Last Wednesday, I was going though the bunnies’ morning ritual and noticed Ethel seemed a little off. When I opened the pen gate, she usually bolts for her pellets (sometimes between the wall and a row of boxes, sometimes just a beeline “out in the open”). That morning she hesitated a little and didn’t quite follow a straight line, but she got there and started eating.
A couple of minutes later, before she finished, she stepped away from her bowl and started seizing. You could see the fear in her eyes. I called for DrMrsBunnyMom and tried to settle Ethel, as if I had a clue what I should do.
After several seconds of writhing and flopping around the floor, “running” on her side against the wall trying to twist upright, she managed to right herself, and lay awkwardly splay-legged, breathing very heavily for a few minutes.
|Whenever something happens with the bunnies,
I try to snap pictures to show the vet.
Objective in sight.
Typical Ethel – finished her breakfast and heads directly over to Mr. B to see what she can scarf from his breakfast bowl.
The day before, Ethel was zooming around at top speed, binkying, and cutting tight corners. She seemed to have retained her youthful exuberance and energy, whereas Bunya started slowing down years ago.
WTH, Ethel, why are you scaring the poops out of the humans!?
We booked the next available exam time, on Friday. For the rest of Wednesday, all of Thursday and Friday morning, Ethel was fine and her behavior was pure Ethel – right down to hanging out by my recliner, staring at me for treats all evening. To Ethel, no treat tasted as good as the one she would snatch out of Bunya’s mouth. (He tried to adapt by instantly turning 90 degrees away from Ethel as soon as he sunk his teeth into his treat, but she would run circles around him.)
Friday morning, DrMrsBunnyMom took Ethel and Bunya in their carrier for the appointment (if you have read this blog with any regularity, you know we always take the bunnies together to help maintain their bond). The nurse carried them inside for her appointment. The doctor heard Ethel seizing again in the carrier as they were brought in. As he went to get her, Ethel passed.
Ethel was almost 10-1/2 and still spunky. Bunya is over 12-1/2 and started slowing down years ago. We didn’t particularly talk about it but we both thought he would pass first. You learn in estate planning, people don’t always die in the order you think they will.
Now we wonder how Bunya will get along without her. He can’t see. We don’t think Ethel could hear, but it may have been she didn’t listen. When she would come begging for treats – thumping, racing around my chair or whatever to get my attention – I’d ask her “Where’s your boyfriend?”
I swear, lately, she would go back in their pen where he would be snoozing in their favorite hidey box, rouse him, and lead him out so I would give them both treats. Bunnies are smart. We would tease Ethel sometimes about where did she leave her brain cell, but then she would demonstrate some brilliance, like when she figured out how to get past the bunny barrier. I remember one morning after we had the trio, I came to feed them; Bunya and Lucy were in their pen – Ethel was running around like what’s up! She was tiny enough to fit through the pen fence.
Bunya was our first bunny. He was a bachelor for a couple of years. We learned about bunnies and found GHRS. We added sisters Lucy & Ethel (about 6 months old or so at the time), adopted from the Georgia House Rabbit Society to form our bonded trio. We lost Lucy suddenly almost exactly 5 years ago (read about Lucy here).
And now old man Bunya is alone again. We will continue to give him lots of love, but we are all missing Miss Ethel.
|She had a perfect little white cotton ball tail.|
Several “right-hand column” items have moved…
Sometimes, Bunya needs a cuddle to get away from Ethel’s treat-aggressive behavior. Which he taught her.
Here Bunya’s munching a small piece of their favorite treat, a Probios. It looks like a “crumby” disaster but part of that was because the camera was so close. Love watching bunnies eat. Their little moufs are just so cute.
You can also clearly see his cataracts.
Bunya has very little vision left; we think he may be able to see a little light. When I call him for a treat, he’ll run into my leg. I’m happy he still shows such enthusiasm for treats, but am sad, too.
We just had their semi-annual wellness vet visit. They are aging gracefully, but both are losing weight as they age. They are the lightest they’ve ever been.
Ethel is a food vacuum; we might change her name to Hoover. Bunya can’t even eat as fast as he used to – of any food given to the two of them, 80% get speedily consumed by Ethel. To give Bunya a chance to have a few pellets in peace, we have modified their morning procedures.
