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The Buckeye House Rabbit Society

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Winter 2000
Volume 4 Number 1




Chapter Messages


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Dudley: The Helping and the Healing

by Georgia Willison and Kristi Cole

Dudley, a red Flemish Giant, lives a quiet, laid-back life nudging ankles, munching salad, and snoozing next to his new friend, Lucy. For those of us with healthy rabbits, this is a familiar domestic scene but, for Dudley, it marks a place of comfort and safety at the end of a rocky and uncertain path. No one knows where Dudley was this time last year, but wherever he was, the results of chronic neglect were compromising his life and his abandonment was less than a month away.

In March of 1999, Dudley was taken to the HRS foster home of Kristi and Bill Cole after being dumped at a grooming facility. Dudley was in bad condition and unable to stand. His fur was so caked with feces it had to be shaved in places and he had painful urine scald on his thighs and groin. He suffered from deep open wounds on the bottoms of three feet and had a crippled front leg, which bent backward under his belly. He was also malnourished. But, in spite of his disability and past neglect, he was a sweet, affectionate bunny who loved interacting with the Coles. As Bill and Kristi sat on the floor petting or grooming him, Dudley rewarded them with enthusiastic grooming in return.

At his first vet examination, he was found to be malnourished and anemic. The vet also assessed his deformed front leg and concluded that it was probably a birth defect and could not be rehabilitated to hold Dudley's weight. While his future ability to ambulate was unclear, all of Dudley's medical problems as well as his nutritional deficiencies were treatable. Armed with information, experience, and hoping for the best, the Coles undertook the project of restoring Dudley to health.

The first objective was to heal Dudley's feet so he might be able to stand up. Being able to ambulate was important if Dudley was ever going to avoid sitting in his urine and feces, both of which contributed to the poor condition of his skin and feet. With treatment, his urine scald healed quickly and the sores on his feet also healed in the ensuing weeks. While with the Coles, Dudley was housed on cloth fleece to keep him as dry as possible. Even with this precaution, frequent bottom baths and rinses were needed to keep Dudley clean.

Knowing that nutrition was another element in restoring Dudley to good health, the Coles provided him with all the hay, pellets and salads he could eat. He was also given a vitamin supplement to correct his anemia and carefully rationed raw sunflower seeds to provide him with an extra bit of energy.

When his feet healed Dudley was able to stand for brief periods and to hop a few steps with a human hand under his chest for support. Bunnies are generally able to get around with just three limbs but Dudley needed to gain strength before that was a possibility for him. His progress was slow but steady and his medical problems appeared to be corrected.

In June, after ten weeks in foster care, Dudley was adopted by Bob and Georgia Willison. They shared the Cole's appreciation of his sweet disposition and their belief that he would gain strength and mobility. They continued the diet begun by the Coles, modifying it by mixing his pellets with a somewhat higher calorie pellet to give him energy and help build his muscles. And, Dudley continued to live on layers of toweling covered by cloth fleece. Dudley was able to stand and hop a few steps, but he did not gain weight and the shaved areas were very slow to re-grow fur. He also developed a number of abscesses, most of which responded to antibiotic therapy. However, one abscess on the functioning front foot proved to be more resistant and, growing large and painful, began to impair his already limited ability to stand. The Willison's vet in southwest Pennsylvania also identified a large abscess on the deformed shoulder, which he believed either caused or complicated the disability. Unlike the vet in Ohio, Dudley's new vet believed he was a geriatric bunny and was not optimistic about his future.

Given two different opinions about the nature of Dudley's disability and the best course of treatment, a third opinion was sought. Following a thorough clinical exam with radiographs, the third vet confirmed a large abscess, possibly a tumor, enveloping the shoulder and adjoining bones. He advised that amputation of the shoulder and leg was the course of treatment that would give Dudley the best chance of recovery. And that this needed to be done sooner rather than later. After much consideration, the Willisons scheduled Dudley for the surgery in September 1999.

The surgery went well and, treated briefly with antibiotics, Dudley recovered with no complications. The biopsy was negative and, to date, there have been no recurrences of infection.

Since his surgery, Dudley is able to stand and hop, the useless leg no longer an impediment to his mobility. He has graduated from a tabletop enclosure to the floor and, now that he can use a modified litter box, he no longer lives on fleece. His weight and size have also improved enabling him to be neutered.

