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Buckeye HRS logoThe Buckeye House Rabbit SocietyHarelines logo

Fall 1997
Volume 1 Number 2


Close Encounters of the Furred Kind by Kristi Cole

With Blossom Eyes by Herta Rodina
Moving to a New Warren by Libby Armstrong Moore

Billiey's Will to Live by Therese Skinner



Chapter News

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Close Encounters of the Furred Kind

by Kristi Cole

Thinking about a friend for your rabbit? Adding another rabbit to your household can result in greater long term joy for both you and your current rabbit with some up-front effort and minimal upkeep. togetherness
Pebble and Cinnamon

Why Try? (go to beginning)

Rabbits are social creatures and need some type of interaction. Boredom can lead to withdrawal or the opposite, destructiveness, in our house rabbits. Our domestic rabbits are descendants of the European wild rabbits, who live in large colonies. Some of that needed interaction may be with you directly, but what if you’re gone a lot? Rabbits in groups keep each other company during times when the humans can’t be present, yet groups also enjoy human companionship when they interact on that level.

After many years of having single bunnies, we learned about the need for socialization and decided to try a pair. What a wonderful sight to behold. There’s nothing like watching a furry couple interact and to observe the subtleties of their communication. They groom each other and relax next to each other. They chew on opposite ends of the same carrot.

There is little difference between caring for a bonded pair and caring for a single rabbit. They share living space, exercise time, and litterboxes. An increase in food and litter cost is minimal. The biggest difference would be in medical care.

Formula for a Hare Pair (go to beginning)

It is best to start with rabbits who have already been spayed or neutered. This minimizes the hormonal aspect of the bonding. It is said that the easiest pair to bond is a male/female couple. However, in many instances, there has been successful bonding of same-sex pairs. It just may take a little longer.

First let the rabbits be in the same room together but in separate enclosures so they can’t come in direct contact for several days. This will allow them to get familiar with the scents and sounds of the other rabbit before the face to face bonding. Another way to get them comfortable with each other’s scents and sounds is to switch living areas. For instance, if one bunny is in the cage for 12 hours and the other is out in the rest of the room, the next 12 hours put the second bunny in the cage and let the first one roam. This way they are sharing territories but at separate times.

Rabbits are territorial by nature and feel the need to defend their territory. The goal is to get their guard down enough to accept a new friend. To get their guard down, it is best to find a neutral territory; that is, one that is different from your rabbit’s current area.

It is also helpful to introduce some mild stress into the situation, so they are distracted from the need to defend their space. Some examples are: a ride in the backseat of the car - a neutral area that causes them to snuggle for reassurance rather than fight, or a visit to the bathtub (dry, of course!) - again neutral, close quarters that may be slippery and entice cuddling. You want to keep it limited to a small space so they are forced to interact, not go exploring on their own.

With our first bonding attempt, we decided the thing to do was to take it very slowly and start with the rides in the back seat of the car. This made them just scared enough not to fight and allowed them to huddle together and get used to each other’s smells and touch. The first week, we took them on 20 minute car rides every night. My husband drove and I sat in the back seat with the bunnies and the litter box. After the car rides, we put them back in their separate areas.

During week 2, we did some car rides and then proceeded to a neutral bathroom afterwards. This was a small space and it forced the rabbits to interact while supervised. After several days when they seemed comfortable with each other, we proceeded to let them out in a larger, more permanent area - still supervised. Eventually, when they snuggled a lot and groomed one another quite a bit and there were no more minor scuffles, we felt it was okay for them to be together 24 hours a day.

This method has worked well for us several times now. Be consistent at your efforts. Keep a squirt bottle handy to break up scuffles. This will often distract them enough to start grooming themselves and stop squabbling. If they mount and/or chase each other, stay close, but don’t interfere unless it gets too rough. This is part of their way of working out the dominance issue.

With a little time and patience, the rewards for you and your current companion rabbit can be great by adding another bunny to the family. The methods above can also be used in making a trio or bonding two pairs. You will be gratified to watch them interact and they will be more satisifed with life, sharing it both with a human friend and a fellow rabbit.

