Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Veg out!

April 18, 2018

Weekends in April are kind of tricky. With the wild weather shifts we’ve been having, we might spend Saturday cleaning out our flower beds and Sunday cleaning the ice off our windshields!  It’s enough to make us throw our hands up in the air and collapse on the sofa with a bag of Cheese Curls. But we’ve got a better way to veg out!

Join us at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi on Sunday, April 29, for VegMichigan’s annual VegFest! It’s a celebration of all things vegan.

Save your skepticism, Carnivores! A vegetarian/vegan diet isn’t all lettuce and flax seed. See for yourself, as you make the rounds of VegFest’s food court and try your free samples. Attend cooking demonstrations put on by three well-respected vegetarian chefs, and taste the incredible variety of meat-free meals available to you.

And the v/v lifestyle isn’t just for reed-thin millennials. Just ask Theo Riddick, a very vegan Detroit Lion. He’ll be there to explain why he switched up his nutrition protocol, and the benefits he’s enjoyed as a result. You’ll also hear from PBS contributor Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author and medical researcher Dr. Joel Kahn, diabetes specialist Caroline Trapp, NP, and a host of other experts.

GLRS will be among 150 exhibitors on hand to promote their animal-friendly, cruelty free, ecologically oriented products and services. Here’s your chance to “try before you buy”. Ask as many questions as you like, enjoy free samples, sign up to win cool stuff. Bring the kids! VegFest will have a special section with toys and games just for them.

VegFest runs from 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission is $17 at the door, but save $3 by ordering your tickets on line at VegMichigan.org for just $14. No raking, no shoveling, no cooking–just a day of free feasting and fun. See you there, snow or shine!

 

 

 

 

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What happens in Vegas…

April 4, 2018

…isn’t always as thrilling as slot machines and Celine Dion. Sometimes it’s a cautionary tale for everyone who owns or cares for rabbits.

You may have heard the story on national news, or followed it on our Facebook page. A children’s medical facility in Las Vegas decided it would be fun for their patients to watch wildlife in action. So they released their in-house “patient support” rabbits into a field out back to fend for themselves. Problem is, domestic rabbits aren’t wildlife.  And none of them were fixed.

You might be surprised how many people don’t realize that domestic bunnies aren’t built to survive on their own. Most rabbits who are “set free” have very short, unpleasant lives before succumbing to disease, starvation, attack by predators, or winding up as roadkill.

But what they are built to do is multiply. Rabbit reproduction is remarkably efficient. Male buns start sowing their oats by the time they’re two months old. Each doe can have a litter of up to 14 kits, every 30 days. Talk about a payout!

The rabbit total grew into the hundreds, and neighbors were irate. One dreadful night someone decided to take
matters into his/her own hands and set out lettuce laced with antifreeze. Almost 180 rabbits were found dead the next morning. It was time to fold. Rescue workers swooped in and captured as many of the 800+ survivors as they could. Eight of them came to us.

Those of us in rescue are already well acquainted with the “Easter dump”. Do you know someone, a friend or neighbor, who isn’t quite as enamored of their kid’s “basket bunny” as they were the day they brought him home from the pet store? Please encourage them think twice before they make a regrettable decision like the Vegas medical center did. Please help us spread the word!

Bowl me over

March 7, 2018

Bowl or bottle? Among rabbit owners, it’s as ubiquitous a question as “paper or plastic”. Rabbits are heavy drinkers–they can put a shipload of sailors to shame! What’s the best way to ensure our bunnies have a constant supply of fresh water?

You’ll find compelling arguments for both sides. At our sanctuary, we use bowls, for a few specific reasons. First off, we’ve found that rabbits drink much more water when provided with a bowl vs a bottle. It takes less effort to lap up liquid than it does to suck it out of a tube drop by drop. Bowls are easier to keep clean and refill, and there’s no leakage. We also find that lowering the head to drink is a comfortable, natural movement, as opposed to stretching upward to access a bottle nozzle.

That said, there are certain situations where a bottle is the more practical choice. A blind or physically impaired rabbit may find it impossible to maneuver around a water bowl without spilling it. We’ve even had a couple of exceptionally long-eared residents who ended up taking a bath each time they bent down to take a drink!

