbox sharing was fine too. Both used the box at different occasions, but Dorian would go in when Eve was hanging out in there and Eve would jump out! Eve is still very paranoid that Dorian will groom her butt, which she hates, but really he has settled down with the butt-grooming! There were times when they were in the litterbox for a bit together, but not much cuddling went on.

During this session it was obvious that Dorian was infatuated with Eve, but Eve was worried about being groomed on the butt and was a little unsure. They ‘trade’ roles with each session…sometimes Eve is utterly confident and Dorian is fickle and feisty, other times Eve is worried and Dorian chases her (slowly) to try to make out with her!

They are doing very well and we are proud. The pictures will tell you even more…
-Rachel: HRN Member-

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