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With Blossom Eyes

by Herta Rodina

blind trust From the day she arrived in our home, my husband and I knew that Blossom was special. Not just because she was our very first foster rabbit, but because of the instantaneous trust and affection she displayed toward us. She was curious about everything and feared nothing. From the beginning, Blossom craved almost constant attention. She would practically jump into our arms when we went to pick her up and would sit for hours on our laps, licking our hands and softly grinding her teeth, while we watched tv or read the newspaper. It didn't take us long to realize that our first fostering attempt was doomed to failure. We would not be able to give her up to anyone else. This two-pound, pink-eyed dwarf had won our hearts and a permanent place in our home.

At her first medical exam, we were relieved to learn that she was in excellent health. Except for one detail: Blossom was blind. A follow-up exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist indicated additional problems. Her right eye had sustained several puncture wounds and corneal abrasions in the past, all of which had healed. And both eyes had chronic glaucoma. A reading of 20 mmHg (millimetres of mercury) in her right eye was within the normal range, but 33 mmHg in her left eye suggested the likelihood of some discomfort due to the elevated pressure. So, we began treating her left eye with Timoptic 0.25% (timolol maleate) -- one drop twice a day. Within two weeks, the pressure was down to 18 mmHg, where it has remained, with some variation, ever since. One year later, the pressure in her right eye had risen to 25 mmHg, so we began treating both eyes with Timoptic. For the past three years, the medication has kept her pressures below 20 mmHg and Blossom has remained comfortable. Fortunately, Blossom is a model patient. Tilting her head first to one side, then to the other, she remains perfectly still as we gently pull back her upper lid to administer the drops.

So what is life like for a visually-challenged bunny? Is it too human a reaction to assume that her other senses compensate for a lack of sight? We, with our binocular vision and diurnal habits, are clearly more sight-dependent than our crepuscular companions. However, to a far greater degree than other rabbits we've known, Blossom reacts to the slightest touch, and leans into the hand that pets. She loves music and will sway back and forth on my husband's lap when the radio is on; she also zones out to the rhythmic click-click-click of the computer keyboard. Exercise time outside her cage doesn't hold the same appeal for her as it does for other rabbits. Her movements are slower and more deliberate; she seems to furrow her brow in hard concentration; sometimes she bumps into furniture or the wall or gets into a corner and can't get back out.

We would dearly love to bond her with our other permanent resident rabbit, Muggins, but have refrained from trying. Without her sight, we fear that Blossom's reactions wouldn't be fast enough and that those inevitable scuffles for dominance could seriously injure her eyes. So, we remain her closest companions and she is completely devoted to us. Exploring the couch or the bed -- provided we're with her -- is one of her favorite activities. If one of us leaves the room, she won't settle down until both of us are back.

Information about Blossom's past continues to be as absent as her vision. All we know is that when a young man answered his doorbell one cold night in March three years ago, he found a bunny in a cardboard box. Whatever frightening or painful experiences Blossom might have endured prior to living with us, they didn't dampen her spirit or destroy her fondness for human companionship. Blossom may be blind, but she has given us insight into trust, a quality that is often too blind for humans.

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Moving to a New Warren

by Libby Armstrong Moore

The House Rabbit Society often receives calls about rabbits who are being given up because the owners think they are unable to withstand a long move. A more accurate assessment might be that people often don't take the time to understand what can be done to assist in making any move easy for a rabbit to tolerate. Hopefully, we can clarify some common misconceptions and help ensure that you and your bunny have a safe and easy move!

Short-distance Moves (go to beginning)

Moving to a nearby location is pretty simple--the main concern is stress. As you may know, stress is one of the main causes of illness in rabbits, so you do want to mini-mize stressors in your bunny's environment.

