Friday, February 24, 2012

Rabbit Stories No One Wants To Hear

So a colleague came into my office and said "Now don't be mad at me...."

I'm a known rabbit mother, for a lack of a better word, in my small office.
I mean news of some crazed person spending almost 2K on a sick rabbit is unheard of especially in my recent neighbourhood. (The same slightly north of Toronto neighbourhood I am still getting accustomed to. Very non city, very white, middle class, ....but I digress......

He went on to tell me about his childhood how his father used to bring a 'bag of rabbits some alive some dead" and they would have dinner. He then said he never liked it, rather he didn't even think there was anything special about rabbit meat, let alone enough meat on the body. He went on to say that his mother in law and wife seem to still love rabbit meat and eat it to this day.....

This got me thinking. When Wayne was found his nails were sharp, like he had not run around a lot on his own....which made me think he might MIGHT have been a rabbit meant for meat. I don't know, this is mere speculation. However, whenever we make something on the stove, like just at this very moment, he FREAKS OUT! And its not even meat.

Wayne has ALWAYS been scared anytime we cooked anything. Could this be because he was meant to be food? Was he in a bag? Waiting to be cooked? Was he traumatized in a kitchen somewhere? My other two rabbits do not fear such smells. Neither have my previous rabbits, so what gives?

I understand rabbits are unfairly classified as both meat and pet animals (Which is BEYOND insane in my woods) but thats how things are right now. They are loving creatures. Anyone ANYONE who I have met who have been around rabbits knows this. Those that chose to eat rabbits IGNORE the fact that they are sentient, smart, loving beings NOT MEANT FOR FOOD!

To colleagues who scolded me for spending so much on a 'mere rabbit' I said "Well, wouldn't you do the same for your dog or cat?"
The majority who 'think' about that question, are not on the same playing field.

To me a rabbit, cat, dog, who has become part of a family is family. The same creatures who lick your tears away, snuggle up against you, who you comfort when they have a bobo (or a bite from another rabbit), who get scared because unfamiliar frightening smells are emanating from a kitchen, are the ones I want to be around. These are the living creatures that matter to me. The ones that care, the ones that support and stand up for you. Call me crazy, but that is the wonderful world I live in.

So, where does this leave us?

Rabbits are still meat and they are still pets. I on the other hand, chose to think I am lucky enough to have garnered the trust of three wonderful bunnies who I am fortunate to share my home with. The same rabbits who today binkied in joy after seeing the dandelions they were getting for lunch, the same rabbits who got themselves set up in 'pet position' when they saw me approach, the same rabbits who are still thrilling, binking, jumping for joy at the new area rugs in their room because they now have traction. These are the rabbits I live with. The ones who lick my nose after petting them. The ones that follow me into the laundry room because I have not paid enough attention to them that day. The rabbits that jump up on my bed early in the morning because they want my attention. The same rabbits who greet me at the door, come when they are called, the ones that poke me with their noses when they hop by, the same rabbits that people eat, possibly across the street, these are the rabbits whom I call family.

Call me crazy, but these same creatures won't abandon me like 'family'. These animals make you show how much you are trustworthy. You need to earn your trust with them. These are the same creatures who love you unconditionally like a dog or cat; non judgemental, loyal, caring, happy to be with you .YOU!!! Because to them, you are their world.

In only wish we chose friend and family as carefully as rabbits pick the people they want to be with.

But I digress.

So, why eat rabbits? Why eat your cat or dog then? Where do we draw the line? On a logical standpoint, rabbits have very little meat. On a more emotional one, they are really sweet hearted and deserve better treatment. But then again, don't we all?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Rabbit Thoughts - Litter Box Cleaning

Oh hey, so you are cleaning the litter boxes eh? I better inspect this...

I think Im gonna need to test out each one to make sure correct amount of fluff was added.

I dunno about this one. May have TOO much litter. And if there is TOO much litter I will poop around said litter box.

What do you think Wiggles? This one ok? Or shall we just poop around it?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Wayne: Recovery from GI Stasis

I have been blessed in life. Not always, Ive had my worries, troubles, mountains to climb. I've had to worry about family members, including bunny, who have been sick, or undergoing an issue. Wayne's for some reason was different. I think its perhaps because I felt that he always found us. It was he who sought us out though a long journey of coincidences, that he found himself on our doorstep, where he needed to be.

