Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bunny Barber

Walter is shedding like crazy. He is a fairly chronic shedder as it is, but over the past few days, he's produced a blizzard of rabbit hair all over my apartment. Every time I pet him, piles of fur get stuck to my hand. It's pretty gross; I can't wait for this round of shedding to be over. In an effort to speed up the process, I've taken to gently tugging on tufts of fur that look like they're already loose. I usually get five or six giant clumps of fur out, then quickly vacuum them up with my Dustbuster. It saves me the trouble of finding fur all over my sofa.

I thought Walter would hate this. I mean, I'm pulling his hair out. But he loves it! I think he feels like I'm grooming him, which technically, I guess I am. He sits still while I pet his forehead with one hand and collect piles of fur with the the other. And then he gives me a few bunny kisses before going over to the pile of fur and inspecting the damage.

(I will not deny that I tried to cut out the middleman and apply the Dustbuster directly to Walter's fur. This obviously didn't work, and Walter was not a fan of this method.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Getting a Second Rabbit

Over the past few days, I've been debating getting a second rabbit. I feel like I haven't been at home as much lately, and so I've been feeling badly that I'm not spending as much time with Walter as he's used to. When I come home at the end of the day, it's pretty clear that Walter's been lonely. I feel guilty about leaving him alone all day long, especially now that's he's calmed down so much and has become more of a snuggle bun.

I easily see the benefits to having a second bun: someone for Walter to play with and keep company. (Not to mention the fact that I found a heart-meltingly cute rabbit up for adoption online.) But what are the downsides?

Money, for one. The cost of food, veterinarian services, toys, etc would obviously double. Training a second rabbit to not chew my walls or dig my carpeting could be another nightmare. Cleaning up after two rabbits instead of just one would be more of a headache. And then there's the space factor: right now I have one large cage that wouldn't be big enough for two bunnies. Where would I house them?

Then I worry about whether or not Walter would do well with another rabbit in the house. Does he want to be Top Bun, or would he love having a new friend around? I don't know anything about bonding rabbits. If I got a second rabbit, he'd need to be around a year old. I don't think I could deal with the attitude and training issues of a bunny.

Do you have multiple rabbits? What are the benefits and drawbacks to owning more than one? Do the pros really outweigh the cons? And what's the hardest part about introducing a new bunny into the house?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Freedom!, Part 2

Well, it finally happened. Walter’s teeth chomped their way through my laptop charger cord. The other day, I turned on my computer and noticed that it wasn’t charging. I assumed the plug had wriggled out of the socket, so I gave it a little shove back in. Still, not charging. I double-checked to make sure it was plugged into the computer properly, and sure enough, it was. That’s when I noticed the skinny stream of smoke rising out of the cord. And that’s when I freaked out.

I unplugged the charger immediately – both from the wall and from the computer. And then, with my laptop on its last legs of battery power, I ordered a new charger.

It’s probably for the best. Forty percent of the cord had been covered by duct tape (what I had to use before I owned any electrical tape). Another twenty percent of the cord had been covered by actual electrical tape. It was only a matter of time before it happened; I’m just glad I was there when it started smoking and unplugged it before matters could get any worse!

So it’s been a few days since I’ve been able to blog, now that my laptop is officially uncharged and my new charger is still somewhere in the mail. And, as much as I love my smartphone, it’s no easy task to type more than a small paragraph on the device.

I wanted to check in with those of you who responded to the poll in my last entry. I was really surprised that the majority of people indicated that their rabbit was free to roam the house unattended! This gives me some hope for Walter, who I dread locking up every night and all day while I’m at work. I want to believe that Walter can be trusted all day without my watchful eye. I would certainly feel less guilty about being gone all day if I knew he wasn’t confined to sixty square feet of space.

For those who responded positively to rabbit freedom, how old was your rabbit when you started letting him loose about the house? What kind of boundaries did you set up? And how did you know that your rabbit was ready to be trusted without supervision?

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Long ago, I dreamed of the day when I would be able to trust Walter enough to leave him out of his cage while I was at work. As I got to know my bunny better, I quickly realized this dream would probably never be realized. However, Walter's behavior over the past few weeks has been impressive, to say the least, so I have begun to test his out-of-cage freedoms.

It started off small - a half hour here and there while I ran to the store, maybe once a week. Then, last Sunday, I left him out of the cage while I went to a very long brunch. I came home to find Walter napping in his box fort. The apartment looked unchanged and undamaged. Hooray!

