Cleo died on Sunday

Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a little while. It’s been an extremely difficult month, then last week I finally had a week where everything seemed ok, although I was purposely avoiding the internet last weekend because I can’t stand seeing Mother’s Day crap all over the place (even before my parents died, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day have always been the worst four days of the year. I wish the UK and US holidays would synch up so I only have to go through half the heartache each year… guess it’s another argument for emigrating). I was going to catch up with everything after that was done. But then, the whole universe had to fuck off again because our oldest bunny, Cleo, died on Sunday. She had just turned 12 years old.

She died peacefully, in her favorite spot in the living room; beside the food bowl. Barely half an hour earlier, my Dearest had fed her some carrots. She’d been having a bad morning but she was still wandering around and showing an interest in all her favorite things, right until the very end.

We have buried her in the garden with Banacek, because they were a bonded pair before he died.

The strangest thing is, about three nights ago, I went to the bathroom and when I came out I looked in on Timmy in his bedroom, and I swear Cleo was sat beside him. It was the weirdest phenomenon. I don’t know if it was wishful thinking or a trick of the light that my brain interpreted or what, but it wasn’t just a shadow; it was a brown rabbit with pert ears and bright eyes, snuggled up with Timmy.CLEO

Night night, little bunny. We will miss you so much.

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I made a rabbit stroller for under $15

Have you ever wondered how to make a rabbit stroller for your houserabbits, so you can take them places?  I wanted a rabbit stroller because my bunnies sometimes need to travel with me, such as when I took them to the vets today.  I originally wanted this rabbit stroller so I could include my rabbits in our wedding, but sadly the registry offices in the UK don’t allow pets or animals except guide dogs, and we didn’t want the rabbits to wait outside on the hottest day of 2014, so this project languished in obscurity.

My rabbit stroller is finally a successful, completed project!  After procrastinating for 2 years, I finally got it made last night.  It took about half an hour last night, plus about an hour or two (two years ago).  I couldn’t afford a fancy stroller conversion by a professional rabbit stroller company, and a dog stroller was way out of my price range too, so I made do with the cheapest pushchair money couldn’t buy:

When I bought the stroller (a pushchair), this was what it looked like.  Note the cracked handle (right) and the open front for baby’s feet to go through (or, for my rabbits to escape through)!  The pushchair was also dirty and very difficult to open and close, but it was an unbelievable bargain at £2.80 from a private seller on ebay.  There was no postage to pay as I collected it myself.  Why did I buy this shitty cheap stroller for my VIP bunnies?  Because at the end of the day, the fabric’s not important, I can fix that, but I wanted a good solid base, intact and working wheels, and more important than anything else, the backrest on the pushchair seat had to adjust to flat, to turn it into a pram, because I wanted more floorspace for the buns to lie down in.  This one had that function but still folds down for storage.

I bought a net cot cover (one of these) for about £2 from Amazon Warehouse Deals which, if you’ve never heard of it, is where you can buy loads of Amazon.com products at amazing discounts for reasons such as “the box is damaged” (which, if you shop on Amazon, you know happens all the time on full priced products anyway).  The strong mesh didn’t look like it would protect from mosquitoes as the holes in the mesh were too large, but it was perfect for keeping rabbits in their stroller while making the whole thing breathable (I didn’t want hot, cross bunnies).  I cut and sewed the mesh cover to the bottom of the fabric pad like so:

stroller3

This then went over the baby handrest like this, to stop rabbits escaping through the leg holes:

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Optionally, when it’s raining, it’s possible to also lift the foot rest up to cover the same spot with more solid plastic, but it does still need that mesh net there to stop the foot rest just falling down all the time:

stroller05

I don’t know what this is called but I bought it at the Mothercare outlet store on sale for £5.  The brand of this rain hood thingy is Mamas and Papas.  It’s like a rain hood with a mesh net, the whole thing attaches over the top of a stroller to keep bugs away from babies (or something, I really don’t know but all strollers seem to have things like this).  This one gets narrower towards one end for some reason, but overall it was perfect to attach to our stroller to stop the bunnies from just jumping out of their snuggly space:

stroller06

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
The hood thingy attached to the back of the stroller like so.

