Fostering Bonded Bunnies is exactly like…

Do you want to know what it’s like to foster bonded bunnies? (I hope so because if the title didn’t give it away, that’s what this post is about.) It’s like the movie “50 First Dates”, that’s what.
Henry hits it off with Lucy. Henry thinks he’s found THE girl – and discovers she has short-term memory loss – she forgets him every “next day”.
No matter the “progress” with the bunnies from hours spent on the floor in the evenings doling out little pieces of treats, the next morning, it’s like they’ve never seen me, or any human, before.
Fostering Bonded Bunnies is exactly like...
And so our dating ritual starts over.
They really need to be brushed, but I hate to chase a bunny to pick it up for grooming, so we are letting it slide for now. Bunny hair wafts through the air.
So this very short video is immediately after I took the picture above as I rose s-l-o-w-l-y from my chair:
Their personalities are showing.
Lana – The boldest. Least likely to bolt from my approach, or maybe most likely to bolt last (if I get too close). This was demonstrated in the video above.
Lois – Curious and most likely to explore.
Clark – Really is the meek, mild-mannered reporter, I mean, bunny. He is most like to bolt first. 
The bunnies are food (treat) aggressive. When one gets a treat that can’t be chewed on the spot, each will look for a safe place to snack. If spotted, the others will give chase. I feel like I have to watch out for Clark to make sure he gets some. When the two-legged treat dispenser is on the floor, Clark is the one in the background.
Lois will take treats from my open hand.
Lana will take a treat from the tips of extended fingers.
Clark prefers his treats to be thrown at him (not violently) from some distance.
Fostering Bonded Bunnies is exactly like...
If my hand is extended with no treats, Lois bites the ends of my fingers! She’s never scratched me or drawn blood, but it’s harder than when Bunya used to let you know he was pissed about something (“Read my lips – No more brushing!”). 
Happily, they are not food aggressive at meal time. They will all nibble the breakfast pellets but the bowl is not empty when they have moved on. Similarly, the dinner greens are heartily set upon by the three, but by the time they get to the romaine leaves at the bottom of the bowl, there’s some debris on the ground. They finish it up later.
The Georgia House Rabbit Society (GHRS) has set up their foster program with some guidelines that make it easier to take care of the bunnies, like what to feed them when and how much. Dinner greens are romaine lettuce, parsley and cilantro. To reduce the “move this out of my way so I can get to what I like most” scattering of dinner greens, I have learned to put the lettuce on the bottom of the bowl and the parsley and cilantro on top of it, so they can devour what they love most, first.
As a new bunny foster parent, I’m guessing it would be easier to foster a single bun. We had Bunya for a couple of years, as he patiently waited until we learned how to better care for a bunny and found his loves, Lucy & Ethel. Consequently, he was always the most comfortable around humans, even strangers. He’d check out just about anyone to see if they were carrying a treat, while Lucy and Ethel hung back.
This trio of bonded bunnies have short memories, influenced by each other’s behavior. Clark bolts first, triggering Lois, who bolts next. Lana will keep a wary eye on you and as long as you do not get too close or move too fast, she’ll stand her ground. Previously, she would zoom away with the others, but she’s seems to be evolving, getting a little more used to us.
Been about 27 First Dates so far. I hope I can improve on 50.

Treat time temptations

 Who placed their bets on Lana as first to venture out of the pen? (I did)

Backstory: Fed them their greens dinner and left the gate open. Sat on the floor nearby, which still freaks them. After dinner, sat in my usual place but left the gate open.
Before bed, I got the box of treats, which I have broken into smaller pieces. They get half a cookie a day, but now it’s broken into 3 or 4 bites.
I got on the floor far from the open gate. I had their curiosity.
Then I rattled the treat container. Now I had their attention. (Django reference)
Basically, I shot marbles with the pieces, but far from the gate. Lana was the first to come out enough to get treats and then explored a little, even looking in on her fenced mates from a new angle. She explored enough to chin the entrance to the fun house and peek inside.
Treat time temptations

Clark stepped onto their “doormat”, then ran back to his comfort zone, putting the fence between us. He begged for his piece though the fence and he looks so cute, I caved. (Translation: I can’t resist his soulful puppy eyes.)

Treat time temptations

Then Lois chased him down to try to take it away from him.

Lois ventured out onto the mat, but never as far as Lana. She’s in constant motion so I will have to try harder to take non-blurry pictures of her.
Treat time temptations
Bunnies…

The Fosters Three

Last weekend, we picked up three shelter bunnies to foster. They are siblings, two girls and a boy, somewhere around 1-1/2 years old.

They don’t know their shelter names and I couldn’t recall them either – I couldn’t associate them with anything. For now, they are Lois, Lana and Clark. That can be revisited if I make it to teaching them their names; currently, it just gives DrMrsBunnyMom and I a reference so we know about whom we are speaking.

They are very skittish. At first, my standing up from my recliner would scatter them into regions unseen. I’m moving slower now. To get used to the smells and sounds, and to give them a feeling for a safe place, they are limited to their pen. I hope they will want to free-range some, soon.

