Wednesday 19 May 2010

Plus One

We have just received this lovely email, from a couple that recently added a new member to their family who DOESN'T have a fluffy tail...

"When my husband and I found out that I was pregnant with our first child in August last year, we agreed on one thing straight away: our two house rabbits Schnitzel and Chewie would stay with us, no matter what. The two buns have been with us for almost two years now and they are certainly part of the family. I knew then, that it wouldn't always be easy and a few things had to be carefully considered, but I couldn't stand the thought of giving up part of my little family.

My husband is luckily very supportive of my bunny mania and loves the two buns as much as I do. We had discussed that he would support me with the cleaning of the indoor rabbit hutch (which is usually my job) once I got towards the end of the pregnancy and would be too big to be on all fours to clean them out. Luckily, it never actually got to that point, as my bump wasn't that massive and I could easily do all of the cleaning chores, till the day I went into hospital to give birth. Cleanliness is probably a big concern some people will have with a new born around the house. But both the rabbits are fully litter trained and I clean them on a daily basis anyway. I probably hoover a little bit more often now, to ensure I do not have too much fluff and dust bunnies flying around. And yes, I usually have to wait for my husband to hold/look after our four week old daughter, before I can clean out the hutch. But apart from that not much has changed in our daily cleaning routine.

Rabbits are certainly not cheap pets to keep and I usually spend 50 GBP per month to feed and bed (different hays, rabbit nuggets, treats, fresh veg and fruit, sawdust etc.) the two of them. This does not include the Vet costs or any holiday boarding that may be needed throughout the year. I certainly did not want to compromise on either their food or on their MYXO and VHD booster injections or any other treatment needed throughout the year. But on the other hand I knew that our household income would drop while I was on maternity leave. So while I was pregnant, I started to put a little bit of money aside each month, in order to save up enough to ensure that I would be able to keep the buns in the same way that I had been beforehand.

As mentioned earlier, our two buns live in the house and are both fully house trained and very clean. For us it was never a question of moving them out of their living conditions and into the garden. Firstly because I know that we have foxes in the area, which manage to get into our garden. And secondly we feel that we get so much more out of our buns, as they live indoors with us. It gives us a chance of observing them a lot more and we get to know their individual characters a lot better. However, throughout autumn we had some work done on our house. We extended into the loft, in order to make space for the little bun in my oven. Until then the bunnies hutch had stood in one corner of our living room and they always had the free run of the house. Unfortunately making the alterations to the house meant that we had to also build a wall through our living room, in order to ensure we complied with fire and building regulations. So by building a wall we in effect created a hallway and that meant that the hutch is now in the part that is the hall way. It was quiet confusing for the buns to start with, as they had been used to lying in or in front of their hutch in the evenings watching us sitting on the sofa. Now the wall is between us. But as the door is always open, the buns can still choose when to come into the living room to join us and when they want to have their peace and quiet they can go back to their all in all the alterations have worked out quiet well actually.

At the start of the pregnancy it was really strange. It was almost as if Schnitzel our female bun could sense that something had changed with me. For a good 2-3 weeks she would hardly let me touch and stroke her. Schnitzel is the tamer of the two and especially very attached to my husband. We used to call her: "Daddies little girl". That really made me wonder, how she would take to the new family addition we where expecting. I feared that especially Schnitzel would be a bit jealous, but all in all the bunnies have taken the new addition to the family pretty well. Chewie doesn't seem too bothered by the baby and just gets on with his daily life. Schnitzel on the other hand seems sometimes a bit depressed, as she doesn't get as much cuddles and strokes as she did before hand. She certainly played up a bit in the days just before and after the Birth. We had one or two litter tray lapses, as she was trying to get more attention from us. It almost seems funny, as "playing up" is something you would expect an older human sibling to do, when a new baby brother or sister is brought home.

When we brought our baby daughter home from hospital the two rabbits came to investigate what we had brought with us. They came over and sniffed the car seat and it's contents. My husband also held our daughter and went down to the rabbits level, so they could take a look at her. But the baby's flailing arms where a bit too much for them and they decided to keep their distance. From time to time Schnitzel does jump up on the sofa in the evening, to come and check us all out as we lie there together, but she always keeps a respectful distance from our daughter.

So all in all living with rabbits and a baby isn't that tricky. We had to plan a little bit ahead and the bunnies had to fit around the babies routine i.e. waiting for their breakfast or dinner till the baby has been fed. But apart from that not much has changed for us. I do sometimes feel a little bit sad if I think I don't quiet have as much time to cuddle them like I used too. But I am sure once our daughter is a little bit bigger, I will find more time for them again. In the meantime, they just get most of their strokes and cuddles from my husband. We are looking forward to many more years with our rabbit's. And I am pleased that my daughter will have a chance to grow up with animals and I hope she will share our love for those amazing long eared fluff balls. I am sure there will be other hurdles in future, which will need to be overcome. For example we will need to teach our daughter to respect the rabbits' space, not to chase or grab them etc. But with a lot of patience and supervision, I am sure we can also over come that."

Photo's and words by Sandra and Justin.

Friday 14 May 2010

Over-Worked, Under-Played

With around a hundred bunnies in need of homes living at the Rescue, it is always a very busy place. There seems more to do here than the number of hours in the day permit. Not surprising then that Caroline has recently had to resort to asking people to take work home with them just to keep on top of everything. At various times over the last few weeks I've seen armfuls of paperwork being loaded into the other volunteers cars - Colin, Mandy, Sue, Debbie and others, all pitching in to clear a backlog of forms, mail-outs, planning submissions, work on the various websites and projects that we are involved with.

