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Spring/Summer 1997
Volume 1 Number 1


Helping Your Bun Keep His Cool by Libby Moore

Pebble's Tale by Kristi Cole
A Spooky Story by Libby Moore
The Old Grey Hare by Libby Moore
Home Alone? by Kristi Cole

It's Springtime for Everybunny by Mary Ferguson



Chapter News

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Helping Your Bun Keep His Cool

by Libby Moore

Summer is coming soon and even though your bunny lives indoors, you should be alert to the danger that hot weather poses for rabbits. Let’s examine some methods for helping your bunny thrive during Ohio’s hot, humid summers.

If your house is air-conditioned, and you keep it at a steady temperature below 80 degrees, no special precautions are necessary.

But if your house is not air-conditioned, or if your rabbit spends time outdoors, you must be very careful that he does not overheat. High temperatures are often fatal to rabbits. The stress caused by overheating can also weaken your rabbit and allow him to succumb to infections he would ordinarily fight off. Rabbits do not sweat and can only disperse excess heat through the ears.

Cooling methods (go to beginning)

There are several ways to keep your bunny cool. One of the easiest, though not the cheapest, is to install a room air-conditioner in the room(s) where your rabbit spends most of his time. This is the option we chose. Another method is to fill plastic milk jugs or liter pop bottles with water, then freeze them. You can place one of these in your bunny’s cage, where he can lie against it. It is not
recommended that you place fans directly in front of your bunny’s cage, because drafts can chill him. That said, my long-haired bunny, Max, seeks out the fan and flops in front of it, airplane ears blowing in the breeze. If your bunny is spending time outdoors in an enclosure (supervised of course!) make sure you have a shady, sheltered area where the bunny can go to get out of the heat. You should place one of the frozen bottles there, too.

Traveling with your bunny in the summer (go to beginning)

As with any animal, you should never, ever leave your bunny in a hot car for even a very short time. Temperatures can soar over 150 degrees in a matter of minutes, turning your car into an oven.

If you must travel in a non-air-conditioned car, place your bunny in a carrier with a frozen bottle. If your trip is long, fill your ice chest with enough bottles to last the trip. You can also bring a spray bottle of water and mist your bunny’s ears to help cool him. If you are moving across country and cannot avoid traveling in the heat, consider renting an air-conditioned vehicle. Your bunny will make his trip more comfortably and arrive healthier.

Other summertime dangers (go to beginning)

In our hurry to enjoy the beautiful days of summer, we rush out to the backyard, often bringing our rabbits with us. It is fun to watch them dance and leap across the yard, but we need to be alert to a whole new set of perils that can await our rabbits.

First, never leave your rabbit unsupervised, even for a minute, when he is outside! It takes only a few seconds for a predator to pounce, or a noise to frighten your bunny.

Blossom in the yard Safe in an enclosure
A fence keeps predators out and Blossom in the yard Blossom and her human companion enjoy fresh air and sunshine, while safe in an enclosure

Weather (go to beginning)

Besides heat, summer storms can pose a danger to rabbits. Do not ever leave your rabbit outside in the rain! This seems so obvious, yet I know of one who died while in his enclosure—no one was home to bring him in and he was soaked. He died a day later.

Ohio has many violent thunderstorms, and many areas are hit by tornadoes. A safety plan should include your rabbit. A spare cage or carrier in the basement or storm cellar, with some pellets and bottled water, should be kept ready to use. If you live in areas prone to floods or tornadoes, it is a good idea to prepare a box of food and supplies that can be kept in an easy-to-access place should you ever have to evacuate.

Predators (go to beginning)

Your backyard may look very safe, but many predators lurk nearby, including the neighbor’s cat, stray dogs, and raptor birds. Even if your yard is fenced, do not ever assume a cat or hawk could not make its way into the yard. Stay with your bunny while he is playing outside. Your presence will deter these animals from attacking.

Insects (go to beginning)

If your bunny spends time outside, be sure to check him for any unwanted visitors when he comes in. If you find fleas, your vet can recommend a flea preparation to eradicate them. Rabbits can and do get fleas. Left untreated, bunnies can become anemic.

In some parts of Ohio, ticks might be a problem. If you find one of these attached to your rabbit, take him to a vet immediately. Do not attempt to remove the tick yourself, as its head could break off under your rabbit’s skin.

I hope these tips help you keep your bunny healthy and enjoying the summer!

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Pebble's Tale

by Kristi Cole

Looking at Pebble flopped out contentedly on my fireplace hearth, it’s hard to remember the sad life she had before entering our home, and later, our hearts.

