Portia Meets Shadow & Tigger

Portia is homeWe brought Portia home on a trial basis to meet Tigger and Shadow to see if three bunnies would get along better than two. The plan was to keep Tigger and Shadow on the living room floor while putting Portia on the kitchen / dining room floor and allowing her a brief time to settle in. Then we were going to arrange some introductions in a neutral area and see if the rabbits might like each other.

We should have realized that as with everything else with Tigger and Shadow, things would not go as planned. They decided to introduce themselves. Shadow managed to squeeze around the gate we had blocking the stairway from the living room to the kitchen and ran down the stairs with Blaine in hot pursuit. Unfortunately for Shadow, he was both very speedy and very friendly.  He raced right up to the x-pen enclosure we had Portia in and stood there with his face right up to the space in the bars. Knowing Shadow, I am sure he was thinking and saying in rabbit speak, “Hi, I’m Shadow. Who are you?” Portia’s response was to race at him full speed and nip his nose through the x-pen bars.

Blaine caught up with Shadow as he yelped and then dived under the dining room table to hide. That is the point I arrived on the scene to find two very agitated males, one hiding under the table and the other yelling, “She bit my boy! She is out of here!” I went under the table after Shadow and scooped him up to get a good look at the injury. He had a small paper cut like slice on his nose that had a couple tiny beads of blood. Next, we called the vet and found out how to clean it and what to watch out for while it was healing.

Then while Blaine comforted Shadow, I made a call to Portia’s foster family to see about making arrangements to take her back to them. They were heading out-of-town on a week-long vacation and asked if we would keep her for that time.  So I made arrangements to be in touch once they were back.  It was our intention to keep the rabbits separated from each other during that time.

However during that week, Tigger was determined to meet this intruder for herself.  Who knows what Shadow might have conveyed in rabbit speak after his meeting.  She wiggled around the barrier and flew down the stairs, this time with me in hot pursuit. However, Tigger was a very different bunny from Shadow. She was always on guard. So when she saw Portia in her x-pen, Tigger kept her distance.  Instead, she was slinking around the perimeter acting very much like a small tiger on the prowl gauging the enemy.  Before either rabbit could decide to make a move, I caught up to Tigger and chased her under the dining room table. Then I caught her and took her back upstairs.

After that for the remaining time we expected to have Portia, we reinforced our barriers to a double gate system.  We had one gate at the top of the stairs and another at the bottom of the stairs so that if Tigger or Shadow got around one, we could still catch them before they could try to get around the other.  Fortunately for us, Portia had absolutely no interest in trying to escape her area.

So, it looked like everything was set and determined. After the foster family returned from vacation in a week, Portia would be going back and looking again for another furever home. During that week of reprieve, Portia took her fate into her own little paws and started to really reach out to Blaine. Dare I call it sucking up big time? In one week she bonded herself to him in every way she could. In doing so she melted his heart, he forgave her biting Shadow and Portia found herself a permanent home. When the foster family came back to town, I called to tell them that we were making the arrangements to adopt Portia.

It was clear though in just the brief rabbit to rabbit interactions though that we were not looking at any likely three-way bonding anytime in the future.  As we came to know Portia a bit more, it became clear she had trust issues and had probably been treated badly by either humans or other animals. If you approached from her rear unawares, she would whip around and rear up, batting her front paws and trying to bite.  Because of this, we recognized that the decision to keep her meant we would need to keep the rabbits completely separate.

By falling in love with all three rabbits and wanting to give each of them the best home we could, we were now entering a really complicated phase.  Tigger and Shadow would have the living room floor of the house.  However, they were still not speaking to each other since the falling apart of their bond when Shadow became so ill with his lengthy inner ear infections.  So they had side by side cages, but separate run times.  Now we had added Portia in to have the kitchen / dining room floor.  In order to keep rabbit order and well-being, we had to continue to have gates at the top and bottom of the stairs to keep Shadow and Tigger from being able to meet up with Portia.

Next week … living with multiple rabbit encampments …

The Perils of Pretty Portia

Close Up of PortiaPortia was a rescue bunny who first came to our attention early in 2003. I was helping out at a rabbit adoption day at a pet store and met a handsome and friendly Chinchilla rabbit named Bentley. Bentley had been found with two other rabbits shut up in an abandoned car. It was fortunate someone came across them soon to rescue them from certain death due to lack of food and water or exposure to extremes of heat or cold.

The three rabbits had some issues as a group so they were separated for adoption.  They were given the names Bentley, Mercedes and Portia as the three bunnies who were found in a car. In Portia’s case the name sounded like the pronunciation of Porsche even though they gave her the spelling for the human name.

After meeting Bentley and hearing his story, I looked up the other two rabbits online to see what they looked like. Mercedes was a beautiful black female while Portia was a Chinchilla like Bentley, but a smaller female. Over a period of about six months, the look Portia had in her picture kept calling me back to see if she had been adopted. During that time we were having a really unsuccessful time trying to reestablish the bond of Tigger and Shadow that had been broken when Shadow became so ill with his inner ear infection.

Looking back now, I am not sure what I was thinking, but at the time I think I read somewhere that sometimes groups of rabbits bond better than two. Out of feeling desperate to try anything with Tigger and Shadow and wanting to meet Portia, we arranged to visit her foster home. Portia was thought to be a year old and she was super cute. If you have never seen a Chinchilla rabbit in person, the fur is like having a living stuffed rabbit. The fur is incredibly plush and your hand sinks in before you feel the rabbit body. Her face was gorgeous with eyes outlined with a black ring and deep black lashes as if she had put on eyeliner and mascara. Her whole underside was the most beautiful snowy white fur.

We interacted with Portia, petting her and talking with the foster parents about what she was like. They told us a number of people had visited to see her and said she seemed to be responding more to us than others. Then we watched her hopping around the living room. Portia had a very different build than Tigger and Shadow. She had a larger bone structure and felt several pounds heavier. She was solid while they were sleek. Portia had a slower hop around style compared to Tigger and Shadow’s high-speed runs. We thought perhaps watching her that she might be a bit more settled than they were, more mellow. We decided to take her home for a try out to see if she would get along with Tigger and Shadow and perhaps help to mend their broken bond.

Next week … Shadow and then Tigger introduce themselves to Portia … what were we thinking?