Tuesday, July 12, 2016

How we save money!

Our rescue group, Huntsville Friends of Rabbits, runs on donations, and our budget is very tight. However, we are proud to say that we make every penny count! As the Education Bunny for HFR, I make it my business to ensure that every donation is used in the best possible way. Most of our donations are used for vet expenses, and we have found ways to keep our other costs way down.

One way is to buy our hay directly from a local farmer. He grows an orchard grass/Timothy mix hay which is just delicious! Because we buy directly from the farmer, and pick the hay up ourselves, we get it for $5 a bale. If we bought a bale's worth from the pet store, or even an online dealer, it would cost a fortune! And we go through bales and bales of hay! Getting our hay direct from the farm greatly reduces our costs.

Here is the barn where "our" farmer stores the hay. Look at that beautiful grass! It's so green and lovely up at his farm!

And here is our truck, filled with delicious hay! 

My chauffeur, Dr. Bruce, helps load it in and drives it home for us. It gets stored in our garage, in a cool place where there is good air circulation so it doesn't mold. This cut was brown, but usually it's a soft green color.

What else do we do to save money? Well, let me tell you about our bunny garden! 

My personal gardener (who is also my secretary and wardrobe assistant) has a wonderful veggie and herb garden. This cuts our veggie expenses significantly. In addition, the garden supplies us bunnies with herbs and gourmet lettuces we otherwise wouldn't get, as they are too expensive for us to buy at the grocery store. We grow several types of basil, mint, fennel, dill, salad burnett, sorrel, oregano, and three to five varieties of lettuce. We even grow edible flowers like roses and violas. Everything is organic with no pesticides.

Because my gardener grew up in New England, she knows how to extend the growing season into the winter, so sometimes we even have kale and lettuce in December and January. Check out these mini-cold frames made out of old cages and clear shower curtains - yes, that's kale, growing under the snow!

We use old cages to protect the young lettuce plants, too. We have a resident groundhogs on our property who don't seem to understand that the lettuce is just for bunnies, so we have to make sure they can't get to it. That's right, folks - at the main foster home the lettuce is caged and the bunnies run free!! 

Here is a photo of one of the youngest of our salad stealers. Isn't she cute?!

Another way we cut costs is by using newspaper to line our litter boxes instead of Carefresh or other commercial litters. It really works just as well! We are always happy to take donations of newspapers!

One unusual way we save money is by having one of our members, Dr. Bruce, do our coccidia tests. He is a biologist, and can do the fecal float tests needed to check for these nasty parasites. If we had them done through our veterinarian it would be quite expensive, as every bunny who comes into foster care needs to have them, and we do periodic checks on our resident bunnies as well. The test also picks up any worms we might have.  It's very important!

These are just a few of the ways we make all of our donations go as far as possible. We want our donors to know that we appreciate their help, and we stretch their dollars in every way we can. If you have donated to us, thank you sooooo much!!! We foster bunnies just love you!!!

Mrs. Brighton
Huntsville Friends of Rabbits Education Bunny


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Seatbelt Your Bunny!

As the Huntsville Friends Of Rabbits Education Bunny, I feel very strongly that people need to be educated on the importance of regular check ups from a rabbit savvy veterinarian. All bunnies need check ups to make sure their teeth and intestines are in good shape, and as they get older they need to be checked for arthritis as well. 

But how do you get your bunny to the vet? I'm sure most of you take your bunny by car, and I have been horrified to learn that some people just put their bunny on the seat next to them! This distresses me as I have known two different people who have had accidents with animals in the car. In one case, the woman's kitten was thrown from the car and was never found. In the other, the rabbit was ok, but rescue workers were hindered by trying to figure out how to contain the bunny so he wouldn't escape while they helped his mom. 

And while traveling this past summer my secretary almost hit a little kitten who had escaped a car when her people stopped by the road to get something from their trunk. Her people were running all over the highway trying to catch her, which they eventually did. But they almost caused some major accidents!

So let's be smart about taking your bunny to the vet (or to the pet supply store to buy some new tutus!) Want to know how I, and the other Huntsville Friends of Rabbits foster bunnies, travel?

First of all, my chauffeur sets up my carrier. I like these flip top carriers as it's easier for my chauffeur to put me in and lift me out.  And notice that our name and phone number is on the carrier. This makes it easy for your vet to match up the right carrier with the right bunny, in case your bunny has to stay overnight. If there is an accident, or your bunny has to be evacuated in the event of a disaster, she'll be easy to identify. 

You could also put a luggage tag on the carrier. Or look at these nifty homemade tags my chauffeur made from laminating plastic and the closure to a bag of hay! You can out your name on the front and address/phone number on the back.