While there are no guarantees for Dudley's future, right now Dudley enjoys a good quality of life. He has the strength and ability to hop within a limited range, enjoys his meals, explores a little and is very companionable with his human family. Though he does not have good balance and sometimes tumbles over, it does not seem to bother him. He has even learned to brace himself against a chair or a foot in order to clean himself. But best of all, Dudley now has a full-time companion. Lucy, another rescue bunny fostered by Bill and Kristi Cole, is healthy, energetic and affectionate. Like Dudley, Lucy is red but little more than half his size. As half of an unlikely but cute pair, Dudley has arrived at the kind of life both the Coles and the Willisons had hoped he would be able to enjoy.

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Resources for Caretakers of Disabled Rabbits

Check with your veterinarian.

Check with your local House Rabbit Society chapter, as they can share their experiences and information from the sanctuary manual dealing with special-needs rabbits. For information specific to Dudley's article, contact Kristi Cole at kristi@ohare.org or at 330-484-8416

Check these articles on the main HRS web page:

"Life Worthy" on valuing rabbits with special needs. http://www.rabbit.org/journal/3-3/life-worthy.html 

"FAQ" about diapering, feeding and keeping the spirits up. http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/disabled.html 

"Life With a Disabled Rabbit" and "Sarah," essays about two special bunnies.

For mobility aids check:

K-9 Carts P.O. Box 160-639 Big Sky, MT 59716 (800) 578-6960 http://www.k9carts.com

Colorado HRS has designs for a bunny sack and a bunny skate to enhance mobility. Contact them at: 1271 Birch Street, Broomfield, CO 80020 (phone 303-469-3240) for a copy of the plans.

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Tabletop Enclosure ~ Rather than on the floor, providing care and changing bedding is easier on the caregiver when done at this level.

Bedding/Flooring ~ From top to bottom; thick cloth fleece such as used in kennel mats, several layers of terrycloth toweling, moisture-proof crib pad or, for a large area, a shower curtain. All are washable. For those bunnies who can't move about, a dense foam pad under all may be helpful. A foam pad may not be helpful if you are trying to rehabilitate the rabbit's mobility, since foam can be wobbly and makes standing a bit more difficult. Use your judgment.

Floor Enclosure ~ Many disabled bunnies can be safely and comfortably confined on the floor in an area defined by rolled bath towels.

Mobility Aids ~ Bricks covered in layers of cloth fleece or rice-filled socks make good props for helping the disabled bunny change position or stand.

Bathing ~ For cleansing bunny bottoms, a dishpan with a cut-to-fit- rubber bath mat or wash cloth for underfoot and a spray attachment for the faucet are very helpful. Doing this in a sink rather than bathtub is easier for the caregiver.

Litter Box ~ Cutaway litter boxes would work for a small bunny who can ambulate somewhat but cannot hop over the side of a traditional little box. For a larger bunny, an opening in one side of big rectangular litter box can be cut with a small saw and smoothed with a file.


Cotton Baby Socks ~ To cover bandages on sore feet.

Vet Wrap ~ An easy-to-use gauze covering which is self-adhesive.

Liquid Bandage ~ For covering new skin as a sore hock is healing.

Cornstarch ~ For powdering and helping keep skin dry.

Bene-Bac ~ Particularly if the bunny is taking antibiotics, this live culture nutritional supplement may reduce the incidence of "poopy butt".

Unscented Castille Soap ~ For those times when you absolutely must give the bunny a "butt bath", a couple drops in the bath water helps get the bunny cleaner, faster.

Waterproof Disposable Bed Pads ~ Whether they are used regularly instead of the rubberized flannel crib pads or just "in a pinch", a pack of these is useful to keep on hand.

Disposable Diapers ~ Newborn or Premature diapers can be adapted for bunnies. Dudley used these only a few times, but caregivers of other bunnies use them regularly.


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When Bun Becomes Two

 by Ellen Eder

Bun-Bun, Roobun, Ben, Babette, Brulée... I've always cared for just one bunny at a time. Then, one Saturday afternoon at an adoptathon I met a little Dutch named Hudson. I thought, "What a sweet little guy!" I'd been considering getting a friend for Brulée, especially since we were about to move into a home with more space.

This bun wasn't nearly ready to be adopted yet; he had just been rescued and taken to the vet. (Remember the Raccoon Warning in the winter 1999 issue of Harelines? That's our Hudson!) And he was to be neutered in the weeks to follow. So, he still had some time in foster care before he would be able to go to a permanent home.

We moved into our new (to us) home and Bru was still getting used to her new space in the rec room. Bunnies can be quite territorial, but not so much time had passed that she could claim the rec room for herself. If we had introduced a new bunny to her back at our apartment, I doubt she would have liked it much.

