Archive for the ‘How to Help’ Category

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!

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Baby binkies

August 30, 2017

When it rains, it pours…and you can help us hold the umbrella! Please join us on Sunday, September 10th, for a Baby Shower to welcome our newestminiature additions.

You’ve heard the old phrase “raining cats and dogs”. Around here, it’s been raining rabbits! First our heroic hoarding survivor Nala surprised us with eight tiny kits. Almost immediately afterward the Michigan Five arrived, all impossibly adorable and all under two months old. The deluge continued with four babies from Belleville.

Then just to mix things up, along came Maisy the piglet!

18 youngsters? That’s a kindergarten class! That’s both sides of a Little League game! That’s most of the Duggar family (and even they procured their kids one at a time)! You can see how this might have come as a shock. But now that the sheer terror has worn thin, we’re ready to celebrate our fresh fuzzy furbabies. And we’d love for you to join in.

Our baby shower will run from 1-4 PM, with free admission (although “diaper donations” are greatly welcomed!) Start your afternoon with light snacks, punch, and of course, cake! Stay for shower games and a silent auction (win a box of goodies to use to “baby” yourself!) Enjoy a tour of the grounds and barns, and of course, meet our irresistible guests of honor.

For more information, or for the sanctuary address, please contact info@rabbitsanctuary.org.

Sweet Sixteen

August 9, 2017

“It takes a village” is an apt phrase for raising children. It’s also the mantra of animal rescue groups everywhere. How else could you even begin to manage the nightmarish scenario that recently unfolded in southern Ohio?

Acting on neighbors’ complaints, authorities discovered over 80 animals crammed into a filthy, reeking house. There were some dogs and cats, but the majority were rabbits. A nearby rabbit shelter answered the call to help with removing the animals. By the time the day was finished, River Road Rabbit Rescue found themselves responsible for 53 bunnies!

As if finding pen space for so many wasn’t difficult enough, RRRR also had to deal with the various health issues that stemmed from the rabbits’ neglect. And they had to do it fast. Clearly, it was time to flash the Bat, er, Bun Signal and call in reinforcements!

Rescue groups around the country responded, including GLRS. We found room for eight of the rabbits, and willing volunteers drove them several hours to our sanctuary. At least, we thought we were receiving eight…Imagine our surprise when one of the females almost immediately presented us with eight tiny kits!

Our sweet sixteen are more precious than gold. They’re also just as expensive! Vet bills, medications, neutering, food (and these buns can eat!)…If you’re so inclined, we could definitely use some help. (You can donate here.) Many thumps of thanks!

 

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.

Out of the mouths of buns

July 19, 2017

If we can chew it, say goodbye to it! That’s a universal house rabbit motto. And that can lead to some dicey dilemmas. Sure, we want bunnies in our home. But we’re also pretty fond of our upholstered living room set and wall-to-wall Stainmaster carpeting.

Even little things can cause big headaches. Ever tried to charge a cell phone with a frayed lightning cable? Or change channels with a remote that’s missing half its buttons? And it’s safe to say that every one of us has learned the hard way not to toss our dirty clothes on the
floor…unless we’re into the “distressed” look.

It’s a given that we love our stuff. And it’s also a given that rabbits love to chew. A lot. So how do we balance our desire for creature comforts with our creature’s need for comfort? Here’s a list of dos and don’ts.

DO:

–recognize that you’re dealing with the four-pawed equivalent of a hyperactive toddler. Frodo is not going to respond to “no, no, we don’t put electrical cords in our mouths, sweetie”. Try the old bait-and-switch. Distract Frodo with a willow ball or seagrass mat, and get that cord out of sight! Block it with other furniture, run it under the rug, duct tape it to the floor, encircle it with cord protectors, etc. Out of sight means out of mind, and out of mouth!

DON’T:

–yell, chase, or strike your rabbit. Sure, he’ll drop that cord and run, but what has he learned? Not that cords are bad, but that humans are scary. This is a tough one, especially when you round the corner and see him about to take a big chunk out of your favorite video game controller. One sharp “Hey!” to break his concentration, followed by redirection to something chew-safe, is generally all that’s needed.

