Thursday, May 19, 2005

Cokie's story

My bunnies are like little people to me. They each come to me with their own stories. Some have sad stories, especially the ones that are rescued by the House Rabbit Society. Cokie is such a case. He's a 10 lb., black, middle-aged, grumpy bunny, characteristics that don't make for an appealing pet. His chances of getting adopted were very slim so I started fostering him, where he could be more comfortable in a quieter setting.
He's been in and out of the foster system all his life. He first came to us when he was confiscated by the police during a drug bust. His first owner was a drug dealer, and that is probably where he got his name. (I wanted to change it, but he knows his name. I was going to call him Oscar, after the grouchy Sesame Street muppet). He was then adopted by a father and his son. The son, who was between 6 to 9 years old was responsible for his care. We don't know exactly what happen, but from the change in Cokie's personality during this time, some sort of mistreatment occurred. I can imagine that the boy teased, poked, and denied Cokie food. The father probably didn't pay close enough attention to know what was going on. Cokie became very aggressive and began grunting, charging, and biting, which is what rabbits do when they feel cornered and threatened. Of course, it's also very amusing and probably was positive reinforcement for the boy, who only teased and poked and prodded more. We discovered this and took him back, but the damage had already been done.
When I started fostering, he didn't want to be touched, and at feeding time, he charged, grunted and would bite if he got the chance. Pretty intimidating for a big, black, 10 lb. rabbit. I gave him a box to hide in so he wouldn't feel threatened. I didn't try to pet him. And I figured out a consistent routine for feeding him. Several months later, I was petting him.
Now, he craves attention. He purrs when I pet him and runs over to be petted. He lays down when I read to him or talk to him and just sits and listens as he dozes off. He runs circles excitedly around my feet at feeding time. He still grunts, but they're soft, happy grunts, not loud, aggressive ones.
I was not going to keep him. I have two bunnies, and they're a lot of work, and 3 is a lot to handle. One night, Cokie got sick. I came home and he was huddled in his litterbox. His gut was making awful gurglig noises. He wouldn't eat--a VERY bad sign. He wouldn't charge or grunt. Turned out, he had gastric stasis (his gut had stopped), which can be fatal very quickly in rabbits. I had to force feed him canned pumpkin. Since he's 10 lbs., I was supposed to feed him over 130 cc. I think I got down about 80. It took all night. Both of us were miserable. The bathroom was covered in pumpkin by morning. After an emergency trip to the vet the following morning, they gave him some injections and an i.v. of fluids, and he recovered. Today, he is doing just fine.
After that night, I realized I had fallen in love with him, and I could never give him up. So I've convinced Jason to let me adopt yet a 3rd rabbit. I've begun bonding sessions between Cokie and Babs and Taz (bunnies that don't know each other will fight; they are very territorial). Now, we are planning on taking all 3 to San Diego with us. I'm on the 3rd Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events. He absolutely loves story time.


G-Man said...

First, congrats on your academic success!
I identify with your compassion for animals; I rescued my cat from Animal Control 11 years ago. She was very people cautious for many years, but now curls up beside me for a rub. Fact is, I think I care more about animals, at times, than humans.

Kevin said...

what a great story...i am all about rescuing animals. the dog i had before i moved to ky was from the humane society...he was a 4 year old black lab/cocker span mix that nobody wanted. after that experience, i plan on getting any other pets i have in the future from the humane society or a rescue operation (i really would love to rescue a vizsla at some point...i love that breed, and there are not a lot of them here in the states)

unfortunately my apartment that I have been at for almost five years now does not allow pets...when i move i plan on finding one that does.

out of curiosity, and you may have mentioned this in a previous post, are babs and taz boys or girls, and does that have a lot to do with the territorial thing?

Rachel said...

G-man--that's great that you rescued your cat from animal control. I find myself more comfortable around animals than people as well.
Kevin--your previous dog sounds really cute. What's a vizla? The apartment thing sucks. We're trying to find a rabbit-friendly apartment in San Diego--not easy.
Babs is a girl and Taz is a boy. Both are spayed and neutered (no breeding). Cokie is a boy. Boys and girls generally get along better than same-sex pairs, but there are exceptions. I've seen lots of sister, brother, or mom and daughter pairs. Females are generally more dominant and more territorial so often they call the shots (that's the case with Babs). Cokie and Taz are both laid back, which bodes well for future bonding sessions.

Kevin said...

he was a great dog...looked like an overgrown cocker span most of the time because i let his hair grow out...had the lab's face though...his name was lance.

a vizsla is a hungarian hunting dog that looks a lot like a weimaraner (i looked for a good picture and this was the best one i saw ...they are a really beautiful breed). the difference is that the vizsla is a lot smaller and typically brown instead of gray...i have seen only four of them in real life...and all of them had great personalities.

so what you are saying is bunnies are a lot like people...the girls call all the shots :). at least that has been my experience in past relationships lol.

that is good that cokie and taz are laid will definitely make the transition easier.

Rachel said...

Yup, bunnies are a lot like people. Especially the gals.