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Bon Appétit, Bunny! by Herta Rodina
Just for Fun by Kristi Cole
Living with Big Mama by Corinna Stephens
Using TTEAM on Your Rabbits by Karen Brown
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by Herta Rodina
It's late afternoon, you just got home from work, and you're thinking about what to serve for dinner - your rabbit's dinner, that is.
We all want our furry companions to live long, healthy lives and providing a balanced diet is essential to sustained good health. We hope the following recommendations help you make the right mealtime decisions for your bunny.
A rabbit's diet should consist of three main items: hay, fresh vegetables, pellets.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of hay. It's vital to your rabbit's good health, because it provides all-important fiber that keeps the gastro-intestinal tract moving smoothly. A sluggish GI tract can cause a number of preventable ailments (see the Spring/Summer and Fall 1998 issues of Harelines for a detailed discussion of GI stasis, The Silent Killer).
For rabbits, the best varieties of hay are timothy, oat grass, mixed grass, or orchard grass hay. Avoid alfalfa, since it's high in calories (which can cause unnecessary weight gain) and calcium (which can cause bladder problems). Most rabbits really love their hay and they should always have a generous amount available. It's the one item you can offer in unlimited portions! A word of caution: many rabbits will ignore hay that has been lying around for a couple of days, even though it's still in good, edible condition. Every bunny is different and you'll learn soon how much hay s/he consumes per day. In many cases, providing a large fistful of hay is a good starting point.
So where can you buy hay? If you live near a rural area, chances are a nearby farm has just what you're looking for. Provided you have the storage space (cool, dry area, out of direct sunlight) buying a bale is the most economical choice. A rectangular bale usually costs well under $5 and, if stored properly, will last a long time. Look for dry, dust-free hay, with no signs of mold or other infestation. Depending on the variety, the color will range from a dark or pale green to a pale yellow or light brown and the smell will be pleasant.
If you're in an urban setting, your pet supply store probably has hay, but it will be costly and may not be as fresh as other sources. An alternative is mail order hay. One company that many of our members recommend for consistent high quality and good service is Oxbow Hay Company. For ordering information, visit their web site -- www.oxbowhay.com - or call 800-249-0366. Another quality option is American Pet Diner, 800-656-2691.
If you have allergies, you may find that you're allergic to hay. Try purchasing it in smaller quantities, offering it in a hay rack clipped to the cage instead of loose, or getting a family member to take care of doling it out and cleaning it up. Some allergy sufferers use a mask when handling hay. Some have found that stuffing hay into an empty tissue box helps minimize allergies, while at the same time providing bunny with hours of pulling and tugging pleasure. If you use a tissue box, be sure to remove the plastic liner first.
For Popeye, it's spinach; for Bugs Bunny it's carrots. For your real-life lagomorph, fresh vegetables are just as important. For a 6 lb. adult rabbit (over 7 months old), we recommend the equivalent of 2-3 cups of fresh, raw veggies daily. Variety is key, and your grocer's produce section is full of tempting choices. Variety ensures nutritional balance. Besides, you wouldn't want to eat the same thing day in and day out and neither would your rabbit. A combination of leafy greens is best. Favorites usually include any of the herbs such as parsley, cilantro, watercress, basil, and mint; the leaf lettuces such as romaine, boston, red leaf, endive, escarole, radicchio; the dark leafy greens such as kale, collards, turnip tops, mustard greens, dandelion greens. Carrot tops are usually a big hit, as are radish tops and broccoli leaves. Many rabbits like the choy vegetables, such as bok choy, toy choy, and nappa. (Although these vegetables are sometimes called "Chinese cabbage," they don't belong to the cabbage family.) Rabbits do enjoy carrots, but they are relatively high in sugar, so offer them in moderation. Because certain vegetables may cause loose stool in some rabbits, introduce new veggies gradually and eliminate any that result in digestive problems. Rabbits have no way of expelling gas, so do not give your bunny cabbage-family vegetables, such as red or green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and beans.