GHRS provides very specific instructions for meals and treats (what, how much, within what time frames – very helpful… I’m sure they weren’t serious about so few treats). Here’s them tucking into their greens dinner. About 16 seconds in, there’s a brief “Lady & the Tramp” moment between Lois & Clark.

Tried to expand their horizons last night by offering them a treat – outside their pen. They all positioned themselves like this picture of Lana – low to the ground and stretched out, like they were trying to keep one foot on first base while planning to steal second.

Each one ventured a little ways out but only Miss Lana dared to go so far as to snatch her Probios – and then dashed back inside the pen. When she reappeared with Lois, they were both munching, so we’re pretty sure Lois helped herself when Lana was working on her piece.

Clark stepped on their doormat, but retreated to beg for his piece to be handed to him through the fence. We complied. Couldn’t resist the pitiful begging eyes.

Then Lois snatched some of his. Lana and Clark got to eat only a half of their portion because Lois snatched half of each of theirs, making her the only one who got a full portion. Tried to give half of Lois’s treat to each of Clark and Lana, but they were played out.

If we measure bravery solely by how far out of the pen they ventured: 1. Lana 2. Lois 3. Clark

Patience… grant me patience – now, dammit! 

The Fosters Three
Lana scoring her treat.

Happy New Year! (+ some bunny care)

 New Year’s reminder:

Bunnies do NOT like fireworks.

It stresses them just like other sudden and/or loud noises.

If your bunny’s neighborhood is firecracker noisy, keep the buns cool and quiet.
Close the windows and doors. Close the blinds to reduce flashes.

If needed to “cover” firecracker noise, play music – peaceful, easy listening (not loud).

Think elevator music. No hair bands or hare bands. Stay away from 1812 Overture.
Your TV service might even have a suitable channel in its lineup – you just never tune to those channels. We have an air filter that runs all the time and provides a white noise background.
If you do not already have boxes for them to play on and in, get some plain cardboard boxes (not slick or a lot of ink/color; no staples, labels or tape). Cut at least two openings in each box big enough for your bunny to get in and out … they can hide in them, to further mute the noise and feel a little safer.

Keep them company and reassure them that everything’s okay. Pet them if they are the petting kind of bunnies. Have a couple of healthy treats handy.

Found this from Oxbow
Happy New Year! (+ some bunny care)

Wishing everyone a safe, happy, and healthy New Year!

Also, be kind to each other next year. And beyond.

Be kind to all pets and animals, too. (But especially bunnies.)

Happy Halloween!

A Happy Halloween to all!

Pro tip: Buy the candy you (or your kids, if you want to play it that way) like and hide it around the house. Treat yourself this year and stay safe!
P.S. Lyla reminds me of what Bunya looked like when he was smoll.
Happy Halloween!

Breaking news – there may have been some quid pro quo to get the above picture:

Happy Halloween!

Remembering Bunya

DrMrsBunnyMom and daughter are allergic to cats and dogs. However, daughter dear really wanted a fuzzy, cuddly pet, as opposed to the son’s reptiles. Around the holidays, we had actually talked about it some, considering it.

I don’t recall exactly how I found out. My daughter may have pegged me as the weak link when she brought me down to the basement (where her bedroom was) and showed me this little fluffster she “rescued” from a pet store for $5; he’d been in a tiny cage all by himself, away from the other bunnies.

We knew NOTHING about rabbits.

First two actions:
1. Return to the scene of the crime and find out what supplies he needed.
This was STUPID MISTAKE #1.
Sadly, rabbits are a pet stores way to sell you a bunch of GARBAGE. I do not know the level of knowledge they have about the dogs and cats they sell, but they know squat about rabbits. They sold us a little cage that might have been okay for transport but NOT to live in “for the rest of his life”. The food they sold us was awful and the “treats” they sold us with seeds and yogurt could be DEADLY to a rabbit.
2. Take the bunny for a vet visit. We really lucked out here. We didn’t know that you need a rabbit-savvy exotics vet for a bunny, not just a dog and cat vet. The vet in our neighborhood was exactly what we needed. Bunya was healthy, we were given educational materials about rabbits, and scheduled his snip for when he was old enough.
In his first days, when we knew less than nothing, Bunya would sit perched on daughter’s shoulder like a pirate parrot and watch her on her computer. One time when he had to go potty, she held him over her trash can, and he put out poops like he was a Pez dispenser run amok. But all into the can. She wanted him to keep her company in her bed but Bunya liked to pee there, so that was short-lived.
Six months later, daughter left for college.
Bunya did not.
Since he was now my bunny, I started learning more than our misinformation from the pet store and the literature from the vet. Thank you, internet. I always felt badly about the tiny cage from the pet store and he got increasingly larger quarters as I read more and found them online. We always housed him inside as a house rabbit, so at least we got that right.
Remembering Bunya
Little baby Bunya “helping” me with an annual mailing to my clients.
Eventually, I purchased a chain link fence dog pen that was about 7’x7′ and assembled it inside the house. That’s the one that stuck. Although the gate was mostly open so he could roam around, that was still his safe space and he would hang out in there. His original cage, to which he was still attached, was a litter box for a while, before we put it away for good.