In May my two rabbits, Max and Kismet, and myself relocated to an apartment only fifteen minutes from where we had been living. I prepared by gathering all their food dishes, hay, pellets and fresh vegetables and placing them in one box in my car, where they would not become lost amidst the clutter. Fortunately, the day of my move was cool and rainy. Before the movers arrived, I put both bunnies in their carriers and placed them in the car, where they would be away from the noise and confusion. The less they are exposed to this type of stress, the better. Their cages travelled on the truck with my furniture.

When I arrived at my new home, I immediately offered both bunnies water and fresh veggies (which have water in them). I left both carriers in my car while the truck was being unloaded. Do not do this if it is warm outside, or if the car is in the sun!

It only took an hour to unload the truck and the first thing I did was to set up Max and Kismet's new home. Remember, any change in environment is stressful to your bunny--be sure and take care of his needs first. I then closed the door to that room so they would have some relative peace and quiet and time to adjust to their new surroundings. Soon both were busy re-claiming furniture as theirs, and enjoying the spaciousness of their new home.

Long-distance Moves (go to beginning)

A long distance move requires careful planning. If you are travelling by plane, BE SURE to check with your airline to determine whether your bunny will be allowed to travel in the cabin with you. Many airlines do not allow animals in the cabin, especially anything other than a cat, and instead will place them in the cargo area. This could be deadly for a bunny, since the cargo hold is not heated or cooled. There are a few airlines that do allow bunnies to travel with you in a carrier under your seat. If you are driving, you will need to determine pet-friendly accommodations ahead of time. You might take an exercise pen into the hotel room with you, so your bunny can stretch his legs. Do not leave the bunny loose when unattended in the room--a maid could enter and your rabbit could slip out the door, enticed by those long hallways. If it is summer, prepare ahead of time to keep your bunny cool. Even if you have an air-conditioned car, pack frozen bottles in your cooler. There may be times when you cannot run the air-conditioning, or it could fail if your car overheats. Planning ahead for an emergency like this could mean a great deal to your bunny. Other suggestions for a long trip include packing Lactated Ringers Solution and a syringe (for those who are comfortable administering this subcutaneously) to combat dehydration. Many rabbits won't drink water on the road. You could also give them pedialyte orally with a syringe, to prevent dehydration.

If your car is big enough, a small cage would be ideal, rather than a carrier, so that your bunny can stretch out and move around. Do not let your bunny out at rest stops--they are frequently populated by dogs, and some are not leashed.

Offer your bunny no new foods at this time--maintaining his diet in a consistent fashion will help a great deal in avoiding digestive upsets. If you will be travelling in an area unfamiliar to you, take phone numbers of vets or HRS representatives (available from your local chapter) located along your route. That way, if a medical emergency comes up on the road, you can obtain assistance quickly. HRS reps in the area may also be able to give you ideas on pet friendly motels.

Remember, your bunny is a member of your family, and he too will enjoy getting to know his new home--and he will help make it seem like yours more quickly.

Some information contained in this article was from the HRS website, by Elizabeth TeSelle.

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Billiey's Will to Live

by Therese Skinner

Billiey was just 5 weeks old when he came to live with us in Kansas City. He was a tiny rabbit, a Siamese Netherland Dwarf, who fit into the palms of our hands. Instantly we fell in love. Billiey became very attached to my daughter, Adrienne, and his little kisses felt as big as the world. Billiey seemed healthy in every way. He was learning to do bunny things and followed Adrienne everywhere. He knew he had found his home forever.

About a week later, Adrienne came running into our family room, holding Billiey close, with tears streaming down her face. I knew by the look on her face that something was very wrong. "Mom, Billiey is sick!" she said. I had been around animals all my life — one glance and I knew this baby needed a doctor fast! I called our vet and described Billiey’s symptoms — rapid side-to-side eye movement, head following eye movement, and hopping in circles. Everything else seemed to be normal. My heart went out to Billiey — he was so tiny to experience such a serious illness. My vet said there was a disease that affects the brain stem — Encephalitozoon cuniculi, a protozoan parasite contracted by ingestion. The only treatment he could suggest was injections of Gentocin. I later learned that Tetracycline and Chloramphenicol had helped other rabbits with this illness. However, unlike bacteria, protozoa are not destroyed by these antibiotics; only the rabbit’s own immune system can do that.

