Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wiggles: An Epiphany

This is Wiggles. She is 6. She came to us via a shelter, very angry, overweight and untrusting. 
My husband and I went to our local shelter to look at a Flemish Giant they had. I aways loved Flemish Giants. Then this bun took a liking to my husband. 
The caretaker said she was angry, but somehow my husband took a liking to her and when he picked her up, she seemed to relax and melt in his arms. We just couldn't leave her after that.
We kept the name...reason forthcoming.

I can't say that our first few months were easy. Especially since this was my husbands first experience with rabbits. Constant bites, grunts, nibbles, antisocial behaviour were the norm in our household. 
Not normal of ANY rabbit I had before. But we kept at it. 
She seemed to be particularly distrusting of hands. Hands were bad in her opinion and she would lunge and bite when they came close.

Wiggles had her own room. We could afford the luxury. It soon dawned upon us that she may not have had a place to herself, let alone a room, or a home free to explore. This picture is of her on her first week with us. She is flopped under a easel content as can be. 

We don't think she ever had someone to play with. My husband showed her a few tricks. She was a bit hostile at first, understandable due to her upbringing, but soon took to our playfulness.
This is her playing tug of war. She always ends up wining because the stick ends up getting pretty chewed up.

She was overweight, her HUGE two double chins were a good sign, but they soon began to melt away. Her freedom and being able to run and play at will really helped.
 In the above picture she is laying beside a warm vent, flopped and content. 
Never have I seen a rabbit so new to her environment take such relish and joy in the simple things.

Wiggles was difficult. 
For the first at least six months, we would get really hard bites on our hands (enough to draw blood) at any attempt to pet her or put our hands near her that is if she allowed us near her.
 She would show so much anger when one reached their hands towards her. 
She grunted, scratched, became hostile, pretty much everything a "Disgruntled" rabbit would do....for 6 long, painful, months.

Then, after constantly relenting, and petting her despite the bites, sores, the grunts, the offensive rabbit gestures....she began to come around.....

Slowly at first....the bitings lessened in intensity, she became more trusting of hands. Hands were no longer something to be feared rather they brought nice things like food and pets on the head.
After 2 years going from BLOOD DRAWING BITES to bites consisting of gums and a bit of saliva to indicate displeasure

She began to like us. LIKE us. Meaning like to hang around us. 
This mind you resulting from the previous attempts at petting.
No longer were hands something to be feared and bitten, they were now something to look forward to.
She now would RUN towards us not in an attempt at attack, rather because she wanted to be petted. She would lower her head in anticipation.

I hinted at the idea of getting another rabbit...hinted...then one day when I got back home from work, my husband greeted me at the door with the smallest rabbit I have ever seen. 
Connor became part of our lives. He was found thrown out with trash along with the rest of his brothers and sisters. He was rescued by a kind stranger and sent to a shelter. He was the last of his litter. 
Naturally, my husband had to bring him home. 
It wasn't the easiest thing to bond these two. In fact, Wiggles bit Connor several times....but in under 2 months, they bonded, and as the above picture show, they have become very close.
Its Connor grooming Wiggles. Now, something very common in our household.

Wiggles has continued to grow.....well, mentally, physically she has become a lot more fit!

She now knows when I come home from grocery shopping and will run to greet me in the hallways when I plop down the grocery bag filled with her food. In the pic above I believe she is feasting on carrot tops.

She has also become quite curious and explorative. She will run into our bedroom to find us...that is wake us up in the morning should we happen to sleep in and her cereal is not ready.
 She will poke you when she wants petting, and she will certainly let you know when she wants food....she can be quite persuasive. A cute little poke by her nose on your ankle, or a paw on your foot lets you know she is there, waiting, patiently (but not for long) for you to feed her some tasty treat.

This is Wiggles circa 30 minutes ago. She is literally behind me, sitting on a comfy blanket. 

She now likes to hang around after meals. (This is her looking directly at me) I think likely just to scope out what I am doing. But this is a very typical Wiggles place. Nearby when we are in the living room. 

Another pic, just recently taken. She is happily loafed, with Connor right behind her.

What did I hope to achieve in this post? Well to remind myself that there are rabbits out there that have been through a really rough upbringing, who have been forced to live in cages, eat nothing but bland food, only be played with for the amusement of children, not shown love, care or that hands can be for more than hurt.

About a month after we adopted Wiggles, we heard that the shelter she came from had a ringworm infestation and as a result the shelter was euthanizing ALL of the animals. Ringworm is something that can be easily treated. Thanks to some of the staff that refused to take orders, a lot of the animal got out alive, adopted, including the other 5 rabbits that accompanied Wiggles there.
Breaks my heart to think if we would have waited any longer, she may have been euthanized because she was likely not adoptable due to her temperament.
BTW, there were no signs of ringworm outbreak on her, nor have there ever been. 

Although I have my battle scars from Wiggles. The scars from the numerous blood drenching bites she has given ( I kid you not this rabbit can bite hard as hell), but regardless, they have healed, and so has she. 
She now has a place where she can roam free. Sit in a windowsill in the afternoon soaking up the sun, eat as much as she likes, play with friends like Connor and Wayne, and have the constant love and affection of two humans.
I think she has it good.

And tonight, she has proven it.

I went to pick her up, she was by the sink on her carpet expecting food,...and there were NO bites, grunts, scratches, noises, or any hostility. She actually enjoyed me picking her up. Petting her. 
This is a HUGE milestone for her. I still wear the scars (proudly) that she gave me on my hand. This same rabbit, who used to be fearful of all things human,  now lets me pick her up freely, something NOT natural to her upbringing let alone species, without any fear. 
She has learned to trust. 
This is something I have always hoped for, never thought I would achieve, yet here we are.

Why we kept the name: Every time EVERY time, Wiggles is in a mischievous, happy, playful mood, she will wiggle her tail in contentment. Whether its when we tell her for eating a plant she is not supposed to (Tail Wiggle) or when she is playing with Connor and he has run towards her (Tail WIGGLE) or when she realizes she is getting treats (TAIL WIGGLE!!!!) her little white bottomed tail will wiggle with contentment. Although I feel silly saying I have a rabbit named Wiggles, I don't think any other name can do for this one. She shows her contentment through wiggles. And the more wiggles, the merrier. 

Wiggles, I am so proud of you. I am so thankful you trust me and feel welcome enough in your home to be yourself.

February is Adopt an Abandoned Rabbit month. I think I will do something just on her behalf. 

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