By no means am I ready to let Walter have the run of the apartment while I'm at work all day, but I will definitely start giving him some more out-of-cage-while-I'm-not-home time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Little Blue Bunny

Several months ago, I found a small blue stuffed rabbit at CVS in the pet toy aisle.  It reminded me of several stuffed toys that my dogs used to love, and figured I'd pick it up for Walter.  He was never very interested in this rabbit friend, and I soon found that he was actually a little scared of the toy.  I used that to my advantage.

Little Blue Bunny (that's his official name) would stand guard in front of door frames that Walter liked to chew.  Suddenly, Walter would no longer even attempt to nibble that part of the wall.  I never understood this fear; Walter is significantly bigger than the toy.  The toy never moved.  Walter could have easily knocked the stuffed animal over and chewed the door frame to shreds.  And yet, he didn't even try.  Walter would take one look at Little Blue Bunny and hop in the opposite direction.

So, tonight, I tried to bridge the friendship gap between these two rabbits.  I offered Walter a very large collard green leaf.  Excitedly, he began chewing it from one end.  I moved Little Blue Bunny to the other end of the leaf, as if he was trying to share Walter's dinner.  Walter ran away, essentially giving up his meal to his fear of the Little Blue Bunny.

I felt bad, so I moved the stuffed toy back to his doorway guarding station, and gave the collard green back to Walt.  Walter picked up the entire leaf, tossed it around a few times in front of Little Blue Bunny's face, declaring his victory, and then ran away with his meal before the toy could snatch it back up.

Silly rabbits.

A rare moment together.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rabbit Rosetta Stone

I can't believe it.  Walter has learned English.  The first few times it happened, I thought it was a fluke.  But last night, I realized he had actually learned one very, very important English phrase: "Get in your cage."

For a handful of nights now, just as bedtime approaches, I stand over Walter and cheerfully announce, "Get in your cage!"  Then I'd give the rabbit a little nudge on his rear, encouraging him towards his habitat.  He'd shake his head, run around the dining table, and then - with me following closely behind, giving him gentle nudges along the way - finally stand in front of his cage.  One more nudge, and in he went.

That alone is huge progress.  It used to be that I'd have to chase Walter all over the apartment to get him even close to his cage at bedtime.  I'd have to pick him up for as long as he'd allow and then redirect his course so that he headed into the cage.

But last night, Walter was lying on the ottoman, melting into a puddle of bunny love while I gave him forehead scratches.  His eyes were closed, he was grinding his teeth: he was completely calm.  Then, I said to him nonchalantly, "It's almost time for you to get in your cage for bedtime."

At the mention of get in your cage,Walter jolted upright.  He looked at me incredulously.  Say it ain't so!  I said it one more time: "Walter, get in your cage." He hopped off the ottoman, gave me some angry head shakes for good measure, and without me following behind him, hopped into the cage for the night.

It's a rabbit miracle!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Little Spoon

I think Walter's obsession with the bedroom door is more about getting my attention than actually wanting to go into the other room.  For the past two days, all he's done is dig and chew at the door, despite my use of lemon oil.  Every time I get up to redirect him, he gleefully runs over to me and nudges my hand for some forehead scratches.  Tricky bunny.

He has been doing this more at night than during the day.  I think he just really enjoys an evening snuggle session! I've taken to lying on the ground and watching as he curls his small bunny body into me, as if he wanted to spoon.  So for a couple minutes each evening, we lay on the floor, me on my stomach, with Walter basically nestled in my armpit.  He gives me a few licks with his scratchy rabbit tongue, and then grinds his teeth in contentment.

Who knew my formerly antisocial, uninterested rabbit would become such a love bunny!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Lemon Oil

I don't usually let Walter in the bedroom.  I did when I first moved into my apartment, but then I discovered that Walter's lounging time under my bed was really time spent pulling up the wall-to-wall carpeting.  Figuring neither my landlord nor I would not like the carpeting to be ruined, I banned him from the bedroom.  Over the past weekend, however, I had some friends over for brunch.  Walter can be a pretty shy bunny, and I assumed he would want to be able to get away from the noise of company, so I allowed him to spend the afternoon in the bedroom, hiding under the bed.  Apparently he loved it, and now he can't get enough of playing in there.

