Guest blogger Jhondra returns with a sad update…
Last Thursday, I said goodbye to the oldest friendship I’ve ever had, to a entity I saw every day for over a decade. I euthanized Seaby, my 11 year old rabbit. Back in 1997, when I was significantly less jaded about pet store animals, my mother bought me a pair of boy bunnies. They were a pair of eight-week-old chocolate Dutch bunnies whom I dubbed “Seaby” and “Split”. After neutering, I paired them with a little Netherland Dwarf mix named “SF” whom my mother also bought me. Obviously, my mother is a key violator of the “no pets as presents” rule.
If I knew then what I knew now. Those rabbits changed my life.
These three were the first pets I had as an adult (as much of an adult as an undergrad can be) and I knew nothing about good bunny care. They didn’t get timothy hay or veggies until they were 3 years old. For the first three years, they lived in a tiny cage in my living room. SF wasn’t spayed until she was 4 years old, much longer than any good rabbit owner would ever wait, given the risk of uterine and ovarian carcinomas in intact females. I hasn’t even heard the words “bunny-savvy vet” until 2000. As years went on, I learned more. I built bigger and better cages, started yearly bunny wellness exams, and bought high-end veggies at Whole Foods. It was a labor of love—I was enamored by them and their antics. I loved the love they felt for each other. They only wanted each other; my attention was tolerated, at best.
In 2005, SF developed a middle ear infection. In 24 hours, she went from normal to ataxic with a severe head tilt and stopped eating or drinking. For 6 weeks, I completely ran my life into the ground giving her what she needed: force feeding her, giving her fluids, rotating her in her cage. She eventually recovered. In 2006, I decided to go to vet school to practice companion exotic medicine. I can’t say that my decision was BECAUSE she got ill, but I know her illness played some role in my career change.
Then, the difficult decisions started. I said goodbye to Split in 2006 (renal failure) and SF in 2007 (advanced pulmonary neoplasia). Even after 12 months, losing SF still breaks my heart. Finally, last week, it was Seaby’s time. He had been sick with a chronic upper respiratory infection that was untreatable. I tried to make him comfortable for over two years with low dust hay and humidifiers. This summer, it was clear that he wasn’t as comfortable. Still, I held out, waiting for him to tell me he needed to go. He kept eating and drinking; I kept waiting. Finally, it came to me two weeks ago. So, I said goodbye to a huge chapter of my life.
Losing Seaby was actually easy. I prepared myself, since I knew it was coming for two weeks before it came. I had to delay Seaby’s appointment until after my Farm Animal Medicine exam. Honestly, the hardest part about vet school is having to rearrange the rest of your life around it.
But, I am back in the saddle again. Several days later, I picked up two new (rescued) rabbits from a rescuer in IL. I have a lot to learn about the new buns—I’ll keep you updated.
This week in ACR&S has not gone well in terms of intakes.
Charlotte Coordinator Andrea has been searching for the perfect friend for one of her own guinea pigs, Maddie, who is a lethal. Because of her special needs (she’s blind and deaf) she needs a piggie who is a little more laid back than your average pig.
She saw a woman giving away a long haired pig, and fell in love with the picture. She wanted to try this piggie with Maddie to see if they could be friends, since we didn’t have any single girls in. She dutifully met this piggie owner, and picked up her beautiful new friend.
One problem: her friend had testicles.
Luckily, Andrea is both a.) savvy enough to know to quadruple check the sex of any new animals, and b.) practicing a strict quarantine. Apparently, the woman had been trying to breed this pig (now known as Wesley) with predictably little success. And yet she never though to simply look at the pig to try and sex it!
Wesley will be neutered, and then he can be Maddie’s friend.
I also got bitten by Craiglist this week. Part of my sanctuary is a rat named Phedre who was meant to be snake food. I took in a friend for her, named Cecilie, who is hearty and hale because rats are extremely social animals, much like guinea pigs and rabbits.