This hood thingy had popper loops that made it easy to attach to our stroller, even though our stroller was some obscure brand, not Mamas and Papas (as a sidenote, I highly recommend Mothercare for rabbit toys, they make indestructible toys for newborns that are often also great for bunnies).

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits

The existing (non-waterproof) canopy hood thingy on the stroller was non-removable and part of the structure of the stroller but the new one from Mamas + Papas was really great because it was wider than the original, and fitted perfectly over the top, but the metal frame of it was lightweight and flexible so it also squishes through the stroller’s handle so I can change the direction the rabbits are facing (the handle flips so you can either see your rabbits, or they can see where they’re going; I recommend one where you can see your rabbits if you’re getting a stroller with a non-movable handle because the rabbits will try to escape).

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
The mesh net raincover thingy is attached over the top of the existing raincover.

stroller11

The outside of the stroller had now been rabbit proofed, but the inside still looked utterly miserable.  I hated it and the fabric was worn and discolored in places, so I found this cute rabbit scarf someone had bought me for a present at some point in the past, and I lined the stroller with it.

stroller12

See?  Way cuter and it has a rabbit print on it.  Long term, I think I’m going to make a new padding for the inside of the stroller so it’s machine washable because bunnies are generally very tidy and clean but sometimes they gotta pee and I like to wash their fabric cushions and other items ASAP when they get soiled.

I also tied the front of the fabric to avoid any dangling ends that could get caught in the wheels:

stroller13

To continue the improvements, I used two wide hair ribbons I bought about 5 years ago from Wal-Mart (ASDA) and wrapped them around the handle, after tying them to each other to make one long ribbon.  This looks much nicer than the cracked broken handle, and feels a bit more comfortable to hold, but long term I want some foam padding between me and the cracked handle and of course this handle isn’t practical in a rain storm:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits

I hooked my umbrella over the handle because if it rains, that mesh netting’s not going to keep my bunnies dry so I’ll need a backup!  This is the finished, fixed, converted rabbit stroller, it fits two bunnies in the main area and the netting just unhooks from the front to get the buns in and out:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
The finished bunny stroller

Another view of the finished bunny stroller:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
A side view of the bunny stroller

And, of course, here’s some pictures of Timmy in his new stroller:

how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
Bunny in a rabbit stroller! Cutest bunny ears ever!
how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
Bunny in a rabbit stroller!
how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
My favorite pic of Timmy in his bunny stroller. I love having houserabbits.
how to make a rabbit stroller DIY houserabbits
“Where are we going, mommy? Does this contraption go to the carrots?”

Today I took the rabbits out in their stroller, since I no longer have a car and they had a vet appointment.  The vets is just over a mile each way.  I didn’t like how low the stroller’s handle was, and it didn’t have any way of raising it.  I’m only 5’6″, I’m above average but I’m not a giant, and it seems a bit sexist that they’ve designed this pushchair for really, really short people. I’d be aware of that if you’re buying a stroller for your buns.  Aside from that it was ok although I want more padding between the rabbits and all the bumps of the pavement.  The biggest issue is that they can’t be in it for more than about half an hour because there’s no way of giving them water.  I need one of those travel pet bowls for dogs in cars, because my rabbits don’t drink from bottles, and even if they did, there’s nowhere in this stroller to attach one.  That’s going to be the next addition to this bunny stroller.

The rabbits liked being able to see out, and I think they didn’t mind being in their stroller once they got over the initial confusion about what was going on.  The vet thought it was adorable.  After going to the vets, I needed some feminine hygiene supplies so I walked around the supermarket with my rabbits in their stroller.  The woman at the till gave me a very strange look but no-one else really noticed that there were bunnies in the stroller.  I’ve used the stroller once before, taking Fifer to a supermarket the day after Katie died (he needed companionship and so did I), but he could easily escape because the sides were open (he chose not to, because he’s a very well behaved rabbit), which I wasn’t happy about.  Now it’s 100% rabbit proof and safe to use outdoors too!

Is It Legal?
Regarding the law, unless you’re going somewhere such as a government building (eg. for a wedding), anywhere else there is no specific law in the UK against taking your bunnies as long as they are safe and in an enclosed space. As long as the bunnies are safe and can’t escape, its perfectly legal to take them to most public places (if slightly unusual), but I would suggest people consider whether the environment might stress the rabbits too much before just taking them out everywhere. Public transport (bus drivers etc) may have issues if you get on a busy bus and have to take the rabbits out of the stroller to fold it away and put in the luggage hold, because at that point there’s a loose rabbit on their bus, so I would think about that aspect as well.