My chauffeur puts a soft fleece or towel in the bottom to help me get my footing. Because we don't have paw pads like other animals it's hard to get our footing on the carrier floor. I just hate sliding around! The towel also absorbs any urine that might somehow mysteriously appear in the carrier. I just don't know how that happens, but sometimes it does!

Don't you love my carrier blanket? It was made specially for the HFR bunnies by the lovely folks at The Cozy Cavy! It's fleece, and it's extra absorbent. You know, for when that urine mysteriously appears!

My chauffeur also puts some hay or veggies in. I might get hungry on the way, although many bunnies don't eat while the car is moving. A small water bottle hooks to the front of the carrier. My friend Gatsby sent me this picture of him in his carrier - look at that stylish red water bottle!

I prefer this little pink one, which can be wired to the front.

When my carrier is ready my chauffeur puts me in and makes sure the top entrance is securely closed. Then she puts me in the back seat of the car. And this next part is very important - she seat belts me in!!

You may think this is silly, but think about it. What if she has to slam on the breaks to avoid another car or a kitten running down the highway? My carrier might get thrown forward and off the seat. I could get hurt rolling around like that!

To seatbelt me in, she puts the seatbelt through the handle on my carrier and then clicks it. I'm not going anywhere! To be extra secure if there is no front seat passenger, the front seat can be put back so that it holds my carrier in place. This isn't really necessary, but only takes a second and give my carrier a bit more support. 

And there you have it! It only takes a second and will ensure that if something awful does happen, your bunny will be secure. As your bunny's chauffeur, it's your responsibility to make sure she is safe!

Now, go take your bunny for that vet check up!!

Mrs. Brighton
Education Bunny

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Where I Got Spayed!

One of the things we love about our veterinarians at the North Alabama Cat and Bird Veterinary Clinic is that they go to the time and expense to do things right. Their facility is awesome! During their Spring Fling a few weeks ago, Dr. Moore asked if we would like a tour. Of course we said yes!

The part I liked best was the surgery room. This is where I got spayed! And where all the Huntsville Friends of Rabbits foster bunnies have gotten spayed and neutered.  We couldn't go inside, as it's a sterile environment, so we just peeked in the door.

Dr. Moore pointed out that it is a completely enclosed room which is much better for keeping things sterile. Oh, that's a teddy bear on the table, not a real animal! I guess even Teddy bears need to get neutered!

And look at all that equipment! And the gas anesthesia, which is so very important, as injectable anesthesias are not good for bunnies. 

There are windows looking out onto the rest of the clinic, and a swiveling spotlight. So even though it looks quite dim, it really isn't. Notice the display up above the window, so the veterinarian can easily monitor the vital signs of the bunny in surgery.

I am so impressed! It almost makes me want to get spayed again! Ha ha - NOT!!!!

Mrs. Brighton,
Huntsville Friends of Rabbits Education Bunny

Monday, June 20, 2016

Guest Post: Bugsy!

Hi, I'm Bugsy! Mrs. Brighton asked if I would write a guest post, so here I am! 

I'm a Huntsville Friends of Rabbits sanctuary bunny and I live at the main foster house. The reason I'm a sanctuary bunny is because I have head tilt. Head tilt is like vertigo, it causes such dizziness that bunnies can't stay upright, but instead lose their balance and roll. I have had a long journey to recovery, and I wanted to tell you all about it. I especially want you to know that head tilt bunnies can have an awesome life - please don't give up on us!

I first came to my foster mom and dad when I was just a few months old. My former people were going on vacation and needed a petsitter for me. They hadn't had me for very long and I had just developed head tilt.  They had taken me to a rabbit savvy vet, and she had very cautiously given me a steroid shot which had helped. (Please note: steroids are very dangerous for bunnies, and my vet did this with very mixed feelings. It was a mild steroid, but she still did not feel comfortable about it!) Beyond this my people weren't really interested in getting me the aggressive care that head tilt bunnies need. They weren't bad people, but I'm not sure they understood how sick I was.

I was able to be in an open pen at first, but I deteriorated during the two weeks I stayed with my foster mom until I couldn't be in any space other than a padded carrier. My people agreed to let her take me back to my vet, who again very cautiously gave me a steroid shot as well as other meds. They helped, but not as much as before. When my people returned from vacation my foster mom had a long talk with them about what taking care of a bunny with serious head tilt would entail. They were very good people, but they felt they could not give me the aggressive care I needed. So at this point my foster mom became my real mom!

Notice how I am bracing myself with my front feet. It was such an effort to keep from rolling! Unless I was completely padded with towels I couldn't control myself. It was hard for my mom to watch because she knew I was suffering, but she had seen other head tilt bunnies recover completely and wanted to give me a chance.

The first thing my mom did was take me back to my vet for a complete workup to see if we could find the cause of my head tilt. Usually it's caused by an ear infection, or a parasite called e. cuniculli, and both are treatable (although the treatment can be long and intensive). 

