Monday, February 11, 2008

Nature Called

SmokeyBlue watching his world.  Winter 2006

This is a tale about how some males will do just about anything; perform acrobatics even, to get to a female.

It was almost 2 years ago, in April that I remarked to Jim about the plethora of rabbits hopping around our yard. It was just greening, just really feeling like spring and there they were about anywhere I looked. Wild rabbits munching, hopping and looking like they might fit into an Easter Basket.

The very next morning I went out onto the back deck to feed SmokeyBlue. SB lived out there in a 2-story palace with fencing around the railings and a dog fence at the half way mark. I could not see him in his palace, not in his hidey cave, nor under the BBQ, not under the table or the benches. Uh oh. I called and looked some more and asked Basel to help too. He just looked out over the railing. Hmmmmm.

This was not a frequent occurrence but it had happened twice before. After the first time we put up extra fencing and after the second we put up even higher chicken wire. Sure enough I looked over the railing and there was SB on the grass, some 8 feet below. I went down and around and picked him up. Strange, he did not try to hop away to eat more grass. I brought him back up stairs onto the deck and set him down. He did not move, he tried but his legs weren’t working. It took us a while to puzzle this out. He was not stunned but was paralyzed. SB had actually hopped over a 3-foot fence to jump 11 feet down to get him a girlfriend. sigh  He really did prefer being on the grass to overlooking it.

SmokeyBlue had broken his spine. I knew bunnies had a weak spine, which is why they travel in such small cages, to prevent a jumping up that would break it. In this case it was a jumping down. I went onto the Internet to see what could possibly be done. Most of the information told me to keep him warm and dry and comfortable. To bathe his nether end and try to express his pee and poop. Most of the information told me he might last a month. His ability to pee on his own came back within 10 days and his poop a bit sooner. Both excellent signs of healing.

I began a process of experimentation with diapers and diaper covers and Frisbees. One to catch his pee and poop, one to hold it on and the other to allow him to slide around. We quickly nixed putting him in his palace as he would pull himself out of it and flop to the ground. He needed a sleeping shelter so we got a cathouse that he could pull himself in to. It had taken SB about 2 weeks to figure out and to strengthen his front legs. He became very adept at pulling himself all around the deck. He did not like the Frisbee or any hard sliding object we used. I think he did not like the noise they made. For a long while I settled on plastic baby bibs. They protected his knees and allowed him to slide over the wooden decking.

Oh and in this photo Basel has a sore foot.  One night around 2am, he started growling. When we turned on the deck light there was a raccoon on the railing. We guess he had come to eat from the bird feeder. This was scary, since the buns was no longer closed into his palace at night which kept him safe from marauding hunters.  That night we took him inside and inside he has been ever since. He does go out occasionally for an hour or two but then comes back in.

Life with a paraplegic rabbit is interesting. His teeny diapers are changed 2-3 times a day, he is bathed every evening and he gets bedsores that need padding but do heal. His little bum is as small as a newborn’s so finding the right size diapers was a trial and error process. After a year I didn’t really like how many Pampers I was adding to the landfill and found some g-diapers to use. The covers are washable and the diapers themselves are paper so are flushable and compostable. We use denim doggie diaper covers over his diapers, which shield his knees from sliding burns. You can see a photo of him wearing them in the previous post.

SB likes to roll his ball to empty and eat the seeds I put into it. He also will tip his crunchies crock to get at some better morsels. Rabbits are not neat roommates. We find hay just about anywhere, seeds too. I hang organic greens from chair rails and plants to keep him busy as they are foragers. I think hunting around the room looking for greens is akin to normality, or as normal as it is going to get. SB likes the aromatic greens best –basil, cilantro, dill, then dandelions, parsley and watercress. He adores curly kale and striped sunflower seeds and raspberries. Basel now eats seeds too. And Sparkles keeps trying to eat the hay, although each time he finds it lacking.

So it is now almost two years since SmokeyBlue’s accident. He will be 3 in April as well. Sadly his leap for rabbitkind did not net him a score but he is a happy bunny that could teach us a lot about living each day to the fullest. He does not get depressed. He does not feel sorry for himself. He does not languish or lie around. SmokeyBlue has made friends with Sparkles, the kitten, he watches the squirrels at the bird feeder and moves about the living room at will. He feeds himself from my offerings and likes to snuggle up to Basel. He also comes and sleeps under the chair next to mine when I read or knit at the table. We don’t know how long he will be with us, healthy bunnies can live up to 10 years, but we are certainly enjoying his sweet, unusual and inspiring personality.


WoolyWorm said...

Goodness, Susan. I had no idea that SB was paraplegic! You are a very special family to give him the extra care he needs.

Strangely, I have another friend who had a paraplegic bunny. It must be more common than I would have thought. Nancy's Griselda lived to be a ripe old age (for bunnies) even with her handicap ... probably due to Nancy's loving care.

In this cold weather Andy has been moved to the garage and I have a heater on his water bottle so it doesn't freeze. He seems pretty frisky and likes the cold.

I hope you read my post about the fiber sampler. It was just before the post with the link in it. I just finished my last skein this evening and I'm trying to think of a good project for the five skeins.

I just got the alpaca today for Fondle This. It's gorgeous! I made my daughters feel its heavenly softness. However, I haven't even started on the Llama yet from last month. I've been too busy working on the fiber sampler. So much fibery goodness! Thanks!

June said...

Wow, Susan, this is amazing! I salute your endevours for Mr. Smokey Blue. I wonder how it is that your cat and dog tolerate him so well? I think my cat and doggies would definitely not like another fur animal around, and probably be very, very bad. Did it take a lot of scolding for them to like each other?

Glad I found your blog-


Suzanne said...

I'm so glad I found your blog! I am in Baton Rouge, LA, and we just went through hurricane Gustav. Before the hurricane hit, strong winds blew our rabbit hutch over and one of our beautiful Jersey Woolies, Paiere (pie-air), sustained a spinal cord injury. He is now a paralegic bunny. This is day eight, and he seems to be doing okay, but time will tell.

I was having a hard time separating from him, and had no form of communication with the outside world due to power and cable outages citiwide. Now that I know that others are successfully caring for paralyzed bunnies, I feel much more confident. I am a homeschooling mom of 2 boys, so we should be able to pull it off, if my husband doesn't object too much.

Thanks for the encouragement,