Whichever delivery method you decide upon, there’s a few things to keep in mind. With a bowl, the heavier the better. A sturdy ceramic or metal bowl is less likely to tip over when Pawla decides to use it as a wading pool or chew toy. Look for one that’s wider at the base. Plastic bowls scratch easily, and can harbor harmful bacteria. Choose the largest bowl that will fit into your rabbit’s space, and keep it full.

If you go with a bottle, don’t cheap out. Lesser quality bottles will drip and leak, leaving you with a mess and your rabbit without anything to drink. Some ultra-bargain brands look effective, but don’t dispense water evenly. Your rabbit will have to expend a great deal of effort to get a few drops. When positioning the bottle, double check that Pawlette can reach the nozzle comfortably without stretching or twisting.

When in doubt, try a combo unit. It’s good practice to empty and scrub your bun’s dispensers frequently, even if they look clean. Would you really want to drink the water that’s been sitting in a cup on your nightstand for the past week? Use a mild detergent and rinse well. Bottle nozzles can be hard to clean, so try a Q Tip or toothbrush. Then refill.  (Hint: the fuller the bottle, the fewer drips you’ll have.)

Bunnamaste

January 24, 2018

Oh, the aches and pains of the new year! Endless trips up to the attic with overloaded boxes of Christmas decor. Shoveling mounds of snow off the driveway, car, front porch, roof. Hours of overtime hunched in an uncomfortable cubicle, trying to pay off those holiday credit card bills. Not to mention screaming muscles, courtesy of your new gym membership!

Put down that bottle of Advil (or Jack Daniels)! There’s a better way to recover, one that won’t cost you a cent or leave you with a fuzzy head. All you need is a quiet room and a mat.

Forget the stereotypical images of new age naturalists twisting themselves into pretzels while chanting mantras. Yoga’s gone mainstream! The physical and mental benefits have been scientifically proven—flexibility, strength, energy, relaxation, lower blood pressure, and more. It’s effective and safe for any age group, any level of fitness.

Enterprising artist and author Brian Russo is a big fan of both yoga and rabbits. He’s combined the two in a delightful book, Yoga Bunny. Designed for the younger set, but equally effective for adults, Yoga Bunny combines a captivating story of woodland friends with a gentle introduction to the practice.

Brian’s website, www.bunnyoga.com, offers downloadable worksheets and charts to guide newcomers through basic movements and breathing. Useful AND adorable—even if you decide yoga’s not for you, we’re betting you’ll still enjoy the whimsical illustrations posted on your wall!

Stay tuned next week for a report on a different kind of rabbit yoga! Get your bunny fix and help homeless animals at the same time!

“Bond. Buns Bond.”

December 6, 2017

“It is not good for man to be alone.” Those are some pretty famous words. And they’re just as true when you substitute “rabbit” for “man”. Nearly all of us have had the urge to flee our hectic lives and hole up in a remote cabin, far away from the the rest of humanity. But you won’t find many hermit bunnies! Rabbits are social creatures, happiest when they’re surrounded by others of their own kind.

We encourage potential bunparents to adopt in pairs, and for owners of single rabbits to find a friend for their bun. But it’s not as easy as throwing a bunch of fish in a tank together. How would you feel if a stranger showed up in your home and started eating out of your fridge or soaking in your tub? Rabbits are as choosy as we are when it comes to accepting a mate.

Bringing unfamiliar rabbits together isn’t like an episode of The Love Boat. Try Survivor, maybe! So how do you go about ensuring domestic harmony between your adoptees? Repeat after me: PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE!!! A few lucky bunny bonds are a case of love at first sight, but most will take a few weeks, possibly a few months. Humans don’t go ring shopping on the first date, after all.

Step #1: Misery loves company. Start right off the bat by bringing your rabbits home in the same carrier. Trust us, they’ll be too anxious to fight. You might take back roads or make a few extra loops around the neighborhood. When you check on them, chances are excellent that they’ll be cuddled together. This is a good beginning!