Old way: I used to give them their medicine in the kitchen, with a Probios treat chaser. Ethel runs around like crazy, sliding all over the slick floor, so excited for her morning medicine and treat. Bunya, a lot more low-key, starts to take his medicine. When Ethel sees this, she runs towards Bunya, slides on the kitchen floor and body-slams Bunya out of the way to take her medicine, so she can gobble her treat. If Bunya is interrupted in taking his meds, he does not like to restart.
New way: They stay in a pen overnight (so hopefully, Bunya doesn’t get into trouble or hurt himself). Instead of opening the gate to let them run into the kitchen, I give them their medicine while they are still in the pen (Ethel still body-slams Bunya out of the way, but I can give them the medicine at the same time). Then they get their treat.
I open the gate and have trained Ethel to expect a special treat for her in the kitchen, so she gobbles her Probios and races out of the pen. In the kitchen, half the pellets are waiting for her in an edible treat bowl that she loves. So after she finishes the pellets, she starts eating the bowl, sliding it around the kitchen floor and leaving a Hansel & Gretel kind of hay crumb trail behind her.
The next video is from our new buncam. It does not broadcast but allows me to check on the bunnies from other rooms and the office.
This is what happens when they get morning meds and breakfast. It’s black & white at first, until the lights come on. Ethel gets so excited and speeds around their (nighttime) pen in big circles. Bunya “looks” at her like she’s crazy (he’s right, she is).
Mr. B waits for the two-legged treat dispenser to deliver meds and treat [dispenser is dressed to get on the treadmill, so please excuse]. On one of her laps, she sees he’s waiting and pushes him out of the way. When it finally arrives, they take their medicine and treat. Ethel gobbles hers and races to the edible bowl (with pellets) in the kitchen. Bunya finishes – taking so long to eat, you’ll think the video has stopped – and walks to where he expects his bowl to be, because he can’t see it; he has adapted to the new routine, too.
Here’s Ethel at her edible bowl in the kitchen.
This keeps her busy as long as I leave the bowl on the floor. In the meantime, I give Bunya his own (non-edible) bowl with some willow leaves and pellets. Once he has had a chance to eat the pellets at his leisurely pace, I pick up Ethel’s bowl and she joins him snacking on willow leaves.
They can still share a bowl of water without Ethel reverting to her Roller Derby manners.
This is an extra bowl of water in the kitchen. More bowls mean bunnies drink more.
They have a much bigger version of this flat bottom crock in their pen.
Love watching bunnies eat. Their little moufs are just so cute.
(You can also clearly see his cataracts.)
“Did I say you could stop?”
Ethel will not take “direct” head rubs from a human, so when Bunya settles in for a massage, she puts her head as close to his as she can and allows herself to join in… while she closes her eyes and pretends that it is Bunya grooming her.
(Note massage indent on Bunya’s head.)
Mr. Bunya was our first bunny (and a surprise from our daughter, who left for college a few months later). As we learned about bunnies and bunny care, we wanted to adopt some companions for this sociable animal.
However, before we learned that, Mr. Bunya was a solo bun and got all of our attention. He became familiar with humans and is not as stand off-ish as the adoptees.
Ethel will not come for head rubs by herself. If you try, she’ll jet away after a second.
However, she has come to realize that if she snuggles up real close to Bunya, she can PRETEND it’s Bunya grooming her.
At first, she would only self-delude for less than a minute, maybe 10-30 seconds. Then she’d look up all surprised-like: “Who is this!? You’re not Bunya!” – and run off. Bunya always stays and melts like a puddle into the floor to suck up the love.
In this video, Bunya settles next to my recliner for some head rubs (but never too close, so I have to extend my arm way over to reach him). Ethel hung around for more than 30 seconds. This is only an excerpt from a longer video, but Ethel actually hung out and accepted some pets!
This is a huge development with her. On the bunny pages, people often ask how long did it take for your bunny to trust you?
So Ethel may be mellowing… just a little – and after only NINE YEARS.
Bunnies require patience.
Smile because… bunny butt!
– their version of a breakfast hay buffet..
[Turn up the sound to hear the crunching]
Ethel can be a picky eater. Bunya, not so much.
So Bunya eats his, and when Ethel goes for a drink of water, eats hers.
You snooze, you lose.
Several “right-hand column” items have moved…