For the past two days, the bedroom, as usual, has been off-limits to him.  Walter has spent much of the day staring longingly at the closed bedroom door, then scratching at both the floor and the door itself, and then eventually biting at the walls.  Of course, none of these things work, and all they do is manage to make me mad at the bunny.  This morning, Walter was particularly feisty.  So I had to resort to more clever methods than just turning him away from the door.  Enter, lemon oil.

I've used lemon oil on the door frames before, and it deters Walter from chewing things that he shouldn't.  Today, I decided to put some on the door and the floor mat in front of the bedroom door, in the hopes that the smell would be enough to keep Walter away from the entire area.  Sadly for Walter, this method worked.  Also sadly for Walter, I accidentally got some on his nose as I was waving my lemon oil-covered finger in front of his face.  He is still not pleased with me.

I bought a small (0.5 fluid ounce) bottle of Aura Cacia lemon oil from Whole Foods a while back.  I am sure I probably paid too much for it there, but you can find it online for about three bucks.  You only need a teeny tiny bit of lemon oil when applying it to door frames or wherever, so even a bottle as small as half a fluid ounce will last you a long time.

Using lemon oil as a chewing deterrent is something I definitely recommend.  It's been a huge help for me. I just put a tiny bit on my finger, then rub my finger across the door frame or the table leg or whatever else Walter likes to chew.  It's such a small amount that I can barely smell it, but it keeps Walter away for days or even weeks.  And, as I discovered today, using more than my usual amount can keep the rabbit away from an entire area! He hasn't gone anywhere near the bedroom door for the past hour.  (Though, that could also be because he's still mad at me for getting a dab of the lemon oil on his face.)

What do you recommend as a rabbit chewing deterrent?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

Happy New Year, blogosphere!  2011 is, in fact, the year of the rabbit.  My Google research, via Stan's Sewing Supplies, of all places, tells me the following about the year of the rabbit:
"According to Chinese tradition, the Rabbit brings a year in which you can catch your breath and calm your nerves.  It is a time for negotiation.  Don't try to force issues, because if you do you will ultimately fail.  To gain the greatest benefits from this time, focus on home, family, security, diplomacy, and your relationships with women and children.   Make it a goal to create a safe, peaceful lifestyle, so you will be able to calmly deal with any problem that may arise."
Here's to a healthy and restorative year of the rabbit! 

In other news, Santy Paws was very good to Walter this Christmas (and by Santy Paws, I mean my parents).  I left Walter at the kennel for six days while I went home for the holidays.  It's the longest I've ever left him, so I knew I was in for a world of rabbit revenge when I picked him up.

When I came to get him, the veterinary staff were all disappointed to see him go, saying that he had been such fun company while I was away.  Apparently, there was a girl bunny in the cage next to Walter and the two of them played all week long. So, when I brought him back to our apartment and Walter began his usual tirade of stomping his feet at me and chewing on walls, I wasn't sure if it was because he was mad that I left him for a week, or because I took him away from his new girlfriend.

In order to soften the blow, I gave Walter his Christmas presents as soon as we got settled in at home.  My parents had gotten him three things.  The first was a box of sweet meadow apple sticks. Walter seemed a little more interested in the box itself rather than the sticks within, though.  His next present was a toy made out of wooden blocks connected by wooden rods.  It's designed to hang from the top of his cage, but Walter had so much fun picking it up and tossing it around, that I decided not to hang it up.  Now the sound of it being thrashed about the cage wakes me up almost every morning.  I constantly find it in his water dish, where the rabbit-friendly paint on the toy turns his water various shades of orange or blue.

His last present from my parents was a Snak Shak.  My dad was really excited about giving this to Walter.  It's an edible tunnel, made from fresh alfalfa and honey.

Image courtesy of Google

The thought was that Walter would snack on it while also hiding in it, but the rabbit has yet to try to squeeze himself inside.  Truthfully (and disappointingly), I think Walter is too fat to fit in the tunnel.  But, Walter likes to lick the Snak Shak and occasionally give it a nibble or two.

My present to Walter was a stuffed Eeyore toy that I found in the closet in my old bedroom.  I thought it would be nice if my bunny had a new friend to play with, and Eeyore has these cute, floppy donkey ears, and such a sad, "please love me!" look on his face.  Walter was not so interested in his new friend:

Maybe I shouldn't have presented Eeyore and a Brussel sprout at the same time..