Our paths crossed in February 1996. Since everyone at work knows of my love for rabbits, I was approached by an employee who was aware of a rabbit needing a new home. At that time, I had 2 unbonded males and was already juggling separate areas and exercise times for them. I was definitely not interested in another rabbit. I said that I would mention her to a few people I knew to see if they could help. Nobody had room for Thumper (her name then).

Thumper was living with a mentally disabled girl who bought her on impulse at the county fair the previous fall. She is a beautiful gray minilop. The former caretaker, if you could call her that, soon tired of Thumper. She wanted to let her go outside to fend for herself. (This was February in Ohio!) Often the caseworker coming by to help the caretaker would find the rabbit without food and water, sitting in a urine-soaked wooden cage.

I offered to make up a flyer to help find Thumper a new home and stopped by the house where she lived. I wanted to see what sex Thumper was so I could accurately describe her in the flyer I was preparing. I tried to pick her up to turn her over and look. She was terrified of me and ran and hid under the bed. I reached under to get her and she growled and bit me. The caretaker said she would get her out, that she always can handle her. I watched in horror as I saw Thumper pulled out from under the bed by her ears - those lovely, soft, floppy gray ears. I told her to never, ever do that again and I took Thumper from her arms and held the frightened bunny. I found out she was a girl and that she had never had her nails clipped. Ouch! She also said that sometimes Thumper had to be “spanked”. Well, at this point, I decided that she was coming home with us. I told the owner that I would take her right then and find her a permanent home later.

So, we began our first fostering experience. We decided that Thumper was a bad omen and the name Pebble struck us. I took pictures and made up a lovely color flyer. She got a clean bill of health from our vet and we scheduled a date for her spay. I thought as soon as she was spayed, she would be on her way to a new home.

We kept Pebble in a separate area of the house from our 2 boys. I was trying to remain emotionally detached so I would basically feed her and that’s all. I left it to my husband, Bill, to socialize with her, thinking he would stay less attached. Pebble never was aggressive towards him, but she would bite me any chance she got.

After the successful spay surgery, I set up a sick ward in our living room (off limits to our boys). I sat up with her the first night and came home from work several times the next day to check on her and feed her fresh herbs and offer water to her via dropper until she was able to get around better. She never bit again after that. She began nudging my hand to pet her. She would nestle up to my leg as I sat in the living room recovery ward. I was amazed at her turnaround. I think she knew she’d better work on me now if she wanted to stay.

She became very friendly and already had Bill thinking of ways to let her stay. I began to be less eager to find her a new home. I got one call from my efforts and it was a lady who wanted a bunny for her 4-year old. I explained that a bunny might not be the ideal pet for her daughter and gave her some information to consider, secretly hoping she wouldn’t call me back. At this point, Bill suggested bonding her with our sweet neutered male, Cinnamon. We justified that it wouldn’t be that much more work, as they would share a living space and litterboxes, etc.

We told Pebble she was here to stay and she was introduced to Cinnamon. After several supervised bonding sessions, they were inseparable and are now referred to simply as “The Lovebuns”. It’s wonderful to watch them interact and you can surely tell that each of their lives has been enriched by our decision to make Pebble a permanent family member.

Since she hopped her way into our hearts, Pebble truly enjoys life and it is evidenced by her happy dance around the family room, her sharing a carrot or playing leapfrog with Cinnamon, and simply stretching out and taking a nap on the fireplace hearth.

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A Spooky Story

by Libby Moore

A Euclid pet store declared bankruptcy, and the owners fled to another state, abandoning the animals without food or water, taking even the dishes. There was a rabbit left behind—would I pick him up? I agreed, never imagining the awful mess he was living in. As I opened the door to the store, the stench overpowered me. Insects flew into my hair and all around me. Sitting in a cage was the tiniest albino dwarf bunny. He looked very frightened, and was huddled in a corner. He had been moved to another cage, but I saw the prison he had been kept in—the waste was so deep it came through the bottom of the wire floor. There were also over 30 parakeets, many of them diseased and infected with mites. Several of them had lost their feathers. It was the saddest, most miserable mess I had ever seen.

I took the little bun home with me. We named him Spooky, since he was so skittish, and was very white. He had a terrible malocclusion—his lower teeth were growing out of his mouth, leaving him unable to eat anything but pellets. This was remedied by a trip to the vet, who clipped them down, and removed Spooky’s peg teeth (the stubby teeth behind the incisors). He is able to eat almost anything now, provided we grate it first. He was amazingly healthy, considering what he had been through. But he does not trust humans, or is unaccustomed to being handled by them—he growls and scratches at hands. He also has the messiest litter habits—probably because he was moved around so much. But they are improving every day in his clean new surroundings.

