Saturday, April 24, 2010

Just a few pics

More outdoor time for Mickey today--I'd been planning to bring him out tomorrow, but since it's supposed to rain, I figured I'd better do it today instead.

Fortunately, my husband hadn't mowed the lawn yet, so somebunny got lots of grass and some fresh dandelions to munch on.

Those are ones I picked for him outside the cage.

I really need to remember to bring out my camera and get him on video the next time he's out (These pics were taken with my cell phone). He was racing around the perimeter of the cage, dancing up a storm and eating grass like mad. It was quite a sight to see,

While I was outside, I took the time to visit Karnage's grave. I usually don't make it that far out back because the mosquitoes are especially fierce back there, but since they're not out yet, I had a chance to take a picture of the garden stone that marks his grave so I could add it to my post about him.

As I mentioned, my mother had given it to me a few years before his passing; it was hand-painted by a friend of the family, and I am so happy to see how well it's held up over the years.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

In Memory of an Internet Superstar

Two years ago today, the internet lost a superstar and I lost one of the best rabbits I've ever had.

In August of 2001, the rabbit I owned at that time passed away unexpectedly. I was absolutely miserable; the sight of the empty cage made matters even worse. I wanted another rabbit, but had no idea where I was going to get one.

Two days later, my family and I were swimming at our private swimming hole on the Green River. The property is owned by a member of my family, and is only open to family members, their guests and the few neighbors who live along the property. My husband was talking to one of these neighbors who happened to be there on that day. He mentioned how my rabbit had just died the other day and how upset I was.

The neighbor said, "What a coincidence--one of our rabbits had babies a couple of months ago, and we're trying to find homes for them."

I still had my rabbit carrier in my car, so I got it out and the neighbor and I walked back to his house. Along the way, I got the story; he and his wife had gotten two rabbits from a friend, not knowing that the female was already pregnant until she gave birth to seven babies shortly thereafter--"on Father's Day, no less. Nice gift, huh?"

The rabbits were in three outdoor hutches; mother in one, father in another, babies in a third. The mother was large and a light silvery-grey, the father equally large and a solid jet-black. No idea as to breeds, but I assume they were mainly mixed. The babies were assorted colors; two had the Californian markings (white with black ears, nose and tail), and I was told that the neighbor's children had already claimed those; one was black like the father, three were a solid medium gray...and then there was Karnage.

His fur was silvered like his mother, but he was a darker gray than she was. You could see the black nose, ears and tail under the silvering, just a shade darker than the rest of him. His eyes were an odd green-brown, a shade I'd never seen in a rabbit. Out of all the babies, he was the only one bold enough to come over to the hutch door as we approached.

It was love at first sight. I knew then and there that I had to have him.

I named him Karnage after a character I had been using in my writing, because like his namesake, the rabbit Karnage loved to eat and generally created chaos wherever he went. He also had an indescribable appeal, even to people who didn't like rabbits. Even my husband (who generally tolerates my passion and ignores my pets unless they get in his way) liked Karnage. I'm not exactly sure why; Karnage wasn't an affectionate fellow, I was the only person he allowed to hold him for any period of time, and even then it was for a short time at best. He occasionally allowed people to pet him, but even then, it was only a very select few. The best thing I can come up with was that there was something in his eyes, something in his aloof personality that drew people like magnets. Even his pictures drew lots of interest...and that's how the "internet superstar" tag came about.

I had been regaling my online friends with stories and pics of Karnage since I got him. The response had been so positive that as a lark, I made a webpage and a LiveJournal account for him. The webpage was (and is) called "Karnage, the Life and Times of an Internet Superstar" because of the running joke between my friends and I that Karnage was the first rabbit internet superstar. On the LJ account, I wrote in Karnage's "voice"; he was opinionated, generally cranky, and occasionally known to use impolite language. He was neither fluffy nor cutesy, and he had little tolerance for the foibles of the people he lived with--or humans in general, for that matter. That pretty much summed up Karnage in real life; if he loved you, you knew it, but otherwise, he didn't have much use for you.

