Every now and then I hear from readers that have a wonderful story to tell or have achieved amazing things with their rabbits.
The stories below will build up over time as more of you come forward and are brave enough to share ;-)
These lovely insights into how others express their love and passion for rabbits will inspire anyone with pet bunnies and even those of you that are thinking about getting rabbits!
Some stories are happy, some are inspirational, some are sad and some are little bit crazy.
Last month I received a lovely, and very complimentary email about the Just Rabbits website, to which I responded in kind and a conversation ensued.
Giovana Willits is a Holland Lop rabbit breeder in Bluffdale, Utah, with a little bit of uniqueness about her. The love and passion she has for her bunnies radiates from her and from the from the emails I was getting! Every time I finished reading one of her messages, I always finished up with a smile on my face and a warm feeling inside.
Gio's passion for Holland Lops is clear and her breeding methods are more akin to raising pet rabbits than raising them quickly, on a budget and for profit.
She has always used
spacious wooden homes rather than cruel wire cages, (something nearby rabbit breeders have criticized her for) also all her bunnies
have garden access and outdoor runs so they can run and hop about, just as nature intended.
Gio also insists on holding her rabbits at least once a day so when they go to new homes they are used to being handled and enjoy the attention of people.
Gio explained her determination to not use wire cages as so many other American rabbit breeders do. We both agreed that it was cruel and a rather 'lazy' way to breed - all poop and wee is collected underneath the cages as it falls through the wire bottom. However, these cages are not only too small but they cause no end of problems for bunny feet, not to mention their bones as they can't move about properly.
"My daughters and I potty trained our bunnies and we wash their litters, it's so easy".
Gio explained that spending a short amount of time potty training her bunnies at a young age meant that cleaning time was easy and just as quick as having cages.
All the rabbits are allowed to forage and exercise in their safe , very large run and play area. Her bunnies also get fresh organic greens daily and baby kits enjoy a wonderful natural selection of food.
All Gio's breeding does have a high fibre, hay & grass diet with lots of organic greens, so the kits are weaned on lots of vitamin and mineral compounds too, which sets them up for a healthy, disease-free life.
Gio's last email had even more energy and excitement than usual;
Just wanted to show you my playground for my bunnies, now they can have 2-3 hours each daily!!! I'm so happy.
Yep, they certainly are lucky lops!
Thanks for getting in touch Gio, and for letting me tell your beautiful story. You have restored my faith in rabbit breeders!
This story is from a lovely lady called Shanell and I'm sorry to say it isn't as cheerful as Gio's tale, but it does have a happy ending, so please read on.
Back in November 2013, in Surrey, England, a lovely lady called Shanell got in touch with me with very sad news indeed...
Shanell had lost two precious bunnies within weeks of each other and was very worried for the health and happiness of the third bunny that was left behind. She wanted to know when would be a good time to introduce a companion to the lonely remaining bunny, 'Star'.
I wanted to tell Shanell's story as it is an important and common one. As rabbit owners, we all have to deal with the eventual death of our beloved pets, and the loss of a bunny can be devastating.
Shanell had three female rabbits, all spayed and all sisters, Jersey, Coco and Star. They had all lived together happily for four years, until disaster struck their happy little rabbit house.
Jersey was having treatment at the vets for a genetic illness and due to complications with her gut she unfortunately didn't come home. She died while she was there to the absolute heartache of Shanell.
While still morning the loss of her precious Jersey, Shanell was struck with another tragedy. Coco, also suffering with the same genetic illness, started to get very poorly, very quickly and had to be put to rest by the vet as she was in an enormous amount of pain.
After Coco died, the vets examined her for the cause of death, at Shanell's request, and found it to be due to a hardening of the intestines causing the digestive system to shut down. A very serious, but common problem, with domestic rabbits.
Worried for Star's safety and happiness, Shanell did everything in her power to ensure her loving bunny was not too upset or stressed. However, loosing her two bunny companions made Star increasingly depressed, sitting alone in her hutch outside and not eating and drinking as much as she used to.
Shanell was distraught, thinking she was going to loose another precious pet when she was encouraged, seeing glimmers of alertness when Shanell or the family spent time with her, which they were doing much more often, to keep her spirits up.
