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Meet the Animals
Meet the animals that are used in the tests, and learn how multidimensional these small animals are. We often dismiss small animals, possibly simply because they are small. But anyone who has lived with them knows how intelligent, loving, and emotionally complex they are. Here are some of their stories.
Meet Tracie's friend, Mango. Tracie had a burn accident that left her with 2nd degree burns on her arms, legs, chest, and neck. Her recovery was painful physically and emotionally. Confined indoors during the day, because her skin could not be exposed to sun, she found herself dwelling on the pain and suffering the injury had caused her and her family. One day she got a call from the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast shelter that they had a injured pregnant rabbit. Read how Mango and Tracie helped each other recover.
Meet Rhys' companion, Dexter. For two months, shelter vet-tech Rhys treated a little, sick, surrendered rat, Dexter. Dexter's affection for Rhys won her heart, and Dexter a new home. Read how Rhys and Dexter became family.
Meet Baxter, Terri's best buddy and the model for the Bunny Army logo! Terri, a volunteer for House Rabbit Network in Massachusetts, fostered Baxter and his eight newborn siblings until they found homes, but Baxter knew his home was there. Read how Baxter found his way back to his adored Terri.
Meet Willow and Fred, Maysoon's companions! In rescuing Willow and Fred, Maysoon found their emotional scars were deep, but given time and love, they opened their hearts to Maysoon. Read Willow and Fred's story.
When people consider fostering they usually think about what they are giving to the animals, but it is actually a two way street. The animals give back and sometimes we don't realize how much they give back until after they are gone from our lives.
I had the incredible opportunity to foster a pregnant stray rabbit while recuperating from an accident. At the time, I was fighting health issues as well as some severe depression. Having a momma rabbit that needed my support, care, and love took the focus off of me and put it on her.
I spent days getting to know her and earning her trust. When she had her babies the joy of watching them grow was a gift that lifted my depression and gave me purpose.
I kept a journal and took daily photographs to post on Facebook. Many of my friends thanked me for sharing the adventure and the gift of life. I ended up adopting Momma in the end because my bond with her was so strong. I helped her when she needed me and she helped pull me out of my depression when I needed her.
I never doubted the healing power of animals, but since this experience I understand how strong that power is, even from something as small as a frightened, pregnant rabbit and her newborns. They leave footprints on our hearts and are never forgotten.
I had been working at our local Humane Society for 8 years but managed to foster only a few times. Adopting pets is a real job hazard in shelter work! Thankfully my dog, Lexi, was pretty dominant so she kept me in check. We would get in our share of bunnies and the occasional hamster but one day we got in an owner-surrendered rat with skin issues. The prior owner had bought him from a pet store and couldn't afford his veterinary care but was afraid he would be snake food if returned.
It turned out that Dexter (named after the cartoon, Dexter's Laboratory) had ringworm. In many shelters ringworm is a death sentence but we had a vet on staff that was willing to treat this little guy. I was the vet tech so it became my job to do his twice weekly lime-sulfur dips for 2 months. We bonded over the aroma of rotten eggs. He had to be quarantined so I was his only real daily contact. He would get so excited every time he would see me and would run and scale the bars of his tiny home whenever I walked in the room. I was sold on his adorable personality. When the dips were finally done I signed on the dotted line and took him home.
Dexter really was much like a dog in personality. He was curious and adventurous. Outgoing and affectionate. He always wanted to be right with you. I would be on my computer...mouse on one side, rat on the other. He got along great with our dogs and cats and would run around the house and come when called. When he was tired, he would climb back into his 4 story condo and tuck himself back into bed.
Eventually we adopted another rat (a hairless), named Rufus from another shelter an hour away to be his companion.
Baxter is the absolute joy of my life. His mom was part of a horrific outdoor hoarding situation and he (along with eight siblings!) was born at our home four days after the rescue. There is no doubt in my mind, if House Rabbit Network (HRN) had not intervened, his chances of survival were 0 given the conditions mom was living in.
When the time came for him to be adopted, it was very hard to let him go, even though his adopter was absolutely perfect. She even adopted another of HRN's buns at the same time because she wanted to provide a home to two buns that had a lower chance of being adopted (pink-eyed whites).
A week later she called, concerned he was literally pining away. Though he had free run of the home, he would hide in the closet, refusing all treats/greens and just pecked at his food. No binkies. No running or playing, which she thought was very odd as his personality had been very different at my home.
Then that sweet woman asked if we'd take him back as she felt it was me he wanted. Aaron (in photo with Baxter) drove 2 hours to get him. At home, when Aar set the carrier down, Baxter pushed it open and raced toward the bedroom where I was, launched himself onto the bed and ran to my face, rubbing his against mine. He then gave a huge sigh and flopped on his side, pressing himself as close to me as he could get. Why that darling rabbit refused such a perfect adopter to choose me, I'll never know, but I'm so grateful!!
He's a very particular bunny, he likes things in their place, unless he's the one who re-arranges them of course. He is so full of love. He's had a very hard time accepting that I'm back to work full time now. I was presented with his bunny butt for 3 weeks straight when I first started back. This past week, he's now back to greeting me upon my return!
I'll scoop him up and bring him up on my bed where he will scamper right up next to me, and place his head on my arm. He'll sit with me for hours. Always the gentleman, he will gently scratch the blanket indicating he needs to be put on the floor, race to his litterbox, then return for more loves.
He loves to play with a set of measuring spoons and can hear a cracker package opening from 50 yards away! Although we've tried finding him a mate, after a playdate, Baxter prefers his friends go to their own pen rather than mess his up!
Thank you for listening to me ramble on about how truly wonderful he is. He is a beautiful bunny, with such a loving spirit. I feel blessed that he chose me as his person.
Note from Jean, Bunny Army editor: We are so grateful to Baxter for posing for the logo! We saw his photo when he was up for adoption and fell in love with him, too. We contacted House Rabbit Network then. Baxter's adoption photo became the model for the logo bunny.
Willow and Fred were four years old when I adopted them from the House Rabbit Network. They had a hard start in life. Bought from a pet shop as babies, they were passed around until they ended up in a barn where Willow lost her paw in a traumatic accident.
They were both so nervous when I brought them home. I hoped that they would feel at home within a few weeks but it took much longer for them to feel safe. I had to give them the time and space they needed. Fred eased up first, becoming curious about his surroundings, then allowing some brief, gentle pets. But Willow remained in the corner, terrified and trembling. It was heartbreaking to see how scared she was.
They have been in my life for two and a half years now. Fred has become quite the snuggler, hopping up to me and demanding pets, nudging my hand with his nose if I get distracted. Willow is more relaxed. She will lie down close to me, but prefers not to be touched, a boundary that I respect.
They both adore and are devoted to each other, smooshing their faces together as they relax. In the afternoons, they take their nap under my bed, emerging at dusk for playtime. Ripping up cardboard is a favorite pastime so I make sure that they have plenty of boxes to deconstruct. I recently bought a plush rug for them which they react to like catnip. My lovely 3-legged Willow goes into a frenzy of jumps and air twists. Fred likes to sprawl out and roll his body over its soft surface. It is such fun for me to watch!
Rabbits have such varied and distinct personalities. It is fascinating to get to know them as individuals. I've been lucky enough to have rabbit companions for the past 15 years - each one precious, unique, and unforgettable.
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