Monday, September 13, 2010

The Trouble with Travelling with a Rabbit

Dogs love car rides. Windows down, tongues out, noses sniffing the air as it breezes by: I don’t know a single dog that doesn’t wildly wag his tail when you ask, “Car ride?” Rabbits, in my experience, have the opposite reaction.

There’s no easy way to travel with a rabbit. Few, if any, airlines allow you to bring your rabbit onboard as a carry-on. I do know that some airlines allow you to bring rabbits on as checked baggage, but the thought of doing this to such a sensitive animal seems pretty cruel. Really, the only way to travel with your rabbit, in my opinion, is by car. For Walter, this is torture enough.

I bought a travel carrier for Walter the day before I picked him up from the breeder. I needed something to transport him home in. I wanted one that met airline regulations, just in case the situation ever arose that he absolutely needed to fly. I ended up with the small Petmate Kennel Cab in tan and black:

It’s sturdy, easy to assemble, and overall a good size for Walter. It’s easy enough to get him to voluntarily enter the carrier – he’s a pretty curious fellow, and even more so if there’s a chunk of green pepper inside. Once he’s in, it’s one swift movement to lock the door and then he peers up at me with sad rabbit eyes, begging me to let him out.

Unfortunately, Walter doesn’t get the concept of simply laying down inside the carrier, which makes carrying him in this crate a verifiable nightmare. I still need to get a carrier pad or blanket for the carrier floor, but for the time being, I use a bit of bedding on the floor to keep him comfy. This always backfires on me as Walter, determined to break free, begins trying to dig his way out, sending all the bedding flying through the carrier door and landing all over my apartment, the elevator, the hallway, etc.

Once he gives up, I begin the process of carrying him out to the car. This sounds easy enough, in theory. He’s already inside a crate, how hard is it to hold the handle and walk outside? Turns out, it’s pretty hard when you have a rabbit hopping from one side of the carrier to the other, constantly shifting the weight of the carrier. At some point, I’ll hold the carrier in both my arms, giving it sort of an awkward hug, and probably a lot more support so my rabbit doesn’t feel like he’s moving uncontrollably through the air. This doesn’t prove to be super effective, either, and Walter continues to hop to and fro in the carrier.

Once we reach the car, I buckle Walt in the backseat, watch as some more bedding goes flying through the door onto my car seat, and tell him we’ll be at our destination soon enough. Walter repays me by sulking in his cage for thirty minutes after we’ve ended our trip, and then going to the bathroom anywhere but in his litter box.

For those of you who have travelled by air with your rabbit, what was your experience like? For car connoisseurs like myself, how have you made the trip more bearable for your bunny?

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