This is the story of how I came to adopt Baby my first pet rabbit.
So we had some wild cats in our neighborhood that were trying to kill the squirrels (yes I love and feed the squirrels too). So after some vicious attacks I thought that was enough and I called our local village hall and spoke to the wildlife expert. She said catch the cats and take them over to the Animal Welfare – Chicago Ridge IL and they will rehab them if possible. So we did. On a Sunday we caught a cat that seemed to be a little on the tame side, so over we took it. While there I noticed all the bunnies – I mean they had like 30 but there was this little gray one just sitting in it’s cage looking out with a blank stare. I commented to my husband, “gosh that little rabbit is cute” and off home we went.
The next day we caught another cat and I was looking forward to seeing what that little gray bunny was up to. Well she was there, sitting staring into space again. Looking bored and lonely. So while we waited to do paperwork, I approached her and said “Hey little bunny, you are a cute one”. Over she hopped to my side of the cage, looking up at me with big, dark eyes. “You are a pretty girl” I commented and her ears sorta perked up. I talked to her and she sat listening to me almost like she was hanging on my every word (if only my husband would). Now she really had me, but home again we went that night without her.
On the third night we caught another cat (whoo hoo I’m three for three nights now and get to see that gray bunny again). Back we go. There is she. So now I’m totally over by her cage trying to figure out what she is eating, how would I pick her up and gosh she is soooo cute. “Time to go” my husband says because I’ve spent all the time just talking to her. So we leave and on the way home, I ask my husband “Hmm wonder how hard it is to have a pet rabbit”.
Now you must know that I love wild outdoor rabbits. In my area outside of Chicago we have Eastern cottontails – you know the brown wild rabbits. I love them and feed them and had a few generations of rabbits born right in my backyard. I have enough stories from that to fill another website so I do have a thing for bunnies – wild bunnies – not domesticated bunnies. But that little gray rabbit….can’t stop thinking about her all the time now.
The next night we had no luck catching a cat and I had to stay home and wonder what was that little gray bunny up to. Was she adopted, was she still there? The following day, the suspense just about killed me. Had to go over to the Animal Shelter and see was she there. Yes she was and a nice volunteer answered a bunch of questions for me. The little gray rabbit had been there for a few weeks – she was the dirtiest rabbit they’d ever seen. Could not even tell what color she was when she came in they had said.So I went home all happy to tell my husband all about her – the little gray rabbit. He said “you should adopt her. You’ve never had a pet before. Go for it if you want, I’ll help you.” Oh nice it was all falling into place to get that little gray rabbit. “But what about your allergies he said and my heart hit the ground. Oh yes, the dreaded allergies to all living furry or feathered things and most things that grow in the ground too. But that rabbit was so cute, I had to figure out a way to adopt her. So I went to the allergist, got tested and I was testing okay at the time. But, “If you start to suffer any symptoms you’ll have to get rid of that rabbit – you are already on heavy duty drugs to control your allergies and we can’t really give you anything stronger” the doctor had scolded. So now I’m really wound up and want that little gray rabbit — really, really, really want her and already love her too!
So the next day we go to the shelter and she is there but with a ‘yellow hold sign’ on her cage. “What is this for” I asked. “She is being adopted” the lady told me. I said “wait a minute, I was told you can’t put an animal on hold. I’ve been here almost every day for a week, I just got tested for allergies to make sure I could adopt her and you tell me she is being adopted but she is still here with a hold sign on her!”. She explained “well we normally don’t hold them but someone marked her as a hold so we need to wait until the end of day to see if they come back”. Now I’m a little mad and my husband is getting a little nervous and figures he’d better get me out of there before the police are called because he knows how badly I want that little gray rabbit. So I have to leave and come back tomorrow morning. Leave my little gray rabbit and someone might adopt her away from me. So home I go with my heart feeling very heavy with worry over losing her to another family. I have to wait like 17 hours before I can get back over there when they open. It was the longest 17 hours in my life I think.
