Bunny Games with Shadow

Shadow taking as bunny back rider.Shadow loved to play.  He was always looking for ways to have fun.  He would try to get Tigger to play with him. Tigger wasn’t a terribly playful bunny, but was very much like a cat and quite serious. She had to be in the mood to play.  So when Shadow wanted to play games, he usually came looking for us.

Shadow would hop underneath us when we were down on the floor on our hands and knees and run back and forth underneath us, head butting our stomachs or hopping up on to our backs for a bunny back ride.  I usually had on really oversized V Neck T-shirts.  One time I was down on all fours talking to Tigger when I felt a tug on my shirt.  I thought Shadow was pulling on it.  I glanced down and got a real surprise, because he had hopped up inside my shirt and was now peeking out through the V Neck looking at me nose to nose.  That is when I discovered if you wear oversized clothing around rabbits, they just might surprise you and join you in wearing the same outfit at the same time!

If we sat on the sofa to read a book or magazine or look at a catalog, we could count on having Shadow hop up and want us to surrender the paper goods.  We started to play a game with pulling out the advertising cards from magazines.  We would hold some of those in our hand peeking out from the side of whatever we were reading.  Shadow would hop up and “steal” the card and take off with it.  Then he would come back for another and another.  We would run out of the cards and have to go gather them up again so that we could keep reading and he could keep playing the game.

Shadow waiting for a bunny bus ride.We had a special cardboard box with multiple holes.  Shadow and to a lesser degree Tigger liked to have us give them bunny bus rides. Shadow would hop in the box and wait for us to pick it up and carry him to another location in the room.  Sometimes a bunny bus ride was the only way to get him to go to bed.  He would hop into the box and we would carry it over to his cage and put it down with the hole he was facing right up against the doorway to his cage and he would hop in for the night.  That is unless he was still feeling playful and then it might take a couple of bus rides before he was ready to call it a night.

In the evening, Shadow loved to hop onto the sofa and would pull and dig at me before settling down for snuggles and petting instead.  Sometimes if  I was laying down or semi reclining on the sofa, I would suddenly have a bunny on my hip looking at me eye to eye.  If I happened to be eating something he wanted, he would be hopping up and down on my lap and patting me all over the face, arms and shoulders trying to get a treat.  If it was banana, well then I would have a rabbit actually sticking his little nose right up to my lips as if he was going to go in after that banana he could smell on my breath.  It was like having a pat down with a breath check by the bunny police officer appropriately all dressed in black.

Coming next week, Shadow’s favorite toys …

Shadow aka …

Shadow getting in to his food.We had a number of nicknames we called Shadow based on his name: Shad, Shadster, Sweet Shadow. His name came from his uncanny ability to hide in plain sight by finding and hanging out in spots where he completely blended in.  He demonstrated throughout his life that he understood the power of camouflage.  One of the most memorable times was shortly after we moved in to our house.  The previous owners had left a black 8 x 10 foot rug in the dining room. The ceiling light was on a dimmer switch that we would have on a low setting when we weren’t using the room.  One evening, I walked in to the dining room when suddenly the carpet in front of me moved.  Shadow had flopped on the black rug and literally disappeared, but had the good sense to move before I accidentally stepped on him.  We switched out the rug soon after for the rust colored jute rug shown in the picture.

For the first year while we were still in an apartment, Shadow  occasionally earned the name Thumper.  He would seemingly without explanation go diving for cover and start thumping a blue streak.  It took awhile to figure out what was setting off the reaction.  He really didn’t like the sound of planes or helicopters.  Once we moved to the house, we were in a much more rural setting and those sounds were rare.

Shadow was Blaine’s shadow bunny and would often follow Blaine around or seek him out when Shadow wanted to play chase.  So Shadow earned the nicknames: Little Man, Little Buddy, Bubba, Spiff, and Junior. One time, I walked in to the dining room and Blaine was bending to look underneath the table and calling Shadow.  Meanwhile Shadow was right beside Blaine sitting up on his hind legs also looking underneath the table in the same direction Blaine was looking.  It was almost as if Shadow was saying, “What are we looking for Dad?”