DO: 

–go undercover. As in, cheap area rugs over good carpeting. Newspapers under food and water bowls. Incontinence pads positioned on inviting “accident areas” like the bed. Cardboard shielding the floor under the sofa or around baseboards. Tarps or shower curtains to protect wood floors or tile. Tin foil wrapped around table legs. Think of it as “shelter chic”.

DON’T:

–forget to think like a rabbit. Cunning, clever, and creative, that is! That two-inch gap in the fencing? Might as well be an open hangar door. The burrow box placed within a foot of the bookcase? Think of it as a trampoline, launching Bunny up to his choice of shelves. Are you convinced he won’t dare cross the shiny kitchen floor to get at that bag of bird seed? If your bunny can dream it, he can do it.

DO:

–use this as an opportunity to streamline! Not all of us are inclined to neatly fold or hang our clothes every night. But we can be selective where we toss them. Even a dedicated rabbit can’t jimmy open a fully closed closet door (and we’ll never tell what ends up behind it!) It’s easier to take a few minutes and put the chips away after a snack than it is to clean up the carnage that will result from Squishie discovering them on the coffee table while your back is turned.

DON’T:

–lose your sense of humor! Make a game of outwitting Voracious Veronica, and pat yourself on the back each day your home remains relatively unscathed. Trick her into chewing what you want her to chew—old ratty towels, margarine tubs, cardboard boxes, junk mail, toilet paper rolls stuffed with hay, balls of newspaper. Surround her with fun things, and she’ll never notice your treasures.

Hold everything!

June 14, 2017

Have you ever held a newborn baby? No doubt you moved slowly, supporting the most delicate parts like the neck and spine. We all know infants are fragile. One wrong move could cause serious, lifelong injury. Would it surprise you to learn that our rabbit friends are equally vulnerable?

Watching your rabbit race around the room in a Bunny 500 or launching acrobatic binkies, it can be hard to believe he’s not indestructible. But beneath that impressive musculature lies a skeleton about as sturdy as the balsa wood airplane you made in second grade. Remember what happened the first time you accidentally sailed that plane into the side of the house?

You surely remember the shock of seeing a certain pop singer’s young baby dangling over the side of a balcony, supported only by a crook of Dad’s arm? We can come up with a dozen reasons why this is a bad idea—dangerous, painful, frightening to the child, a whole list of moral objections—yet most people don’t bat an eye when seeing a rabbit hauled around much the same way.

Did you know a rabbit’s ears are among the most nerve-rich and sensitive parts of his body? They may seem strong, and convenient, but they were not designed to support weight. Imagine you were suspended in midair by only a wad of your hair. Hurts like heck, doesn’t it? And while it’s natural for Mama Rabbit to lug her newborn kits around by the scruff of their necks, handling older buns in this way causes extreme pain.

A frightened, suffering rabbit will often try to thrash and kick his way free. Those magnificent muscles can do a lot of damage…to the rabbit himself. Broken bones, bruised organs, spinal fractures, permanent paralysis—the majority of such injuries are a direct result of a panicking bunny fighting for freedom.

As prey animals, rabbits are aware that any wrong move could mean disaster. Is it any wonder they resist being picked up and held? But sometimes, we have no choice. Vet visits, nail trims, medication dosing…as much as your rabbit hates having his paws off the ground, it’s going to happen.

One of our favorite techniques is called the football hold. Your rabbit is tucked against your chest, head under your arm, just as though you were going to run him in for a touchdown. This position supports his hindquarters, where his strongest muscles are and keeps his spine in a neutral position. Rabbits are a bit like ostriches and small children—they figure if they can’t see you, you can’t see them. It’s comforting for a bun to have a place to tuck his head.

For a calmer rabbit, hold him vertically against your chest, one arm circled under his bunny buns, the other snaked under his front legs. Hold him firmly so that he doesn’t jostle, but not tightly enough to squash him. Picture yourself skydiving for the first time. Sure, you could dangle from the parachute alone, but most of us would probably feel more secure with the trusted, experienced instructor’s arms around us!

Put a lid on it!

May 31, 2017

You’d be hard pressed to find a rabbit parent who doesn’t sing the praises of the X-pen. Portable, flexible, and relatively inexpensive, an X-pen can go anywhere, adjust to any size space, and provide a no-fuss living or play area for your bun.  They’re especially convenient as an outdoor playpen, if your rabbit is the type who likes to feel the grass beneath her paws.