After a few injections of Gentocin, Billiey appeared to return to normal, except for a slight head tilt from time to time. We thought we had cured the infection.

A few months later, we moved 50 miles away to be closer to my husband’s office. We didn’t really know how stressful moving would be on Billiey until a month later, when I noticed a small white spot inside his right eye. The fear returned and the spot was getting bigger. It covered most of his pupil. Billiey was going blind. The E. cuniculi was back and he was only 6 months old. The vet decided to treat him with long-term Baytril. Billiey started the Baytril immediately, along with a natural herb to boost his immune system. Day by day, we saw a slow improvement, and the spot of pus started to diminish. However, if it returned, Billiey’s only chance was to see an eye specialist and have the eye removed. The cost? $1,000! My heart sank — we just didn’t have that kind of money.

Three weeks went by and the pus pocket started to increase in size. I kept telling Billiey that I would find a way to get him well, he just had to hold on. But in my heart, I was worried.

February 1st came and I got a call from my husband — he was being transferred to Lexington, Kentucky. Would Billiey survive the 625-mile trip? Would I be able to find a vet who could help him?

After the exhausting 14-hour drive, Billiey was still hanging on. I started calling all the vets in town. One stood out above the rest — Dr. Charlotte Hebert of All Creatures Great and Small Animal Hospital. For the first time in several weeks, I had a good feeling in my heart about Billiey. Dr. Hebert’s exam indicated that if we were to save him, emergency surgery would have to be done and the eye removed. Total cost? $146. We kissed Billiey, told him we loved him, and left him to be prepped for the operation.

Waiting was the hardest thing we ever had to do, but finally word came that Billiey had made it through surgery. Fortunately, the infection was contained to the eye. When Dr. Hebert brought Billiey to the exam room, he was still groggy — until he heard our voices. His little ears perked up and then a flow of kisses came. Dr. Hebert said he must have the strongest will to live to withstand such a serious illness and travelling combined. She instructed us on post-op care and put him back on Bayrtil for 2 weeks to ward off any infection. He returned in 7 days for stitch removal and to have his picture taken with her.

Billiey is doing great now. He performs his bunny hops, but he’s still not quite sure of himself to jump on high furniture. He has to scan where he is going first so he won’t run into anything. At 13 months old, he’s gaining his strength back every day. Billiey is fortunate to have survived. Perhaps he realizes this as he lavishes us every day with his kisses and affection.

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Here's Something Cheerful ...

A rabbit’s a wonderful thing

To you much delight he will bring

He’ll wiggle his nose

Stand high on his toes

A rabbit will make your heart sing.

by Lisa Maffei Hahn

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"HARE CARE" Comes to the Tri-State Area!

Have you ever said, "Gosh, I wish we had someone really reliable and knowledgeable to take care of our rabbit so we could go on vacation with complete peace of mind?" Well, your wishes will soon be answered! Kelly Montana, presently Oregon’s HRS Educational Representative, will be relocating to the Northern Kentucky area in October and, once settled, will be offering her rabbits-only pet-sitting service just in time for the holiday season!

Kelly saw a definite need for rabbit-sitting, so she started "HARE CARE" in May ‘92. She has cared for approximately 80 rabbits, including both the physically and visually challenged. Kelly is skilled at administering oral and injectible medications, if needed. HARE CARE offers a unique alternative to the pet sitter who briefly visits your rabbit in your home once a day, by providing your beloved bun with 24-hour care in Kelly’s home. Your rabbit enjoys spacious indoor facilities, complete with proper diet, litterbox, toys, nail trim and fur grooming, and is given the same love and attention that Kelly’s own 8 beloved buns receive. Cage-free exercise periods are also part of the daily routine at HARE CARE.


Kelly looks forward to being Kentucky’s Educational Representative, and meeting the Tri-State members, especially in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky. Contact Kelly via e-mail at harecare@cinci.infi.net or send a note to her new address at 717 Monte Lane, Covington, KY 41011 regarding your interest in HARE CARE.

