Raleigh and Royale were surrendered to us here at AC&RS when their dad moved to Hawaii. He had initially planned to fly them out once he got settled in, but once he arrived he realized that them going over would be a lot more complicated than initially planned for, and opted to try and get them into a rescue instead.
Raleigh is the adorable agouti and white piggie, and Royale is all agouti teddy mix. They’re unusually friendly girls who are very outgoing, and were easily won over by their new family’s treats of carrots and veggies. The girls arrived home to a palatial 2×4 C&C cage with a pink princess motif and all the hiding houses and toys a piggie could ask for!
We want to take the time to thank Andy, Sarah, Kate, and Caroline for opening their homes and their hearts to these two girls. They are certainly lucky little piggies to have found a forever family like yours!
On November 2, we lost the first rabbit we ever rescued.
It was the summer of 2002 when I first saw Roo. He was a giant white fuzzball in a too-small cage at the local shelter. He was a New Zealand White, a rabbit bred as a meat producer, weighing in at an astonishing 10 lbs. His cage was barely 2′x3′, and too short for him to fully stand upright. He was probably around two years old, and had, not surprisingly, been surrendered because he “got too big”.
For nine months, I visited Roo whenever I came to the shelter for other reasons, and gave him as much exercise and attention as possible. Finally, in February 2003, I couldn’t take it any more, and I brought Roo home. I knew he was probably unadoptable due to his size, but I just couldn’t leave him to huddle in that tiny cage until he was euthanized.
Although an avid fan of Watership Down, I had never even spent time with rabbits before. I had him neutered (curbing his sock-raping tendencies) and was amazed to find that he was a delightful and engaging pet. He LOVED to be petted, unlike most rabbits I have met since then. His huge size made him all the more entertaining – it’s really something else to see 10 lbs of rabbit throw himself joyously into the air, or try to sneak up on you to steal a box of treats.
Roo was also one of the most easy-going rabbits I’ve ever met. He had multiple cage mates and partners during his stay with me, and he accepted all of them with friendliness and affection. His first partner, Lily, died only two weeks after coming to live with us (she had been attacked by a dog several months before we got her, and had liver damage). His second partner, Karma, suffered from a bout of stasis and megacolon after just a few months together, and although he was happy to visit her in the hospital, she never recovered enough that they could continue living together.
Finally, in late 2004, I introduced Roo to BunBun, an 8 year old male who had come to us from a terrible neglect situation. Surprisingly, the two boys got along wonderfully. Rather than risk separating BunBun from his new friend, I finally decided that Roo and BunBun would both remain as Sanctuary residents.
These two big boys had three and a half years together, and were so entertaining to watch. They were so affectionate with one another, and seemed so content. As BunBun started showing his age, I brought in another large rabbit, Gracie, to make a triple, and ensure that Roo wouldn’t end up alone again once BunBun died.
BunBun crossed the Bridge in July 2008, but Gracie was definitely a comfort to Roo. She was much more independent than him, and he would spend hours with his nose tucked under her chin, eyes blissfully closed, patiently waiting for her to deign to kiss him.
Despite all of these losses, Roo remained good-natured and robust. As a rule, the meat rabbits such as New Zealands are less prone to health problems than rabbits who have been bred only for beauty. He never had any illnesses or even needed a tooth trim in all the time he was with me.
However, time moves on inexorably. Over the last six months or so, Roo has been slowly losing weight, which I attributed to old age. He had been with me for five and a half years, and was at least 7.5 years old, probably older. Shortly after Gracie joined us, he had a minor upper respiratory infection, which passed with no apparant lingering effects. I wonder now if it was a harbinger of what was to come.
On Saturday evening I went to distribute veggies, and Roo did not run and dance as usual. I could immediately tell that he had labored breathing, so we rushed to the emergency vet.
I was hoping that he had swallowed wrong and just had a partly obstructed airway, but by the time we got the vet, his lips were cyanotic – a sign that his lungs were having trouble getting enough oxygen. The vet placed him in the oxygen tent at 40% O2, and he perked up considerably.
X-rays showed diffuse mottling on the lungs, and the left lung was less inflated than the right. However, there was no sign of obstruction or collapse of any of the lung tissue. The differential diagnosis was infection (bacterial or fungal), or cancer (a tumor elsewhere in the body, which had metastasized to the lungs, would show similar mottling to what the X-rays showed) .
The next diagnostic would be to do a tracheal wash (to check for bacteria or fungus) and possibly a needle biopsy (to check the lung tissue for cancerous cells). However, before either of these, we needed to see if Roo could be stabilized enough to get out of the oxygen tent. The vet tried repeatedly throughout the night, but every time the O2 was reduced to below 30%, he started struggling to breathe again. His lungs were too weakfor diagnostics, much less for 14 days or more of treatment. We had no choice but to allow him to be euthanized. He died around 5am Sunday morning.
Initial necropsy showed considerable damage to the lung tissue, but the visual inspection wasn’t able to confirm if it was cancer or infection. We had samples sent out for lab analysis and are still waiting for the results.
I’m just glad that I saw his illness when I did. He must have only JUST started breathing heavily – he wouldn’t have lived out the night if I hadn’t noticed it, and he would have died gasping for air, instead of safely and painlessly anesthetized.
I love you, you silly goose. There will never be another like you. Give some bunny kisses to BunBun and Karma for me.
Time again to Sponsor a Rescued Guinea Pig! NOVEMBER‘s guinea pig of the month is Sono, a one year old guinea pig with the Critter Connection in Connecticut. She was a stray guinea pig brought to animal control, where she was then picked up by the Critter Connection–and just in time! Sono was malnourished, dehydrated, and suffering from vitamin C deficiency. An x-ray showed that metabolic changes were occuring in her spine, either from an injury or the severe malnourishment. She suffered from infections in three out of four of her footpads. These are classic signs up a guinea pig being housed on a wire floor.
Sono now has a daily medication schedule, as well as daily food and vitamin supplements. She also needs daily physical therapy. This only the start of her recovery. Despite all her woes, Sono remains a plucky pig, always happy for attention.
Please CLICK HERE to make a tax-deductible donation directly to the rescue, or CLICK HERE to read more from our friends at Sponsor a Rescued Guinea Pig!