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.

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