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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Winslet and Isidore\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
Last Post by wendyzski at 9/16/2012 7:59 AM (18 Replies)
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User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/06/2012 4:12 PM
I adopted Winslet, a 6.5 lb all-black Satin, in late December.  She has been free-range in most of my condo apart from the bedroom (because she is a pillow-nibbler).  I was out of work for an extended period of time, but went back to work in early June.  I could tell that she was lonely when I was away all day - she was all MOMMOMMOMMOMMOM!!! when I come home, and all over wanting snuggles at breakfast all of a sudden.

Now I know rabbits usually do best in pairs, but I had Pepper the BunnyBitch (who attacked every bun she ever met) for many years - clearly she hadn't read the same books!  So while I'm experienced with rabbits I'm new to bonding.

 I am lucky enough to have Red Door Shelter and their experienced volunteers close at hand.  We set up a series of bunny-speed-dates where she met half a dozen boybuns but it soon seemed to narrow down to 2.  One of them got adopted, so after the third date at the shelter seemed to go well I brought him home.  His shelter name is Irving but I like absurdly pretentious bunny names, so if he was going to be consort to Her Grace Duchess Winslet vonThumpington  (of Thumpington House) he was going to need a better name.  He's a young white.brown spotty minirex boy from this year's class of dumped easter bunnies.  I settled on Isidore Irving Fitzroy, Isidore being Irving Berlin's middle name as well as nicely aristocratic, and as the traditional name given to a King's bastard son Fitzroy seemed suitable for an abandoned miniRex.

I set him up in a pen in the foyer behind the front door, at the far end of her territory.  Friday night when I came home from an evening out I found that she'd gotten into his pen!  There was fur everywhere of both colors, and I panicked and whisked her out, then secured the pen with screw-eyes into the doorframe.  Both were checked for injuries, soothed and petted, and I felt like the worst bunnymom ever...

I went back to the info on here, and screwed up my courage last night to start the formal bonding process.  Both went into the empty bathtub with a handful of hay.  She is definitely in charge and persists in nipping the poor boy on the flank.  It wasn't awful, but I was pretty discouraged.  It was pointed out to me that I needed to allow a certain amount of nipping, because she needs to prove she's alpha, and also that if they hadn't killed each other on Friday when they had the chance that things weren't as bleak as I felt they were,

Tonight I decided to try stress-bonding.  Back into the bathtub, but this time I turned the whirlpool motor on.  It didn't make them snuggle right away, but they were defnitely too distracted to worry about each other.  Several times I gently moved them side-by-side  and petted them both.  There were definite signs of snuggling, with Izzy slowly working his way towards trying to hide under her.. We did that for about 15 minutes and then moved to the bedroom.

WInslet has managed to get into the bedroom only a handful of times since December, so it's as close to neutral as I can manage.  It's cluttered, but I blocked the area so they couldn't get under the bed, and settled down with my squirt bottle to supervise.

She's definitely trying to push him around, but a faceful of water usually served to distract her.  He spent much of the time finding places to hide, which is hilarious because he's one of those who feels that if his head is hiding then no one can see him - despite the spotty fluffy butt clearly sticking out.  Most of the time she started to chase/nip him, but of the last 5 times then encountered each other in their wanderings, 3 of them they just stopped and looked at each other and then she wandered off. 

After a good 5 minutes of mutual ignoring on opposite sides of the room, I ended the session - figuring that this as as close to a "positive note" as I was likely to get.

I'm feeling more confident now about this - less afraid that she is going to kill him, and the fact that I'm less anxious will probably help as well.

More updates as they come


User is Offline bunnyfriend
Wisconsin
2343 posts Send Private Message
8/06/2012 8:10 PM
I enjoyed reading your bonding update, I like their names It sounds like with more bonding sessions they'll get better. Don't be hard on yourself, you're doing a great job! Good luck!
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User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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17537 posts Send Private Message
8/07/2012 7:05 AM
That sounds like a good session. I'm glad you are less anxious - it seems like owner anxiety is always more than the rabbits :~)

User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/07/2012 11:06 AM

I knew I had to try and be calm or they would smell my anxiety, so I was trying to do calming breathing, all the while thinking "But they are my BABIES!!!  What is she HURTS HIM!?!?!?!?"