However, lately Phedre has been slowing down and has become more and more sedentary. She likes to spend her days dozing and hoarding food, and I wanted Cecilie to have a younger, more energetic friend to wrestle and romp with.
I succeeded in finding one young female via Craigslist, that was living in a predictably tiny cage, on pine, and eating some typical junk food from the pet store, but was in otherwise good health. And after I had taken her in and made up my mind that I had found my rat, another of my inquiries — ignored for nearly 2 weeks, responded.
They emailed my response that their rat was still available, and that she was very sweet, and that her cage was pink but if I wanted, they would throw in a can of white spray paint. Imagining this rat dying from the paint fumes with an untutored owner, I haplessly agreed to take her also.
I was expecting a lack of basic knowledge for this poor rat, but I was horrified when I picked her up. The cage she was in was made for hamsters, and not rated big enough for a single rat to live in. It had been spray painted fluorescent pink already. It was dingy and dank, and this poor rat had only a single, dirty washcloth to snuggle with, and one tiny box as a toy.
Upon physical examination, two health serious problems were revealed. First, she had lung scarring problems like Phedre. When she was active, she wheezed and huffed like she’d run a marathon. And her poor feet were ulcerated from bumblefoot, most likely from the filthy wire floors on the cage. When I removed her nasty washcloth, it was covered in patches of dried blood — most presumably from her poor swollen feet bleeding onto it. Sadly, she even had to be taught to take treats from human hands.
She has been christened Ysandre, and started on the same medications that Phedre is on to help with her breathing, and we’re starting treatment on her poor hurt feet. She will stay with us forever so that she can continue her lung treatments.
“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of inhumanity”
- George Bernard Shaw
Welcome back to some old friends, Bob and Bess.
Bess is a sweet natured brown “helicopter” lop (meaning one ear stands up and one ear falls over). She loves treats, and can be quiet a snugglebunny if she decides you’re worth of her time. Bob is her husband, and is a little more aloof than she, but it’s evident from meeting them at the get go that they are truly a bonded pair. They are estimated to be between 7-8 years of age.
Bob and Bess ended up with us at ACR&S due to our return policy. We have a lifetime guarantee that any adopted animal can – and must – come back to us, no matter what, if the adopter cannot keep him. We will always make room for returns. We had adopted Bob out to be Bess’ husband several years ago, but Bess’ mom was moving cross-country and didn’t feel like she could relocate with both bunnies. Because our policy is not to split bonded pairs, Bess came along with Bob back to us.
My previous fosters, Wendy and BB, went to foster with Andrea in Charlotte once it became clear that Bob and Bess had some senior issues which may be difficult for a first time foster parent to deal with.
First and foremost, because both were overweight, jumping onto the second story of the cage proved to be a little much for both buns. After a failed attempt by Bess (which resulted in much thumping and probably cursing under her breath), the several story cage was reconstructed into a 1 story cage with more floorspace. Both rabbits, however, had an enjoyment of jumping onto things, so a series of short stools were added for their pleasure.
In addition, due to their weight and age, they were having severe issues grooming. Because of this, they are going to require frequent shaving around their tails, and until that can be accomplished, frequent bathing. Currently, both buns are having a lot of issue, so there are a minimum of 4 “butt-baths” per week, often more depending on how messy the rabbits have been in the interim. In addition, both of their rear ends look like a dandelion about to explode, and dedicated brushing and plucking of hair has been required so far. Neither of the rabbits particularly likes being bathed or brushed, though they tolerate it with moderately good graces.
The final obstacle in dealing with these mature rabbits is that their former owner allowed them to eat alfalfa-based pellets. Alfalfa is suitable for young rabbits and pregnant or nursing does, but is not desirable for adults, and especially not for seniors. Unfortunately, alfalfa is also a lot more tasty than timothy based alternatives, and they are not very gung-ho on switching out their candy pellets for healthy pellets. Each handful of alfalfa pellets is mixed in with a copious amount of the timothy pellets, but this leads only to the buns picking out each alfalfa pellet individually.