Verdict:  Project successful.

Total cost: £9.80 (or about $13).

If you can’t take the bunny to the garden… WPC: Admiration

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge was Admiration.  I’ve explained why this fits the bill underneath.

bunny rabbit eating dandelion cute bunnies cute bunny soft bunny adorable funny
If you can’t take the bunny to the garden, you’ll have to take the garden to the bunny. Fifer is a rabbit I admire.

This week you had to show something or someone you admired.
I was totally going to do this the day after my last post but I had a bit of trouble with this one because I tend to either admire people from afar or, if it’s some one I know, I’m generally unable to post pics of them on my blog without their consent. Which they tend not to give, since most of the people I admire (my Dearest, for example) have important jobs they wouldn’t want to tangle up with my blog which sometimes borders on the unconventional (let’s say), I struggled to think of something.

Rabbit conga funny adorable bunnies cute bunnies
Poppy (black and white) hiding her injured paw and Fifer (brown) try to start a conga line.

Poppy, one of our bunny rabbits, got hurt last week playing in the garden. So while she was recuperating we moved her and Fifer, her boyfriend, into our kitchen in the spare indoor hutch.
Used to going outside whenever they like (their home has 24/7 indoor outdoor access) it’s been especially hard on Fifer, who is half-wild.
I admire how he’s tried his best to take the new surroundings in his stride, despite being unhappy that he can’t play out when he wants to, and I admire that he has done everything he can to look after Poppy.
You may not remember that Fifer was so antisocial when we first got him that he nearly killed a bonded pair of rabbits by premeditatively breaking into their run and attacking them at a time of day when I and my Dearest were not at home.
He had issues, and we got him a new friend (Katie) to help him socialize.
When he lost Katie, he seemed to be going back down that path, and for a while I had to keep him and Poppy separate because he was just rejecting her and she was being all fighty with him.
But it’s 6 months later, and he’s taken to Poppy so well that he has done his utmost to make her comfortable while they’re indoors.
As a treat, I decided that since we couldn’t take the bunny rabbits to the garden, I’d have to take the garden to the bunnies. So I dug up a big triple dandelion (do they grow on top of each other everywhere or just in my garden) and put it on some newspaper in the kitchen.
I hope my Dearest doesn’t mind too much when he gets home.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons (Autumn)

This week’s photo challenge is to do with seasons; seasons as a reflection of your inner landscape.  I am thinking I’d like to do one for each season, but today I feel Autumn.
Being born in November, I guess I’m more prone to feeling Autumn than most people – the feeling that summer is over and winter is coming, and all you can do is watch as the temperature goes down and the wildlife runs for cover from the blizzards.  I think this picture sums it up, as the rabbit stares out at the dwindling stalks of grass:

autumn bunny
Fifer, Taken in October 2015.  Taken with Sigma 18-250mm lens.

Here’s where I found the weekly photo challenge: Seasons

Cute baby bunny Timmy plays with ball.

My latest Youtube video is here and I also need some photography advice.

Petit bébé lapin “Timmy” joue avec le ballon.

Piccolo coniglietto “Timmy” gioca con la palla.

Whichever language you speak, it’s freaking adorable (also I feel so proud I translated the title and description into French and Italian for Youtube)!  Enjoy cute bunny video (sorry about the wobble):

By the way (and this is why I tagged photography, sorry if that’s going to annoy people I promise I don’t usually do this), does anyone have any tips for photographing fast moving objects that startle if you move too close??  Any tips at all even if they seem obvious?  I find it hard to get my focus etc sorted before the rabbit moves again and he’s so movable!  And when he moves, the light levels change from where he was to where he is, and then I need to change all the settings on my camera by which time he’s moved again!  What do other people do?

Meet Timmy

So we weren’t sure if we were going to get another rabbit after losing Banacek – surely it’d have to be a pretty special new bunny.

Two weeks ago I had to go to Pets At Home to get Poppy a corner litter tray because she’s destroying her hutch by insisting on using it as a toilet (all our other outdoor buns do it in their rabbit runs). That’s when I first saw Timmy.  Soft, snuggly, adorable, special Timmy.