I know that a lot of sources suggest pushing ahead when things go well, but we're all going to take a break tonight.  I want to give Izzy's poor tuftybutt time to heal, and I'm several days short on sleep for various reasons including Friday's fiasco.

So tonight everyone gets a bit of individual fussing and then I'll clean the hay out of my tub, take a nice long bath and go to bed early.  Tomorrow we try the same thing again - tubby time and then bedroom.


User is Offline tanlover14
3388 posts Send Private Message
8/08/2012 5:05 AM
Awwww -- bunny bonding. How I do NOT miss those days! But it sounds like you're off to a good start. My girl bossed around the boys when she was bonding with them too -- thumping her feet at them and nipping them on the rumps and giving them the bunny butt. But she loves her brothers both! Just don't get stressed (every time I got stressed my buns did too!). If anything bad happens, I would suggest putting a bun on each side of you and giving them both a treat while they can see each other and be close but not too close to each other. And ALWAYS make sure your bun bonding time ends on a good note. Even if you have to force end it on a good note by feeding them treats close to each other. Or even just a friendly nuzzle from one to the other. I never let my buns leave the area until they had worked out whatever they needed to work out at the time and made sure they always left happy.
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User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/08/2012 8:47 AM

Last night during individual snuggle-time played with him and a rabbit plushy, trying to get him not to hop up immediately and stick his head under the toy for groomings.  

She is still patrolling the edge of his pen and occasionally grrphing at the bars, and he stays well away from them but shows no other signs of anxiety.  She even pulled out a piece of cardboard from under the edge.  "This is MY place!!  And this...thingie...it's MINE too!  So THERE!!"

His butt still feels a bit rough where she yanked his fur out but it's healing.  So we're going to try the same thing again.


User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/08/2012 2:36 PM
45 minutes in the tub tonight, though I turned the motor off after 5.  I decided that much of the nipping seemed to be set off by chasing, so I thought maybe I gave them too much space in the bedroom, so I thought we'd stay confined tonight.

Early on, I did the thing where you sort of shove them together and pet them at the same time.  That seemed to go really well.I offered treats, but neither was interested.

Once their fright started to wear off, I kept close watch with the spray bottle.  (note to self - am too old to sit on floor of bathroom for 45 minutes - get chair).  She has clearly figured out that nipping nets her a face-full of water, so she tried to be sneaky about it.  Just minding my own business here and juuust happened to be stretching my head out slowly and maybe I'll just open my mouth and start toSPLOOOOOSH!!!!  *groom groom*.  Silly bunbun.

 

He's a thumpy little thing, but did calm down at some points.  Particularly when I pushed the plate of hay back out and they remembered it was there.  They eat on opposite sides just fine, though he is still pretty wary.  I offered regular simultaneous treats (cut up a few craisins to make them last longer)

By the last 5 minutes, she was actually lying down in tub and while he was in the corner he was grooming and his ears were more relaxed.  A few more treats and then I ended the session.

Right now, she's lying up against the side of his pen.  Clearly on guard, but not aggressive.
Tonight I clean the litterboxes, and then after a few days I'll switch them out for each other, preperatory to switching their spaces.  In a little bit, once she is comfy back in the kitchen or on the deck, I'll block off the hall to give him a bit more run time if possible.

I'm no longer so afraid that she's going to kill him, and his poor little baldy-spot seems to be healing well.


User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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8/09/2012 8:24 AM
Sounds like things are going pretty smoothly. Keep up the good work.

I love how you came up with his name. Fitzroy...too cute.
Proud to be a Bunny Hugger and a voice for the voiceless
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User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/11/2012 5:47 PM

Things continue to show promise.

 

I had two days I was not available to do active bonding sessions so instead I switched their litterboxes in their living spaces.  Amazingly, no real poop wars, though both have become a bit sloppier in the general area of their boxes.  I was expecting to see poop-walls along the size of Izzy's pen!

Tonight we did 45 minutes in the tub and only had the motor on for the first minute or two.  Winslet is learning that she may grrph and she may lunge, but she may not bite.  She seemed fairly relaxed - only mildly annoyed when they approached each other.  He is clearly still very wary of her (and I did find another scabby patch from when she yanked out fur when she got into his pen last week) but there were moments when he was able to ignore her presence and bunloaf, eat or groom.