The day came for fosterers Kristi and Bill Cole to bring Hudson over. We set him up in a big cage right next to Bru's huge pen. It was good, because they could see and smell each other through the bars. I'd let them take turns hopping around the rec room. They were both curious, to be sure; Bru was a bit cautious, but Hudson was so elated! All this space to run and jump and a lovely girl bunny for a neighbor!

I started to switch their spaces so that he'd get to be in her pen and vice versa. That was a really good way for them to learn each other's scents. About a week later, my friend Karalee came over and we brought both buns for a bonding session up in the "neutral" kitchen. It went really well, better than most, according to Karalee, an HRS educator with lots of bonding experience. Bru and Hudson were curious and scuffled a little when Hudson got too close to her, but no major fights ensued. I could tell that they were a good match. No kisses yet though. Well, it was their first bonding session -- what was I expecting?

I was told the more I could get them together in an unfamiliar place, the better. We had a few more kitchen sessions, each better than the last. They got closer and more trusting of each other. After a couple more weeks of putting them back in their separate spaces, I had the feeling that it was time for them to be together, supervised of course. For the next few days, for a few hours every day, they were roommates. When they were separated, I saw that they wanted to be together -- they'd lay down at the same time, eat at the same time, use their litter boxes at the same time... Finally I put them together in the big pen for good.

Good doesn't describe it-- it's wonderful! They are so happy and in love; each day they grow closer and closer. They take turns eating from the same bowl, they dance and jump for joy and for each other. And when they're tired out, they snuggle down and kiss each other's faces. What could be better?

I feel so grateful and blessed to take care of these two buns. When I had only Bru, we spent such special time together and I wondered how I could love more than one bun at a time. Now I know.

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Getting Through the Grief

by Kristen Doherty

When we suddenly lost our lop Vicky to an intestinal blockage last August, I was stricken with grief. Every day for the next week after her death, I cried upon waking, and the urge to cry remained with me throughout the entire day. I cried myself to sleep at night. The first two days after she died, I was scheduled to teach a class I had been preparing for three months. Calling in sick to work was not an option. I somehow managed to get up, get dressed and get myself through those days with much encouragement from my husband. I cried on the way to work. After work, as soon as I got in my car to drive home, the tears came again. That following Saturday, I stayed in bed most of the day crying. My husband helped me care for our rabbits and the fosters since I was less than fully functional.

In addition to the overwhelming sadness I felt, I was overcome with feelings of guilt. How could I let this happen to her? If only I had taken her to the vet that night instead of waiting until the morning, if only I had brushed her more, if only, if only... She had trusted me with her life. I felt I had betrayed her .

I did not turn to my family or work colleagues for support, but instead to people I knew through HRS and friends who had experienced the loss of a pet. They made me feel it was OK to grieve in whatever way I needed to for the loss of Vicky, just as I would had I lost a mom, a sister or a best friend. And I understood that my grief for Vicky may have been more pronounced because she represented to me all that was pure and good and innocent. Her love and trust were unconditional.

Someone told me about the Rainbow Bridge on the Internet (http://rainbowbridge.tierranet.com/bridge.htm). There I wrote a tribute to Vicky and experienced the comfort of others who had also lost an animal friend. I felt surrounded by people going through the same feelings as myself, and I knew it was OK to feel the deep pain that I did. I was lucky to find and receive the support I needed.

It's been a year now and although the pain is still profound, it is less intense. Last week I agreed to bunnysit for one of the chapter foster rabbits and thought about bonding her with my Scooter (Vicky's partner). When I saw the new foster bunny for the first time, the memories of Vicky and the emotions surrounding her death came flooding back -- she looks nearly identical to Vicky. I am still dealing with these feelings as they arise and I don't try to push them away.

For me, the best way to get through the grief and the guilt has been to learn as much as I possibly can about rabbit medical emergencies and illnesses, so I can help others who may need to deal with a bunny medical crisis. I will also know what to do for the bunnies in my care in the event that a crisis occurs. That is the ultimate gift I have from Vicky, and it will never stop hurting.

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"Where Did My Love Go?" -- Pet Loss Support Group

 by Eileen Matias

Not long ago, a co-worker of mine called in to work to say she "would not be in today." It turns out her beloved golden retriever had passed on the night before. One of the fearless leaders of the company said "I don't understand why she can't come to work today, but it seems important to her." If you have ever lost a pet, you know the response from people who just don't understand. This is why Angie Pavone started working with the Humane Society of Greater Akron on a program called "Where Did My Love Go?"