Step #2: Quantity vs quality. For the next several days, keep your buns in separate pens, but within eye/ear/nose shot of each other. Let them get used to their new roomie’s sounds and smells. Then begin switching pens. On opposite days, Snowflake moves into Cottonball’s pen and vice versa. Both rabbits get accustomed to sharing the same spaces, just not at the same time.

Step #3: Short and sweet. Now you’ll bring them together in one smallish area, like an X-pen or a bathtub. Set your phone alarm for ten minutes and let them interact. If they ignore each other, gently guide them closer. It’s likely that there will be some minor tussling and a few tufts of flying fur as they decide who’s going to be top bun. Stay calm, nudge them apart and speak softly. At the end of the ten minutes, break out the banana. You want your rabbits to associate “togetherness” with “yummy”!

Step #4: Slow and steady. Gradually lengthen the amount of time together and vary the surroundings. You might set them up near the washing machine or beside the rug as you vacuum near them. The goal isn’t to terrorize them, but to encourage them to seek comfort from each other. If either rabbit seems overly stressed, or if you see too much hostility, it’s time to slow down a bit. Go back to ten minutes at a time.

Lots of treats, lots of praise, lots of patience! And lots of supervision. If you see mutual grooming, eating out of the same bowl, napping together, or nose-to-nose contact, you’ll know your buns are on the fast track to bonded bliss. (Keep in mind: ONLY after you’ve witnessed a continued period of harmony, with only minor sibling rivalry, should you put them together permanently.)

Wander in Wonderland

November 1, 2017

You’re probably familiar with the story of “Alice in Wonderland”, the children’s classic about a magical underground universe, accessed only through a rabbit hole. Everything is slightly askew in Wonderland, eye-popping and most definitely unexpected. Imagine the fun of exploring such a place!

Emma and Wayne, animal lovers in central England, decided to make the fantasy come true… for rabbits, anyway! It had long been their dream to open a sanctuary on their rural property. But a simple collection of pens just wouldn’t do. Never the kind to go halfway on a project, the couple unleashed all their creative energy on designing a rabbit utopia!

Wonderland Rabbit Sanctuary is a marvel of aesthetics, engineering, and practical luxury. There’s a treehouse, a clubhouse complete with “tap room”, log bridges, hillocks, and temperature controlled sleeping hutches, all under the watchful eye of Eddie, a two ton clay and sod bunny sculpture who dominates the yard.

All of the structures are linked above and below ground by a 400 foot maze of tubing (including a stretch that runs right through the middle of Eddie!). The perimeter is reinforced with buried fencing and electric wiring. Alpacas and donkeys patrol the exterior, warding off foxes, while flying kites dissuades buzzards.

When the rabbits have a hankering for a snack, they can munch on anything growing within their reach. Emma and Wayne plant only bunny-safe grasses, herbs, and flowers. Eddie’s fluffy tail is actually a patch of lavender! Well-placed plants repel biting insects, eliminating the need for caustic pesticides.

Wonderland is quite an undertaking, especially considering the couple’s tight budget. They foraged for whatever materials they could find, adapting their designs to fit. And they did all the landscaping and building work themselves. Truly a labor of love! To learn more about Wonderland Rabbit Sanctuary, check out their Facebook page!

 

Buns in Toyland

October 11, 2017

So you’ve brought home your new rabbit, and you’re sure you thought of everything. Little Pawla has a spacious, solid-bottomed pen. You’ve stocked up on the best quality hay, and your crisper drawer is stuffed with fresh herbs and greens. The litter in her box is dust and fragrance free, her water bowl is full, and you’ve got a reputable “bunny basics” guidebook on your shelf next to the nail clippers and grooming tools.

Pawla is destined for a very comfortable life, no doubt! You’ve made sure all her physical needs will be met. But there’s another facet to raising a healthy, happy bunny, one that often gets overlooked.

We all know that rabbits are extremely intelligent, curious creatures. They’re also social animals, with a ton of energy. And bored bunnies are destructive bunnies! Imagine spending all day in a room with a TV that only gets one channel (and that’s C-SPAN!) You might not gnaw your way to freedom like Pawla, but we’re willing to bet you’d be tempted.

