Monday, December 26, 2011

Shadowy Bunny

I sent this in to Disapproving Rabbits, but I guess it was not disapproving enough. Readers might need to see it, so here is Tyler looking like, well, looking like this.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Hermes Finds a Home

Early on Hermes proved an interesting
photography subject.

Six months ago I took in a rabbit for Rabbit Haven with the understanding it would only be for a day or two, maybe three. The little half grown Rex had just been neutered and was sore and scared. He had been caught pilfering some one's garden. That was the story, why such a scoundrel would be given over to the Haven with a special towel and a name is odd. His name was Torrie. We re-named him Hermes, his gold ears looked like the wings on Hermes' helmet and his white slender athletic limbs lent him the air of Greek statue.

He began to enjoy being held and tooth purred
soon after being picked up

His first adoption show was a disaster, he cowered in the corner entire time and if someone did pick him up he stiffened up and tried to crawl away over their shoulder. It was clear that socialization was called for. I moved him into the kitchen and picked him up and held him two or three times a day. Often we would watch Hell's Kitchen or Master Chef on my laptop, excellent for desensitization and I picked up cooking tips from time to time. He was consulted often, healthy treats and pets abounded. My son also took to picking Hermes up and sitting with him. He knew his name and his nicknames, Little Guy, The Hermermermers, and if he was in his box house, on hearing his name shot out like a cartoon clock cuckoo.

Hermes enjoyed his time outside
in the Blueberry Bunny Park.

He saw the household through the deaths of my father and then my brother, through memorials and reunions. We considered him family. Whenever he went to adoptions shows something happened that threw him off his game. I took extra measures to keep him happy at shows. I brought him to the show myself, rather than accepting a ride for him with other bunnies, and held him until he was relaxed. I outfitted his pen with his little mat from home. Improvement was evident. Still the right person was not showing up. I learned of a product called Happy Pet from a woman who boarded her rabbit with us. Formulated from flower and gemstone essences it helps animals feel calm and uplifted. I put drops in Hermes' water dish and sprayed him with it. I sprayed his pen at the adoption shows too. He responded well to it and his shows improved more. Still he was dogged by bad luck. Even if he was calm and beautiful, no one wanted a white rabbit or the rabbit next door to him was very showy, so everyone was fixated on that rabbit. One time the rabbit next door, a Dutchie female, jumped into his pen and attacked him; not a good time for him. During the big Aptos rescue those rabbits were given priority and Hermes stayed home. I had bad ideas about keeping him and trying to bond him in with my four, wicked day dreams of an impractical person.

He knew his destiny lay beyond the fence.

Far away in a county called Marin a Dutch female pined, saddened by the death of her mate three months prior. Using her not insignificant powers of persuasion she got her human to drive to the Rabbit Haven adoption show in Santa Cruz, she knew her prince was there. She had heard via the Daily Dutch News that there was a handsome white Rex who wasn't not much of a fighter, but had the golden ears of enumerable rabbit legends. At the show her human brought her boy bun after boy bun, she rejected each one. Couldn't the fool see that these were not the golden eared one? finally there was but one male rabbit left, Hermes. He saw her in all her black and white glory and immediately feel in love. Once the Dutchie was convinced that he was indeed her destiny, she too was happier than happy. Of course, I cried my eyes out, silly impractical heart will miss him, even if the brain says it is better this way.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pictures and Text

If real life pictures of a spay procedure are likely to upset you and your family, please go no further than this photo of a big, very big California girl bun in post-op recovery with a Rabbit Haven volunteer. You can read more about the Spay-A-Thon HERE. There is a slide show as part of the article, I took the photos even though the credit says Rabbit Haven, these things happen.

For those of you who will read on here is the story. You will recall that there was a huge rescue in our area, Aptos to be precise, 114 rabbits all of which were not spayed or neutered. Over the course of the days many were in San Jose and Palo Alto, driven over by intrepid and dedicated volunteers. One of our local vets on hearing of the rescue asked what she could do and the Spay-A-Thon was born. Just to be clear there were also neuters being performed but somehow a Neut-A-Thon doesn't have a ring to it at all. Three rabbit vets, Drs. Hawklyn, Stern and Sollenberger along with vet techs volunteered their time and expertise at the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter on 12/4/11, where two of the rooms were turned into a surgery. Rabbit Haven volunteers took care of the rabbits after their operations. Anesthetized rabbits can not be put back in a cage until they are awake enough to hop or they can hurt themselves trying.