Contrary to popular belief, pellets are the least significant part of a rabbit's diet and should be given in limited quantities. We recommend about 1/3 of a cup for a 6 lb. adult rabbit. Overfeeding pellets can result in digestive problems and obesity, both of which can seriously affect your rabbit's long-term health. Most rabbits love pellets, so limit the urge to give them what they want! When shopping for pellets, choose ones that are high in fiber, minimum 18%. To ensure freshness, purchase pellets in quantities that will allow you to use them up in about six weeks. Store pellets in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. If your pet supply store or feed mill doesn't normally carry high-fiber pellets, consider special ordering. Many large, brand-name feed companies manufacture high-fiber pellets that are only a phone call away. Since many stores are brand-loyal, check with your local merchants to see what's available locally. Oxbow Hay Co., mentioned above, also produces timothy-based pellets, an alternative to conventional alfalfa-based pellets.
Most of us enjoy treat foods from time to time, so it's a human impulse to want to give our bunnies a treat. As with human treats, the key word is moderation. A slice of banana or apple once or twice a week is fine. Some rabbits enjoy fresh grapes or a small chunk of pineapple. From a rabbit's point of view, fruit is high in sugar and should be given only in very small quantities.
A tasty treat alternative is tree branches. Make sure they're clean, untreated, and pesticide free. My two rabbits find willow particularly yummy. Other varieties to try include apple, pear, maple, and oak. Do not give fresh twigs from trees producing fruit with stones in the center, such as peach, nectarine, plum, cherry, etc. When fresh, these woods contain cyanide and, like us, rabbits cannot metabolize cyanide.
Please, for your rabbit's sake, do not ever give your bunny any human snack foods, not even the ones listed as "lite". Their relatively high fat, sugar, salt, and carbohydrate content can seriously harm your rabbit's delicate digestive system. Also, we recommend avoiding manufactured rabbit treats. You've seen the kind in your local pet supply store - they're attractively packaged, have cute names, and come in eye-catching shapes and colors - all aimed at the human customer. In addition to being highly priced, most of these products are not at all good for your rabbit's health. With so many healthy alternatives out there, why put your rabbit at risk?
You'll want to select a routine that fits your own schedule, especially since your rabbit will know when it's mealtime and will expect consistent service! In our household, there's no sleeping in - we're early risers during the week, and on weekends, if Richmond and Blossom don't get their veggies by 6:30 or 7 am, we've got a riot on our hands. If you work during the day, you'll probably find that feeding both morning and evening works best. Try giving veggies at one time and pellets at the other, or a veggie-pellet combo twice a day. Be sure bunny has sufficient hay and fresh, clean water at all times.\
Paying careful attention to your rabbit's diet may have an added health benefit for the humans in your household. Maybe, just maybe, you'll eat more veggies. One day you may even try some of those dark, leafy greens your bunny enjoys so much. Next time you're thinking about what to make for dinner, the answer just may include kale and collards. Bon appétit!
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by Kristi Cole
There are several reasons for finding ways to help your rabbit keep himself occupied. Toys provide your bunny with physical exercise, which is needed to keep him in good physical health. Exercise is essential for the muscles and the cardiovascular system, as well as for a healthy GI tract . Physical activity also prevents obesity, a major health problem in rabbits.
Mental stimulation is another important reason to provide your rabbit with toys. He needs to be challenged so that he doesn't get bored and also so that he remains lively and interested in interacting with his surroundings. You will find an added benefit from providing your rabbit with mental stimulation. It serves as a distraction from perhaps damaging your belongings or getting into something unsafe. Some toys mentioned in this article also function as bunnyproofing, as mentioned in the Spring/Summer 1998 issue of Harelines. You can save your baseboards by offering some chewing alternatives and make carpeting less attractive to your rabbit by having some digging activities available. Knowing your rabbit's behaviors can help you decide what kinds of toys might be inviting to him.
Toys and activities can vary widely in price - from free to costly. Starting at the low end of the price range are the freebies, often things we have around the house. Paper grocery bags and cardboard boxes with two holes cut out for entrances become great burrowing and digging toys. A pile of old towels can be fun to push, dig and rearrange, either by themselves or inside a box or tunnel. Cardboard rolls from paper towels are fun to chew or toss. Try stuffing them with hay for an added treat or to make hay more tempting for a finicky bunny. Phone books with the covers torn off make excellent shredding material. Empty tubular containers, such as an oat box, can be interesting to push and roll. Untreated apple, pear or maple branches provide long-lasting chewing satisfaction.