Don’t let frustration build! It’s easy to entertain a rabbit. One of our former residents, Gordon, would spend hours burrowing, digging, and ripping newspapers. Phone books and cardboard boxes are bunny magnets, and they fulfill your bun’s innate need to chew. Want to get some use out of all that junk mail? Rabbit teeth are far more effective than any shredder! Pinecones, empty oatmeal boxes, clean laundry detergent caps are all quick and easy playthings.

Try to find time every day to get on the floor with your bun. Playing together is a surefire way to build or strengthen the bond between you. Make towers out of plastic stacking cups or wooden blocks, and let Pawla knock them down with her nose. You might roll a small ball across the floor for her to investigate. Hide treats in toilet paper rolls, lunch sacks, or tissue boxes and encourage her to dig them out.

Willing to offer yourself as a human jungle gym? Try lying flat with a treat on your stomach (if you’ve got a large bun, you might want to roll over!) and wait for Pawla to climb up and get it. Once she catches on, you can do this on your hands and knees. Believe us when we say there’s just nothing more entertaining than feeling a bunny bouncing around on your back!

One more time

September 13, 2017

Our neighbors to the south are getting pounded. Harvey, Irma, now Juan…the wild weather is relentless. No doubt you’ve seen the pictures of the destruction, flooding, the empty store shelves and crumpled buildings. You’ve heard the news reports confirming how difficult it is for residents to find adequate shelter, food and water for themselves. Imagine the challenge faced by families with animals!

We published this blog a few months ago, but it seems like a good time for a reminder. In northern states like Michigan, we’re not likely to ever face a hurricane. But that doesn’t mean we’re off the hook! Tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, flooding, gusting winds, hail…if you haven’t experienced any of these yet, give it a couple more months!

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It’s storm season in Michigan, and that means we’ve got to be prepared. Whether we’re getting by with candles and canned food for a few days during a power outage, or hunkering down in our basements waiting out a tornado warning, having a plan is crucial. It’s even more important if we have four-legged family members.

Think about the last time you prepared to take Puffball in for a simple 20 minute vet visit. First you unearthed her carrier from the back of the closet, wiped out the dried pee you somehow missed when you put it away last time, dug around under your bed to find her favorite travel stuffie, remembered she needs a brave bunny goodie for the trip home, flushed her out from behind the fridge, and wrangled her into the carrier. Finally, an hour later, you were ready to hit the road.

A quick response is crucial in any emergency. A little advance planning now can save valuable time and untold stress later. Don’t wait a crisis hits! Gather the necessary bunny supplies and have them ready and easily accessible, before you need them.

If a storm strikes, you may have to move your pet quickly. A stressed rabbit can easily gnaw through a soft-sided carrier, so invest in one made of sturdy, hard plastic. Line the bottom with a thick towel and puppy pee pad. You don’t know how long she’ll be confined, so you want her to be comfortable. Make sure your name and contact information is written on or securely fastened to the carrier.

Fresh water is essential, so stash a couple gallons in a safe place (along with a bowl). We recommend storing at least five days worth of hay and pellets alongside the water. Pellets will stay fresh up to three months in a Tupperware container or Ziploc baggie. Hopefully, you won’t ever need to use this food, so remember to rotate it regularly to keep it from going stale.

Does your rabbit take any medications? Be sure to have a backup supply on hand. Same goes for extra puppy pads, in case you won’t have access to a litter box for a while. And don’t forget about your bun’s emotional health. A snuggly toy with your scent on it will be a big comfort to her.

Our buns absorb our emotions, so the calmer we remain, the easier it will be on them. Here’s to a safe, storm-free summer!

Let me call you sweetheart

August 16, 2017

When you think of ancient Rome, what comes to mind? Many of us remember endless lists of names and dates, drummed into our heads by our teachers while we watched the clock praying the bell would ring soon.

Sure, Romans showed impressive military prowess, mastery of engineering and architecture, and progressive ideals regarding the rule of law—all remarkable for the time. But we might have paid a bit more attention in class if our teachers had thought to point out the most obvious example of Rome’s advanced culture—their respect for rabbits!

