What I did on my summer vacation, by guest blogger Theo the rabbit

what I did on my summer vacation

I've never been what you'd call an adventurous soul.  I love to stay home, binge watch old sitcoms, read bookss, and cuddle up in my blankies.  I have a great relationship with my room mates: I provide great company and cuddles, and am generally too cute for words, and they provide matching affection, the food, and the shelter.

Does this sound a little lopsided?  Well, it might be if I were a hooman, but I've got fur.  I can be cuter than any human, and I suspect I'm way better company than most of them too.  Our arrangement is really quite a deal for the hoomans.  Trust me.  I'm a catch.

Anyway, one day when the weather was turning warm, the two-leggeds started talking about summer activities.  It seems they had PLANS.  To go AWAY.  Well that just didn't sound right at all.

And what was going to happen to the poor rabbit?  Well, it turned out to be quite a positive experience.  I admit, I didn't go in to this expecting too much, but I learned a lesson.

It started out with a car trip to a totally new place.  Put me on edge.  Unhappy.  

unhappy rabbit

But then, this new hooman got me all set up in my own space.  She let me do the decorating!  I put my litter box and toys where is made sense, and got my blankies organized.  It started to feel kinda comfy.

One problem: I had a neighbor.  Her name was Finny. I've never had a neighbor before.  I was the king of my domain, and nobody complained if I made to much noise after 10 pm or forgot to clean up my hay pile.  

And she snored.  

​I had no experience negotiating these things with other rabbits.  I wasn't sure what tactic to use.  She was awfully good looking, I had to admit.  Petite little standy-up ears, a shiny coat, and a white tip on her tail that made me feel funny.  Like I'd never felt before.  I thought maybe the car trip had made me sick.

As the days passed, that feeling I didn't recognize got stronger, but in a good way.  I really liked watching her eat.  Something about a girl who can put away her hay that apparently really gets me going.​  I started to wonder.  I kinda wanted to get closer to hear.  Sniff her ears.  I tried to control myself.

beautiful white bunny

Just when I thought I was going to be ok, she put her little pink nose through her pen bars and tried to reach me in my pen.  I thought I'd faint.  

The hoomans told me they had spoken with my real family, and asked if this bit of fluff and I could meet.  It was up to us: if we both wanted to try to make it work, they'd all support us.​  I was all in.  So was she.

She had me at binky.  We just hit it off.  I hear that doesn't always happen, but for us, the stars aligned.  I swear I could hear Sinatra crooning in the background.  The light in the room began to shimmer.  I was in love.

worried rabbit

Then it hit me: OMG she had a family and I had a family and how could we ever be together?  Once we both went home, we'd have to rely on what?  Skype?  Not very paw-friendly (and the developers need to do something about that).

Guess what?  This furry wonderfulness HAD NO FAMILY.  Finny was called a "foster" rabbit, which meant no hooman had added her to their family yet.  

new love

When my own family came to pick me up (I'm still not clear on why they would want to go away), they invited us both into the carrier for the ride home.  This ride was so much better (although neither one of us rabbits liked it) becasue we were together.  

In fact, from that time onward, EVERYTHING has been better because we are together.  Now, I can't even go to sleep without Finny's snoring.  iI decided it's cute.

So what did I learn on my summer vacation?  Embrace every day no matter what is going on.  There may just be a lovely surprise waiting for you.  Today, your life just might change.​

Rabbit behavior: He loves me, he loves me not.

does your rabbit hate you?

(picture credit: brokenwindowpain@tumblr.com)

We have a special treat today - a guest post by our lovely Customer Service Wizard, Jessica!

Rabbit behavior can be a tricky business, and you might feel a little, well, ignored.  Disliked even.

The internet is full of adorable preloved bunnies looking for homes.

my rabbit hates me

(picture credit: CO House Rabbit Society)

And then there’s people like me that post tons of pictures on social media and make it look super easy to have a bunny.

rabbit behavior

This is Blizzard, aka Blizz or Blizzy, a 1 year old albino Holland Lop.

As most pawrents know, when you adopt a pre-loved dog or cat, you have no idea what they’ve been through and how those experiences affect their behavior. Rescued bunnies are even more mysterious because they were prey animals who have been domesticated fairly recently (1,500 years ago versus 15,000 years for dogs).

While I knew all these things, I doubted any furkid of mine would not adore me immediately because I’m an “animal person”; I’m the one people come to ask for advice. And then along came Blizzard, whom I found under a tree in the parking lot at Target. Our vet, Dr. Brad, thought he was under 6 months old, and it was obvious he was recently neutered. I interpreted that to mean if we raised him just like Ears, whom I adopted at 8 weeks old, he would be just like Ears. Ears acts like a dog 99% of the time. He gives lots of kisses, stuffs his head under your hand to be pet, spends hours couch cuddling with us, and sits in front of the magic white refrigerator box waiting for it to open.

rabbit behavior toward owner

Ears, 4-year-old Agouti Mini Lop

After Blizzard lived with us for about 3 months, I realized I had it all wrong. My hubby, who never lived with a rabbit until Ears, suspected Blizzy was very different from the start, but I kept telling him he didn’t know what he was talking about. Blizz seemed to like being picked up and cuddled, and I was sure he and Ears would bond after he had settled in.