For a pretty reasonable price you can find some additional toys. Food-grade wooden spoons and untreated wicker baskets are great for chewing and tossing. Untreated grass mats are good for digging and chewing. These can be effective in corners where the carpet seems tempting. Cardboard tunnels (often called concrete forms) can be found at building supply stores and are great for burrowing and digging. These also work behind furniture to save your carpet and upholstery.
Some baby toys are well suited for rabbits. Hard plastic baby keys are fun to toss and some of the velour balls and rattles (GUND makes some good ones) with no small parts attached can provide nudging, chasing and tossing activities for your friend. Stuffed toys for dogs, also with no added small parts to cause choking, can be used as well. One particular foster bunny I had loved a human-shaped toy made from fake lambswool. He would groom it and then run around with it in his mouth. Some cat and bird toys will appeal to your bunny, too. Hard, wooden bird toys that hang from a cage can be fun, as can wooden dumbbells. Some also enjoy the wire cat balls that have a little bell inside. Another type of cat toy available is a larger plastic ball with a smaller ball inside that contains a bell called Cat-a-Ball. Bunnies can play with them as is, or you can stuff hay inside for an extra treat since there are holes in the plastic.
If you want to really indulge those fuzzy faces, you can find some really neat items on the Internet or by mail order. One product is a Lazy Cat Lodge, a two-story cardboard building with a ramp, a sunroof and several windows to look out from. The Smarty Cat Schoolhouse is another cardboard arrangement with tunnels connected by little buildings. I found both of these items to be a big hit at my house and I got them from Bunny Bytes, who also has several other toys to choose from. Another company, Busy Bunny, makes products tailored to rabbits and many act as food, as well as toys. They have a wicker ball filled with hay that is entirely edible, along with several varieties of completely edible baskets containing chew toys such as twigs and dried pine cones.
No matter what your bunny likes to do and no matter what the price range, I think you will be able to satisfy the playtime requirement by using a little imagination. Your rabbit will be better off mentally and physically because of your efforts.
Some sources for rabbit toys on the Internet:
Bunny Bytes: www.bunnybytes.com or 425-402-3735 for catalog
Busy Bunny: www.busybunny.com or 650-872-2920 for catalog
For mail order toys, check out the tempting selection of durable, hard plastic toys in a variety of shapes and colors offered by Bell Plastics. Write to Bell Plastics, 2020 National Avenue, Hayward, CA 94545 or phone 1-800-235-8265.
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by Corinna Stephens
This is a story about my Big Mama, a beautiful, gray chinchilla bunny with one uppy and one loppy ear and big, hazel eyes. She is one of three bunnies who currently live with us on the upper floor of our house. They have one huge, meticulously bunny-proofed room (our bedroom) and a nice-sized hallway to roam around. There is a second, small room leading off that hallway, opposite the bunny room, in which we keep 23 free-flying canaries. We also have two recently-acquired cats who usually live downstairs. They are allowed into the bunny area only under supervision, and not at all into the bird room.
But I digress… Big Mama definitely is a very interesting creature. She gets to come out of her cage in the evenings and stays out all night until about 7am. We cannot leave her out unsupervised during the day because, well, we would like to have some house left standing to come home to. So she gets out in the evenings and usually immediately starts working on one of her projects, which involves (but may not be limited to) shredding paper and cardboard boxes to pieces and digging furiously in various places of the room. You'd better not disturb her! She would not pay any attention to you anyway -- except to get a big gulp out of your glass of water. Should another bunny happen to come by, she will put him straight to work. In short, I am used to falling asleep while hearing this bunny tear down something or other. Sigh…
Despite her toughbun attitude, Big Mama is also the kind of bunny who sleeps with me at night, snuggled tightly against my side as soon as she has finished working on her project. She hops onto the bed and wakes me up with a few nudges, and then, once I am awake enough, she throws herself down next to me, and I scritch her on her fuzzy butt or behind her ears (much to her delight) until I fall asleep again. So it was on that particular day when the following events occurred.