I wrote in another post about Shadow the Bunny Goat.  I did forget in that post about the bunny goat mystery of how we would keep finding Shadow on top of the dining room table.  It was too high for him to jump up straight up to the table top.  The rabbits could jump up on the chair seats, but we kept the chairs pushed in, so we weren’t sure how he was managing to make it to the table top.  Then Blaine caught him in action using a chair not pushed in quite enough.  It allowed just a few inches of room for Shadow to leap from the chair seat up to the tabletop.  We had to make extra sure the chairs were really pushed in all the way after that.  There were still times though when the rabbits would leap up on the chairs and we would have to chase them around the table as they leapt from chair seat to chair seat attempting to stay out longer at night.  Or they would hop up and down off the seats alternating with running on the floor underneath all the chair and table legs.  It would be the most awkward chase on our part bobbing up and down trying to see which way they were going to try to catch them.

We called him Goose for an obvious reason.  Like a little dog, he loved to sneak up on other creatures and stick his little nose in places it didn’t belong and that weren’t appreciated.  We also called him Digger for the obvious habit of digging out everything he could.  He had an awesome ability to completely dig out litter boxes and spread the litter out over four feet from the box.  We had to get covered litter boxes to try to keep the mess minimized to what he could excavate out the door.

Shadow chewed everything he could sink his little teeth into earning him the names Nibbler, Bunny Jaws and Hoover for his habit of zooming up food or treats we put down. He would pull up carpet strand by strand and put holes in pillows and upholstery to pull the stuffing out.  We had to keep close watch on him when he roamed to try to keep him from eating all the bad things he insisted on chewing.  We tried the spray on chew deterrents we found recommended.  Shadow treated them like appetizers, so we gave up on anything stopping him.

Since he was a sleek very athletic male rabbit, we also called him Mr. Rabbit and Rabbit Man.  Late in life, we switched vets and our little rabbit man got a new nickname courtesy of his new vet tech.  She called him Sexy because of his sleek athletic build and shiny black velvet fur with touches of silver on his nose that she said gave him a very distinguished look.  All that glorious black fur and you didn’t see any other color until he yawned and showed his cute pink mouth and tongue.

He was our Executive Rabbit.  I would be working in the office and would hear him landing in the other office chair and would turn around to barely see a solid black rabbit sitting in a black leather executive chair.  We had a bin on the office floor with a phone book and Shadow took doing his paperwork seriously, coming up to the office and hopping in to go to work as the rabbit paper shredder.

We also called him Lurker.  He loved to lurk at corners just barely peaking around the edge of walls or furniture. Sometimes all we would see was an Alfred Hitchcock style bunny shadow on the wall behind him to let us know he was there.

Lastly, we often joked that either bunny probably thought their middle name was either no or bad bunny.  We found ourselves so often saying, “Tigger / Shadow, NO!  or Tigger / Shadow, bad bunny!”  Sometimes it was a combined, “Tigger, Shadow, NO! or Tigger, Shadow, bad bunnies!”

Coming Friday, Shadow’s bunny games …

Bunny Jaws

I apologize for the delay on bunny jaws. We had a major distraction begin last week. I will be posting on that in the future.

Bunny Jaws Cartoon

The  Story of Bunny Jaws

It was one of those warm sunny afternoons in the living room. It was so quiet and peaceful with zenlike tranquility. Our princess bunny rabbit Tigger had her legs tucked underneath in her bunny hen sleeping position. I didn’t see Shadow, but like his name, he very often would hang out blending in with the shadows.

With the sun shining in through the windows, the room had that comfortable warmth and I was getting sleepy. I had been reading a magazine on the sofa and decided to enjoy a brief nap. I didn’t hear or feel anything, but after a bit I sensed something. I opened my eyes and saw the actions in the cartoon unfold before my eyes. It was an incredible scene from Jaws enacted by a furry pretender. The black snout rose up slowly and silently over the edge of the sofa. The jaws opened up showing all those sharp little teeth. Then with breathtaking speed, the jaws snapped closed on the spine of the magazine and dragged it over the edge and down, racing away with the prey.