What could be easier? Little Bunzilla has room to stretch her legs, and you don’t have to encircle the good furniture with barbed wire! Unless, of course, you’ve got a particularly curious/energetic/powerful superbun. Not all of us have experience with these four-footed pogo sticks, but if you have, you know the sky’s the limit.

Superman may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, but I’ll guarantee you that Superbun won’t be far behind! That towering X-pen that looks so insurmountable to you is nothing more than a speed bump to a determined rabbit. And if she’s got a burrow box or hay rack to launch from? She’ll be vaulting to freedom before you’ve even latched the gate!

The trouble with Bunzilla going up is that inevitably she has to come down, and as most of us know from personal experience, landing is the painful part. Your rabbit doesn’t think ahead to see if she’s catapulting onto a thick plush carpet or onto a cement floor. She may feel invincible, but so did your ten year old when he leapt off the roof, and you’ve got the ER bill to prove him wrong!

You can invest in a commercial wire or canvas X-pen cover to prevent escapes, but for the budget-minded DIYer, all you really need is an old blanket, sheet, or tarp. Drape the material over the pen, pull taut, and secure with spring clamps. Make sure the material comes all the way to the edge of the enclosure, preferably hanging down a couple of inches, so Bunzie won’t have any gaps to aim for.

Caution: do not wrap the sides of the pen—Bunzilla needs to breathe. Make sure the pen itself is high enough that she can sit upright even with the lid on. And always, always stay with your rabbit when she’s outdoors!

The write stuff

May 3, 2017

Why do we write this blog? To educate, to inspire, to guide, to celebrate, to commiserate, to entertain…to promote an understanding of how to make our rabbits’ lives as happy, safe, and healthy as possible. We remember what it was like to be a new bunny parent—all the questions, all the concerns, all the happy discoveries. There’s just so much more to raising a rabbit than what you’ll find in a pet store brochure or basic “beginner” bunny book.

So it is with great pride that we announce our place in the Top 25 Small Animal Blogs of 2017, compiled by Bel-Rea Institute of Animal Technology. Bel-Rea has been educating veterinary techs for over 40 years, and is fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the US Department of Education. So they know their stuff!

It’s for you, our loyal readers, that we write—those of you who have rabbits, want rabbits, love rabbits. There’s no end to the list of topics we could cover, from the serious to the light-hearted, to the off-beat, to the “why didn’t I think of that?”. You deserve quality information that you can use, and it’s our goal to keep providing it.

What would you like to see here in upcoming weeks? Do you have specific questions about rabbit health or behavior? Are you curious about how our sanctuary works? Have you discovered any useful hacks to save time or money? Have you heard of an interesting rabbit-related event or attraction? Would you like to share your GLRS adoption happy ending?

Please let us know via the comments section, or send an email to carrie@rabbitsanctuary.org.

Hare today, gone tomorrow?

April 5, 2017

“But Mom, I HAVE to have it!! I LOOOOOVE it!”

If you’ve spent any time at all with a child, you’ve heard this. Maybe it’s the Sparkle Pretty Barbie with the glittery hair. Or the box of SugarStuft cereal guaranteed to induce a diabetic coma. Or a “real” cell phone that doesn’t have a flip screen and prepaid minutes.

Sure, it’s easy to get sucked into the promises of “I’ll take good care of it”, “I’ll keep my room clean for the next six months”, “I’ll never ask for another thing as long as I live”. And more often than we want to admit, after hours (days? weeks!) of nonstop begging, we’d do anything for some peace and quiet. Better to whip out the wallet than the bottle of merlot…And just imagine the joy in their little eyes! What could be better than that?

Until two weeks later when Barbie is missing a leg after a heated tug of war between siblings. The cereal sits opened and growing stale because, well, it didn’t taste as good as it looked on TV. And that great cell plan isn’t such a bargain when you factor in replacing the screen after the phone fell out of an open backpack (for the third time), or opening the first monthly bill to discover that really, how is anyone expected to survive without unlimited texting?

We did it when we were kids, and our kids will do it to us, every time. And maybe you’ve already heard it. “I want a bunny!” “Oh, he’s so CUUUUTTTTTEEEEE!” “I’ll feed him and water him and clean up after him and he’ll be my BEST FRIEND for the rest of my life!”