He did love me, that much I know. He would hop around my feet and grunt his little love grunts whenever he was out for exercise. If I sat down on the floor, he would come over and stretch out next to me so I could pet him. As I said, I was the only person he allowed to hold him for anything more than a minute. He would press himself up against my neck and completely go limp while I would massage his ears; it was like having a 5-lb. barbell on my neck sometimes. He didn't lick my face or hands like Mickey does, but he would occasionally toothpurr (chatter his teeth together very rapidly as a sign of happiness) or make other little noises of contentment when I was petting him.

In March 2008, we returned from a vacation trip to Florida, and I began noticing something was off with Karnage. The rabbit who never turned down a meal wasn't eating as much as he used to, and he didn't seem like his usual self. At first, I thought perhaps he was reacting to us having been gone; granted, he had never reacted like this on previous trips, but he was going to be 7 that June, which is approaching senior citizen territory for rabbits. Perhaps he was just being a little more cranky than usual. However, when his appetite decreased even further, I knew something was wrong and made an appointment with a local vet.

I was very lucky to find a good rabbit-savvy vet. She looked him over and said that his back teeth were starting to become overgrown, which is common in older rabbits. We made arrangements to have him put under so they could be ground down, but she said she didn't want to assume that was the only reason for his lack of appetite. She palpitated his abdomen, but didn't find anything at the time, and said that once he was under anesthesia, she'd check again to be sure that he wasn't hiding anything.

I brought Karnage in a few days later for his tooth filing. They called me later that afternoon. Under anesthesia, Karnage's relaxed abdominal muscles revealed a tumor in his intestinal wall, which had been gradually blocking his intestine. Had I waited any longer, he probably would have died of starvation. I was asked how I wanted to proceed; there were no guarantees with his age that the surgery would be successful, and recovery would be dodgy as well. If it was successful, though, he could still live a good life. I decided it was worth giving him that one chance, and told them to go ahead with the surgery.

The surgery was a success; I brought him home a few days later. You had to see how excited he was to be home and to be able to eat again; he was eating everything in sight and wanting more. I still wonder if perhaps I gave him too much food on that first day; I was trying to hold back, but he seemed so hungry, so I tried to give stuff to him as gradually as possible, but it still may have been more than his taxed intestines could take. The next day, he was looking pretty bad, and I callrd the vet in a panic. They gave me painkillers for him, but it didn't seem to help much, so I brought him back in. Because we were going to be away visiting family for part of the weekend, I asked that they keep him over the weekend so I wouldn't have to worry about him being alone while I was gone. That Monday, they called and said that he had shown improvement, but they wanted to keep him one more day to be sure and I could pick him up on Tuesday. I was so relieved that the crisis had passed.

It was not to be; Tuesday morning, as I was getting ready to go to a doctor's appointment and planning to pick up Karnage afterwards, the vet called. Karnage had passed away at some point in the night and the techs had found him in the morning. She was as shocked as I was; he had been showing signs of recovery, passing poop, eating and drinking--she'd had every intention of sending him home with me that day, and finding out he had died was unexpected and upsetting.

She asked if I wanted to see him before they wrapped him up for burial, and I said no--I would have lost it on the spot if I had. As is, my doctor had a near-hysterical patient to deal with that day. When I got to the vet's, they had Karnage completely wrapped up in a beautiful white baby blanket. I put his body in his carrier for one last trip home, then sealed him up in a plastic box (so the local critters couldn't smell him and dig him up) and my husband buried him in our backyard. His grave is marked with a garden stone that my mother gave me a few years beforehand.

To say I was devastated was an understatement. I'd had Karnage for almost seven years, from the time he was old enough to leave his mother. I'd become more attached to him than any other rabbit I'd ever had. Even though I love Mickey dearly, there isn't a day that I don't think of Karnage. He is with me even now--I'd planned to have a picture of him tattooed on my arm before he died; it didn't get done until after he was gone, but it's a perfect tribute:

I also made a slideshow of pictures of him that I'd taken over the years. The original site where I had it is gone, but I recreated it for this post. I was going to embed it, but since it seems the music plays automatically, I'm just going to link it here instead: Karnage's Slideshow 

I still haven't gotten around to updating the webpage to mention his passing. I had updated the LJ, but for some reason forgot to do the webpage. I'll be taking care of that later; two years is a little long to leave that hanging.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dishing out the poop, so to speak

Just when I think things are down to a routine with the wascally wabbit, he throws me a curveball.