As reality set in, I frantically consulted many bunny expert friends about bonding bunnies and bunny behavior as Ears and Blizzard tried to fight every chance they got and Blizzard stopped letting me pick him up. When I’d open his door on their shared Wabbitat (they live together but are separated by chicken wire), he’d hide behind his litter box. Of course, he didn’t do this to Dad, which made me feel even worse because I am around him the most.

home made rabbitat

The Wabbitat, made by Dad

As ya'll know from the Top 10 Cuties, I'm a huge fan of Miss Bunz.  Her mom, "Mamarazzi", wrote a fantastic article about what they went through in their relationship after Mixx Bunz was adopted.  So I consulted the wise Miss Bunz and followed her guidance.

Miss Bunz

(picture credit: Miss Bunz)

Low and behold, after Easter dinner this year, Blizz let me pet him for 90 minutes on my lap! Little by little we made great progress … until about 3 weeks ago. And now, for whatever reason, he sniffs me and runs away. I am doing my best not to take it personally, but it still hurts my feelings. I’ve restarted lying on the floor and letting him crawl all over me, not picking him up, and generally taking a hands-off approach.

I know we’ve made so much progress in the last year. Blizzy’s such a happy little guy who loves exploring/chinning the entire house daily and our fenced-in backyard—with hoomin supervision. I can trim his nails without putting him in a burrito. His three dog and two cat siblings are kind to bunnies and don’t mind when their personal space in invaded. He enjoys road trips. And yesterday when I started writing this at our kitchen island, Blizzy put his two paws on my feet and chinned me, so that made me feel a little better.

Something else that makes me feel better is when I help with monthly bunny socializing at the Colorado House Rabbit Society (COHRS). I expect most of the residents not to be friendly considering the challenges they encountered before their arrival, but they’re grateful for any attention I give them.

Eliza Loovis restarted the COHRS Bunny Socializing Program in February, and I’m honored to be her assistant along with her daughter, Liv. We hold it the last Sunday afternoon of each month for two hours at the COHRS Bunny Barn in Broomfield. The goal of socializing is to show our residents that people are friendly and they can trust us, which increases their adoptability. One or two volunteers (couples or parent/child teams) sit quietly in exercise pens with a bunny or bonded pairs for 30 minutes at a time and provide treats and fresh greens for bribery. Eliza, Liv and I rotate the bunnies and keep track of how much socialization time each one has received. Socializer volunteers authorized to pick up bunnies and take them out of their cages can also come by the COHRS whenever they want for socializing time. About 10-15 volunteers participate in the monthly group sessions.

Just like the COHRS, your local rabbit rescue or House Rabbit Chapter has a wealth of information to help you and your bunny.  Additionally, they may offer tune-up and other classes to teach you about your rabbits.  What's helped me the most is talking to other pawrents/guardians in person and on social media about what has worked for them.  Facebook has many rabbit groups: I've met so many nice people on there and through Small Pet Select!

The biggest keys to your bunny's heart are love, communication, setting a daily routine, and patience.  It is impossible to set a timeline as to how long it will take for your rabbit to fully trust you - it can take some bunnies a long time.  Respect their need for space and time and don't try to force bonding by picking them up frequently.  Let them come to you.​  Love your bunny anyway, as I do.  No matter how small the hops, rabbit guardianship will be rewarding in the end. (J. Bielawski, personal communication, 20 June 2107).

[1] DeMello, Margo (1 Feb 2013). Rabbit and Human Coexistence. House Rabbit Journal Volume 5, Number 8. Retrieved from http://rabbit.org/rabbit-and-human-coexistence/

[2] Keeping Company with Rabbits (10 Feb 2013). House Rabbit Society. Retrieved from

http://rabbit.org/keeping-company-with-rabbits/

Estate planning with animals in mind.

estate planning with animals in mind

One of the most important things you can do?  Estate planning with animals in mind. One of the common reasons for animals to end up in a shelter is death of an owner.

Often, family members have tried to take in the animal, but the situation wasn't workable.​

Of course nobody wants to think about it, but you really do need to plan for your animals if something should happen to you.  If you have a spouse who would want to keep the family together, terrific.  What if your spouse is in the same car accident/crash/natural disaster?  It is wise to think this through carefully,  get advice, and formalize your plans.