Rabbits are anesthetized using a gas and mask, they are also attached to a heart monitor. The gas smells funny to them, but only briefly.

The abdomen is shaved clean and carefully sterilised.

Everything is kept very sterile. The incision for a spay can very tiny, leaving a barely visible scar and lessening pain and healing time.

Bunnies are kept warm and comfortable while they wake up. The females received subQ fluids to help with their recovery. To aid with waking the bunnies need to be stimulated, touched and petted on their ears and face, they need to be more upright than not.

Why do rabbits need to be spayed and neutered? I'm so glad someone asked that question. The answers are multiple. The first answer is that rabbits have an exetremely rapid rate of reproduction. The gestation time is about a month and a female rabbit can get pregnant immediately after giving birth. Sexual maturity and ability to breed occurs between 3 and 8 months. Doing the the multiplication on this problem yields that a female rabbit and her offspring could, theoretically, produce 50,653 rabbits in three years and 69 million in five years and a whopping 64 billion in seven years. In the wild this degree of fecundity makes sense, rabbits being breakfast, lunch and dinner to so many other guests in nature's restaurant, but for the domestic rabbit and it's caregivers it does not. Even if a rabbit is an only rabbit spaying will keep the animal from developing uterine cancer, very common in un-spayed lagomorph females. Neutering a male helps with box training and reduces/eliminates spraying. Although one would think that personality of males would be significantly changed by removing the testes from the hormonal picture, I can attest the Tyler, though not a humper, is very protective of his girl friends and competitive when it comes to other males. He has tried to take on a male rabbit 4 times his size, luckily there was a fence between them.

There are 8 rabbits left from the Aptos rescue that need homes, if you can help please contact the Rabbit Haven. They must be out of the shelter by the 18th or they are in danger of being euthanized.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Toto's Story

The Bun Zen Center helped out the Rabbit Haven with community surrender a couple weeks ago; a community surrender is a rabbit that was adopted through the Rabbit Haven and for one reason or another the people could no longer care for the rabbit. Toto, a silky black Angora,  was adopted two years ago unfortunately his person got cancer and is currently undergoing chemo for the second time. A friend of Toto's person saw that she could not take care of Toto and took him away, then he realized that he could not take care of him due to the travel requirements of a new job. Toto and his gear was transferred to one night at a nearby Denny's parking lot. It's better to have a neutral meeting ground, past experience shows if regular people know where rabbit people live the rabbit people can receive a whole lot of unwanted rabbits. When I picked up Toto I couldn't see into his carrier, it was very small, all I saw was his black face looking out through the grid. The surrendering human said that he had a few mats. At the Rabbit Haven we literally had to pull the bunny out of the carrier he was so stuffed in and he didn't have a few mats he was a mat. His back was one huge mat about a foot long, eight inches wide and three inches thick, he had a mat under his chin like a giant felt dewlap. His rear end and butt were completely matted over. First we took him into tub to clean the underneath mat and make an opening so his poop would not be trapped in the matting. Amazingly the matting on his stomach was minimal and his genitals were free as well. Clippers where useless, scissors were very slow. I suggested we use an Xacto knife, this was rejected as first but in desperation tentatively tried and it worked the best. With huge mats like this one has to be careful because the skin can get pulled up into the matting. Careful work is required, checking by pinching to be sure that there is no skin in the mat where one intends to cut. I don't recommend using an Xacto as a grooming tool unless you have an extreme situation. Toto was very patient as the mats were coming off, his skin under the mats was sensitive, the mats pull the hair, so I gave him a day to recover between grooming sessions. The second day I got the turtle shell off, it took two or three hours, and there were still some mats, but he could move better and when I put him outside to stretch he hopped, raced and binkied. Angora rabbits, as you may know or have guessed require special maintenance grooming so Toto's new home had to be with groomers. Fate smiled on Toto, Rabbit Haven found just such a family for him and he is settled in his new home. Three cheers for a story that has a happy ending. 

This shows the dewlap mat and his back,
you can see his nails were terribly long as well.

His butt mat before washing and trimming, his tail was caught up in the mat.

This was the progress of two people working for three hours the night he arrived.
You can see the thickness of the back mat, AKA the turtle shell, .

After hours of cutting and opening the mats, combing and clipping
he looks like a rabbit!
We finally managed to free his tail.

Toto enjoying a day in the sun at
the Ben Zen Center's Blueberry Bunny Park.