In my case neither of these was the cause, and we don't really know why I have head tilt except that there seems to be nerve damage. My former people used to let me run loose in their back yard, and they said I ate the plants out there. Maybe I ate something that caused damage to my nervous system.  I guess we'll never know.  Steroids helped, but since they are very, very dangerous for rabbits I couldn't stay on them. So my mom and my vet decided to treat me with some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, meclizine (for motion sickness), and physical therapy. 

It was a very big deal when I started grooming myself! I could only do it slowly because I just got very dizzy. And my mom had to syringe water to me, because she couldn't attach a water bottle to the carrier in such a way that I wouldn't hurt myself on it if I rolled.  I also had trouble with hay. Timothy hay is very stemmy, and I could have poked my eyes when I rolled. So my mom found a source of bluegrass hay, which is very soft and wouldn't hurt me. It's also delicious! I loved it and started to put on a little weight. My appetite got much better!

For the first few weeks I was with my mom all the time. She couldn't carry me in her arms because being lifted sent me rolling, so she carefully carried my carrier downstairs in the morning and upstairs at night.

I slept next to the bed, too. Here's my dad saying goodnight to me.

Despite my wobbliness it soon became clear that I was the nose-iest rabbit ever.  I just love being all up in everybody's business! As I got better I spent most of my time with my head on the carrier edge trying to see what everybody was doing. My mom encouraged me, as stretching my neck out and up like this is part of physical therapy.

And that carrier was not going to contain me for long! I was determined to get better.

I had people to help me, too! Besides my vet, one of my mom's friends, my Aunt Heather, was an occupational therapist who gave her lots of advice about how to help me. I got neck massages and other kinds of physical therapy. It helped so much.  

It wasn't long before I was moving up! My foster mom figured out how to attach a water bottle to a small storage container in such a way that I wouldn't hurt myself on it.

It was great to be in a bigger space. Room to stretch out, and I could also have some toys! I soon learned to rearrange my towels to cushion my head.

I love sea grass mats, and my foster mom put them up above my head so I would have to stretch my neck a little to play with them. I still have my toys up like this, it's very good physical therapy.

I also used my water bottle as a toy. I actually ruined about one a month because I loved to jerk them around and chew on them! It was so nice to have water anytime I wanted, and not have to rely on my mom to give me syringes of water!

My mom and dad just loved me and tried to make sure I wasn't bored. My dad taught me how to give kisses!

And my mom took my tub outside when she was gardening, so I could get some fresh air and watch the birds. I love being outside (but ONLY when it's cool out and my mom is with me!)

Pretty soon I was doing so well my mom moved me to a bigger tub. I could really stretch out with this one, and my balance got better and better.  I rolled much less frequently. I actually had two of these tubs, one next to my mom's bed, and the other in her studio. I was doing well enough so she could carry me downstairs in her arms, so it was easier just to have two tubs than carry one up and down. Being able to be held without rolling was a big step forward.

Aunt Heather found me an inflatable collar to help with my physical therapy.  It was actually a type of e collar for dogs and cats who have had surgery, but for me it worked to keep my head from moving to the side, which helped me to keep from rolling. It also kept my head forward, which was important because my x rays showed that one of my neck bones was becoming deformed from having my head to the side so much. 
I really didn't like the collar at first, but wearing it for a few hours a day helped me so much. I still wear it!

My mom took this picture of me relaxing. She just loves my big ol' feet!

 I just kept getting better and better! Part of my physical therapy was being on the bed with my mom, propped with pillows, and getting my massages.  I was more and more stable and I wasn't rolling hardly at all. This picture was taken with my favorite toy. It was actually made for parrots, but my vet said it was bunny-safe.  These straw parrot toys are good for head tilt bunnies because they are soft. If we roll on them, they won't hurt us. They are also so much fun to tear apart!

After a few months of my storage tubs, I moved up again. I actually moved into a cage! Most bunnies would not be at all happy about a cage, but it was huge compared to what I had been in. It was twice as long and about a foot wider than my tubs. The extra space was just what I needed, and during my nightly physical therapy sessions on the bed my mom noticed that I didn't really need to be propped up with pillows any more. 

So much room to move!!

After a few months of my cage, a happy accident occurred. My mom and dad went away on a trip and brought me over to my Aunt Heather's while they were gone. But they forgot to put my cage in the car. My Aunt Heather had the idea to put me in her dog's kiddie pool - minus the water of course! It was the best place ever! It was even bigger than the cage, and it had soft sides so I couldn't hurt myself. Surrounded with a low exercise pen so I couldn't possibly get out, my water bottle and toys could be tied to the sides. It was just awesome! I did so well in this pool that my Aunt Heather let me take it home with me! I think all head tilt bunnies should have kiddie pools!