Angie and her husband Joe own and operate Paws Awhile Pet Memorial Park in Richfield, Ohio. "We are proud to have invested the past fifteen years in our facility. Our love for animals, coupled with our desire to own a home-based business, led us to take our first steps to starting the Paws Awhile. We are a full-service pet care facility handling every aspect of a pet's care and after-care." Angie has been a volunteer with the Humane Society in the past, doing everything from delivering blankets and leashes which were left at the boarding kennel to grooming pets that were in such bad shape it made finding a home for them difficult. "I think that is the challenge we all face in the busy would we live in today. To be able to squeeze in something more besides just working and carrying out our daily responsibilities."

Back in March 1998, Angie addressed her first bereavement session entitled "Where Did My Love Go?" The program grew due to the many inquires they were receiving regarding this topic. "I congratulated all the participants on coming to the class because it is in recognizing that you need to be healed that the healing will come about. I told them that it was o.k. to grieve and not to feel that there is something wrong with them for wanting to talk about it, for how else will healing come about?" The grief one feels for the loss of a pet is disenfranchised grief. Friends and family don't understand why someone could feel so sad about the loss of an animal. The role of the bereavement facilitator is to help people express their feeling for the loss in a safe environment.

Paws Awhile Pet Memorial Park sits on 23 wooded acres. They have no rabbits buried in the cemetery, however, they have cremated rabbits and guinea pigs. "Our goal was never to be the biggest, but it was always to be the best. I guess it's because I've always been a pet owner and lover of pets myself that I have always understood that special relationship which only pet lovers understand. I think perhaps this is one of the reasons why pet cemeteries can be so important to the bereaved pet owner. Pets reflect to us the beauty that is within us."

For more information on the Pet Loss Support Group at the Humane Society Of Greater Akron, contact Stefanie Adams at 330-657-2010 Ext.21

For more information on Paws Awhile Pet Memorial Park contact Angie and Joe Pavone at 330-659-4270. Cemetery Visitation is Dawn to Dusk , 7 days a week.

There are numerous publications, web sites, and hotlines to help folks cope with the death of a beloved animal friend. The resources listed below are just a few of the many available.

* To locate a pet loss support group in your area, call the Delta Society (206-226-7357) or write P.O. Box 1080, Renton, WA 98057-1080

* Grief Recovery Hotline: Call 800-445-4808 to locate a therapist who specializes in coping with the loss of a pet.

* National Pet Grief Hotline: 800-404-PETS. This is a free, 24-hour service staffed by individuals who work with animals in some capacity and who have themselves lost a pet.

* Iowa State University Pet Loss Hotline: 888-ISU-PLSH (888-478-7574) toll free any time of day. Hours of operation: September-April: Seven days a week, 6:00- 9:00 p.m. CST May-August: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 6:00-9:00 p.m. CST

During hours of operation, your call will be answered by the Veterinary Teaching Hospital and forwarded to a hotline volunteer if one is available. Otherwise, you may leave your name and telephone number and your call will be returned by a volunteer as soon as possible. During off hours, your call will be forwarded to a voice mail system. Please leave a message including your name and telephone number. Your call will be returned as soon as possible during regular hours of operation. In addition, a support package is available through their web site: www.vetmed.iastate.edu/support

* Michigan State University Hotline: 517-336-2696

* Pet loss support web sites:

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Consumer Alert!

It has come to our attention that Giant Eagle, a large supermarket chain serving northeast Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and parts of West Virginia, carries rabbit meat in some stores.  Ironically, in a nearby aisle they sell pet rabbit food and supplies.

Please help stop this practice by refusing to shop at their stores.  We suggest that you take your business elsewhere and let Giant Eagle know why you are no longer giving them your money.  Please consider writing them a letter objecting to their selling rabbit meat and explaining how offensive it is to those of us who consider our rabbits members of our family.

Their corporate address is:

Giant Eagle Customer Service
101 Kappa Drive
Pittsburgh PA 15238

Their web address is:


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Spotlight on ... Daisy

This Girl Just Wants to Have Fun!

by Eileen Matias

loves the spotlightBefore I left for vacation back in June 1999, I made arrangements with one of my fellow fosterers, Kristi, to care for Annabelle, my rabbit in residence.  Kristi told me that she would have a new foster rabbit for me when I got back.  When I returned from vacation, there she was, the beautiful black and white rabbit named Daisy.  She had been found in the median of I-71 near a southwest suburb.  The lady who rescued her named her, so Daisy she is.

Daisy was dirty and underweight.  She was also very scared.  She would growl and grunt when I came close to her.  When I tried to pet her, she would stomp her foot and run away.  I started working to earn her trust by sitting in her pen and letting her get used to me.  In the nine months that Daisy has been with me, she has been on one bonding session that did not work out.  Since June, Daisy has taught me much about how to work with a foster rabbit.  The three before her were all mellow and easy to get along with.  They would let me pick them up and hold them and liked being petted.

