Belinda Says Hay: “Belinda Has A Meeting”


Hello. It’s Belinda.

Two exciting pieces of news this week.

One, my roommate finally moved my boyfriend out of the “sick pen” in the kitchen and back to the bottom floor. Not a moment too soon either.

He wasn’t really sick anyway. When you go to the vet and come home without a lump, that should be the end of it. My boyfriend was eating and running around fine. His companion kept the stitches clean. Unless you noticed the missing fur and all the metal you wouldn’t know he had surgery.

But my roommate is a worrier. “Let’s make sure your staples are OK, little man.” Poking his shoulder day and night.

Well, with running back and forth to visit him and sleeping by his pen, I got behind at work. Not the best time for that because I had a big presentation this week.

That’s the second piece of big news. I was asked to come up with ideas for new products. Something fresh for 2018.

!

I guess it got back to management that I’m more than window dressing. Hard to ignore the record-breaking sales my “Belinda Bundle” earned last month. Numbers don’t lie.

So this was my big chance and with everything going on I kept getting sidetracked. Next thing you know my agent was bugging me to send the report so she could review it before the company conference call.  

But the more she pressured me the more I froze in my tracks. Felt like something was swooping down at me.

I ended up getting everything to her a few minutes before everyone dialed in. Then she did the honors of presenting my ideas for three new products while I listened in. I was a wreck, if you want to know the truth. But let’s just say I think the team sees me differently now.

I probably shouldn’t leak these ideas, but on the other hand it’s good to get some “buzz” going.

So take a look and get ready to add the following to your rabbit’s stash this year.

Jumbo Bag of Dirt

Do your rabbits pull up the carpet? Our exclusive Jumbo Bag of Dirt is the perfect reward for their hard work. Each 90-pound bag is hand-packed by our farmer partners throughout the great state of Washington. Kiln-dried and sifted. Eco-friendly; simply dump outside after indoor use. Three bags fills one standard bathtub.

“What’s My Breed?” Herbal Blend

They said it couldn’t be done but they were wrong. Now, your rabbit can have a mix of flowers and herbs imported from their homeland. Starting with New Zealand White Blend, which is a secret recipe featuring Taranaki alfalfa hay and pear blueberry healthy snackers.   

Edible Exercise Pen

Rabbits confined to an exercise pen, such as after lump surgery, need something to do. Some will rattle the bars with their teeth or push the pen with their shoulders, which is not good for their staples in my opinion. Keep your rabbit entertained and safe with an Edible Exercise Pen. Made from Kentucky apple branches and twigs, these pens are hand-crafted by Josh from the warehouse. No glues.

Well, after my agent read these to the team, nobody said anything for about a minute. That tells you something right there.

Then I heard coughing and someone else made a sneezing noise. Suddenly my agent said the teapot was whistling and she had to go. Which was odd. Then I heard a beep and nothing else so I guess the call was over.

I’ll get the hang of these conference calls. In the meantime, I’m using my mind for something fun instead of just worrying about my boyfriend. He’s going to love the apple pen.

Sincerely,

Belinda

Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select


Special Needs Rabbits

For the past 30 years, I’ve lived with rabbits, during which time they’ve patiently (some not so patiently—even the kindest rabbits have their limits) taught me a lot. Especially the special-needs bunnies. I also volunteer for a rabbit rescue group that takes in special-needs bunnies, as well as those who need hospice care.

Some bunnies have come into my life disabled, and some of them became special needs due to injury, illness, congenital disorder, or old age. Regardless the cause, you need to know this up-front: Caring for a special-needs bunny requires a lot of work, commitment, and patience. And time. Probably more than anything else, it takes time.

And, of course, love.

It can also cost more than what you might spend on an able-bodied bunny. Medications, special trips to the vet, habitat materials, and special diets, to name a few, can add up.

If you do decide to become a special-needs caretaker, speaking from experience, it’s satisfying to know that you’ve made a real difference in a bunny’s life. But the love and gratitude you get in return are by far the best rewards.

I know this.

This the first in a series of four blogs about caring for disabled and special-needs rabbits. In this blog, I give an overview of three of my special-needs bunnies to illustrate some of the issues and concerns I’ve had, how I learned what to do, and where I’ve found the best information. Later blogs will give more in-depth information.

Without further ado, let me introduce you to Mr. Gilbert, Robbie, and Cassie.

Mr. Gilbert

Mr. Gilbert was an elderly Blue Rex gentleman who had arthritis that made it difficult for him to hop. When he developed head tilt, he became immobile. He was completely reliant on me.

My concerns over how to deal with Mr. Gilbert’s situation were: habitat, incontinence, drinking and eating, and mental stimulation. However, the number one concern—as with all companion rabbits, special needs or not—was

comfort

. Love is always a big part of comfort, and everyone who met Gilbert loved him.

Robbie

Robbie is a big handsome Flemish Giant who, because of a birth defect, had to have his right back leg amputated. His front leg on the same side is splayed at right angles to his side.

These complications make Robbie partially immobile.