We are working at socializing Spooky, and at litter training him. He already enjoys his run time and leaps in the air in with happiness. He is one of the lucky ones.

As for the parakeets, no bird rescue groups would take them, due to their exposure to disease. Many are still in need of homes, though eleven of them have found homes with my co-workers. At least some of the animals from this Little Pet Shop of Horrors have at last found love and companionship. Spooky

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The Old Grey Hare

by Libby Moore

When I first planned this article, it was to be about caring for geriatric bunnies. But events since then have changed my focus to include more about the later years of a rabbit’s life.

Dusty, a grey siamese Netherland dwarf bunny, was a member of our family for almost ten years. He was a special rabbit, who asked only for our love, and in return gave us his undying affection. I am sharing the tales of his golden years here, in the hopes that other rabbits will benefit by his experiences, and that owners will be encouraged to value these precious days with their aging friend.

In the fall of 1995, Dusty began to show his nearly nine years. First came the slowdown of his gastrointestinal system – a condition that can affect any rabbit who does not eat enough fiber. It is a condition that elderly bunnies seem particularly susceptible to – especially an elderly bun who liked only pellets and sweet treats. Dusty was an extremely fussy eater, and grew ever more cantankerous about his preferred menu in his old age! After nursing him through this first episode, we began to notice other signs of his increasing frailty. Dusty

The first sign came one November day, when Dusty bounded down the stairs — something he had done many times in his life. Halfway down he seemed to lose his footing and tumbled head over heels to the bottom. He quickly picked himself up and scampered off, leaving us hysterical. We noticed that he seemed a bit wobbly, that his back legs seemed unsteady. Off to the vet he went.

The vet took x-rays of Dusty’s back and confirmed that Dusty had spondylosis of the vertebral column--in other words, the vertebrae were degenerating and either pinching nerves or causing musculoskeletal weakness in his hind legs. The vet stated that this was very common in elderly rabbits, and said that Dusty would gradually lose function in his rear legs, but he didn’t think Dusty was in any pain. Later, I came to disagree with that statement.

Dusty also had chronic pasteurella, a disease he had lived with for several years. Medications and nursing care had kept the worst symptoms of the disease at bay, but as Dusty aged, it began to crop up more often. Sometimes his eye ran. Occasionally, he would have bouts of sneezing.

We carefully monitored Dusty’s environment, but it was difficult to do. In spite of his age, Dusty was still a lively and curious rabbit, and he often defied our attempts to protect him! We lined his cage with straw mats, and placed throw rugs on the slippery hardwood floor. We did not allow him to navigate stairs any longer. We placed a heating pad in his cage during chilly months — he really enjoyed cuddling up next to it. We gave him back massages with our fingers, to ease the discomfort of the arthritis. He let us know how much he enjoyed them by licking our faces while we rubbed. Dusty sought out the warmest spots in the house for his increasing naps — his favorite spot was under our bed, next to the register. I would find him dozing under there, his fur hot to the touch.

Two more gastrointestinal episodes followed in his ninth year. Each one took more out of Dusty. During the last one, we began force-feeding Dusty several times per day, in addition to the food he ate on his own. He actually liked his “force” feeding--he would excitedly sniff at the syringe containing his pureed peas, his body quivering in anticipation of the goodies within. Our skill at nursing grew. We learned to administer additional fluids subcutaneously. Dusty also began receiving banamine injections to help combat discomfort from his GI problems. After several months, he began to recover, but he was a very thin and frail bunny.

Throughout this last year and a half of Dusty’s life, we were very much aware of how precious each day with Dusty was. We appreciated every kiss, every cuddle, every feeding. There were several times when we were not sure Dusty would live another day; or if we were keeping him going when we shouldn’t be. “You will know when it is time,” friends assured us. Others said “He’s old, you have to realize that”. But we could still see a desire for life in Dusty. He was still fighting hard. Many days, he had the spark of a young bunny. Every day, he hopped as fast as he was able, to see us when we entered his room. While no longer able to leap for joy, he would rear up and shake his head. He would run to lick our faces, to receive pets, to be with us. The attention and love we gave him sustained him throughout his illness.

Dusty left us this winter. His frail hind leg gave way one evening, fracturing above the ankle. At the emergency clinic, the vet confirmed our worst fears – Dusty would need surgery, and he was too old and too frail to survive it. It would just mean more pain for him.