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Bunny Bytes

Bunny Bytes: Outfitters of the Urban Rabbit has opened its website at www.bunnybytes.com

They offer a wide range of products for rabbits and rabbit lovers alike, from food, first-aid needs, and toys to rabbit-themed items for home and garden, and, of course, jewelry. Bunny Bytes has chosen the Buckeye House Rabbit Society as the recipient of a portion of their proceeds in 1998. We are grateful for their support and look forward to shopping with them.

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I wish we had more time together. Even though you were with me for 2 and a half weeks, I will miss you with all my heart.



We lost our beloved Floppy on July 18th, 1997. Floppy was a beautiful rabbit—all white with big floppy ears and ruby red eyes that seemed almost to glow. Up until her illness she had always seemed happy and full of energy — we had trained her to jump on the couch on command and to jump down too. She could walk on her hind legs if you held a treat just out of reach. She gave kisses only infrequently and never with any logical consistency. our beloved Floppy

And she came charging into the kitchen like her tail was on fire if she saw anyone heading in that direction anywhere near dinner time. She’d run into the room so fast she would slide a foot or two on the linoleum before she came to a complete stop. No matter how much we fed her, she ate like a starved thing most of the time and would occasionally jump up on the couch when I was lying there and walk back and forth on my back or stomach until I would shoo her away.

We miss her terribly.

Thanks again to everyone who helped and who cared during Floppy’s final months.

Sidelia Reyna and Todd Bennett


Lagomorph nonpareil

7/28/92 - 7/23/97

Sandy Zdila

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Special Dates

Congratulations and best wishes to some wonderful rabbits and their loving human companions:

In July, Statler and Emmet celebrated 6 and 3 years, respectively, with the Seligmans of Dayton. November marks Fibi's happy 4th.

Precious and the Skinner family enjoyed celebrating her August 20 adoption day in their new home in Lexington.

In addition to the other December festivities, Vicky of Aurora will surely be showered with treats and pets to mark her 2 years with the Dohertys.

August 10 marked the day Kismet was found wandering in the Chagrin Valley MetroParks, abandoned by his owners. Fate truly brought this big red rabbit to Libby Moore.

On August 21, Taz, of Belleville, MI, began his third year with his beloved human companion Deanna.

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Chapter News

Newsletter in Print

This webzine is based entirely on the Harelines printed newsletter. The printed copy is sent out to members much before it appears here -- that's one way we can encourage you to support it by becoming a member. If you find you are reading this website regularly or with special appreciation, please consider becoming a member of the Buckeye House Rabbit Society.

Now's the time to join! Your $10 membership donation pays for one year's issues of Harelines AND helps us help needy rabbits here in Ohio. We are an all-volunteer, federally-recognized non-profit organization and depend solely on YOUR generous support. Don't forget, your donation is tax-deductible! Kari loves Buckeye members

Don't let this issue of Harelines be the last to reach the web. Send your membership to us today!

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World Wide Wabbits

Do you wish you had the time to put your bunny on the web? Let us help. As a special service available only to Buckeye HRS members, we'd like to offer space on our website -- ohare.org -- just for your bunny. Take a look at Our Photo Albums to see where your lagomorph will appear. Send us your favorite photo(s), include a short description, and we'll hop to it.


Tell Us about Your Bunny...

Do you have a story about your rabbit that you’d like to share with other house rabbit folks? Or a question about rabbit behavior? We’ll print it in a future issue! Write to us at: Buckeye HRS, P.O. Box 61, Vickery, OH, 43464. Don’t forget to include a photo and a SASE to ensure a prompt return. Or visit My Rabbit Companion at this site for another way to reach us.

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Special Thanks to:

Thanks again to all -- we deeply appreciate your help!

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 Armstrong Moore

Contributing Writers
Kristi Cole
Libby Armstrong Moore
Herta Rodina
Theresa Skinner
Lisa Maffei Hahn
Kelly Montana

David Sharpe

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