My straw mats and hay box could still be put up a little higher than my head so I could have some physical therapy while reaching for them.

Streeeeeetchiing is good for me!

And now look at me! A couple of months ago my Aunt Heather surprised my mom and I with this giant kiddie pool she found at Dollar General! Notice there is no padding around the sides - I am so stable now that I don't need my rolls of towels anymore! My friend Miranda donated some awesome non-slip rugs that have helped me keep my footing, too. They've helped me so much.

I do still like to play with my water bottles though. I don't destroy them anymore, but I still shake them a lot. I have two, so despite all my shaking them I never run out of water!

So there it is - the story of how I have recovered from head tilt. I've gone from being a very sick bunny who couldn't stand on her own, to being a happy girl who bounces around her pool with minimal rolling. Although my head is usually at a jaunty angle and I know I look a bit strange, I have a pretty normal life now with just a few adjustments for my condition. I am such a happy bunny, and the only time I am ever in a carrier is when I am visiting my veterinarian! 

So my message to everyone is: Don't give up on head tilt bunnies! It may take awhile for us to recover, but given a chance we can live very happy lives!


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

WOW! Four Adoptions!

We're going to fill you in on the exciting adoptions we've had this month! Yes, dear readers, with the help of some awesome fosterers and adopters, four of our bunnies are in wonderful new homes!

Let's start with little Rita, shall we? This is our most exciting adoption, because Rita had been in foster care for a whopping five years! She came in with a large group of bunnies, mostly babies, and just kept getting passed over for adoption. Poor Rita! Over and over adopters came to the main foster home in search of a bunny, and over and over she was passed by. It wasn't that anything was wrong with her, just that we had so many bunnies in foster care at that time and there were so many bunnies to choose from. And she was bonded with her sister, Shania, and couples are harder to adopt. When Shania passed away from cancer we grew very worried about Rita. She just needed a home!

And now she has one! With dear Christy, who has been a member of our group for years! She is living the high life and finally getting the attention and love she deserves.  Well done, Rita!

Our second adopted bunny is Mascara! He was found as a stray in Hartselle by a very kind family who fostered him for a number of months until we had a foster space available at the main foster house. He was just an awesome little bunny, and when he met our former foster, Sparkle, and her people it was love at first sight! Here they are together! Ain't love grand!!

Our next adopted bunny is Miss Harper. Harper was rescued by a lovely woman who saw her and her mate living in a tiny cage in a back yard in the heat. Poor Harper's mate did not survive heat stroke, but this lovely woman took Harper in and actually boarded her at a rabbit-savvy vet's office until we could take her in. What a bunny hero!

Harper has lots of rabbitude, so it took a few meetings with adopters till she found the perfect people! She went home to a wonderful house where they are just crazy about her. Best of all, she has joined The Couch Rabbit Society!

Next is Rue! This little lady was lucky enough to be fostered by two folks who knew how to spoil a bunny! And now she's been adopted by someone who is definately going to spoil her! We love the sign he put on his laundry room door to remind himself that it wasn't a bunny safe area!

And finally, we have an adoption pending! Little Lola is just waiting for her people to move into their new apartment until she gets to go home. Her potential new momma sent this photo to her new dad - we hear he responded back with a big smiley face! 

So there you have it! What a wonderful month! Can I have another month like this please?!!

Mrs. Kitty Brighton
Education Bunny Extraordinaire

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Art 4 Paws 2016

My dear friend, and our former foster bunny Wolfie, took care of my Education Bunny duties at Art 4 Paws this year! He brought his person, Heather, and our friend Donna came, too. Thank you all so much for giving me a little rest from the Education Table! Not that I don't love it, but once in awhile I just need a little break from my job. And May is always so busy!

As I told you all before Art 4 Paws is a wonderful event that mixes art and pets in a fabulous way. We just love to participate!
Here is Wolfie doing his duty at the table. Did you all know that Wolfie is certified as a therapy bunny? We are very proud of him, as he brightens the lives of nursing home patients here in Huntsville. 

Mrs. Kitty Brighton
HFR Education Bunny

Friday, May 20, 2016

Website Overhaul!

Hello Dahlings!! I have some exciting news! Our wonderful HFR member's Bethanie and Dan are redoing our website! It has needed an overhaul for a long time, and we are just thrilled it's getting attention from people who know how to make it look really special. Among the changes are that we now have an adoption application. This will make it so much easier to contact us about adopting one of our beautiful foster bunnies.

It's just mahvelous! Go take a look!

Here is Dan, hard at work on our Happy Tails pages. Can you believe we have rescued over 150 beautiful bunnies?

Now Dan, make sure you get some wonderful pictures of me on there! I take my role as Education Bunny very seriously!!

Mrs. Brighton