Friday, 31 July 2009

Pick of the Bunch...

In all honesty, I'd never even dreamed of owning a bunny.

My parents were not animal lovers so their idea of owning a pet extended to anything that was cheap and not a mammal. So I had little experience of caring for any creature, let alone such fascinating and intelligent creatures as rabbits, when I took home my first...

The whole idea of owning a bunny (if one can truly own these little tikes!) came from a pure, selfish enjoyment of watching wild rabbits bound around in our new cottage garden and an intense desire to cuddle one. Sick of listening to my yelps of "Look there's another...!" my long-suffering partner stated that he was going to buy me a bunny.

Sadly, I think most of us tend to purchase rabbits on impulse - usually for children and without ever really thinking or knowing the amount of responsibility involved. I was so excited that I decided to get my hands on every bit of information I could about caring for rabbits. I was amazed to learn how much was involved in caring for them. Stupidly, I imagined that a few handfuls of carrot and a hutch was all that was required.

How wrong could a person be!

We forget that domestic rabbits have been bred for so many decades now that they are not immune to the same types of disease as wild rabbits. All domestic bunnies must be vaccinated against myxomatosis and VHD every year, at least. They also require require regular check-ups at the vet. Yes, just like cats and dogs do!!! Not to mention a variety of hay and grasses to allow them to continually grind down their growing teeth and keep their delicate digestive systems healthy. A responsible rabbit owner should know the types of veggies and plants that our poisonous to our beloveds, be able provide them with a home indoors (imagine my amazement in discovering there were such things as 'House Rabbits'!) or outdoors with at least 6ft x 5ft of space for running and binkying about...the list of ownership requirements goes on.

However, none of this deterred me in my quest to own a bunny and so, on a sunny Saturday morning my partner drove me to a local rabbit breeder to buy a rabbit...

We arrived at a lovely farm house only to be led to a large dark shed where around 20 large hutches were filled with rabbits, far too many to be housed together comfortably. It was dirty and cobwebby, and knowing what I know now, could only be a sad existence for the bunnies living there.

Still, in my excitement to own a rabbit, I never really considered the prospect. The pleasant young lady assisting me brought out a wooden box which when opened, was filled with a variety of 8 week old bunnies. All beautiful and looking for a home.

I had read that any baby rabbit that is shy when you first attempt to stroke it is likely to remain so forever. Absolute rubbish! Imagine being 8 weeks old and having a massive hand looming over you - it would scare anyone! Still, being a newbie, I took heed of this advice and tried to find a bunny that seemed interested in me. Luckily for me, one of the last rabbits brought out was a 'buttterfly' patterned mini lop. Rather than shying away from me, this little nosey-bonk peroscoped up on his little hind legs and licked my hand.

Our fate was sealed. He was my pick of the bunch...

Friday, 24 July 2009

A Sad Loss

It is with a very heavy heart that I have to report the sad loss of our darling Viola Bunny.

Born into conditions of neglect she was saved, along with her siblings, and delivered into our loving family at the rescue. From birth she suffered from “splay legs” affecting her mobility and it was a condition that was to worsen over the few short months of her life. But what a surprise it was to us that one so afflicted was to be such a spritely soul, always desperate to play with the other bunnies around her and racing round at surprising speed considering she only really had her front legs to get her moving. She also seemed to relish the attention of the two-legged members of the rescue family and was always happy to tolerate our cuddles and the silly baby noises that would pour out of us every time we visited her.

As a rescue dealing with hundreds of rabbits over the years, we are of course well aware of the need to take into account the quality of life of a disabled animal. However much you believe in going the extra mile to give all the care to an animal that you can, there is always a point where the suffering is too great and putting them to rest becomes the only option. But where is this point? A decision so deeply important, one of life or death, can only lie with those most informed to make it.

So when we are faced with a disabled bunny we have to listen closely to what they tell us. Are they in pain? Are they unhappy? Have they given up fighting? Animals have yet to learn our languages and so we are forced to do the best we can to learn theirs, and our vets and rescue volunteers have many hours of experience doing just that.

In Viola’s case the decision was thankfully easy, at first anyway. She loved her life and seemed to be completely oblivious that she was different to her brothers and sisters. All she really needed was some loving, thoughtful and experienced bunny-parents that understood her extra needs and were prepared to put in a little extra care. In the mean time, there was no trouble in finding volunteers enthusiastic to foster her while she waited for a more permanent home, knowing how much joy she would bring to them in return! It is also a sign of how loved Viola was that there were so many people willing to donate the time, effort and finances to get her the consultations with rabbit-specialist veterinary surgeons that she needed.

But sadly, this story does not have a happy ending. Early in the week, poor Viola developed a bad case of bloat. After the usual treatments at the rescue failed to alleviate the condition she was rushed to our regular vets for an X-Ray and diagnosis. This was their first experience of Viola and perhaps if they had met her before the bloat they would have been quicker to act. But seeing her this way they seemed reluctant to do anything other than end her suffering by putting her to sleep. Viola was taken home while second opinions were sought from our experts, but a day later her conditioned had worsened still. At this stage we were reluctantly left with little option.

On Thursday 23rd July 2009, Caroline took Viola to the vets for her final journey.

Viola Bunny, you will be deeply missed by all of us here at the rescue.

Viola enjoying the grass and sunshine,
Saturday 18th July 2009

Friday, 3 July 2009

Too Hot for Bunnies

Flopsy Bunny

I wanted to blog about some of the things going on at the rescue this week, but quite frankly it's too hot to think. So instead, I think I might just finish re-filling the water bowls then go follow Flopsy's lead and take a nice nap in the sun....zzzzzzzzzz....