Friday, March 30, 2012

A year with a house bunny...

Hard to believe, but Nessie Rae has been living here since February of 2011. On the other hand it sort of seems like she has been here always. For those of you that live with rabbits, you know how it is...if you don't live with really isn't describable. She is her own being with her unique set of needs, wants, fears, joys, perceptions and abilities. We are still learning about her and will continue to do so.

Nessie sleeping hard.

The previous photo was taken two months or so after she arrived, her trust level had reached a security rating that allowed her to sprawl out in the living room and visit dreamland with all her might.

Bobby Ray and Nessie practice their sleeping skills.

Above she is engaging in a sleep 'duet' with Bobby Ray. She has been partial to him since arriving but he remains rather cautious around her. Some of his caution, I think, occurs because of her habit of moving toward him very quickly. Fast movement bothers him and cat body language and rabbit body language are different enough that he generally is rather tentative around her.

This final photo below was taken during the only snow we had this year, it fell in February and was not very heavy. Nessie moseyed out, made a small circle to investigate and decided that was enough for her and came back in the house. Being an arctic bunny is not to her taste.

She came, she saw snow, she went back inside.

I don't have any grand insights from living with her this past year. The most significant thing I have noticed is that a rabbit is, compared to a cat or a dog, a quiet being. If a rabbit makes a loud noise they are either terrified or they are furious. Nessie doesn't cry out if she is hungry...she might nudge you with her nose or sit and stare at you but being quiet is her usual way of being. Not that a bunny doesn't make different sounds, it is just that they are subtle compared to the sounds of a cat or dog. You have to pay attention to hear the happy honking she does when she plays chase. You have to listen carefully to hear the humm/grunt she does when she is interested in don't have to worry about hearing her growling if she is hacked worry about missing that.

This general quietness means that a human has to focus and concentrate and attend to her in a persistent and consistent manner to enter into much of her least that is how Nessie operates. Different rabbits, like different dogs or different cats or different humans, have different styles. Some are boisterous and wild, some are quiet and calm. Nessie tends toward the calm and quiet...but....she has a major temper and doesn't flinch at letting you know when she is displeased. Having a bunny give you the squinty stink-eye is sort of intimidating, having a bunny rip out with a full loud growl when lunging toward you is startling and scary. Nope, she is not a shrinking violet...just a fairly quiet one. And we are honored (pretty much) that this quiet one graces us with her presence. :-)

Rabbits have, partially due to their quietness, come to occupy a curious position in the hodgepodge repository that passes for our collective minds. Many, if not most, people think they know something about rabbits and about caring for rabbits and about rabbit personalities. They might know they hop, they might know they have long ears and they might know they are pleasing to the eye and that they eat plants...but that's about it for most of us. I'm including myself in this collective indictment here. We're, most of us, guilty of that dangerous practice of having a tiny bit of knowledge (e.g. bunnies hop) and confusing that with "knowing about". Few things have been more damaging to rabbits and their position as "pets" than this superficial knowledge being confused for adequate understanding.

This is not the place for a "Rabbits for Dummies" screed, if you want to begin your own education about these beings you might start here. An extended attempt to interpret the lagomorph language can be seen at RabbitSpeak.

You will be way ahead of most of us if you'll simply be aware of the truth that just as soon as you think you "know" about rabbits...then you've exposed your ignorance. Rabbits, like all other sentient beings, are beautiful, smart, complex and worthy of respect and knowing. And knowing one bunny only means you know that bunny...each bunny each human an individual and is unique. But knowing takes time, interest, effort and the slow discovery that the quest for comprehension and understanding is probably unending.

Additional writings along with photos of Nessie can be found here, here, here and here.

Do remember, honoring all living beings (including rabbits) means living as an ethical vegan.


Anonymous said...

Lagomorph???!!! I learn something new everytime I visit this site.

P.S. life looks really rough around there :)

Christina said...

I remember Nester so well from my first visits to Heartland. She was shy and retiring. I will not go into my feelings on the person that returned her to us after a year without a backwards glance. They dont exist in my reality.

Seeing a shy bunny begin to thrive is a joy I cant describe. Nester feels safe and happy and confident in her role in your home. I wish all bunnies could feel that same sense of safety and love.

You are so right about the folks that think they know about rabbits. They are the same folks that kept Pippin in a hutch in the yard for 8 years.

Congrats to you all on your 1 year bunnyversary. I hope there are many more years of joy to come! See if you can slip a kiss in on Nessie for me.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting DEM. Yup, lagomorphs...there are only 3 species of this type on our planet...rabbits, hares and pikas.

As for life being rough around here...I will give Nessie her due...she shares that cat-like quality of being able to lout with the best of them. :-)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christina. Thank you for the congrats...I too hope Nessie Rae has many many more years of getting to live how she wants (as close to that as we can make it anyway). She is a treat...

Kiss her? Naw, I use my lips too much to risk that. :-)

I'll give her a good shoulder and neck rub...she usually rewards me with lots of teeth purring for that.

Molly said...

I love the picture of Nessie and Bobby Ray sleeping by each other. So precious! <3

Have Gone Vegan said...

Aw, how sweet! Could have sworn that was a kitty cat in the first pic at first glance, but it appears safe to say that they're both sleep experts. ;)

Bea Elliott said...

As the case with most subjects - A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It can't possibly be more evident in what we think we "know" about the needs or wants of other beings... Especially more stoic ones - like bunnies appear to be.

But for all the desires and necessities a rabbit could have - I can see that Nessie is in very good hands. Lovingly so. (All smiles!)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Molly, HGV and Bea.

Molly: glad you liked the pic, it is a pleasure to have all of them around.

HGV: Indeed, napology has a number of certified experts around her (I'm a fair apprentice). :-)

Bea: The older I get the more I know the less I know. :-)

Annie said...

Admittedly, I've never really thought about how a rabbit sleeps - - but it's very interesting to see Nessie kind of sprawled out, well, like a cat! What an amazing companion.

Pamela Beers. said...

I still can't get over the fact that bunnies and cats can get along peacefully.

Vegan Rabbit said...

I feel like I got to know your Nessie a little more after reading that. It's very true, rabbits are unique individuals, like all sentient beings. I currently live with three rabbits, each one very different from the others. Shfanfi is my only boy, he is the oldest, and (from my understanding) seems to regard me as his bunny-wife. Yoshi is the youngest and smallest bunny, a lionhead, she's a little shy but once she gets used to you petting her she mellows out a little. Pizza is a lionhead as well and is the mother of Yoshi (the girls have no known relation to Shfanfi, and they don't much care for his company), she's very skittish and fearful and often wimpers and hisses and even lunges and begins to attack, but no follow-through (thankfully). I don't know what her life was like before I rescued her, but my guess is that it was quite rough. I have a feeling that Shfanfi and Nessie would get along famously. They both love sleeping and sprawling out on carpet. I could imagine them going about their bunny-days together planning their next nap while munching timothy hay.

Rabbits are my favorite animals, which is one of the reasons I named my blog vegan rabbit! Thank you for this post. It brightened up my day.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Annie. She can do some serious sleeping...she and the cats are well skilled in the somnolent arts.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Pamela. The cats were really leery of Nessie at first but all are now pretty much live and let live (which is a pretty good way to operate).

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Vegan Rabbit. As your comment indicates, each bunny is quite unique and coming to know one doesn't give you much info about the next bunny you meet. They are complex and fascinating beings indeed.