So the next morning right after church, with my church clothes still on, over we race. So my heart is really pounding fast now. – Is she gone? – Is she adopted? I could hardly stand the suspense. I burst in through the doors and the she is there with the ‘yellow hold’ sign still taped to her cage. You remember the hold sign on an animal when they don’t ever do holds. Yeah, right. So I go up to the counter and say “I’m here to adopt the little gray rabbit”. The lady replies “Oh yes you have her on hold?” “No” I respond. She looks back at me puzzled. “I came yesterday to adopt her, but she was on hold by someone else. I was informed you don’t do holds, but since you did, I had to wait to see if they came back for her, and if they don’t come back, she would be mine and they didn’t come back for her and I’m here now and I want my little gray rabbit please” I blurted out all in one breath. “Well, what do I do now” the lady asks her co-worker. “Not sure – this has never happened before” the other volunteer responds.So now I’m starting to get irritated. The rabbit is still there – the day after they told me I could have her. What is up with this. So I say “I’ve come here every day this week to see her, I had medical tests performed and everything. Now that little rabbit was on hold all day yesterday and I waited as I was told to and I don’t understand what the problem is. Why I can’t I adopt her?” I say. “The other people might come back” the lady says. I bark out “They had their turn and didn’t come back so I want her now and I’m here now”. The second lady says ” lets call the family” and they agree to make the call. I’m not happy about this but they call. And guess what…turns out the lady who brought her dog in for surgery saw the rabbit and thought maybe I’ll get her for my daughter – went home – and forgot about the little gray rabbit. How awful that an animal was being held for someone who never intended to adopt it — but in hind sight it worked out for me because I got to adopt the little gray rabbit. The women in charge of small animals (Sue) was there and told me so much information about care and feeding – it was really priceless information. She loaned me a book on rabbit care that I returned after reading it twice.I became friendly with Sue and would take donations of items and money in from time to time. But home with us, she came that day — my little gray rabbit.
So home we went with her in a cardboard box and we left her in the box to go to the pet store to get everything good bunny parents needed. Cage, dishes, water bottle, hay, pellets, toys, hair brush, shampoo, nail clippers, poop dish, crumbled paper for the poop dish and treats — oh that pet shop owner loved us that day.We didn’t really need all of this stuff but we didn’t know that at the time. So we got home and set up our little girls cage. In she went. She sniffed around ate some pellets and then just sorta settled in. She was home with her family and now the 3 of us were a complete family.
What should we name her? I thought and thought and thought about it. They called her Silver at the shelter but that didn’t fit. I would call her Baby as I talked to her and she learned her name really quickly – Baby. So Baby fits her very well, my little girl, Baby the bunny – the best daughter ever, bunny or human!
I would like to say my local Animal Shelter does a really good job with the volunteers they have and limited budget. They place many animals every day from there and I really do respect the people there and appreciate what they do for the area and the animals.
In the spring of 2013 Baby was hospitalized for GI Stasis once again due to her enlarged bladder but I never found the time to post the details about it.
Sadly Baby passed away on April 12,2014. When I feel up to it, I will post the end of her story. Its been 6 weeks since she passed and I am just starting to feel a little better about it. Its been extremely hard as I considered her (and my other rabbits) my children and not my pets. I will update this post with what happened to her soon.
Ok so if you don’t want to know all the details then stop reading now. It’s heartbreaking to lose a loved one so here it goes.
Baby was always sickly. Over the 7 3/4 years I had her she went to the vet 56 times. That is about 8 visits per year. Seems like a lot for a little rabbit and it seemed like alot to me too. She had the flap in her throat issue where she had a hard time controlling the flap that regulated her eating and breathing. She had e.cuniculi. She had constant eye issues from scarring and went to the vet every 4 – 6 weeks for a nasal and tear duct flush. She was an over groomer at one point (where a nervous bunny will lick themselves over and over in one spot until the fur is completely gone). She had an enlarged bladder (because I over feed her parsley the vet told me) and sore hocks (also known as bumblefoot) but still she was a happy little girl for the most part. She was sorta sickly like I am sickly and I always wished I could take away all of her health problems but sadly I couldn’t.
So at times she would stop eating or stop eating that much and we would notice and put her on Baby Watch we would call it. Where we monitored her food intake and poop output very closely.