It’s true that Romans weren’t known for being vegetarian. And that respect wasn’t always enough to keep Fluffy off the dinner table. But rabbits were viewed much more highly in ancient Rome than they are in many places even today. Not simply “livestock”, Roman rabbits were revered not only for their practical value but for their grace, beauty, and cunning.

When Roman Emperor Galba “acquired” Spain early in the first century, he celebrated by issuing a coin featuring a lovely woman with a rabbit at her feet. The rabbit was thought to represent the desirability and usefulness of this new land. Later coins also featured rabbits on one side, with various other motifs on the reverse.

Rabbits were also a hugely popular subject for public art, mainly intricate mosaic floor designs. For the most part, these were peaceful scenes, with no hungry foxes or snares in sight. Artists took great care with shading and contour. Very often a rabbit was more than just a peripheral figure. It was actually the main subject.

Prominent Roman women with disposable incomes chose bunny brooches made of bronze and silver. One fascinating pin is in the shape of a rabbit, with two smaller rabbits engraved into its side. Rabbit figures were also incorporated into household goods, like this bronze handle.

When Rome expanded into Great Britain around the 11th century, they brought their rabbits with them. Thanks to British farmers, the bunnies enjoyed covered, free-range enclosures, quite a luxury for that era. And even in those hard, hungry times, some rabbits’ appeal and charm were sufficient to earn them a permanent place inside the home. The colloquial term for ancient British house rabbits? “Sweethearts”!

On the road again

July 26, 2017

It’s a summer tradition, the road trip! What could be more relaxing than spending the day cruising cross-country, sleeping in quaint roadside motels, stopping to explore new and exciting places? We humans love an adventure. Our bunny friends, on the other hand…

We’ve met a few rabbits who actually enjoy hitting the open road. One lives six months of the year in a travel trailer, navigating the West with his retiree parents. Another regularly accompanies his family to a campground up north, where he hangs out around the tent with everyone as they roast marshmallows or walk the beach (in his harness, of course!)

These rambling rabbits, however, are few and far between! Most of our furry family members are quite content to never leave their home. It’s stressful enough braving the car ride to the vet and back, and that lasts maybe an hour total!

If you’ve ever taken human kids four states over to visit Grandma, you know that as heartwarming as these trips seem in retrospect, in reality there’s a lot of boredom, car sickness, fussiness, whining, and bathroom close-calls. And unlike your bun, your kids likely had access to travel games, iPods, videos, M&Ms, ice cream cone pit stops, and varied scenery.

This is not to say that we should never travel with our rabbits, but weigh the pros and cons. As a general rule, if you’re planning to be gone two weeks or less, it’s probably best to leave Pawla behind with a pet sitter. If you decide to bring her along, be mindful of a few bunny travel tips.

Stick together: If you’ve got bonded bunnies, they both need to come. If one isn’t healthy or calm enough to travel, they both stay. Choose a carrier big enough for both of them, and line it with a soft towel and pee pad. And keep that carrier close. Never leave your rabbits unattended in a motel room, campsite, rest area—and especially not a car, even with the windows down!

Location, location, location: The safest and most convenient position in the car is in the backseat, with the sides parallel with the seat back and the front opening facing the center of the seat. If you have to stop quickly or get in an accident, their heads and necks won’t absorb the full blow. You’ll also be able to access them easily, and reach in to comfort them.

Food for thought: You probably wouldn’t have much of an appetite for lunch after a few rounds on a roller coaster! So don’t be surprised if your rabbit doesn’t touch her food during the drive. The stress of traveling, the unsteady motion of the car, the unsettling sounds all tend to suppress appetite. Putting a few soaking wet greens in her carrier may entice her to nibble a bit, and provide necessary water.

Be prepared: When we travel, we often tend to play it by ear. Didn’t pack enough food? We’ll just grab something along the way. Need aspirin, bug spray, clean socks? There’s a Walmart around every corner. But find yourself at the bottom of a bag of timothy hay with three days left to go on your trip, and it won’t be nearly as easy to replace. Always stow extra food, dishes, pee pads, medications and syringes, bedding, and at least a gallon of fresh water.