Star, an English Lop, Lionhead cross, started grooming herself and eating and drinking again, and Shanell put her on a course of probiotics to help with the good bacteria in her gut.
Knowing how important it is for rabbits to have the company of other rabbits, Shanell contacted Just Rabbits to ask for some advice about getting her a companion. The introduction of a male neutered rabbit (a mature one over 4 years old), would be an ideal way for Star to move forward and would encourage her to eat and drink more.
In fact it was strange that Shanell got in touch with me at the time she did as I was grieving for the loss of my beloved Cuddles, (the brown lop you see in the image at the top of the website - A nasty stoat got him very early one morning - they bite and gnaw and squeeze into the tiniest holes) so I was hopeful we could help each other through the grieving process.
Cuddles and Kisses were devoted to each other, and I to them. They were the inspiration for me starting this website. When Cuddles died I was utterly heartbroken. A part of me died inside. My son and I had a burial ceremony and said some remembrance words as we said our goodbyes. I found it really helped with the grieving process.
I shared this with Shanell and some other thoughts too. Here's some of the email I sent to her:
"...most rabbits that are healthy and well looked after live in to double figures now days (apart from the larger breeds). So fortunately, with Star only being 4 years old, she has many more happy days with you - But she will definitely need a companion.
I don’t know which bun was the more dominant when they were together and yours was quite an unusual situation as you had 3 females living together so there’s really no telling how Star will take to bonding with another rabbit.
If she’s only ever been in the company of females, she may not know what to do in the company of a male rabbit, but that’s not to say she wouldn’t like it. In fact, it could be just ‘what the Doctor ordered’, to help her move on to a new and different phase in her life.
I recommend you read the rabbit bonding page in full and prepare yourself completely before you go through this process. You could be lucky, and Star will take to her new companion straight away, but sometimes it can take weeks, even months.
But however long it takes, it’s well worth it, and very important to Star."
Pets Need to Say Goodbye
When Cuddles died I left his body right where he died for Kisses to say her 'goodbyes' also. Some people write this process off as not important and most vets will have never heard of it, but I think it is as valuable a process for animals as it is for humans. She sat near his body all day. Not moving even when it rained. When I moved Cuddles later that evening, Kisses was sad, you could tell, but she did eat and drink, if only a little. The next day she was fine, getting on with her normal routines and eating and drinking properly again.
From experience I know rabbits tend to go back to their normal routines once they know what has happened. Star didn't get to see her companions in their last moments, so she may have felt confused and shocked as to where they had gone.
Later that week, Shanell got back to me with good news - The vet checked Star's stomach and said that it was nice and soft and there was no sign of the hardness that her sisters had. Coco and Jersey had the same Mother but a different Dad so the genes had obviously not been in Mum.
Shanell had completely changed Star's diet with a supplement of Oxbow Critical Care, and had started giving her much more Readigrass and Timothy Hay. She'd also increased the natural mixed greens such as romaine leaf lettuce, collards, kale & Swiss chard and herbs such as parsley and cilantro, which are very good for the gut.
I'd also recommended the odd piece of pineapple to keep the 'fur-balls' in the gut at bay too. Star was still been syringe fed and was still on special medication to help her digestive system but she was pooping and urinating much better.
Things were looking good!
The general tone of the emails had become 'brighter' and more optimistic. Shanell had booked an appointment with the RSPCA Cobham, Surrey (UK) to look at possible mates for Star.
She got back to me with hopeful and cheery news - she'd found three possible new companions for Star and was making a final decision soon.
could tell the process of looking for a new companion for Star was also
good therapy for Shanell. (I know it was good for me too when I started
looking for a new mate for Kisses. When I found 'Smudge', my outlook
much improved and my sense of loss was much diminished).
Great news followed and I was really pleased to see this wonderful photo in my inbox a few days later:
Shanell chose a gorgeous buck by the name of 'Squash' to be Star's new companion. The bonding process went really well and like all good story endings, they all lived happily ever after.
With a caring, loving owner like Shanell, I'm really not surprised. So my thanks go to her for letting us share this lovely story. It's nice to know that all is twinkling bright and well in Star's little universe right now!
Do you have a great tale to tell?
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If your bun has passed over the rainbow bridge, it's a lovely way to remember them too ;-)
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All input is good, no matter how small ;-) Thank-you.