The latest: ever since we got home from our vacation, I've noticed that Mickey hasn't been eating much of his papaya chunks-and-pineapple juice mix. Normally, the dish is empty or near-empty by late evening/early morning, but now there's barely a dent in it, if he touches it at all. At first, I assumed it was due to the papaya possibly having gone bad near the end of a particular piece, so it was tossed and a new one bought, but he turned up his nose at that one as well. I checked the pineapple juice; its sell-by date had passed the day before, perhaps it had gone bad beforehand? Nope, still good, but I tossed it anyway and got fresh. Not a nibble.

Of course, the over-protective/uber-paranoid bunny-mum in me starts freaking out a bit, because the papaya/pineapple mix is supposed to be keeping Mr. Furball from getting furballs where he's not supposed to get them--in his stomach. This has been a particular problem for Mickey; because he has such a particularly thick coat, he ingests fur through grooming on a pretty constant basis, and until I started him on the papaya/pineapple mix, he was passing an awful lot of hair in his poop, which meant that there was enough in him to possibly cause a blockage in his system.

A quick check of the litterbox, however, reveals no sign of hair in the bunny poop. In fact, the bunny poop is looking pretty darn good...

We interrupt this post with a message to non-rabbit-owners: Part of being a rabbit owner involves dealing with rabbit poop. Not just in the sense of cleaning it up or finding it where it shouldn't be--although that is part of it--but sometimes having to inspect it, because the quality of a rabbit's poop will tell you a lot about what is going on inside it, and when you have a pet that is a prey animal by nature, it's not going to let you know when it's sick, and often, by the time you're seeing obvious signs of illness, it's way too late. If reading about poop bothers you, perhaps you should scroll down to until you get to the pretty pictures at the end of the post, but really, I'm not going to be talking about it for much longer, so please bear with me. 

I'm seeing good-sized, uniformly round, loaded-with-fiber dry balls of rabbit poop--no little poop chains linked by hair or poop that is more fur than fiber--just ordinary, healthy rabbit poop. Obviously, all the hay that Mickey's been eating is doing him good, but hay doesn't necessarily prevent hairballs from forming, although if he's eating hay instead of grooming himself, there's less chance he'll get enough hair in him to clog his system. I've been grooming him a little more often just in case, and I've substituted papaya tablets for the fresh stuff for the time being. I figure I'll give him some time, then reintroduce the fresh at a later date if need be. Sometimes a bunny just needs a break from the routine, I guess.

Now for the pretty pictures:

One of the newest trinket boxes I bought on eBay...

...and the removable bunny inside.
The box itself is so small, you wouldn't think the little bunny would fit in it, but it does.

A small decorative pillow, purchased through the Colorado HRS Gift Shop ,

Other side of the pillow (doubly funny if you've ever seen the sad state of my house).

One of two pairs of earrings, also bought from Colorado HRS...

...and the other pair.
Have not had a chance to wear either one yet, but planning to do so soon enough.

Now wasn't all that worth dealing with a little poop?


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The rabbit and the boy

My son is an only child (he has two half-sisters, but they are older than him by 10+ years and he only saw them some of the time growing up). Out of all the rabbits I've had, Mickey is the closest thing he's had to a "little brother", and their relationship reflects this. The boy likes to pretend he doesn't care about what Mickey does, but he's always calling my attention to one of Mickey's death flops or talking to the rabbit or trying to play with him. He'll push down gently on Mickey's head or place his forehead up against Mickey's "so he knows I'm in charge", he'll chase after Mickey and pretend to pick him up. Mickey actually enjoys the chase; he'll hop just out of my son's reach, then sit there and wait to see if the boy comes after him. Mickey ignores the boy if he comes into the room while I'm holding Mickey, but if the boy doesn't pet him or give him a treat, His Majesty gets miffed. When Mickey's out and about, he chins anything belonging to my son that's within his reach, especially if the boy's there to see him do it. The boy knows what chinning means, so he gets mock-annoyed at the disrespect and chases Mickey some more. The last time Mickey was out and about, the boy waited until Mick was stretched out and lounging, then decided to see how many of Mick's aluminum tins he could pile on him before Mickey finally moved:

As you can see, the rabbit was unimpressed. The boy, however, was in hysterics. He grabbed my camera and took these pictures before Mickey finally shook off the tins, hopped over to where my son's laptop case sat on the floor...and promptly chinned it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Brought Mickey outside for the second time yesterday afternoon. Didn't get in the pen this time, but sat next to it instead; Mick was a little displeased by this at first, he came over and pawed at the pen side where I was sitting a couple of times, but then he got over it and started bopping around to explore. Lots of bunnydancing and grass-nibbling followed, with bits of lounging in between. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes are starting to make their appearance, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to bring him out again.