He gets around by pushing off with his one back leg, which has grown muscular and powerful with use. He scoots and drags himself forward without too much trouble, especially when it’s for treats. Robbie also thrives on love and attention, which makes him the perfect ambassador for disabled house rabbits at educational events. He’s a born showman.

My concerns over Robbie are much the same as those for Mr. Gilbert, but because Robbie is only 3 years old and partially immobilized, he needs more room to move and a lot of interaction with other members of the household.

Cassie

Cassie is a white lop with butterscotch ears and spots down her back. She has a voracious appetite for food and life. She does bunny 500s in the evenings with a binky or two thrown in for effect. If she wants food, she growls and lunges at my feet, pushing me into the kitchen. She’s a little spitfire.

You’d never guess she suffers from a congenital disorder—megacolon.

Not a lot is known about megacolon, other than it’s linked to a rabbit’s color and markings, and Cassie’s colored ears and pattern of spots down her back make her a prime candidate. So far, there’s no cure, only measures to keep these bunnies healthy and comfortable for as long as possible.

My concerns over Cassie are: maintaining constant vigilance over any change in her behavior, poop, and eating habits; making trial-and-error adjustments to her diet; and learning everything I can along the way.

Reliable Resources

Thirty years ago, what little information there was about rabbits came from breeders. Vets who knew anything about bunnies were hard, if not impossible, to find.

But in 30 years, we’ve come a long way.

Now, there are Facebook groups and sites devoted to people with companion rabbits. There are house rabbit clubs and groups, some with international memberships. There are even bunny yoga classes.

Beware, though, that there is quite a bit of BAD info out there as well.  You’ve got to evaluate your source.

There are books written by authors who are house-rabbit savvy.

There’s a

lot

research being done on rabbit health, and subsequent papers published online.

And because more people are choosing to share their lives with rabbits, there’s a bank of information that has accumulated.

I rely on these resources, as well as my own experience and that of my fellow special-needs rabbit caretakers.

Here are a few of the reliable resources I use:

Sites

http://www.mybunny.org/info/caring-for-the-partially-disabled-rabbit/

http://www.rabbit.org/journal/1/critically-ill.html

http://www.rabbit.org/journal/3-2/disabled.html

http://rabbit.org/house-rabbit-reading-room/

http://rabbit.org/category/care/elderly-and-special-needs/

 

Facebook Groups

https://www.facebook.com/groups/201759429869484/

Disabled Rabbits

https://www.facebook.com/groups/547897018681987/

 

Books

Harriman, M., “House Rabbit Handbook,” Drollery Press

Moore, L.C., and Smith, K., “When Your Rabbit Needs Special Care,” Santa Monica Press, 2008

Harriman, M., “Assisted Living for Special-Needs Bunnies,” Drollery Press, 2017

Another good source of information is the rabbits themselves. While books, sites, and Facebook groups are valuable, each bunny is an individual, with his own special needs. Watch your rabbit companion. And listen to him.

This is, by far, is the best source of knowledge.

More specifics coming soon – watch this blog space!

Belinda Says Hay: “My Boyfriend Is Sick”


Hello. It’s Belinda.

I was going to write about some big news. Products and special events that will be coming over the next month or so. Some of it my idea.

But I can’t focus and here’s why: Something happened to my boyfriend.

A few weeks ago, my roommate came downstairs and caught us running around loose. She told him to stop and he did. I did too.

I thought he was in trouble for escaping the pen but it was a lot worse.

I waited behind the storage shelves to see what would happen. Meanwhile my boyfriend was standing in the corner by my sleeping rug. Sort of in the shadows which is good for sleeping.

My roommate squinted at him and her mouth was open. Then she said, “What’s wrong with your shoulder?”

That was how it all started. One minute you’re running around with your friend and the next minute you’re watching him pretend his shoulder is flat while the human is pushing her fingers in and watching his face.


I knew he had a lump but he didn’t seem to care. So I didn’t say anything. Not my place.

But my roommate likes to scratch our ears and shoulders and I always thought part of that whole routine was checking for scratches or bumps. That sounds like I’m blaming her and I’m just mad at the whole situation. Because my boyfriend had to go to the vet for surgery. His companion went too and I waited at home.

Before they left, my roommate said everything would be OK and gave me fresh hay. So I tried not to worry but I couldn’t help it. Mind jumping all over every time I looked at their pen at they weren’t in it.

What if he had to take medicine and it tasted funny? That happened to me last year. What if he didn’t want to eat? That also happened to me, that’s how sick I was. My roommate squirted food into my mouth and that was the worst argument we ever had. My boyfriend’s not a fighter but when you don’t want to eat you fight.

I worried that his shoulder would hurt. Or that he wouldn’t be able to push himself out of the pen so we could run.

And what if he was scared? He is always cheerful which is why everyone likes him. But a visit to the vet can change a rabbit.

When he came back home the lump was gone and so was a lot of his fur. His companion kept saying things like, “No, we’re not in the car anymore, we’re back home,” and “Nothing is biting you, those are stitches from the vet.”