At first I wasn't sure how to work with Daisy.  I didn't want to be rough with her and scare her.  Many times when she grunted, I would simply back off.  I would watch Daisy and see how she liked to explore the room and climb up on things.  She would try to get as high up as she could on boxes.  She would throw anything she could grab between her teeth.  Daisy's big joy comes when I give her a paper grocery bag.  She loves to crawl inside and start ripping it apart from the inside out.

I found that what Daisy wants and needs in the person who adopts her is someone with confidence.  When I speak in a commanding, no-nonsense voice, Daisy listens.  Now when she grunts or bats at me, I just pet her head or scratch her back and say something like "Oh, you scary rabbit."

Now when I sit in the room with Daisy, she comes up to me and lets me give her pets.  She really likes getting pets on her forehead and climbs all over me.  She is fun, very active, and really likes to investigate.

Daisy has been adopted!  Thanks for your interest.


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Statler Waldorf Seligman

1991 to 1999

Statler was my second rabbit, a beautiful chocolate Tan boy. He was just a baby when he came home with me. He seemed rather quiet and inactive until his sister, Shasta, came along. Statler truly loved her companionship and that of all sisters and brothers who followed. He never disliked anybunny. All newcomers were accepted with grooming and snuggling. Even my Parakeet, Maurice, was a snuggle buddy! Statler lost vision in one eye and a year later in the other, probably from pasteurella. This, however, never dampened his spirits. He continued to live actively, adjusting to a new home despite his blindness. I had Statler before I met my husband and it is so sad without him now. We are so proud of our tiny boy with many health problems making it past his eighth birthday. We love you forever, Stat-Handsome --- our Chocolate-Peanutbutter Bean!

The Seligmans: Patti, William, Kayleigh, Traline, Henson, Drake, Sundae, Emmet, Morsel, Hogan, Sienna, Caboose, Dustin, Dazzle, Trolli & Shalice


Sadly missed by Scott Edwards


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Special Dates

Congratulations and best wishes to these cherished bunnies and their devoted human companions!

Celebrating in January:

Buster, 10 years with Adrian; Domino, 1 year with Debi; Rodney, 2 years with Linda; Lucy, 4 years with Suellen; Thumper Amelia, 2 years with Laura; Sniffles, 7 years with Lori; Buffy, 2 years with Deanna; Snookie with Jackie; Delphine, 1 year with Sydney; Jojo, 2 years with John.

Celebrating in February:

Snickers, 2 years with Wendy; Ninnie and Ordan, 8 years with Carla and Patrick; Nutmeg, 1 year with Karen; Onyx with Jeannette; Bailey, Dickens, Darby and Thomas with Susan and Michele; Summer with Lin; Bosco, 4 years with Laura and Jim; Fiver, 5 years with Dawn; Buster, 3 years with Kelly; Toby, 2 years with Kimberly; Patches, 7 years with Carla; Annabelle, 2 years with Eileen.

Celebrating in March:

Maddie, 1 year with Brenda and Paul; Dusty, 3 years with Wendy; Dakota, 1 year with Scott; Poppy with Carolyn; Honey, 4 years with Debi; Dylan, 8 years with Ann and Ray; Sweetie, 1 year with Sherrie; Welsh Rarebit with Rita; Hershey and Curiosity with Debbie; Spud, 2 years with Julie; Fitz with Neely; Fluffy, 2 years with Miriam; Cutie, 2 years with Don and Sharon.

Celebrating in April:

Noser, 9 years with Linda G; Coconut, 3 years with Linda C; Mopsy, 1 year with Ralfe; Spot, Snowy, Freckles and Stripe, 1 year with Leslie; Blossom, 6 years with David and Herta; Jazmine and Oreo with Debbie; Pokey and Petey, 3 years with Barb; Joplin, 2 years with Karen; Snooks, 2 years with Paul and Jean; Princess, 5 years with Sue; Brie, 4 years with Dagmar; Sniff, 3 years with Audrey.

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Chapter Messages

Spay/Neuter Help Needed

Please consider an extra donation to help us with the costs of spaying and neutering all of the foster bunnies the Buckeye HRS takes in. The past six months have been the busiest time in the history of our chapter and we could really use some additional funds to help cover these important procedures. Thanks in advance for your generosity.


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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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Special Thanks to:

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 Ellen B. Eder

Contributing Writers
Kristi Cole
Kristen Doherty
Ellen B. Eder
Eileen Matias
Georgia Willison

David Sharpe

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