Sunday, July 30, 2006

bunny woes

It has been a rough couple weeks here at Chez Petula. Our angora houserabbit Isadora is really sick, so I've been dividing my time between taking care of her, worrying about her, and periodically bursting into tears. I'm sure this atmosphere of gloom and doom I'm creating is very helpful to her spirits.

Warning: This is going to be long. If you don't like listening to people carrying on about their pets, you might want to skip this post. I hate it when people discuss their pets in far less detail than I'm about to, so I won't hold it against you.

We adopted Isadora a little over two years ago when she was six months old. We had her spayed shortly afterward, and after that she was a model citizen. She trained herself to use a litterbox, and was allowed free range 0f the house. With the exception of chewing on a couple plants, and the occasional snack of wires, she has always been a very good bunny. She has provided us with hours of entertainment and lots of lap time. She has even, on occasion, accompanied me to knitting group where she snuggled with strangers and allowed young children to pet her in that overzealous way that kids have.
About a year ago she started to have little "accidents" just outside of her litterbox. It didn't happen often, and the quantity was so small that I wasn't sure if it was pee or if it was just some drinking water that had sloshed out, however over time the problem grew more pronounced. Around the same time she started to become less active. She didn't roam the house as much as she used to, but rather spent most of her time sitting in her favorite spots observing the household. When she did go exploring she seemed a little stiff. I was worried and took her to the vet (twice) to make sure nothing was wrong, but they seemed pretty unconcerned.
The peeing I wrote off to her acting out (we did have her tested for a UTI, but it came back negative). I convinced myself that maybe the slowing down was normal for a two year old rabbit, especially an angora since they're bred to be mellow. We got her a friend, Morris, and they hit it off almost immediately. He litter trained himself right away, but her litter habbits continued to worsen. I read all the litter training info I could find, and finally decided to retrain her by confining her to a cage with daily periods of supervised freedom. The plan was that as she proved herself to be reliable once again, she would slowly be allowed more and more out-and-about time until she was back to her original impeccable ways. Unfortunately, that never happened.
Her stiffness seemed to be increasing. I wrote it off to her not exercising much due to her confinement. Davis kept saying he thought something was wrong with her legs, but I did my best to dismiss that negative line of thought by reminding myself that he thinks fluoridated water is a plot by The Man to keep us all down. Finally the day came when I had to admit he was right. She was practically dragging her hind legs, and I knew I had to find a vet who would look into it.
A rabbit-loving friend of mine knew I was desperate to find a veterinarian who might be able to help (I think the tip off was when, much to my horror, I started to cry at knitting group while discussing it with her), and she let me know about the recent arrival of a vet who specializes in exotics (that's what rabbits are considered to be).
I'm happy to say I absolutely LOVE the new vet (and so does Is). She was really caring and immediately took the problem seriously, taking x-rays and blood tests (all the while checking to make sure that was what I wanted). Unfortunately, Isadora's x-rays showed lots of bone growths that are extremely unusual in a rabbit her age, and the vet doesn't know what is causing them. At this point, Isadora can only moves a couple steps at a time, she's completely incontinent, and if she is lying on her side she can't get up without help. We have several hop-through "bunny stations" set up that are lined with towels and have bumpers on each side to keep her from tipping over that she actually voluntarily puts herself in (I couldn't get her to use the call button we got her for when she's fallen and she can't get up, so this was the next best thing).
It's a total longshot, but we're currently treating her for lyme disease with the hope that that's what caused the bone growths (I think the vet figured that at this point, why not? There isn't much to lose and it's the only curable thing that explains her symptoms and test results - plus Isadora thinks the antibiotics are deeeeelicious!). She seems to be in pretty good spirits now (apparently she's made of tougher stuff than I), but obviously this situation can't go on indefinitely. If we're able to arrest the bone situation, there are things that can be done to make her more comfortable and able-bodied. If she continues to decline it doesn't seem kind to allow to her to suffer.
I'm a little surprised that I'm taking this whole thing so hard. I'm not exactly considered a bleeding-heart animal lover (friends have been known to place bets over how long I'd keep a pet before I decided it was too much work and found it a new home). There's just something about Isadora that completely won me over. I feel terrible that I had been angry with her on some level for the past 6 months for becoming un-litter-trained. I'm just sick over the fact that she had to spend several weeks being semi-isolated as I was trying to retrain her when I mistakenly thought it was a behavioural problem. At this point I'd line her bunny-station with my cashmere sweaters if I thought it would make her feel better.


Anonymous Old comments saved from the HaloScan exodus said...

I'm sorry to hear about Is, I've never been one much for pets either. We got our cat ,Elvis,(yes he is the king )A couple of years before we had kids. I think he trained me for motherhood, I didn't think I wanted kids either.We just recently made a financial investment in his future at the Vet, so far... he's on the mend. I hope Is isn't too far behind.
jungle dream pagoda | Homepage | 07.31.06 - 2:42 pm | #

Oh Poor Isadora! I hope that this gets sorted quickly and that it gets sorted for the better. Animals are so strange. I sometimes think that my heart goes out to Snickers more than it does to the kids, but that's just because she can't sass me. Seriously, Snickers and I are sending healing vibes to your sweet Isadora.
Gina | Homepage | 07.31.06 - 8:36 pm | #

Oh Dear,
Poor Petula, and Poor Is-bunny. You are absolutely doing the right thing. It is crushing when your funny little bunny is ill. It makes one feel so helpless. Hang in there. I'll be sending strong superpower thoughts to the whole family and especialy Isadora.
mary jane | 07.31.06 - 10:32 pm | #

I am sending healing thoughts your way. Isadora is lucky to have such an attentive and caring owner. I wish mine could be house buns.
Marie | 08.03.06 - 1:27 pm | #

5:32 PM, July 26, 2007  

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