Overall, though, these rabbits are probably suitable for an intermediate owner. Their health needs are basic and easily taken care of at home (and they tolerate them well) and have an excellent chance of improving once they slim down on a more appropriate diet. They are also a well bonded pair who can keep each other entertained and socialized, and are outgoing, curious, litterbox trained, and used to living in a house with cats.
A hearty welcome to ACR&S newest resident, Pantalaimon the chinchilla!
Pan was found by a kind police officer wandering around outside by himself. The fact that he’s still alive is a miracle in and of itself. Chinchillas, with their especially thick, dense fur, are super-prone to heatstroke and dehydration, and our average daily temperature here in North Carolina is easily in the high nineties.
The police officer turned him into the local animal control where his extremely amusing and grumpy intake picture quickly won our hearts. We made arrangements for him and then brought him into ACR&S to deal with some of his more specialized dietary needs (which most shelters are ill prepared for) and to work on socializing him.
So far, he’s proven to be a friendly, if hyper, little fellow, who has quickly learned that people bring treats and is happy to ride around on your shoulder.
Sadly, this year has been a boom year for animals being abandoned outside. Never abandon a domestic species outside under any circumstances! For the most part, that leads only to their early demise, and often in a painful way. Turn them into the local shelter. Even if they euthanize them, they are not going to be starving, overheated, and attacked by predators.
Pan has been a learning experience for everyone with ACR&S, as he is our first chinchilla. With a lot of research, we prepared carefully to bring him to our home, and so far he seems to be having a blast. His spacious cage is a source of enjoyment for him, and he often spends hours simply hopping from shelf to shelf, checking out the lay of the land.
He has also quickly learned how to use his flying saucer wheel, although he admittedly is embarrassed for us to watch him and will scamper off to hide in his favorite wooden house. He seemed grateful when we provided him with a dustbath to clean off his greasy fur (although we did quickly learn that a dusty chinchilla will add dust to all of your personal belongings in a very short amount of time.)
Pan is looking for a home that will love and cherish him for the rest of his days. He’s guesstimated to be middle aged (between 5-7 years old), but chinchillas can live to be 20 or older! He has plenty of time remaining to spend with his preferred person.
Sponsor-A-Guinea-Pig has a new pair of piggies up for October! Cinnamon and Salizar are a senior pair of sweethearts-at six years old, they have been through adoptions, returns, lost mates, and now they’re going to spend the rest of their life at the rescue, living the good life. They met and fell in love in the rescue in their senior years.
SAGP hopes to raise $200 to fund two months of their care!
When Salizar (on the left) was just a young boy in the rescue he lost his eye in an attempt to assert dominance. He still found a loving adopter, and was able to be paired with other males successfully. He had to be returned to the rescue when his owner moved to New Zealand.
Cinnamon and her mate were returned to the rescue when her owner was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her owner was devastated to return them. The rescue wrote, “Collecting them from their Mom and watching their farewells was incredibly hard. Sadly she passed away several weeks later and Cinnamon’s beau also passed following surgery to remove a stone from his bladder.” Around the same time Salizar’s bonded mate, who was in poor health, passed away, and both pigs were lonely and depressed. The two were introduced and have now been bonded for years.
Cinnamon and Salizar have slowed over the years. Salizar suffers from arthritis and asthma, and needs his eye socket cleaned daily. He also suffers from impaction issues. Cinnamon is presently fighting an infection. The two pigs are still close friends who love each other deeply. “They snuggle together and still love to dine in style together..Salazar and Cinnamon are an ‘old’ couple, they do not run about their cage but rather paddle about it.” Thank you to Wee Companions for caring for homeless animals in their old age!
We are grateful to SAGP for featuring our own Piglet as August’s Piggy of the Month, and hope all our supporters will pay it forward by visiting SAGP to continue to support other needy Sanctuary piggies!