JB the Geriatric Rabbit

JB came to us on February 29, 1992 as a rescue. He was abandoned with a young girl who did not know how to care for him and could not keep him. She had been keeping him in a bathtub with shredded newspaper for a bed. We don’t know much about JB’s background, only that he is approximately ten years old, probably a New Zealand, and that his original owner was evicted from her home and could not keep him any longer. The young girl he was left with said something about JB (our name for him) living on a rooftop when he was with his original owner.JB was in very poor condition when he came to us, his remarkable spirit (and good genetics) without a doubt has contributed to his longevity. When we first laid eyes on JB he was a pathetic sight. He was filthy and flea infested. He had a mat on his back end that was about the size of a lemon and totally enclosed his tail. He was obviously suffering from poor nutrition and years of neglect. Included in his list of ailments was a crippled back right leg, arthritis in the back and hips, blindness in his right eye (possibly due to a cataract), and a severe case of ear mange. Despite all his problems, he was remarkably alert and got around surprisingly well. We knew immediately we had a very special rabbit in our care. We also knew that we would stop at nothing to make the rest of his life as good as we possibly could.Our first course of action was to get rid of his fleas, work on the mat to determine if there was an underlying problem with the back end, and get him under veterinary care. He cleaned up nicely after a bath (which he tolerated with amazing restraint and patience), and we were able to get rid of about 3/5’s of the mat that night. Next was the trip to the vet. Our veterinarian sees rabbits regularly as part of his practice and has come to know my husband and myself (and our other bunnies) and is familiar with the House Rabbit Society. JB checked out fairly well, and the right ear was cleaned out.

However, the problem with his ear quickly manifested into a life threatening complication which sent him back to the veterinarian that very same night, and ended up requiring four days of intensive care. The ear had rapidly become infected, fluid had accumulated and caused a sever head tilt and weakness on the right side. To compound the problem, the infection ended up involving the right eye and had perforated the ear drum. After many follow-up visits, little setbacks and major progress, JB is finally on the road to recovery. Dr. Clipsham has very generously donated his services for the majority of JB’s care.

If nothing else, JB’s former owner must have spent time socializing him and handling him. He is very friendly, loves to be petted and talked to, and grinds his teeth when he’s being loved. After a period of touch and go and the possibility of syringe feeding, JB has developed quite a healthy appetite and seems to be putting on a little weight. He is so remarkable, I can’t believe how fortunate we are to be able to provide some comfort in his life.

JB has gotten accustomed to his new life and environment with little fuss and a trusting and inquisitive nature. He digs at his bed, tips over his food dish when he wants a broccoli treat, and occasionally gives a little nip at Stuart when they are competing for our affection. He explores the house, lets nothing bother him, and is an absolute treasure! JB is a extraordinary example to all owners of house rabbits that yes, rabbits can and do live to a ripe old age, and despite terrible odds, they can overcome a variety of obstacles and enjoy a quality life.

Patrice Struzik

House Rabbit Journal Volume I 1989

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