I never saw Shadow’s eyes or ears, just his mouth. He must have scoped out his raid from a distance, because he knew exactly where the magazine was and grabbed it and took off with it without needing to check its location. I was stunned and not sure at first that I wasn’t dreaming. Seeing him with the magazine, I realized it was real. Right away, I wanted to write the story down and do some thumbnail sketches. Talk about inspiration being right under your nose. As I was writing and sketching on a pad of paper, bunny jaws came back. Shadow hopped up beside me and gnawed on the side of the pad of paper trying to take it away from me the entire time I was working on capturing the moment.

Beware Bunny Jaws! When they are loose, nothing is safe! Nothing is sacred!

Coming Wednesday, Shadow’s many nicknames …

Shadow the Bunny Goat

Shadow perched on high

Shadow loved to head for the heights

Shadow introducing himself to some stuffed rabbits

No matter how high we put things, Shadow would go for them. Here he is actually standing on the top of a covered litter box.

Shadow looking to serve himself something to chew

Shadow looking to serve himself something to chew. Fortunately the white you see at the bottom of the round tunnel is Blaine's foot holding it from rolling away with Shadow

Shadow was like a goat for two reasons.  Like a mountain goat, he liked to bounce around up, down and around everything.  Nothing was much of a barrier to him.  He was incredibly sure-footed and very athletic. He loved the heights.

There were times he would begin the Bunny 500 around the living room without ever touching the floor.  Shadow would hop up on the sofa, run the length and make the leap three feet over to the top of the cages and then run across the loveseat which was beside the cages.  Then he would hit the floor and sometimes fly up and down the stairs and then do the highland trek across the furniture again.

Like a goat, Shadow seemed to feel everything he sunk his teeth into was consumable.  There simply wasn’t anything he didn’t try to chew up and eat. For years to come there will most likely be things we will come across that will have teeth marks and the percentages say that it will be Shadow’s work.

Over the years, I read a lot of articles about whether rabbits should be caged or completely free range.  All I can say is with a rabbit like Shadow, the only way to keep him safe was to have him in a fully enclosed cage when we were not there to supervise him.  Even with us there, over the years, he learned a very sneaky almost silent chewing.  We had to be very alert when Shadow was out to where he was and what he was doing.  We kept scolding him, telling him he was going to really mess up his tummy.  Honestly, with everything he chewed, I don’t know how he managed to stay as healthy as he was.  It truly seemed he must have a stomach like a goats.

We also had to discourage his tendency to want to switch things up from mountain goat.  Sometimes we would find Shadow on the very top of the sofa walking along the back.  Once before we could get to him, he leaped off and spread his legs out just like a flying squirrel.  Not being equipped with the weblike wings like a flying squirrel, he of course dropped like a rock four feet down to the floor.  It knocked the breath out of him, but not the desire to try it again.  We had to be really vigilant to grab him the minute he would make a leap for the sofa back.

Shadow had greater strength and athletic ability compared to Tigger.  He was a bit bigger when full grown which could have made the difference.  Being a different breed could have played a part too.  He also got a big head start.  Tigger had to learn what she could do on her own.  During the first two months we had Shadow, while they had separate run and play times until being fixed, Shadow was able to see everything Tigger had learned to do.  It really jumpstarted him and he was doing the sames things at a much earlier age than Tigger.  It was clear Shadow learned quickly and easily by following her example and then he surpassed her abilities.  The one advantage Tigger had over Shadow was speed.  She was much lighter and faster while running.  When Shadow tried to speed up while running, he wouldn’t take the turns as quickly and smoothly as Tigger and would sometimes clip the walls.

In later years, we had to rearrange furniture to keep Shadow from making the bunny goat leap from the sofa to the cages.  The spirit was still very willing and wanting, but he started to not quite make it well enough for maintaining his safety.

Coming tomorrow, bunny jaws …


Shadow the Puppy Bunny

Shadow on the bed checking things out.
 Shadow just has to get in to this corner
Shadow boxes himself in

Shadow was a very happy bouncy puppy bunny, always ready to have fun. He would steal your heart with his wonderful playfulness and sweet nature.  He was always ready to hop up and introduce himself.  Like a dog, he considered everyone to be his friend.  He had that same doggie way of tipping his head to the side as if he was asking a question.  It was just so much fun to watch him checking everything out.  While Tigger was quite a serious rabbit, Shadow was all lightness and play.

