Shades of Shadow

Leo and baby gateWhat is it with boy bunnies and labels? I will never forget the ripping noise I heard one time in the office and turned to see Shadow pulling off the adhesive labels I had on a set of storage drawers.  I had to run to wrestle the labels away from him before he tried to consume the plastic with its adhesive backing.

So recently I hear Leo chewing at the baby gate and turn around to find him sitting up on his hind legs chewing at a spot on the side of the gate about a foot off the floor. I’m thinking, “Okay what is so interesting a foot off the floor as opposed to the part by the floor?”  I went to look and there was an adhesive warning label stuck to the side of the gate.  I hadn’t really noticed it because except for the text, the label was colored similarly to the gate. It didn’t really stand out to me. However, like Shadow before him, Leo had noticed the label and was trying to pull it off.  Fortunately for me, the label on the baby gate was not so easy to pull off as the label tape I had used on the files that Shadow had gone after.

Unfortunately it turned out there were other hidden to human eyes labels in the office.  I didn’t realize there were still labels stuck on the undersides of chairs, but Leo did. There were more ripping sessions and I had to take those away from him and spend some time on the floor staring up at the undersides of things to see what else he just might see that would be in reach of his little bunny teeth.

I am going to have to think if there is something safe I can give Leo or do for him that will be similar to finding things in unexpected places  for him to “steal”.


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 …

Bunny Boy Blue Artwork

Altered Photo Artwork Piece with Shadow as Bunny Boy Blue

The photo for this altered art piece was captured in such low lighting that viewed as the original photo it is quite grainy in texture. I took the image even though the camera warned me it wouldn’t result in a high quality photograph.  I could see that the camera even in such low lighting was capturing the very sweet expression that so clearly showed Shadow’s big-hearted personality. You just never know when or if you will get another chance to catch expressions with animals. So I took the shot and as I had hoped, it was just lovely as the basis for an altered art piece.

Shadow Had a Rabbittude Trainer


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Tigger provided baby Shadow with a huge learning advantage.  Until both bunnies could be fixed, we kept them in separate side by side cages with separate run times for them.  Tigger was two months ahead of Shadow in learning what she could … Continue reading

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 …