So we said good-bye to our dearest friend. He licked our faces, covering them with kisses. We gave him our last gift – our presence and love as he left us in our arms.

When Dusty was healthy he weighed almost three pounds. That evening at the clinic, he was weighed – and didn’t even tip the scales at two pounds. All that remained in that thin little body was his big, loving heart. It is often said that rabbits give up easily; that they have no will to live. They never met Dusty.

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Home Alone?

by Kristi Cole

Summer vacation time will soon be upon us. Here are some options for how your rabbit can spend his time while you are gone.

Staying at home

Probably the least stressful option for the bunny is to leave him in his own familiar environment. Have someone stop by your home once or twice a day to feed him, give him fresh water and socialize with him. You may have a friend or family member familiar with rabbits or you may have to find a professional pet sitter. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a pet sitter or you can contact NAPPS (National Assn. of Professional Pet Sitters) at 202-393-3317 for a free guide which includes a checklist of items to look for in a reputable pet sitter and how to plan ahead.

It's a good idea to leave detailed written instructions in addition to showing the person around and familiarizing her with your rabbit and supplies. Leave a number where you can be contacted, your veterinarian's number, and if possible, make arrangements with your vet to allow payment to be made when you return or to be charged to a credit card, so lack of payment doesn't hinder any emergency treatment. Also, it would be helpful to have the food pre-measured into bags containing daily portions and labeled for each individual rabbit, if you have more than one. The goal is to make things as smooth as possible for the bunny and the pet sitter.

Boarding your Bunny (go to beginning)

An option if you can't find anyone to come into your home or if your bunny has special medical needs is to find a place to board your bunny. It may be a friend's home or a boarding business or even your veterinarian's office.

Make sure your bunny is housed away from barking dogs or any other noises that may stress him out. Try to take as many familiar things as you can, for example, his own cage, bowls, and toys. Take enough food to last the duration of your visit, plus a little extra in case of a delayed return.

Leave a number where you can be contacted and your vet's number if you're not boarding there. Also leave detailed written instructions on feeding and any special care your bunny will need while away at "bunny camp."

So, with some thoughtful planning, both you and your bunny can enjoy a stress-free break from routine. Bon Voyage!

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It's Springtime for Everybunny

by Mary Ferguson

It is wonderful how the feeling of spring encroaches into human and animal life alike and gives everyone a new beginning. Daylight lingers longer and longer, melting away the winter in some parts and bringing about changes in other places that indicate spring. Trees seem to come alive before your very eyes as fresh buds and catkins burst and then become leaves as the days become warmer and longer. Migrating birds fill the air with song—some just stopping for rest and food before moving on northward to cooler climates more suited to their needs. A showy northern cardinal sits high in an ash tree calling to his mate. She flies in to meet him—he moves down to the lower branch where she is sitting and they dance in mating song, stopping to feed one another between chorus.

Spring is not only evident in the trees but at the ground level also. Hibernating chipmunks leave their cozy winter nest to forage for food and sound off that it is spring—calling out to the world in a loud voice, “nook, nook, nook”. Raccoons and other furry critters visit the backyard in the night scrounging through the leftovers that hadn’t been taken during the day. Native cottontail rabbits are seen at the crack of dawn and early evening, playing bunny games -- wildly chasing one another and then quickly stopping to play leap frog as the pursuer jumps in the air, maneuvering about its friend.

These are just some of the things that our little bunny notices as he plays outside on the deck “noticing” that spring is in the air. His little nose is moving more quickly and nonstop as he sniffs the fresh spring breeze. His little bunny ears move about like radar dishes capturing the spring sounds that are almost deafening in comparison to the quiet winter. Suddenly, he leaps in the air in song and dance that is so familiar to bunny play. He hits the ground running, limbs moving so quickly they are a blur, his eyes focused on the obstacles that surround him, his ears streamlined against his head, cruising and maneuvering around the deck at top bunny speeds in a zig, zag, zoom motion. He comes to a halt, almost surprised at his abilities. He shakes his head, ears flopping about and then binkies in the air with the agility of the finest athletes.

After a few minutes he lies down to rest his mighty legs. Contented with his morning exercises, he rests near his human caregiver. He receives lots of cheers, smiles and pets for his fine performance. His body language is so content and proud as he is flopped out—the bottoms of his back feet to the sun and he holds his head so proudly.

Our bunny enjoys being outside in the fresh air. He finally feels contented and safe on his deck and has included the sounds of nature as a part of his life. Yes it is spring, for everyone, and for every bunny!