He was a beautiful orange colour with Banacek’s eyes and ears, and cute white patches on his front paws that made him look like he was wearing socks. I thought nothing of it – Cleo was still listless and mostly sitting around the house at this point. She was in no way ready for a new friend and neither were we – it was only about a week after Banacek had died. I took a good look at Timmy and noticed he had done some of those yellow gloopy poos that Banacek had done just before he died. I informed the staff and they said they’d keep an eye on him. I went home disappointed because we really shouldn’t get another rabbit right now, especially one with potential digestive problems.

Because of Poppy’s little “problem” I had to do a full cleanout of her hutch on Monday, and I used up all the hay and most of the sawdust, but I still needed more hay to make her upstairs sleeping area warm and cosy (and edible), so at 6pm I found myself driving over to Pets at Home again to get a bag of hay.

Timmy was still there, in all his beautiful snuggly orangeness, looking very interested in his hay. I had to collect my husband from work immediately after getting the hay, and I told him that the cute bunny was still there who I’d seen before.

The next morning, I tried to put him out of my mind, but when I came back from dropping my Dearest off at work, I then had to put up with Cleo acting very out of sorts – she was running laps around the living room and leaping in the air and pulling my blankie off me (I was cold) and trying to climb on the sofa. These are things she doesn’t usually do. She was trying to get me to play with her more than normal. So I tried, but I couldn’t follow her through the tunnels and hiding places we’ve made for the rabbits to play in. I scooped her up and carted her off to Pets At Home to see if there was an appropriately adorable bunny up for adoption.

I was surprised to see that Timmy, with his one up ear and one down ear, was still there.
We introduced them and he really liked her but she was scared and running away, so I decided to bring her back later in the afternoon. This time, Timmy went straight to her, and he snuggled up with her in her pet carrier.

They didn’t separate the whole time they were around each other.
When I took Cleo back to the car (so I could come back and complete the adoption paperwork and buy the sawdust I forgot to get earlier in the week), Timmy looked heartbroken and started attacking the door to his enclosure to get back out again. I came back from the car, and another person was there trying to adopt Timmy. I was all like “oh hell no he’s mine bitch.”  Actually, I just said “I’m sorry, but he’s coming home with us, he’s just been introduced to my other rabbit and they loved each other.” but she acted like I’d slapped her with the rabbit.  If she’d got there first I would have just been happy for Timmy that he was finally getting adopted – that’s not an empty promise, it’s happened before with 2 different bunnies that I intended to adopt.  Sometimes it’s not meant to be, but this time, it was.

We brought him home and they’d told us to just put him in his hutch the first night, but he looked so lonely and vulnerable that I put Cleo in with him. She disagreed with being in a hutch (she hasn’t been in a hutch in over 2 years) so they both ended up hanging out in the living room until bedtime.

At night we put him back to bed in his hutch and in the morning, I put him and Cleo into the rabbit carrier and took him to the vets for his check up and vaccinations. Apart from when we’re in bed (when we have to put him back in his hutch until we’re sure he won’t fight Cleo) they’ve been inseparable ever since.

Here’s some photos:

timmy bunny 1

timmy cleo ball

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Timmy flopsy

Timmy Cleo snuggle

So far, his interests seem to include running around REALLY FAST, pooing everywhere (they’re the size of freaking marbles WTF?!?!) and humping Cleo.  So I put this bunny romper suit on him so he definitely couldn’t get Cleo pregnant, because he can’t be neutered for a couple more months (he’s 4 months old and the romper suit is to stop them chewing at stitches but it covers the right places):

Timmy in romper suit

He doesn’t like the romper suit, and he runs around less while he’s wearing it.

I’m in the middle of editing some videos of him and I’ll upload them all to Youtube as soon as they’re ready.

Cleo is very happy and the house doesn’t feel empty any more.  Now he’s just got to learn to take the stairs – the first couple of times he tumbled back down them again, but I was there to catch him, and I’ll always be there to catch him, until he learns to go up and down the stairs on his own.

welcome Timmy

 

RIP Banacek: Rabbit, person, and our dearest companion.