In other news, we have a couple of winners in the "What kind of hay will Mickey eat?" contest. In first place, Oxbow Oat Hay--Mickey had shown some interest in it when I first offered it to him, but recently I reintroduced it and he went absolutely NUTS over it, to the point where he actually ate it before he started in on a fresh batch of greens. For Mick to choose hay over greens is unheard of, as is the fact that he will actually lean over and nibble on the oat hay when he's in his litter box, something he's never done before. I may have to break out one of his old hay mangers. I've already ordered more because I'm almost out of it.

Coming in at a very close second is Oxbow Botanical Hay, which is timothy hay with herbs added. Before I reintroduced the oat hay, I was giving him the botanical. He likes it, but not with the enthusiasm he has for the oat hay. A batch of botanical might last a couple of days before he touches it or it might disappear overnight, depending on his mood, whereas the oat hay has been eaten pretty steadily. I've already reordered this hay as well, and I'll probably alternate the two or provide him with both so he doesn't get bored with them, and I'll try sneaking in some of the other hays as well to see if he'll give them a try. Otherwise, they'll be added to the hay that goes in his litter box.

Finally, since I can't seem to post without adding a picture or two, here's a pic of one of my new trinket boxes, purchased on eBay:

And inside:

A little bumblebee, although unlike my other boxes, the bee is part of the box and can't be removed. I'll have pics of the rest of the stuff I bought in a future post, but for now I need to post this and go feed a bunny.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New Territory

Hope everyone had a Happy Easter (or a Happy Bunny Day if you don't celebrate Easter).

The weather here was absolutely perfect--sunny, temps in the 70s, no bugs or humidity--so I decided it would be the perfect day to bring out the exercise pen that I bought for Mickey late last fall, but never got a chance to use up until now. Mickey has never been outside, mainly because most of the time, my backyard is mosquito heaven and I am a mosquito banquet. There are only a few times that my yard is mosquito-free, and very early spring is one of them, so I figured I'd better do it now while I had the chance.

The pen was very easy to set up:

The only problem I had was in trying to put on the cover, which is recommended to give shade and protect from birds of prey such as the local red-tailed hawk swooping in and nabbing a furry snack. In retrospect, I should have laid the cover down and set the pen up on top of it, then flipped it cover side up; it's designed to fit only when the pen is positioned just so--and of course, I didn't have it just so. I settled for stretching the cover over half the pen instead.

Once things were set up, I brought Mickey out in an old carrier, set the carrier in the pen and opened the door. After a few sniffs, he cautiously stepped out and wandered around a few steps--then turned around, went back into the carrier and settled himself down as if to say, "Okay, that was fun; you can bring me back home again now."

I waited to see if he would come out again, but he didn't budge--so I budged him out, then removed the carrier so he couldn't go back in. He came over to the pen entrance to try to get out, but I nudged him away again and went into the pen myself to sit down in the grass next to him. This seemed to satisfy him, so he began exploring the contents of the pen.

Long story short, I ended up spending the afternoon in the pen with Mickey. I played with him, petted him and sat and read while he lounged on the grass, played with his toys and bopped around on occasion.

It took about an hour for him to realize that the stuff under his paws was actually edible, but once he did, it was funny to watch him sprawl out and nibble at the grass. He was in lazy bunny heaven; he didn't have to do anything but lie there and he could still eat.

We stayed in the pen until it was almost suppertime, then I put his carrier back into the pen and opened the door. Surprisingly, he hopped right inside and settled down again for the trip back into the house.

I'm hoping the good weather will continue for a bit longer so I can get him outside a few more times before the mosquitoes get wise to us.