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Eating Right

Help your rabbit live a long and healthy life by providing him with proper nutrition. Remember these four main items:

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Restaurants to Avoid

The House Rabbit Society wants to inform everyone that rabbit is becoming a trendy item on menus of some upscale “gourmet” restaurants. Our membership may vary in their opinions on eating meat, but we all recognize that our rabbits are companion animals like dogs and cats. We will publish a list of restaurants in Ohio that include rabbit on their menu, in the hope that we can help our members avoid an unpleasant surprise when they sit down for dinner. Let the managers of these establishments know why you will not patronize them. Better yet, send them the check for the meal you had elsewhere, and let them know how much income they lost and why. If you know of an Ohio restaurant that serves rabbit, please send us the name and city.

The following restaurants in the Cleveland area are known to serve rabbit meat:

Ohio City

Michael Michael
Cleveland Heights

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July 1987 - January 4, 1997

Dusty, our sweet, little, old dwarf bunny guy, went to the Rainbow Bridge earlier this year, but we miss him like it happened yesterday. No longer do we hear him snoring under our bed, or feel his sweet bunny kisses on our faces, or laugh as he "climbed" on his stuffed animals. The rooms still seem so empty without him running through them to greet us. How loved he made us feel! He had a heart that belied his small size and with it he brought us much happiness and love. We were blessed to share our lives with you, "Grampa Dusty."

Libby and Tom


Bean Bean
September 1991 - February 1997

We miss you, little friend. Your departure has left a sad, empty place in our hearts. We miss many things, including your bunny kisses and cuddling in front of the fireplace. You'll always be a part of our family.

Love, Bill and Kristi

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Chapter News

Success in Columbus

The Pet Expo, February 14 -16, 1997 at the State Fairgrounds in Columbus, brought the Buckeye House Rabbit Society an opportunity to meet the public. We had a great location with a lot of traffic, right next to the free samples of Dad’s pet food. We talked to many, many people and handed out lots of HRS info packets.

Folks learned that rabbits are in need of homes by adoption. People who usually get their cats and dogs from shelters didn’t know there is an overpopulation problem with rabbits, too. They had gone to a breeder or pet store to get their rabbit. They are now aware and several said they would adopt their next bunny.

Lots of people had house rabbits, but didn’t know they could be litter trained, liked toys, etc. They were genuinely interested in seeing our display of toys, hay, grooming tools and litterboxes, and in learning how to make their rabbits’ lives better. Libby Moore did a great, eye-catching display board featuring color blow ups of bunnies with their names and stories.

A big pat on the back goes to Karalee Curry, an HRS Educator in Columbus, for organizing our appearance at the Expo and making it possible for the facts about house rabbits to reach so many people.

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Vets and Volunteers

The House Rabbit Society hosted its first national veterinary conference in Berkeley, CA, March 7-9, 1997. Approximately 200 veterinary professionals from the U.S. and Canada attended a variety of informative sessions, ranging from surgery and anesthesia to rabbit dentistry and alternative medicine. Staffed by some 60 volunteers representing HRS chapters all across the country — including our very own Buckeye chapter! — the conference was a roaring success. Stay tuned to Harelines for information about future veterinary conferences and be sure to inform your veterinarian.

In Berkeley Buckeye HRS chapter manager Herta Rodina attended the Vet Conference and distributed information to attendees.

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Recent Adoptions

We are pleased to announce the following adoption:

March: Guinness, a playful, out-going, yet gentle bunny, is the center of attention with the Andrews family in Vickery. He immediately won the heart of little Ellie by accepting pets, treats, and toys, and by being his irresistibly cute self!

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Special Thanks to:

Bill Cole and his colleagues at Grady McCauley, Inc. of North Canton, for an outstanding job on our logo and display panel. We received many compliments on both items at the HRS Veterinary Conference in San Francisco and sincerely appreciate your time and generosity.

Karen Kratzer, of New Rochelle, NY, for her generous donation in memory of Dusty and Bean.

• Alphagraphics of downtown Cleveland, for giving us a discount on printing our materials. We couldn’t have done it without your generous support!

Harelines, the Buckeye House Rabbit Society Newsletter, is published by the all-volunteer, non-profit Buckeye House Rabbit Society, Vickery, OH. The House Rabbit Society assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions.

Newsletter editor Herta Rodina

Layout and Design Libby Moore

Contributing Writers
Kristi Cole
Mary Ferguson
Libby Moore
Herta Rodina

David Sharpe

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