He just loved to run around like crazy and play with things.  Unlike most rabbits, Shadow liked to be chased.  He would run up to you and then take off again looking back to get you to chase him.  Shadow would just love it when Blaine would instigate the chase by pretending to charge at him.

Shadow loved to be petted, especially his head.  If either of us started to pet Tigger and Shadow was nowhere in sight, within just a minute or two, he would be charging up and flopping down.  If you weren’t petting his head, you would get the little head butt on your palm as a reminder to pet his head.  He would also burrow under your hand to position his head just right for petting.

The little boy was decidedly a beggar too.  He would get up on his hind legs and do the begging dance to get his bunny biscuits.  Once he realized that the top of the cages was the closest to where the biscuits were kept, he would leap up there and dance around.  He got so crazy one time he hopped himself off the side of the cage while he was up on two legs begging.  After that, we would position ourselves right at the side of the cage so he couldn’t hop off in his excitement.  Instead, we would have a bunny batting his front paws against us if we took too long getting those bunny treats out of the container.

Also like a dog, he loved to dig.  We had uncovered litter boxes until Shadow came along.  Then Shadow showed us he saw the litter boxes as multi purpose.  He would use them quite nicely to do his business and then he would dig them all out.  His skills at excavation were quite remarkable.  He could empty a whole litter box of pellets and have it spread out over a six-foot area.  We had to invest in a number of litter boxes with tops which both rabbits actually loved since the tops provided another hang out spot for them.  We had to get more small throw rugs so that the plastic tops weren’t quite so slippery.  We used Acco binder clips to fold and shape the corners of the rugs to be a close fit  to the tops.

We read at one point that use a spray bottle filled with water and squirting a misbehaving bunny could deter bad behavior.  Tigger did not like being squirted with water and would stop, but we gave up on using that to deter Shadow.  We could give him several squirts and he would just shake himself off like a little dog and keep on going with whatever he was doing which was usually chewing something.

Coming Wednesday, Shadow the bunny goat …


Shadow Meets the Vet

Shadow checking things outWe had a little bit of time to get to know Shadow before we went in to the vet for a once over check up.  We weren’t expecting any surprises.  We believed we had a boy / girl pairing and were keeping the two rabbits apart until they could be fixed.  Granted, Shadow was quite a tiny bunny, so we weren’t basing our feeling that we had a boy on anything we saw.  Rather, we thought Shadow was a boy due to basic bunny functions.  Shadow was still in the process of learning to use a litter box.  While learning, if Shadow was sitting by a wall and the urge hit, the little squirt would spray the wall behind, not the floor underneath. Also, Shadow just seemed so very boyish in actions and play which was a real contrast to the dainty femininity that Tigger displayed.  They seemed to be opposites.

So on visiting the vet, we were quite surprised when the vet told us we had another girl.  We strongly questioned that opinion based on the spraying activity we had seen and Shadow was taken out of the room for an exam by another vet.  The second opinion was the same that we had another girl.  We were told we should go ahead and schedule both spays for the end of August.

We did set up the appointments, but didn’t say much until we hit the car when Blaine exclaimed he knew a male spray when he saw one.  I agreed and said I didn’t think the vets had this one right and we would proceed as we had been assuming that we had a boy / girl pair.  It did make for a weird couple of months wondering about Shadow’s he /she status.  Although we really felt we had a boy, just in case we were wrong, we weren’t quite sure whether to refer to him / her or say he / she.  Mostly, we just stuck to saying Shadow and trying not to wrap our brains around the confusion.

Jumping ahead instead of leaving you hanging for the rest of the story, a couple of weeks before the date of the spays, I noticed the fur starting to change color in two oval shapes on Shadow’s underside.  The placement looked just exactly right for what I remembered from our family bunny Thumper’s male rabbit anatomy.  I told Blaine that I thought that Shadow had a surprise planned for the vet and was dropping down testicles.  I remembered that had occurred with Thumper too between about three and four months of age.