Remembering Bunya
This is a recent iteration of the bunnies’ pen.
Over the years. we bought castles, ramps, towers, tunnels,
a fun house with a digging section, an elevated bed, and much more,
from bunny auctions or the Hop Shop to support rabbit rescues like
The Georgia House Rabbit Society.
From time to time, we would rearrange the furniture
and change out the rugs.

Bunya was a solo bun for about 1-2 years, so he became used to humans. More research led to learning about how social bunnies were and I came across the The Georgia House Rabbit SocietyLearned about bonding bunnies and adoption. Lucy & Ethel were added to the mix.
Our bunnies taught us so much. I love animals and have had several over the years, dogs, cats… but hadn’t really thought about bunnies… such different and distinct personalities. Who knew about binkies and NASbunny/zoomies/Buntona 500!?
Ethel would love on everybunny and was an escape artist, our own Bundini. We were never sure if she was deaf or just had selective hearing. In her later years, she would run circles around my recliner, thumping for treats.
Lucy was a fearless explorer, the  most likely to get into mischief and be found in unexpected places when you walked into the room. She could also read minds if your thought was “I’m going to pick up Lucy”. You didn’t need to look at her or say anything, just think it – and she was gone. One of her favorite hiding places was in the corner of the room under a heavy (immovable) desk, where we could not reach her.

Bunya was the alpha and the brains of the group – so smart! He could even tell time, which always amazed us.

Remembering Bunya

Bunya got poopy butt, which we determined was from vegetables as a regular part of his diet. Bunya became a hay bunny. Well, a hay-and-treats bunny. We had a bout or two of stasis over the years, but Bunya was a champ at taking his medicine.
Love the tongue and cheek action

Bunya became an old man, and lost his sight to cataracts. We got a stuffed bunny to try to have a “third”, something for the last bunny to snuggle up to and recall old companions. Bunya and Ethel didn’t really take to it, but it’s all I have left.
Remembering Bunya
By my recliner.
Ethel would stand there, staring,
thumping, or pooping for treats.
Bunya would pancake there while
I scritched his head, ears, and cheeks.
This is what
it looks like now.

As I said, they never really liked the stuffie and just kept snuggling with each other – all the time (unless there was a treat involved and Ethel would leave Bunya’s butt in the dust).

We thought Bunya would go before Ethel, but he was here first… and he was with us last.

Remembering Bunya
Miss you, Mr. B
A few posts from over the years:

Bunya joined Lucy & Ethel today

Bunya joined Lucy & Ethel today

Resources for pet loss
For Bunnies
Pet Loss Support for Your Rabbit
When A Rabbit Loses A Friend

For their humans
Tragic, Sudden, Unexpected: Grieving for Traumatic Pet Loss
Four Steps to Take After Experiencing Pet Loss
Pet Loss Support and Grief
Facebook group: Broken Hearts Bunny Loss Support 

Rainbow Bridge

If you have the means, we would appreciate if you would donate to GHRS in his memory. Here is the link to Bunya’s Facebook post, with a Donate button.
If that does not work for you, try this link to GHRS.
If you would prefer to donate to your local rabbit rescue, that’s all good, too. It helps bunnies.
#Donate #Adopt #Foster #Volunteer

Mr. B for #BunnyButtFriday

This tunnel has been in the pen for years and years, but I never saw him use it. Now I’ve seen him do this several times, finding it relatively easily, for a blind bunny. 
I wonder if since he’s solo now, and Ethel’s not there to lean against him, the smaller space gives him some comfort.
Mr. B for #BunnyButtFriday

Ethel got her wings

Resources for pet loss
For Bunnies
Pet Loss Support for Your Rabbit
When A Rabbit Loses A Friend

For their humans
Tragic, Sudden, Unexpected: Grieving for Traumatic Pet Loss
Four Steps to Take After Experiencing Pet Loss
Pet Loss Support and Grief
Facebook group: Broken Hearts Bunny Loss Support 

Rainbow Bridge

Ethel got her wings

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.

Ethel got her wings
Whenever something happens with the bunnies,
I try to snap pictures to show the vet.
We were on the phone with the vet’s office. Pandemic protocol is curbside service; they come get your pet for the exam. The vet discusses the results with you when they return your furbaby. The practice was booked. We made an appointment – and then…
THIS is the behavior Ethel exhibited – perfectly normal!

Coordinated hopping.
Objective in sight.
Target acquired.
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 got her wings

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).

Ethel got her wings

And now old man Bunya is alone again. We will continue to give him lots of love, but we are all missing Miss Ethel.

Ethel got her wings
Ethel got her wings
She had a perfect little white cotton ball tail.

Ethel got her wings

Ethel got her wings
10 pounds of crazy in a 3 pound sack