My husband got up that day at around 3am (he is a cook and works odd hours) and, as every morning, I considered myself lucky to be able to turn around and sleep a few more hours. On that morning, however, things would be different. No sooner had my husband left the room, than Big Mama, until then peacefully snuggled against me as usual, started acting quite strangely: she ran around the room, seemingly listening attentively to something, grunting and thumping. I got up, turned on the light, and took a good look around, but since I did not see or hear anything out of the ordinary, I turned the light off and laid back down. Whoa! I had not consulted Big Mama! Seeing me retire into bed seemed to upset her even further -- even enrage her, and she proceeded to snarl at me, and when that did not show the desired effect, she ran all over me and even stepped on my face.
And then, suddenly, it hit me like a bolt of lightning: the cats must be in the bird room! I do not know why this thought occurred to me at that moment, but I was in the bird room in a heartbeat -- and sure enough: there were the cats. One of them had already chased one poor canary out into the hallway. I immediately locked the cats out and put the scared birdie back into his room. Luckily, he recovered fully from his shock.
What had happened was that the evening before, I had cracked the door to the bird room open just a little (as I often do) to hear the canaries sing better. I must have forgotten to close it later that night, and when my husband opened the door to the staircase the following morning, the cats immediately rushed in (they sometimes camp out on the highest step right by the door). He assumed this was ok because he was not aware that the bird room door was open.
Taking a deep breath, I assured myself that everything was tightly closed this time and went back to the bunny room. I found Big Mama stretched out in the middle of the floor, entirely calm and at ease, despite the fact that one of the cats was now throwing a fit out there. She looked at me with this triumphant gleam in her beautiful eyes, as if to say: "See, I told you so! What would you do without me?" Truth is, I do not know what I would do without my little angel.
To all of you out there who have opened your hearts and homes to bunnies, and who are certainly sick and tired of hearing how dumb and stupid these beautiful creatures with the twitchy noses and long ears are, feel free to share this true story! I am by no means proud of what happened that night, but I am proud of my sweet little bunny girl. She not only saved the canaries from fear and death, but she also saved my peace of mind. It is because of her that I can still rest easily today. I owe her so much.
And to all of you who have a multi-species household like ours: may this story serve as a reminder to you that one cannot possibly be careful enough. It is up to us, the humans, to ensure that every creature in our home is safe. Big Mama cannot always do that job!
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by Karen Brown
I first became aquainted with TTEAM about a year ago when I was looking for a kind method of handling alpacas. I was new to alpacas and unhappy with the way most people handled theirs. I soon found out that TTEAM is used on all animals (including humans). TTEAM stands for Tellington-Jones Touch Every Animal Method. Linda Tellington-Jones is the founder of this method and has worked with all types of animals all over the world.
Part of TTEAM is TTouch. This is a method of touching animals in a non-threatening way while learning to connect with them on a level they can understand. This is not massage; you are just moving skin, not muscle. The concept is that you are moving cells in a non-habitual way to wake them up and help them release memories of bad or painful touches and to remember this new, pleasant way of being touched. The primary touch is called the clouded leopard. Clouded stands for the lightness with which the whole hand contacts the body. Leopard stands for the range of pressure used, which extends from very light (1, 2 or 3) to very heavy (8, 9 or 10). A "one" is the lightest pressure possible to move skin around and "ten" is the strongest pressure. Four through ten are usually used for larger, more heavily-muscled animals.
Using the pads of your three middle fingers, place them on the animal, in the spot where you wish to start and move in a clockwise circle. Start at the six o'clock position, go around past six to eight and pause for a moment before lifting your fingers up. Do only one circle on the same spot. Do the circles slowly and make sure you are using the same pressure and speed throughout the whole circle. When you have completed a circle, move your fingers about ¼ to ½ inch from the circle you have just done and do another circle. Make sure your fingers are relaxed and you are breathing slowly. You can relax your wrist, thumb and little finger lightly against the body to provide steadiness. The animal will dislike the touch if he can feel any tension in your fingers, if the circle isn't steady, or if you are concentrating so much that you hold your breath. Practice on your arm first to get a feel for what pressure and speed feel good. Make sure it is an actual circle you are doing. If the rabbit is tiny, you may want to consider only using one or two fingers and you may not be able to rest your wrist, thumb and little finger on the rabbit.