So she didn’t seem quite herself and we had her on Baby Watch. And on Wednesday morning we noticed she had hardly touched her food from overnight. She had pooped overnight some tho so that was encouraging. We gave her fresh food and tried to get her to eat but she just couldn’t be bothered so we made the decision to wait until lunch time. At lunch she had not eaten and there was little poop in her poop dish so we thought GI stasis – we know this too well. So off we took her to our emergency vet an hour away from home. They admitted her and kept her overnight. The next morning the news was not good. She had not eaten or pooped really. They were giving her meds and force feeding her but she was not really improving. She could not come home and had to stay another night. The vets were not sure what the exact cause of her GI stasis was either. they suspected fur impaction. This carried on into Friday morning now and still the news was grim. She was not improving. They said call them on Sat am to see if she had improved any and could go home. So on Saturday morning after days and nights of worrying we called and they said she had pooped on her own and was well enough to go home. We were thrilled. Our little girl was coming home – that was great news, the news we had hoped for. So off we went to get her – that hour drive. When Baby saw us the vet tech said – well glad to see her perk up when see saw you guys. So with 8 meds in hand we took our girl home, back home for the hour drive. She was acting funny. In the car on the way home, she kept dipping her face in her water container something she had never done and I thought how add that behavior was. She had never done this before let alone several times before. She didn’t look exactly like she normally did, but then again she went through a lot being gone from us for 3 days and 2 nights but soon she would be home.
So we got her home and put her in her room. She seemed to be glad to be home, she did that hop where she kicked out her hind legs sorta out straight. You know what I’m talking about. I got her fresh food and hay and water and she didn’t care. It was about 11:45am. I noticed right away that her breathing seemed weird. Maybe labored some but she didn’t seem scared or concerned. I wondered if we should take her back up to the animal hospital but it was an hour away and the experienced bunny doctors would have left for the day and not returned until Monday so we thought maybe its the meds making her breathe a little funny and we kept her here with us. She sat near her cage in a strange place where she never sat and just sorta stared into space. You know what I mean – a deep stare as if she was watching someone or something. I’ve read 2 theories on why bunnies stare. One is that they can hear the electrical current in the walls and the other is from the Long Island Medium (tv series) Theresa Caputo who says that animals can see the spirits for those humans and other animals that have passed for us and of course she could have been staring at God. So even when I talked to her – nothing -just a deep stare. Usually she would at least acknowledge me but nothing – for hours nothing – no response really, maybe a slight glance but not like she normally was. She was sitting kinda funny too. Like she was about to leap or something and her look was odd but she didn’t look afraid of whatever she saw. Around 4:00 pm she moved into a different room -but still the stare – still not eating – still paying no attention to me even when I petted her and talked to her – nothing. I thought this is very strange maybe she just needs some rest. The vet tech warned us that she may not eat but since we would be force feeding her critical care 3 times a day, that would be enough to sustain her and not to be concerned. At about 6:00 pm I heard her run from the other room to her room and I heard her hit the metal part of her cage and my husband said “Baby what are you doing” as he was lying in the bed in that room but didn’t turn to look at her. But I came quickly from the other room to find her near her cage, almost to her favorite safe spot, laying on her side with her legs moving in mid air. I blurted out Baby are you alright? I said to my husband, Brad something is wrong and I turned her onto her stomach so she was laying stretched out on the carpet. Her eyes were open. I said Brad she is not moving, she is not moving I think she is having a seizure or something, get up, get up. So he came over and I said is she okay and he said I don’t know, I don’t know. So I will spare you the rest of the details about how we tried calling our vet’s hospital we had just gotten her from frantically to determine if she was having a seizure and how to tell if she was breathing. In reality it might have been 2 minutes but she hadn’t moved. The hospital wanted us to bring her in but we were an hour away so that was not an option. We called another emergency vet hospital closer to us but they don’t treat rabbits but if we brought her in they could tell us if she was alive or not. But by now, it had been about 5 minutes and still no movement from her what so ever and as my husband with tears in his eyes grabbed her up to rush her to the closer vet hospital, while sobbing I said but Brad she hasn’t moved and it’s been several minutes, she hasn’t moved, she hasn’t moved. And then we realized she was gone. Our precious angel was gone. I knew this day would come but I was unprepared for this – now when we had brought her home. We are not sure what was the final thing that took her from us – a ruptured stomach or what. But it didn’t matter – she was gone.