So it was only a matter of time before I was handed something to take away and sort out. Knowing it was bound to be some tough and probably tedious project that no-one else wanted, I diligently returned home, cleared the dining room table and emptied the contents of the box onto it ready to make a start. I stared at it wondering where to begin. The project stared back at me.

"Don't bother looking for the instructions -
we got a little hungry in the car"

Tuesday 11 May 2010

Scarf Weather

After many days of warm sunshine, the temperature has suddenly dropped in the UK - in some parts of the country to below zero. Time to check the outdoor bunnies have enough bedding to keep them snuggly I feel.

Jemima always seems particularly susceptible to changes in temperature. She's OK though. She's helped herself to the bandages in the Emergencies box and made herself a scarf...

Tuesday 4 May 2010


A short time ago, in a land not far from this place, a tale was told of a group of magical beings who possessed powers almost beyond human comprehension. These creatures, though said it was that they were diminutive in stature, could command great forces within man so as to render him weak and completely under their spell. Such were their powers that all manner of persons sought to trap them and make of them their own so they could harness this power, little knowing that for all that might try, the only fate that could lie ahead was slavery to the beasts.

And so our Tiny Tale begins, as our intrepid adventurer, the BHV, on hearing that these mighty magi had set up residence in a cave in a neighbouring land, decided to track them down and, quite frankly, see what all the fuss was about.

So the BHV packed up some provisions into a duffel bag, pulled on his best walking boots, grabbed his magic picture box and set off on his trek. After a time he came to the border. At the border was a gate through which the BHV knew he must pass. But he also knew that somewhere nearby lurked the guardian of this exit, a beast as black as night and as vicious as a snake with an elephant on its tail. The BHV stepped up to the gate and reached out a hand, but at that moment a huge dark shape slipped from the shadows causing him to recoil.

"Who approaches my gate?" the creature demanded.

"'Tis I, the BHV" the BHV replied.

"And why do you dare to approach my gate?" the creature asked.

"I seek the little ones whose powers, it is told, know no bounds. I have heard they have been spotted in the land on the other side."

"Ha! A fool's errand you follow! But no matter. If passage through my gate you seek, a challenge you must complete. If you succeed in this challenge, you may pass through. But be warned - if you fail, I shall eat you for my dinner!"

The BHV shuddered. He did not want to be eaten for anyone's dinner, let alone this nasty creature. But still, he couldn't quit now.

"What is your challenge, oh mighty and majestic being?" he asked, for flattery can often get you through the trickiest situation.

"If you wish to pass, you must take your right hand and with it stroke my head three times. If you can do so without showing a moments fear, I shall allow you to continue on your way unharmed. However, for every moment of fear I see in your eyes I shall strike you with my 'mighty and majestic' paw, and if my 'mighty and majestic' claws draw blood, you have lost my challenge and I shall eat you."

Yikes, thought the BHV. But he put on a brave face and exclaimed "I accept!"

At once the creature lowered its head. "Proceed" it said.

So the BHV put forth his hand and began to stroke the creature.

After the first stroke, the creature became completely still. After the second, to the surprise of the BHV, the creature began to purr. But as he stroked for the third time, the creature shot out a paw with a mighty swipe!

And you may, dear reader, have expected our tale to end there, but thankfully it was the turn of the creature to be surprised. For the BHV was expecting the devious attack and dodged it with some ease.

"You have impressed me with your speed and courage" said the beast. "This time, I will let you pass. However, if I should see you here abouts again, bring snacks. Or expect to be one."

The BHV passed through the gate, left the beast behind and made his way down the road that led to the land of Office. This road was to some a dangerous place, but in the land of Rescue the BHV had gained the rank of "Chief Volunteer" and as such earned the right to walk the path unchallenged.

When he arrived at the land of Office, the BHV found another gate. He passed through this gate without incident, but as he closed it behind him and turned to face the way ahead, he found it was blocked. For standing before the BHV was a huge orange giant, with huge orange ears and the most disapproving look he had ever seen.

"Who are you that dares to pass through my gate?" the giant roared.

"I am the BHV" replied the BHV and, pre-empting the inevitable follow up question, added "I have come seeking the Little Ones, those said to have great power over man".

"Fool!" cried the giant.

"But a fool up to a challenge!" replied the BHV quickly, for he could see where this was going.

"Challenge, eh?" retorted the giant. "Well a challenge I have for you. First, you must take your right hand and with it stroke my head three times."

"I see," replied the BHV confidently, "And if I show fear you will swipe me and eat me for your dinner?"

"No, silly human! THEN you shall stroke me three more times, maybe a few times behind the ears and THEN I shall nap and you can do what you jolly well please!"

The BHV was taken aback by this, but happily obliged and as the giant began to snore went on his way.

Almost immediately, the BHV came across a small cage. Knowing for sure he had found what he had set out to find, the BHV opened the door and peered inside.

And do you know, dear readers, what he saw in that cage? What manner of creature it was that could bend a persons will to do its bidding with just a look?

Tiny. Babeh. Bunnehs.

Let us just say that, having set eyes on those tiny little faces, it was a long time before the BHV was seen outside of the land of Office ...