Wayne is ok. He is eating, pooping and peeing on his own. This is a brave little bunny.

Never in my almost two decades of having rabbits have I encountered GI stasis. So I will give a brief rundown of this story, and will post some much needed reminders for later on.

How did it happen? Well, essentially, Wayne stopped pooping. He always had huge wonderful poops, then it stopped. That was the ONLY thing that changed. He was still chipper, happy and ate some...but not enough.... I had a feeling something was wrong despite being told not to worry (Ok, I worry a lot, but only because I love the dear people and bunnies in my life).

I called the vet on Monday and we took Wayne in. I touched upon this in my previous posts so I won't go into too much detail, but they found a gas blockage, but could not find  the actual blockage itself. We were told to give him critical care and three different meds.

Wayne on his way home from the vet. The purple material is my husbands shirt. Rabbits feel more comforted when your smell is around them. He and my husband have a special bond. 

When Wayne was brought home, he was better. He ate before he even got out of his carrier. He was really happy to be home and was munching. Within two hours he was pooping. Something we have been waiting on for a fe days. Hurray!!!

He would eat, some, but not enough, so we had to give him Critical Care (which he HATED) but upon taste tests by other rabbits in the household, mainly Wiggles, it was proven that it surely was not the taste, rather the method of getting said food into a bunny's belly that was upsetting. The meds we were giving him twice a day was not his favourite way to take things in. Poor little bunny.

With lack of sleep, having to work a full time job (Bless my wonderful boss who understood my need to work from home because regardless of the type of animal, he considered pets to be a part of the family. I can't stress enough how much this helped me and as a result has solidified my loyalty to this man) regardless Wayne was watched full time. I brought him up to the living room, where I could monitor  the poop situation. Every hour I would check on him, offer him hay, carrot tops, leafy greens, etc.  We would go to bed at midnight, wake at 3am to check on him, wake at 6am, give meds at 8am, give more meds at 9am, more at 8pm, more at 9pm....for 5 days....

Wayne notes.

If it wasn't for my crazy note taking, I would not know what day it was.... My husband and I took meticulous notes, from when he pooped, how much, where, to what activity he was doing....this helped us see patterns and see how he was doing. When you sleep about 2 hours a day for 7 days, this is immensely helpful.

Wayne, in his typical stance. Living room bound, he is looking at me perplexed, "Where is ma fort?"

I am not quite sure where I am going with this post, aside from the fact that I am trying to document this so I or anyone else can see what its like. My incoherent gibberish should tell you I haven't slept in a few days, and the fact that I am posting means he is OK!!!

So, where is this tread going? Well WAYE IS EATING ON HIS OWN!!!!
His poops are more Wayne sized and we have more carrots (left over from the carrot tops he has been happily eating) that we know what we can do with (Seriously, if anyone knows what to do with about 10 - 15 pounds of carrots, please send me a recipe)

This story is about a happy ending. Its about trust. Wayne trusted us. We built that up within a year of living with him. He didn't like that we had to force feed him. And I honestly balled a few times because I had to force feed this little creature. He was not happy about it but he is alive, eating and has done a few binkies.

So, to all of you out there who may encounter this, yes, its a struggle, and you will lose sleep, money, and some sanity, but to me it was worth it.

When I went back to work, one asked (the rest were were really supportive though all of this) "Why would you spend $1,300 on a rabbit if he isn't even guarantee to survive?"
Guaranteed or not, I don't care. Its not about that. Its about a member of our family being sick. And money, sleep, etc at that point does not matter. I told the vet they need to do everything they can to make sure he is ok. I didn't care about financials (No I am not well off, and our leaky bathroom will be renovated later this year as a result) but Wayne is OK. He is safe.

The way I responded to that colleague was to say that if I split out that $1,300 over the course of the year I had him, it was more than worth it. He brought us a lot of joy and happiness. And I thought it would not only be unethical but unfair for us not to try to get him better. Money is money, it will come and go. A rabbit, a pet, a living creature who snuggles up beside you when they want hugs, will poke you with their little noses when they want to play, who will happily jump and kick their feet when they are happy, a rabbit, who has finally learned that people can be trusted, that to me is priceless. The love and trust from an animal who has learned to fear. To me, his little life, is priceless.