When it came the day of the “spays”, we had intended to tell the vet right away that we thought Shadow had a surprise for him.  However, as I wrote before, Tigger injured her teeth the morning of the surgeries and when we arrived at the vet, we were talking about the need to examine Tigger’s injury and forgot to mention Shadow’s new revelation.  We got a call shortly after we left.  It was the vet telling us that he couldn’t spay Shadow, he was going to have to neuter him.  He told us Shadow was going to be a bit more peeved than the usual male rabbit after the surgery since the vet tech had done a belly shave before the vet had done his exam and realized the tummy shave wasn’t going to be needed.  Fortunately for us, Shadow was a very good boy, a real little gentleman, and his early vet visits and surgery were no problem at all.

Coming next week, meet Shadow the puppy bunny …


First Meeting with Shadow

Baby ShadowEleven years ago on July 4th, we met Shadow for the first time.  Tigger was about four months old.  We had just boarded her for a weekend a couple of weeks earlier.  She had been so lonely, it had made us realize we needed to find her a bunny buddy.  We hadn’t had any opportunity to make plans for that or explore our options.  On the 4th, we were just back at the mall pet store to pick up some supplies for Tigger.

As we came in, we saw that there was a new batch of baby bunnies, more than a dozen in a front window enclosure.  I went back to the aisles to get what we needed for Tigger while Blaine stopped to pet some little bunny heads.  He reached his hand in to pet those closest to where he was standing.  Four feet across the enclosure the tiniest of the babies, an all black bunny, saw Blaine’s hand and came running at top speed over to Blaine.  The bunny rabbit sat up on hind legs and started nibbling at the hairs on Blaine’s hand.

I was told about the racing over introduction, I didn’t actually see it.  What I did see as I walked back to the front of the store with things for Tigger was Blaine holding a really cute and very tiny black baby bunny in his hands.  Looking at the two of them, even without hearing the story, I knew they had chosen each other just as Tigger and I had chosen each other two months before.  It was clear we were going home with more than just food and supplies for Tigger.  I hoped things would work out all right with them liking each other, but that was a problem for the future.  Right now I was looking at one of the cutest baby bunnies I had ever seen.  The rabbit was a ball of fluffy black fur all over.  It looked like Blaine was holding a Tribble (old Star Trek reference) with big ears.

For the moment, we needed to make arrangements for our new little friend.  We made sure we were bringing home enough supplies for two bunnies.  The pet shop didn’t have a cage for a rabbit, so we were going to have to take our new friend home and then find one somewhere else.  We knew enough to know that the two rabbits would need to be separate until we were sure what sex they both were and then likely until after being fixed if we had a boy / girl pair.  We also needed to find out more about safely introducing rabbits to each other.  Since Tigger was about four months old, she was nearing her full size while our new bunny was just a two month old baby.  Tigger at four pounds was currently twice the size of the new bunny.

Shadow nappingI was a bit concerned bringing our new bunny rabbit home without a cage.  Everything I had read had indicated it was a good idea to let rabbits settle in to their cage and feel safe and then allow them to explore their new surroundings as they felt comfortable.  Tigger had followed that pattern and had hung back in her cage the first few days before she really took off making every space she explored her own.

My fears of the new bunny feeling insecure or afraid were unfounded.  After we got home, I let our new friend explore the new surroundings while Blaine headed out to find a cage.  While Blaine was gone, our new little friend showed no sense of needing any place to hideout.  The bunny hopped all over the room, excitedly checking everything out and then hopped up on a pile of papers we had on a shelf of a rolling file cart and took a nap.  After the nap, our new little buddy continued on with the explorations.  Our new friend had so much energy and interest in everything!

Blaine returned with a cage which we set up next to Tigger’s so that they could get used to seeing and being close to each other.  We hadn’t decided on a name yet for our new friend.  We were talking about Ebony or Ebunny.  The next day, while letting our new friend run around, I kept losing him / her (who knew at that point?).  That is when I realized for the first time that we had brought home a rabbit who understood the concept of camouflage.  Our new bunny friend would find the darkest corner in the room or the darkest piece of furniture and would sit absolutely still blending in so well that it was a case of now you see the rabbit and now you don’t.

When Blaine returned home from work, I told him I thought we should call our new friend Shadow because of the bunny’s uncanny ability to find and blend into the shadows.  Shadow came to be such an appropriate name, first for the ability to hide in plain sight and then later being overshadowed by Tigger at times, but also playing her willing shadow and accomplice at others.

Coming on Friday, Shadow visits the vet for the first time …