Thursday, June 28, 2007

Happy Bunniversary!

Wednesday was the one-year bunniversary of having Jo Jo in our lives! She was an unplanned child, but we love her very much! How did this all come about? This is Jo Jo's story.

Seattle's Woodland Park had a rabbit problem. People had abandoned rabbits and the survivors had bred like rabbits (heh) and created a sizable feral population. Seattle-ites and their children loved to visit the rabbits, although the City of Seattle planned to get rid of them. The rabbits were causing great swaths of barren land and undermining landscaping, and the nearby Zoo worried about disease transmitted to their inmates.

We loved to visit the rabbits to watch them and feed them tasty treats. Here are some with some of our friends. The rabbits were tame enough to approach and occasionally touch, but we couldn't catch them. Well once Michael snatched a tiny one, but the rabbit ran away as soon as he could. We used to say, "Oh, ha ha, if we can ever catch one, we'll get to keep it!" I never thought we would.

Last June my Dad was out for a visit. It was June 27th, and it was my Dad's birthday and my nephew Jaiden's birthday. We were on our way back from Jaiden's birthday and decided to show my Dad the bunnies on the way home. We pulled up to bunny central, and it was almost completely deserted except for one white one huddled by the rocks that shelter the warren. "That's the guard rabbit" I said. I trotted over for fun, bent over and ... damn! I picked it up! It didn't run away! I showed Michael, then I put the rabbit down. Michael went over and picked it up and stroked and stroked it. He said, "Remember what we said about catching one? This is no feral rabbit; someone left it here!" You'll notice in the picture above that the feral rabbits are brown -- white ones practically glow in the dark and get picked off by other critters pretty quickly. We decided we couldn't abandon the obviously tame rabbit, so we we all piled in the car, rabbit in arms. Michael quickly named the rabbit Jo Jo, though I admit I was slow to accept the name. Jo Jo seemed to enjoy the car ride.

At home we quickly tucked her in a cat carrier and headed to the pet store to buy a bunny trousseau. Roughly $100 later, Jo Jo had her very own roomy cage and tons of food. We decided to see what kind of rabbit we had, so we turned the rabbit on its back, looked between the legs and ... huh. "What is that?" we asked each other. We are not naive young virgins, but we could not figure out if our new rabbit had boy things or girl things. The next day we took Jo Jo to our regular vet, and the vet couldn't tell either! We didn't feel so bad anymore. Apparently unless you are a rabbit specialist, it's hard to tell. Still, the vet said other signs, such as a dewlap (double chin in the photo) point to Jo Jo being a girl, and that she was probably about one year old and sexually mature.

We had a crash course in rabbit care. According to websites and Rabbits for Dummies, rabbits are fastidous and will use a litterbox because they do not like to soil their living spaces. Although she did basically use a litterbox, Jo Jo's butt stank, she dribbled poop behind her everywhere she went, she fudged her bed every night, and she loved to squirt pee and roll in it. Not what I would call fastidious. She had a thing for men's socks and would nip feet. I made her a fake rabbit buddy to snuggle with, and she humped it. Did we really have a girl? With all the freeform peeing and pooping, we couldn't imagine her really being a houserabbit with freedom to roam where ever she liked. I made a slightly larger enclosure called Jo Jo Ville, but still I hated keeping her so cooped up.

I went to my 20th high school reunion and reconnected with Petula Darling, a rabbit owner. She told me that if I got Jo Jo spayed "it would be a miracle", and I would have a lovely bun for a pet.

We took Jo Jo to a vet specializing in rabbits. We found out that Jo Jo was in fact a girl, and that she was unspayed. She can't have been abandoned in the park more than a half hour or she would have been pregnant. Rabbits work fast. I had secretly been hoping she was pregnant, but I know that it's good she wasn't. We got Jo Jo spayed, and after a dicey week which she spent recovering in her litter box, she did indeed emerge as a miraculously civilized rabbit.

After rabbit-proofing all of the wires in our house and supervising her while she explored, we discovered she is a fine house rabbit. She has three litter boxes which she uses, she sleeps in the livingroom, and runs up and down stairs and through the house where ever she likes. She gets hand-fed bananas, and generally makes herself very comfy. She's also lucky to have supervised the building of an outdoor pen so she can spend time in the yard. I usually just go out with her for "field trips" and let her run around the yard all she wants. Life is pretty good for the poor abandoned bun!


Stephanie said...

Happy Bunniversary you guys! Jo Jo Bun sure is a cute little thing and damn is she ever soft. I loved seeing her "Bun-Scape" when I was there last time. Such a cutie.

Petula Darling said...

I love the Jo-Jo story!
She just seems like the sweetest and most civilized rabbit.
You might need to bring her over here to teach my rabbits a lesson on how to be more snuggly.