So, moving forward, to prevent this, I am making an emergency bun kit I will share. I don't want anyone to ever have to go though this again.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wayne update

Things got better for a bit, he was eating a lot more on his own on Thursday, then Friday and so far today its not been so good. We are giving him critical care every 4 to 6 hours, but he is not eating on his own and his poops are very little. Times like (not much sleep in a week) I am glad I have been writing down and documenting his progress. I am trying to do everything to get him to eat.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Poops are awesome!

Wayne has been pooping since 8pm tonight. Its a great sign. He is hungry, freely eating and playing around. Not his usual crazy self, but still happy hoppy.
We just finished giving him his round of meds. I have no idea who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to flavour anything tutti fruit, let alone for a rabbit. He was really a trooper and I think he has figured out that we are here to help him.
He is tucked in his bunny cave, loads of fresh leafy greens at his side and I have tucked handfuls of hay in every little pocket, corner, area, etc in his room, cave, etc I could find. He is eating, pooing and peeing, I never thought I would be so happy over crap, but here we are.
Ok, bedtime for me. Its been a very exhausting few days.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Wayne is HOME!!!

My poor little fella. Such a brave bunny.
As soon as we got home we took him to his room in his carrier. As I was taking my coat off and getting ready to release him from his carrier I noticed that he began to eat the carrot tops we had set in his carrier an hour ago.
I opened the carrier and like everything was a-ok, he hopped out gave himself a little shake and went under the bed (his safe spot). We gave him more carrot tops by reaching under and pushing it toward him and he at the whole thing!!! No only that but he groomed himself and is now resting comfortably.
I went to the grocery store and bought a bunch of lettuce, carrots with their  tops, dandelion greens, apples, blueberries (for treats) and baby food (the vet suggested getting some in case we needed to feed him by hand. So I did). I offered him a nice leafy green smorgasbord and a some blueberries (vet said to give him a bit of sugar for energy).

I really hope he keeps getting better.

Something dawned on me during the ride home. The vets said he hadn't pooped. But all of our rabbits are litter trained, and really self litter trained mind you. And so it really did not come as a huge surprise that without a proper litterbox to poop or pee in, Wayne hadn't. They are so accustomed to using it, and especially in stressful situations, it would make sense that they would just hold it in.
Wiggles will run back into the house from frolicking in the front yard (supervised of course) to her litterbox to use it and happily proceed to go back outside to play.
Ok, not all rabbits are like this, but what they all have in common is to never poop or pee where you live. Thats how predators find you. So naturally, when threatened, or stressed, they don't go.

Happy update. He just used the litterbox. Mind you to pee, but its still a great sign. Hopefully the poops are coming soon.

Wayne is Coming Home!!!!

The vet called to say that the blockage aka gas bubble had passed. They did an x-ray because they show masses better than an ultrasound around noon EST. Although he is not eating and getting critical care, there is food in his stomach.
He is such a trooper. He has also been charming the nurses in the ICU. He is quite active and in good spirits, typical Wayne :)

A few things they learned while doing the bloodwork and additional tests:

  • His red blood cells are a bit low, meaning lacking iron. So I will need to give him even more leafy greens
  • His gums are slightly red. I am not sure what this means so I will ask when I see the vet.
  • His heart is a bit enlarged. Again, not 100% sure what this means, but again I will ask the vet.
  • He is definitely more than a year old. We guestimated his age when he came to us as a stray (he was so small and malnourished) so we thought he was younger than he actually was.
I'm getting a care package ready for him consisting of yummy carrot tops. He really loves those, hopefully that will spark his appetite.

I will provide more updates when I have more information. Including hopefully the ultrasound with the blockage.

Its been quite a journey. I can't wait to see my little hopper.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Wayne's got GI Stasis. He is in the ICU

Here is some more information about this: GI Stasis The Silent Killer

My little Wayne has not eaten or pooped a lot over the weekend and it was this past Sunday that I began to really worry. He would eat a bit here and there but his litterbox was unusually low on poop. He was really active and just like his cute little self, but I was still concerned. I stayed up with him all night Sunday feeding him water though a dropper and seeing if he would eat (since its at night that he is most active) He ate some, but not a I had to call a vet.