This is a great way to help rabbits who don't like to be touched. Wrap the rabbit gently in a towel with only the head sticking out. Hold the towel securely, but not tightly. Make sure the rabbit's feet are all on the ground and he is balanced on his own. An animal always feels safer when he is standing or sitting on his own. Start on whatever part of the body is safest for the rabbit. This is usually the head. Work around the head and ears. The ears are great for reducing stress. Do the circles around the base of the ear and slide your fingers over the whole ear, both the outside and the inside of the ear. Don't stick your fingers down into the ear when touching the inside part. Do light circles on the tip of the ear as well. When the rabbit is comfortable with this, you can move on to other parts of the body. Work on the rabbit for only 5 to 15 minutes. If the session isn't going well, stop and try another time. You don't want to reaffirm his or her dislike of being touched. If the session is going very well and the rabbit seems to want more, go ahead past the 15 minutes. Watch the rabbit's response and adjust the pressure and speed of the circles accordingly, along with the time you spend on him.
If your bunny objects to any touch from you, try using a flea comb or something that is smaller than your pinky. I found that one of my rabbits doesn't care for being touched, but she loves to be combed with the flea comb. Another suggestion is to use the back of your hand, instead of the palm of your hand, when you pet your rabbit. When you pet with the palm of your hand, you tend to bend your fingers around the body which, to your rabbit, feels like a predator capturing him. Just remember that his responses are solely predator-based and we need to help him understand in his own way that we aren't going to hurt him.
TTouch circles are great for almost any reason. Pain can be relieved for arthritis or an injury by circles at the base of the ear and by sliding your fingers along the whole ear and also doing the circles lightly on the painful area. Shock can be avoided or a rabbit can be brought out of shock by doing very light circles at the tip of the ear and then working the whole ear. In general, stress can be greatly alleviated by working the ears. Recovery time from a sickness or injury can actually be reduced by using the circles on the problem area and the ears. This is also a great stress reliever for the human doing the circles. Nothing is nicer than a rabbit on your lap enjoying the circles and the connection the two of you can make. Plus, with our nature of wanting to take action, this may be the only way we can DO something for the sick or injured rabbit - after experienced veterinary care, of course.
If you are interested in reading more about the TTEAM method, there is a wonderful book by Linda Tellington-Jones. It is called The Tellington Ttouch and can be found on the internet at www.amazon.com or www.barnesandnoble.com, as well as in some book stores. The ISBN number is 01401.17288. Linda Tellington-Jones also has a web site -- www.lindatellington-jones.com -- which can inform you of any companion animal clinics scheduled in the US and abroad.
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by Kristen Doherty
When I got the call from a lady in Stowe, I had just finalized the adoption of one bunny. The open foster slot was not empty for two hours before it would be filled again! When I went to pick up Garfield, it was dark out, and I was welcomed to the parking lot by the sounds of fighting cats. This is what Garfield was exposed to when someone dumped him in the woodsy area of the apartment complex.
I got him home and inspected for wounds. Sure enough, he had small cuts on his face. Luckily that was all. He was skinny, his coat was dirty, and he was going through a heavy shedding. We cleaned him up, brushed him and put hydrogen peroxide on his cuts. He didn't seem to mind any of this attention!
After spending a few weeks with Garfield, we noticed how polite he was. He took his apple treat, and everything we gave him by hand, gently and politely. No grunting, no charging, just a calm "thank you, ma'am." He is like this every day. When his exercise time is over, he doesn't even seem to mind going back into his pen. We like to think he is appreciative of his situation, that he knows he's one of the lucky ones who now lives in a safe, warm place and doesn't have to worry about being attacked or not having enough food.
He is also one of those laid back bunnies who will flop and sleep with the vacuum cleaner running. His legs and body are long, so he needs ample room in his living area to run around and explore a few hours each day. He loves being petted. He is about 7 lbs., neutered and never has a problem using his litterbox. He is also an avid hay eater and likes to forage for his food and hay.