The week after I lost Baby another person emailed me for advice and I suggested they take their bunny into the vet but while on the phone making their vet appt, their bunny died exactly like Baby did, as you think they are having a seizure but actually they had passed already – in an instant just gone. So sad.
So for now I try to think of the good times with her and not how we had to take care of her body until Monday morning when the vet could take her from us. We wrapped her in a towel with her face showing and placed a bag of ice under her body and put the ice and her in a box with the flaps open. All weekend long I would cry and talk to her just like I did when she was alive. My husband lovingly changed the ice a few times a day to keep her body cool. Something you never think about – what to do with her little body, right? And for the second time what to do with her remains, bury her, cremate her, what. So I did the same thing that I did for Gracie back in Sept. We had her cremated and her remains spread over an open field at the pet cemetery with Gracie and others. So sad, so much grief, so much sadness. For weeks I’ve been sad as she was my life and my day revolved around her. Seeing her always made me smile and then suddenly she is just gone.
I can tell you that if I did not have other rabbits and had lost my only rabbit, I would have been right at the shelter to adopt another one – but I do have 2 rabbits here, Lucy and Dino, a bonded pair.
My vet made a paw print for both Gracie and Baby. It means so much to me to have Gracie’s paw print and I know it will to have Baby’s too when I pick it up. I am going to do separate picture memorials for my bedroom for both Gracie and Baby and then my husband will do a more elaborate memorial picture for Baby for the bedroom where she lived. It will be 2 months next week since I Iost Baby next week and I don’t cry as much but I am sure just sad. My whole day was centered around a 4 lb bunny who is now in heaven and I just feel sad most of the time. I expect the heartbreak to lessen as time goes by. but it’s hard. So love, hug and kiss your bunny today cuz you never know. Also take a selfie of you and your bunny so you will always have it as a remembrance.
I had Baby for 2,786 days which sounds like a lot, but it wasn’t anywhere long enough…….
The one thing I am so grateful about is that she died at home, her home, here with her mama and Boo close by and not in the vet hospital. I will always be eternally grateful for that.
Another thing to mention is that Baby was a loving rabbit who loved attention. It was only after she passed that I realized I made her that way but doting on her and kissing her and petting her so much. She got use to it and liked it. So in retrospect it was me who needed her attention and I made her into a snuggle bunny in time.
Binky on sweet Baby, Binky on!
This poem was given to me with my Gracie’s paw print by my vet and it has brought me comfort and I wanted to share it with you….
The Rainbow Bridge
inspired by a Norse legend
By the edge of a woods, at the foot of a hill,
Is a lush, green meadow where time stands still.
Where the friend of man and woman do run,
When their time on earth is over and done.
For here, between this world and the next,
Is a place where each beloved creature finds rest,
On this golden land, they wait and play,
Till the Rainbow Bridge they cross over one day.
No more do they suffer, in pain or in sadness,
For here they are whole, their lives filled with gladness,
Their limbs are restored, their health renewed,
Their bodies have healed, with strength imbued.
They romp through the grass, without even a care,
Until one day they start, and sniff at the air.
All ears prick forward, eyes dart front and back,
Then all of a sudden, one breaks from the pack.
For just at that instant, their eyes have met;
Together again, both person and pet.
So they run to each other, these friends from long past,
The time of their parting is over at last.
The sadness they felt while they were apart,
Has turned into joy once more in each heart.
They embrace with a love that will last forever,
And then, side-by-side, they cross over….together.
AFTER THOUGHTS…..Since little Baby died, I had a huge revelation about her personality. You see, I always told everyone that she was my snuggle bunny – that she needed to snuggle and was needie but the truth be told is that I made her that way, because I needed her attention. I doted on her and chased her around the house crawling on my knees to get her attention. Its me, it was me that needed her love and attention. I made her want to snuggle and once she realized that she could trust me (1 year of time for her to completely trust me), then she loved to snuggle as much as I wanted to snuggle her. So give your rabbit more and more attention – they deserve it and that is why you have them – to love, honor, praise and snuggle with them. Snuggle while you can – because time goes by fast and then they are gone. So take your pics, and selfies and snuggle, oh yes snuggle.
If you have a specific question about your rabbit, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.