My roommate set them up in the kitchen so she could see him while she’s “working” in the next room.

That’s been the worst part for me. I like things a certain way at home and I’m used to talking to my boyfriend on the bottom floor and doing laps when we can.

So I’ve been sleeping in the kitchen a lot, by his pen. A bit cramped but I need to be close by in case he needs something.  

He pushes his face through the bars and I know he has pen fever. Not sure why he has to stay in there now. He’s eating and walking around just fine.

The Gordons let me take some time off to take care of things here. But I’m ready for my boyfriend to get back downstairs so I can get back to work. I want to put all of this behind us.

Sincerely,

Belinda

Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select


Belinda Says Hay: “Resolutions for Others”


Hello. It’s Belinda.

It was so cold all week and that means two things.

One, I keep thinking about the days I lived outdoors, loose in the city. I was rescued before the weather got cold but I still had to fend for myself. Deal with the heat and noise and looking for water and sleeping under cars.

So I’m not proud of what comes next.

A few times this week I felt a cold draft while I was walking past the basement door. And I got annoyed about it.

Then I think Belinda. I thump at myself, that’s how guilty I feel. My roommate hears and says “Now what? What are you thumping about?”

That’s the second thing about this weather. My roommate is home even more than normal. If she had a job it would be OK but instead she roams through the house fussing.

“Belinda, did you come up with some more resolutions?” Every day she reminds me until it isn’t reminding but nagging.

I know my resolution to eat more hay was not enough. Not to be rude but when you give a rabbit five boxes of hay for Christmas that is where the mind goes.

The thing is, I can’t think with this weather. Too cold. I think we could move resolutions to May or June and nobody would notice.

The funny thing is while I couldn’t think of any for myself, I have lots of ideas for everyone else. I don’t know yet if I will share these but it’s good to write them down just in case.

New Year’s Resolutions (2018)

Roommate

Leave the house every day.

Stretch goal: Find a new home for the English.

Boyfriend

Escape the exercise pen and visit me every day.  

Stretch goal: When I want to nap, return to your pen within one minute.

Boyfriend’s companion

Stop staring at me.

Stretch goal: Keep my boyfriend in the pen when I want to nap.

The English

Stay on the top floor.

Stretch goal: Move out.

My agent

Give me the password to the company email.

Stretch goal: Give me the company credit card.

The hard thing is stopping at two for each. The good news is I can make suggestions like this all year long.

In fact, I think I have just come up with my own stretch goal.

Sincerely,

Belinda

Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select


Belinda Says Hay: “Christmas Surprises”



Hello. It’s Belinda.

I don’t even know where to begin re: Christmas. It was even better than I hoped.

First of all, my roommate went all out gift-wise. Loaded us up with hay and treats and chew toys. I don’t even care if the English has gourmet hay medley in his room. I have two bags and for once I’m not keeping score.

Not sure where my roommate hid everything before Christmas Eve but I’m wondering if Josh from the warehouse was part of it. In cahoots. Sending healthy snackers and honeysuckle rings in boxes with fake labels. “Paper towels inside” and “furnace filters—not for rabbits.” To throw us off the trail.

Speaking of trail, big news: I got a home DNA testing kit. It was the only thing I wanted for Christmas and I am going to figure out this whole New Zealand mystery once and for all.

Been bugging me ever since I found out the shelter put that on my paperwork. “New Zealand White.” Even though I was found running loose in the city and I don’t mean Auckland.

What does the shelter know about my past? How did they find out? I moved in here before I got the whole story and now it’s a dead end.

My roommate says “we’ll see what Watson and Crick can tell us,” whatever that means. Just want to know how I got to the United States, if I have unfinished business back in NZ, that sort of thing. Family looking for me or unclaimed property.

As if all that wasn’t enough, I got a surprise gift from my friend Bella. She lives in California and she sent a box to me and my roommate hid it until Christmas morning. I am not even mad about her getting into my mail.

There are two reasons this got to me. First, Bella has head tilt and even with all that going on she made time to send me a gift. Second, I didn’t get her anything and that feels like you scratched one ear but not the other. So I’m working on this and I’ll write about her gift and the rest once I figure it all out.

Speaking of giving gifts to others, I wanted to get my roommate something but I hit a snag. I haven’t been paid yet. And ever since the incident with the Belinda Bundle orders she won’t let me near her laptop.

So I asked my agent to buy something and put it on my tab. I told her to use her judgement and this is what she ordered:


Not what I would have picked but when my roommate opened it she laughed and said she loved it. She kept looking at it and laughing. I don’t get the joke but I pretended to since it’s the holidays.

I’m still feeling pretty lazy, to tell you the truth. I’m supposed to be working on my New Year’s resolutions but maybe tomorrow.

Plan to skip the half-nap today and go right from breakfast to a full flop. Need to rest up for tonight. My boyfriend, his companion and I will be sharing a bag of gourmet hay medley while we’re “waiting for the bale to drop,” as they say.

Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Belinda

Spokesrabbit, Small Pet Select