[Garfield has been adopted ... thanks for your interest!]
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by Marcia Baker
Dear Buckeye HRS:
I’m sending this donation in memory of my pet bunny Jessie, who passed away this morning (12/2/98). Jessie was 7 ½ years old and will be terribly missed.
He had a very ornery personality and added a lot of excitement to our lives. We still have Skittles left and she will be missing her old buddy. But, she’s almost 7 years old herself and is doing well following cancer surgery last year.
Thank you for all you do to help homeless rabbits!
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February 1993 – September 22, 1998
Callie crossed the Rainbow Bridge on September 22, 1998. We will miss your sweet little face waiting for us to give you your vegetables or a treat. You brought us such joy and fun. You stole our hearts and never gave them back.
Adrian and Doris Mastroguiseppe
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Congratulations and all the best to these extra-special bunnies and their devoted human companions:
Celebrating in January:
Skittles, 7 years with Marcia; Coconut, 8 years with Linda; Punkin with Kristen; Buster, 9 years with Adrian and Doris; JoJo, 1 year with John; Nugget, 6 years with Donna; Dusty, 2 years with Wendy; Ditto, 1 year with Chad and Maureen.
Celebrating in February:
Bosco, 3 years with Laura and Jim; Thumper with Karen; Buster, 2 years with Kelly; Toby, 1 year with Kimberly; Porthos with Ty; Patches, 6 years with Carla; Annabelle, 1 year with Eileen; Wild Boy, 8 years with Christina and Vince.
Celebrating in March:
Maggie, 2 years with Michella; Honey with Debi; Cocoa with Kristen; Fluffy, 1 year with Miriam; Muffin, 3 years with Cynthia and Scott; Tempest with Carolyn; Breeny, 1 year with Tina; April with Angela Marie; Moose, 2 years with Carla and Patrick; Cutie, 1 year with Don and Sharon; Sigmund, 4 years with Lynn; Rocky, 7 years with Cathy; Funky, 3 years with Laura; Snickers with Sherry; Fitz, 2 years with Neely; Muffin, 2 years with Juliana; Sundae and Morsel, 5 and 3 years respectively, with the Seligmans; Camelot, 2 years with Kristen and Scott.
Celebrating in April:
Snooks, 1 year with Paul and Jean; Princess, 4 years with Sue; Rodney, 2 years with Linda; Dax, 3 years with Shannon; Chester with Debbie and Scott; Blossom, 5 years with David and Herta; Pokey with Scott; Bonnie, 4 years with Carla and Patrick; Tassels, 1 year with Karen; Brie, 3 years with Dagmar; Petey and Pokey, 2 years with Barb; Alex and Winnie, 9 years with Nancy; Sniff, 2 years with Audrey; Cole, 3 years with Laura; Blackberry, 2 years with Noelle; Nosey, 2 years with Trudy.
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We're sad to announce that Libby Armstrong Moore, a founding member of the Buckeye HRS and an active rabbit educator, has left Cleveland for warmer lands. Libby had a great opportunity for career advancement in Los Angeles and moved there in December along with rabbits Max and Kismet. She will be offering her educator and graphic expertise to the HRS chapter in Los Angeles now. We thank her for her years of devoted service and for her ongoing help with our newsletter. We will miss her terribly, but wish her the best in her new endeavors. If you'd like to contact Libby, you may do so by email at: email@example.com
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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!|
Don't let this issue of Harelines be the last to reach the web. Send your membership to us today!
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Cathy Montiegel and Michella Stultz for their heartfelt contributions in memory of Charcoal and Ash Forbes.
Kris Moore, for her very generous gift in memory of Stella and Netee.
Loreen Giese, for her kind donation in memory of Whisper.
The Mastroguiseppe family, for their generosity in honor of their departed bunny Callie (see Farewells).
Marcia Baker, for her much-appreciated gift in memory of beloved Jessie (see Our Readers Write).
Eileen Vorst, for her thoughtful donations in memory of Buster Curry and Peter Cook.
Irma Laszlo, for her continuing support of the Buckeye HRS.
Alphagraphics of downtown Cleveland, for their ongoing discount on printing our materials.
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
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