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Bunnymoon Suite
Nicki Piersol-Freedman
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I was starting a new full-time job that would take me away from the house. This would mean Jasmine, our fawn mini lop, would have her usual 16 hour rule of the house cut down dramatically. This bothered my husband and me for the obvious reason of her spending more time alone in the cage than either one of us found acceptable. In addition, we had been thinking for quite a while that the cage that she had "come with" was too small. I knew Jasmine would miss her acquired love for freedom, and we were worried about all of the time spent alone, as she would not be able to be with the cats during the day.

So, my husband Dave and I racked our brains for solutions to the problem of what to do about Jasmine. Should we just continue to put her in her too-small cage, and just forget about it? (impossible!) Should I try to hire someone to let her out for a few hours supervised during the day? (too expensive!) Could I maybe take her to work with me? (too stressful for her) As crazy as it sounds, I was actually starting to question whether I should even accept the position.

That is, until we came up with the "solution." For some time, I had been noticing Jasmine's attempts to get closer to one of our cats, Zachary. He was friendly to her, but it was obvious he was not as snuggly with her as she would have liked. Jasmine's attempts to snuggle had led to a few discussions in the past of whether we should find her a companion. My mind was made up with this job starting in two weeks something just had to be done.

First, for my birthday, I convinced my husband to build a rabbit "condo" that I felt would give Jasmine plenty of room for her litterbox, food dish, water dish, toys, and most importantly lots of space to exercise. We sat down and labored over the designs of what would hopefully become her new dwelling. I must admit I had some anxiety concerning changing her living quarters. What if Dave went to all of this trouble and she refused to go it? Needless to say I didn't share these concerns with him while he was building it! Over the three day Presidents" weekend he worked on it endlessly. By Monday afternoon it was finished. Her new two-story rabbit abode with wall-to-wall carpeting on the second floor was complete. After providing a trail of her favorite treat (dried apple rings) u the ramp, she finally figured out how to get from the first to the second floor. She spent the rest of the day going up and down, up and down, just to prove to us she really could do it on her own. Placed up against the window, she could look out and see the birds in the trees outside. As an added bonus, Dave had put carpet on the top of the condo, so the cats could enjoy the view as well. Jasmine had her new house, and the closeness of the cats, who decided right away that it was the only place to relax worthy of them.

However, that was just the beginning. After much debate over what sex, age, size, kind, etc., would be compatible we decided on a companion bunny for Jasmine. I called some no-kill shelters in my area looking for rabbits, and eventually got hooked up with fellow HRS member, Ann Rooney. Ann has quite a few rescued bunnies to choose from at her elf-run rabbit sanctuary, and after taking a few weeks to mull over-which bunny? Should we really get another? Are we doing the right thing? Will Jasmine get upset? etc., etc. WE finally decided on a very handsome and affectionate 3 1/2/ year old male dwarf named Apollo.

In choosing Apollo we did have one major concern. At his age could he be neutered? After numerous phone calls to the House Rabbit Society members to find out what we needed to have done for kidney testing, to follow animal friends about their vets-we finally decided on meeting with Ann Rooney's veterinarian whom she felt was good with her rabbits. Apollo was tested using a nose smear, which Dr. Zanotti said is a only a good indicator if it is either very much in the yellowish range (good) or very much in the green range (bad). If anywhere in the middle color range, we would have to have Apollo undergo an actual blood test. Our hearts were pounding; we had already fallen very much in love with Apollo; what would we dot if he didn't pass? Could they still be companions if he wasn't neutered? Well, we didn't have to worry. Apollo was "in the yellow"

That day he had his surgery in the early afternoon and was brought home that evening. After a few accidental meetings between the two bunnies, the official introduction took place about two weeks after surgery. We felt as though we were very much prepared for the big introduction. We had read up on the best techniques. We had talked to bunny people to gain from their experience. We had rehashed it over and over.. As we let Apollo out of the dining room, where he had been in isolation, we crossed our fingers. Would Jasmine try to kill him? Or, would she just ignore him completely? Would they wind up having to be separated for the rest of their lives? Would we rule the day we had come up with this great idea? As soon as he came bounding out into the kitchen (into her territory) we realized our fears were for naught. Immediately, Jasmine bowed her head down to him in a "presenting" position. It brought tears to our eyes! Much sniffing, tasting, and hopping followed.

From that day on, we have two snuggling, grooming, licking, playing delightfully loving companion rabbits that hardly come out of their "bunnymoon suite". Jasmine had been letting us know that she needed a friend, and luckily we listened, as the tow of them bring tremendous joy, and much laughter to our lives.

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