Monday morning (after googling a list of rabbit savvy vets in my area) I took him on a 30 min car ride. He was given an x-ray and I was told he had a blockage. What I didn't know was that this vet only dealt with neuters and sprays when it came to rabbits. So $300 lesson learned. Call the vet before and regardless of what you tell the receptionist ask them if there is a vet on hand who has dealt with rabbits outside the scope of spay/neuter and if they haven't ask for a vet hospital that does. DO NOT just go by lists online, they are not accurate and unless you ask the right questions they will make you come in regardless. Im mad that even though I told the receptionist that I think he has GI Stasis she still let me come in and see an unqualified person rather than referring me to an emergency hospital like the vet who I saw did.

So we wasted over an hour at that vet, and another hour in transit to one of the three vet hospitals that specialize in 'exotic' pets, which is what rabbits are apparently.

They took him into ICU and said they would call by the end of the day. It was around 3pm that I had gotten home. We got a call at 4:30 and they said that his ultrasound did not reveal the blockage, just the build up of gas. They have him on fluids and are giving him food. He was also given antibiotics which was not on the list that I signed and consented to.  But he has not eaten or pooped. But poor little thing has been in a car or scared in my hands, or on an exam table or his carrier all day long. No wonder.

Naturally Im worried out of my mind and with no sleep since Saturday I can't think straight. They said surgery might be an option but they don't want to go there. I just want to bring him home and keep giving him water and food. He gets stressed really easily so I want him to be back on familiar turf.

They are keeping him in ICU to see tomorrow morning if the gas has moved. I hope with all my heart that he gets better. I feel guilty for not seeing it sooner, for not taking him to the vet the moment I suspected something was off (Friday night, Saturday morning)
But the vets kept saying it looks like we caught it in time. He was still pooping a bit so thats a good sign. He is with doctors so he is well looked after.

I don't know how I will be able to sleep tonight. Breaks my heart knowing he is likely scared in an unfamiliar place and feeling abandoned.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Connor's Journey

Connor has always been skiddish, scared, easily startled. I was never sure if it was his breed, size or personality. But since he entered our lives, he always startled easily. I mean, we got him when he was 6 weeks old. There was little time for ill treatment, right?
Regardless, we were delighted to have him. Ive never seen a smaller rabbit than Connor. He fit in the palm of my husbands hand.
Enterer a room? Connor would run away.
Wear a slipper Connor has not seen? Connor would run away.
Move too quickly off the couch/a chair/in the spot you are standing? Connor would run away.
Wear a hat? On no no no! Thats not a familiar shape. Connor would run away.
Lean in to pet Connor? Connor would run away....
Change the litter box while Connor was in the same room? Connor would run a different room, under a bed and stay there.

This went on for some was as usual. When we walked by, we would try to pet him, give him a treat. We would try to play, show him we weren't a threat. I mean, after Wiggles, Connor was a walk in the park.

It was gradual, but I honestly remember one specific day, just this week actually when it finally dawned on me that Connor is not the same skiddish bunny he once used to be.

I was changing all six litterboxes at once and in auto clean mode. Grabbing the litter from their room, collecting the litterboxes while Wiggles and Connor both were enjoying their cereal as I was stepping over them heaving a heavy bag wearing a toque with my new winter slippers.....wait...I just walked by Connor and he didn't flinch.....he didn't even stop eating...what just happened here?

Thats when it dawned on me...Connor has changed! A lot!
 I began to realize he had not in recent memory run away from our approach. He greeted us by turning head first in our direction with the expectation of being petted. He no longer ran away at unusual noises. He stayed put when I pulled the curtains shut. We could walk by him and he would not get up and run into a corner. He now recognized us with a toque and shoes on!!! 
It was such a small and gradual change that it was a shock when it dawned on me.

Connor's skiddishness was really put to the test a few days ago when my husband and brother in law were playing a racing game in the living room and Connor stayed in the same room with them the whole time. Not only that, he was sprawled out on top of the heating vents, relaxed as can be.

This is not the same scared little rabbit that we brought home. Connor is a new bun.

Some rabbits are naturally scared, untrusting of their surroundings and need to be proven they can trust you.  Well, I think we got to that point with Connor.

Just tonight I had to comb his little fur. Its shedding season and being a half angora Mister Cooner tends  to need grooming a bit more that the others. He does not like being picked up let alone combed. But he was a trooper. He let me comb him and after I put him down, was waiting for his reward, a raisin.
If he keeps this up, he will soon be king of the house.