Um, yeah. That’s what she said about Sparkle Barbie, and see how that ended up. It’s not your kids’ fault; they’re designed to have short attention spans and shifting interests. Someone who can’t be relied on to brush her teeth without being nagged is not likely to stick with the much larger responsibility of caring for a living creature. A living creature that’s possibly going to be around for 8-12 years!

So, please, be strong this Easter when the inevitable pleas for a real, live, cuddly little bunny start pouring in. If the children in your life need a bunny fix, bring them to a shelter. Let them learn first hand what it really takes to be a rabbit owner. And in a couple of months, when they’ve decided they’re actually into horses instead, sit back, sip your wine, and remember—this too shall pass!

Ready for a rabbit?

March 29, 2017
Today’s blog is from guest writer Jessica Brody, creator of the website “OurBestFriends” (ourbestfriends.pet).

With proper care, the average lifespan for most domesticated rabbits is between 8 and 12 years. It’s no wonder that many people refer to pets as their “lifelong companions.” Pets are indeed our loyal friends for life. Of course, this means that pet ownership is a huge responsibility that takes a lot of time and dedication. If you’ve been thinking of getting a new pet, here are some questions to ask yourself…

“Do I have enough time?”

The ASPCA recommends asking yourself these questions when considering whether you’ll be able to care for a new pet:

 

  • What major changes might happen to you during a pet’s lifetime? Marriage? Children? New job? Long-distance move? Are you willing to continue spending the time, energy and money to care for your pet when taking on new responsibilities like those?
  • What will you do if your spouse or child is allergic to or cannot get along with your pet?
  • If you’re getting a pet for children you have now, are you willing to take on the responsibility of caring for this pet when your children grow up, lose interest or move away?

Another consideration when it comes to time is life span. You’ll need to dedicate yourself to taking care of this pet each and every day – possibly for a decade or more. As your pet ages, expect to spend more time and money on his/her care. Can you commit to that?

“Can I afford a pet?”

This is a tough question, and one that only you can answer for yourself. Start by balancing your monthly budget to determine how much you can reasonably spend on a pet, and then try to pick a pet that will fit within that budget each month. Be sure to include calculations and estimates for the cost of food, water, housing, toys, and also unexpected costs like grooming (if needed) or vet bills. One final consideration is the cost of your pet itself. You’re likely to pay more for a rabbit from a shelter than from a pet store bargain bin, but shelter rabbits will already be spayed/neutered and health checked.

“What breed should I choose?”

All rabbits are not created alike. Before adopting, consider the qualities, temperament, fur, and maintenance level of each breed. A fluffy Angora will require daily brushing and regular trimming; lop rabbits must be monitored for earwax buildup and infection. Energetic dwarf breeds will need extra living space, while laid-back New Zealands are the best choice for homes with younger
children.

Be sure to check with your landlord or apartment complex before getting a pet, if you rent. Expect to pay a damage deposit, which, realistically, you probably won’t get back.

“Where do I get my rabbit?”

It’s extremely important to get your new pet from the proper place. Local humane societies, pet rescues, and no kill shelters are a compassionate way to find a “forever home” for a pet in need. Even if you’re looking for a purebred (not mixed breed) rabbit, many of these pets are waiting in your local shelter, and there are hundreds of breed-specific animal rescues all over the country. Just be sure to avoid backyard breeders, flea markets, and other pet retailers with shady or unethical practices.

In Conclusion…

These questions are meant to be a starting point and are by no means all-inclusive. There are many other considerations to think of, including any additional pets in the household, any children or adults in the home, location, and more.

Are you ready for a rabbit? That is a question that you will ultimately have to answer for yourself. As you can see, pet ownership takes time, patience, dedication and love. It costs money and requires effort. However, it is also one of the most rewarding experiences imaginable and allows you an important opportunity to build a bond that could last for years.

If you’re ready to take the leap into pet parenthood, Petfinder is a great resource for finding your new best friend, no matter what kind of pet you’re looking for. Of course, if you’re looking for a pet pig, rabbit or cat, the Great Lakes Rabbit Sanctuary has plenty of loveable creatures who would love to come home with you.