Sunday was Banacek’s funeral. We buried him in a cardboard rabbit carrier, with his favourite toys; the chewy hemp carrot, the chewy sticks, his first cuddly rabbit (stuffy), as well as his drinking bowl. We rested him on a piece cut from his favourite blue carpet out of his bedroom, then we tucked him in with his favourite towel, the one he kept pulling under him after he got neutered.  We read him the story of Snuggle Bunny, our rabbit book puppet with the adorable bedtime story (hey, I don’t judge YOUR insomnia tactics).  The book still has a little nibble out of the spine from the time Banacek “investigated” it.
We dug a big hole and gently laid him in it, then covered him over with soil, it was absolutely pouring it down with rain and we fenced it off with rabbit run panels so he doesn’t get dug up by foxes. He’s next to Katie and Neville.
The cynical part of my brain observes that there is literally no room left for vegetables in the garden.  I was going to put in a picture of him in his little box, but WordPress crashed when I tried to upload the picture (why didn’t they put an “add pictures” button in the ‘New Posting Experience FFS), and I had to restart the whole internet to restore this backup, so I’m going to leave it with what’s already in this post.

 

Banacek bunny
Sleep well, little rabbit.  A picture from brighter times.

 

Banacek bunny cute soft
The house just isn’t the same without you.

It’s been colder in the house since he died, and we all keep expecting him to run up and down the stairs, to hop into the living room and investigate the food situation, or to try  to get into the bathroom or kitchen.  The house just feels so big and empty now.  It’s like the colour has just disappeared out of the whole house, and everything is much greyer and duller than it was before.

As the days have gone on, we have realized that we’d built our whole life around Banacek; everything from how we organize our day to the furniture in the house, the fact that we redecorated the living room with adhesive tiles to stop him chewing the first two feet of wallpaper, the stairgate-type barriers in the doorways of our bedroom and the bathroom, to stop him getting into danger.  He had his own bedroom in the house, a room which was predominantly his giant 6′ by 6′ rabbit hutch, and his upstairs toys scattered around.  Every corner of the house has a sawdust litter tray so he didn’t have to get caught short, and our Hoover is the special pet one to pick up his fur from the carpet.  The kitchen is full of a variety of dry rabbit foods, toys and accoutrements that were in rotation so he never got bored, since he didn’t have an outdoor run any more (Fifer kind of stole it), and we specifically chose and modified our furniture and electricals to make a safe, accessible and stimulating environment for him.  We only got Cleo to be his friend because he was getting lonely, and we worried that we’d have to cope with his grief when she died of old age, since she’s 11 and he was only 3.  Before we adopted Cleo, we used to take Banacek on bunny playdates with other houserabbit owners so he could socialize with members of his own species.

Nobody really gets this, but this is definitely harder for both of us than losing the baby.  I think the reaction from other people, that “meh, it was just a rabbit” response, has made it so much worse, because it’s made us realize Banacek’s profound impact and amazing presence didn’t really extend past our house.  Banacek was so central to our life that not having him here to greet us, wait for us, harass us for things he doesn’t need, to give us affection, to focus our attention on, to adore and lavish with love and snuggles…  All our little every-day rituals, all the songs we’d changed the words to so Banacek was the focal point, all the tiny bunny crockery for his different nibbles… He was interested in literally everything we did, and everything that he did was naturally awesome.  I even started this blog so I could share the delight of Banacek with the world.  And everyone who came to the house was always so taken with him; how can people be so fickle and heartless about such a wonderful bunny?

The house just feels empty.  My soul feels empty.  Everyone in the house feels the same right now.  My Dearest explained it best this morning, when he said “I keep putting the central heating on, but I feel so cold on the inside.”  The house is a balmy 16 degrees right now and I’m huddled under a blanket in my dressing gown, and I’m still freezing.

Banacek was the life and soul of the party.  And now the party’s left, and we’ve just got a big empty venue to clean up, and that one sick girl to look after who drank too much.

How do you find meaning and purpose when you had it, you were happy with it, and it got taken away from you?

Now he’s gone, I’m coming up with nothing.

We’ve lost our best friend, our confidante, and our baby bunny all in one.   Banacek was our world.  If you think that’s hyperbolic you just didn’t know how amazing Banacek was.

I promise my next post will be something upbeat, but today I needed to tell the world about how important Banacek was.