|Baby the bunny came into our lives unexpectedly when a family friend wound
up with a litter of bunnies to give away. I (Joanne) am allergic to cats and dogs, and my
husband (Mike) is allergic to cats as well -- besides, we were living in a teeny little
student apartment with scarcely room for the two of us. But wonder of wonders, neither
Mike nor I had an allergic reaction. And there was Baby, the runt of the litter, cute as a
button but with a cloudy eye. No matter, Mike fell in love with her on the spot and
sweet-talked me into one of the better decisions we've ever made! (The eye cleared up on
its own a month later, and she's never seemed to be particularly weak from being the runt,
so far as we know.)
|Baby had been a member of our family for over a year, and we had moved
half-way across the country with her, before I stumbled upon the PETBUNNY
listserv, a wonderful electronic community of house rabbit slaves. I
got all sorts of good advice, and learned about the House
Rabbit Society. One thing I had never been told was that female
rabbits, if they're not spayed, have a dangerously high chance of getting
uterine cancer. After a fair amount of soul-searching, and a corresponding
amount of vet-searching, we took Baby in for the operation.
The spay went well, but Baby wasn't impressed. She let us know in no uncertain terms, for several months, that she was MAD at us! She went from being a cuddle-bunny to being skittish, unfriendly, and growling a lot. Finally we decided that since she wasn't turning to us anymore for companionship, we'd better get a companion for her more her own size. So through the good graces of the Baltimore/DC Chapter of the House Rabbit Society...
|Christofur was a rescue bunny -- he had been abandoned to
make his own way in a cruel world (domestic bunnies don't survive long on
their own in the wild), and had acquired a bad case of ear mites. But by
the time we met him, he had been nursed back to health by an HRS fosterer,
and looked as gorgeous as he does in the picture. It was love at first sight/sniff
for Baby and Christofur. They spent much of their time lying down in a little
cuddle-pile, or grooming one another. And the best thing for their doting
human slaves, is that Baby forgave us altogether since Christofur's arrival.
Perhaps not as exuberantly cuddly as she was before the spay, but being
held ceased to be a problem!
Christofur lived with us for almost four years. During that time he and Baby remained inseparable. They never fought, although she occasionally played a mischievous little game in which she teased him until he chased her! Furry moved with us back to the Midwest, and went from living in an enclosure to having the full run of a family-room with occasional outings to the backyard. The backyard visits were always full of exuberant, butt-wiggling leaps into the air. Pure bunny joy.
Unfortunately, Furry's health eventually proved to be fragile. One episode during the 1999 holidays had us syringe-feeding him up to five times a day, when he had some kind of ear infection that made him lose his balance and refuse food. He pulled through that one, only to succumb a year later to complications from pneumonia.
Furry died at the vet clinic, so Baby didn't get to say goodbye and she was a confused and lonely bunny. We didn't want to rush her into a new companionship she wasn't ready for, but we did want to know when she was ready, so we gave her a stuffed bunny to play with. We had been told if she groomed her "surrogate," it meant she was lonely and wanted company. Well, she groomed the heck out of that thing!! So we went to the local House Rabbit Society fosterers to look for a new companion.
This time, the dating wasn't easy. Baby met several eligible suitors, one of whom nipped her on the nose, another of whom was scared of her, etc. The best bet looked to be a rather neurotic fellow named Phoebert, who had been abandoned at a local park and then spent over a year in shelters and fosterage.
It wasn't love at first sight, but it didn't seem hopeless either -- until we took him home! He and Baby fought for territory and had to be introduced gradually over more than a month, with car rides and bathtub encounters and many, many tricks.
Finally, however, the two settled down into mutual acceptance and even love!
They both enjoyed a good grooming, whoever is doing it...
Baby and Phoebert kept company for over a year. Alas, Baby was getting old. She made it into her 8th year, but had been slowing down for some time. In September 02, her hindquarters became paralyzed, perhaps from cancer. She gamely dragged herself around for a couple of weeks, but finally gave up eating, and it was time to say goodbye. Since the weather was warm, we were able to bring her remains home so Phoebert could say goodbye as well.
Phoebert missed her a lot. She was his first love, and he was lonely without her, seeking much more companionship from his humans than he ever had before.
However, not just any new partner would do! His first two dates, a couple of months after Baby's passing, were not at all promising. He treated those two gals in a most ungentlemanly fashion. But then...
Mike, who volunteers monthly with the bunnies at the Humane Society, encountered a very interesting rabbit. Not only was she delightfully friendly, with impeccable litter habits, but she was very similar-looking to Phoebert -- just about his size and coloring both.
Their first encounter was classic bunny interest, and we adopted her on the spot. The second encounter, at home in our kitchen, was even better.
First, nose to nose without trying to bite the noses off!
Then individual self-grooming...
Then a good-natured nudging for dominance...
Aha! Phoebert's getting his ears groomed!
We're still taking things slowly, enclosing Ellie in Phoebert's territory so she marks it as her own too. However, we expect that they will make a fantastic couple.
Baby & Furry Christmas Cards!!
|They're famous, they're fund-raisers, and they're the cutest bunny couple you'd ever hope to find under the mistletoe. Baby and Christofur were featured on their very own Christmas card, with proceeds to benefit the Baltimore/DC Chapter of the House Rabbit Society! The cards have long since sold out, but the fame lingers on.|
House Rabbits With Home Pages by Paige Parsons
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