FIRST

Think about who you would trust with your furry family members.  You may want to go outside the box a bit - our fist instinct is that our extended family will care for our animals, or at least find a new home for them.  If you decide to go with an "obvious" choice, you will still need to talk it through with that person and formalize the agreement (see below).  Keep in mind, though - the people that seem the most obvious may travel a lot.  Or have small children.  Or be elderly, and incapable of the tasks necessary to care for your animal the way you would hope.  Do you have office mates, neighbors, or other acquaintances who take great care of their animal?  Include them on the list of possibilities!​  Now rank preferred possible caretakers and start from the top.  

SECOND

Think about exactly what you expect of the caregiver.  Make a "go bag" including all the information you can possibly gather:  

  • food: type, brand, amount, best place to purchase​
  • supplements: dosage, brand, exact name, best place to purchase
  • medications: dosage, frequency, what it is for, possible complications, how to administer, prescribing veterinarian
  • fears: thunder, bags, gloves, hats, etc.
  • favorite toys or other items, like blankies or beds
  • habits: gets up at 7, gets breakfast right away.  Likes to watch Gilmore Girls reruns.  Hates to be brushed, but will cooperate for cilantro.
  • veterinary phone numbers, pet sitter contact info, and any other numbers the caregiver may need.
  • medical records
  • adoption papers

A big huge binder with pockets and dividers is a great way to organize all this and make info easy to find.

plan for your animals if you die

We've got a start for you here - a health record book with space for all the emergency plans as well.  And yes, we left some space for fun stuff too...

THIRD

Get financial planning advice about how best to support your animal.  There are many ways this can be done, and they all have tax implications.  Your chosen caregiver will most likely need to be the beneficiary, although you can arrange to have funds delivered on a regular basis by a Trustee (with discretionary power to release more in the case of an emergency).  However you do it, make sure you have an experienced financial planner involved in the decision.

FOURTH​

The talk.  This is where you start going down your list of potential caregivers and asking them if they would be willing to do this for you and your animal.  It will be a little uncomfortable, but most people are honored that you would trust them with your best friend's care.​  Your preparation will pay off here: you will be able to show them exactly what they are signing on to, and how it will be handled financially.

You will be choosing TWO caregivers - the primary, and the backup, and they should not be from the same household.  You want to make sure that if your first choice is unavailable, you have someone else lined up to step right in.​

FIFTH

Once you have found your caregiver, it is time to head to the lawyer.  You will need advice here too: how to best structure your agreement so it will be seen as valid by courts and will be executed in the way you wish.  ​You can also ask the lawyer about drawing up an agreement between you and the caregiver.  

Things that should be covered in the caregiver agreement:

  • Your specific expectations about where the animal will live (NOT OUTDOORS, for instance)
  • An exact plan for how you expect the animal to be treated ​.
  • What financial support your are providing and how it should be disbursed.

SIXTH

Get that agreement the lawyer helped you with signed by both caregivers., and provide them with a copy of the relevant parts of your will, and your attorney's contact information.  Make sure your friends and family know your plans, where to find the information, and how to contact the caregivers.  You may want to designate a short-term caregiver to take over for anywhere from a few hours to a few days, until the designated permanent caregiver can get there.

WITH ALL THIS IN PLACE, you can relax and know that your best furry friend will be in a loving and responsible home.  Well done, you.​

Easter rabbit rescue love stories

The winners of our Rescue Love Stories, Easter Edition contest were chosen randomly from all participants.  The winners will get a Lake Champlain Chocolate rabbit, if Wolf hasn't eaten up all the chocolate first.

​Our winners are (drumroll please):

​Patricia Krause

Rod Nakamura

Judy Cadman​

And here is Angel's story, the first of the three Easter rescues love stories:

My name is Angel. I’m a forgotten Easter bunny. On Easter 2016, a little girl won me at a church Easter lottery. I was just a baby. At first they would play with me and give me attention, but the kids were little and dropped me and broke my feet. No one went to the vet with me, but they stuck me in a small plastic storage box, put the lid on and forgot about me. No one cleaned the box for weeks, I had sores on my feet and I became very sick, kept falling over and was just skin and bones. The mom of the girl posted an ad online and the next day my new mom picked me up and nursed me back to health. She thought I would die, but I had a very strong will to live. I know somebunny loves me now and I enjoy playing with me three new bunny friends.

Angel's human also shared a note with us that made us tear up.  THIS is why we do what we do:

I took in Angel in February 2017 and she had to undergo 4 weeks of treatment with strong antibiotics and Panacur for an e. cuniculi infection. She has made a full recovery despite SEVERE neurological problems when I took her in and a very poor prognosis. I literally thought she would not survive – esp. since she was so malnourished and weak on top of all her other health problems. She is only a year old. I believe it is thanks to your high quality feed that she made such an impressive recovery! She didn’t even know what hay was when I took her in, now she buries herself in her fresh hay every morning and evening. She loves the herbs and pellets and was at perfect weight 4 weeks after her rescue. Her coat is now shiny and she looks healthy and binkies around the house! Thank you so very much for what you do! You helped save little Angel!

We'll be posting the next two stories in the coming days, so keep an eye out for more Rescue Love!