There might have even been some tentative grooming on his part - couldn't tell if it was sniffing her face or actually grooming and I was afraid to move for fear I'd startle them.  They will eat hay together, though on opposite sides of the plate.

I think the next session might be in the bedroom neutral territory - now that they've mostly mastered ignoring each other in the tub when they aren't moving around as much, it may be time to let them interact in more "normal" environment that still has plenty of places to hide.


User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/12/2012 5:28 PM
So much for "positive"
Tonight we moved out of the tub and it was an unmitigated disaster.

Winslet was VERY aggressive - went after him twice and at one point she had him on his back and I was terrified.  He spent about 45 minutes hiding in the corner, and the closest I could come to a "positive note" was a few separate-but-equal treats.

 

He's got a scabby bite on his back/butt - no real bleeding but I still cleaned it well and dabbed on a but of generic neosporin to be on the safe side. 

 

We'll have to take some time off for him to heal up, and then I guess it's back to the tub again.  Any advice on how to handle this?


User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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8/13/2012 3:09 AM
Have you tried a car ride? Maybe try a car ride and then the tub. Mix things up a bit.

User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/13/2012 9:26 AM

I live in the city and don't own a car.

I could try the "laundry basket on the dryer" thing....

But right now I have to let poor IzzyButt heal  


User is Offline LittlePuffyTail
New Brunswick, Canada
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8/14/2012 1:52 AM
I would definitely try stressing after such aggression. Make sure you give bunny lots of time to heal physically and emotionally. I would give at least a couple of weeks off.
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User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/22/2012 4:30 PM
Well, after a little more than a week on hiatus, it was back to the tub again.

She still seems to have an irresistible urge to bite his flank or butt.  She has realized that this has consequences, and she seems to have figured out where the spray is coming from, so she's still trying to be sneaky about it.  She spends a lot of time looking to me - not sure if it's for reassurance or to see if I'm watching to see if she can get away with a bite, I'm not sure.

Aside from that, they are doing fine.  They ate hay together, and he even flopped at one point and let her sniff his foot.  In a dog, that would be a sign of submission - does anyone know if that's true of bunnies as well?

 At another point, she laid down in the middle of the tub (possibly using her size to crowd him slightly?)

There was also a bit of "nose wars" as well - trying to maneuver each other into being the groomee - which is hard when neither one is actually grooming.

We did about 70 minutes, and they even ate pellets together.  I was afraid there might be some aggression over them, as both of them get tremendously excited at pellet time.  But other than a bit of head-maneuvering things seemed to go well.  I ended things on that note.

I'll probably do another tub session or two before trying to up the ante again, since that seems to be where the problems start.


 




User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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8/23/2012 3:19 AM
That sounds promising!

User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
8/26/2012 3:44 PM
A bit of last-minute schedule changes mean I've had to reconfigure their space for a bit.

Due to the sudden death of the head of logistics 10 days before loadin for the World Science Fiction Convention (6000 people in downtown Chicago), I'm going to have to leave the buns at home for up to 48 hours at a time unattended.

So I moved Izzy's pen into the kitchen next to where Winslet's primary space is, and spread it out completely.  This should provide him with sufficient space to run around, since I won't be able to give him "out time" in the evenings.  I can't get to my stove, but since I won't be here that won't matter much.  Winslet is less than pleased about it, so there has been some grrphing and pooping. 

I used to have to leave Pepper for that amount of time, and as long as she had multiple water bowls (in case one dumps) and a full hay rack holding several days worth, she was fine.  So I have things set up like this for both Winslet and Izzy.

I'll be coming home at night on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I plan to leave the hotel for a few hours on Friday evening and on Sunday afternoon to come home and check on them - refill pellets and hay racks, serve salads, and refill fresh water.  Then I'm home again late Monday evening.

So they are a bit more in each other's faces now, but mostly left alone to work things out,  I won't be able to do any formal dating again until next week.


User is Offline equalsign
220 posts Send Private Message
9/01/2012 5:07 PM

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User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
9/11/2012 3:28 PM
I'm at my wit's end with these two!

After a lot of time interacting through the bars, this evening I was relocating Izzy's pen to the living room (so I could get to my stove again!).  I had a makeshift barrier up but he got through or around somehow.  They seemed to be mutually ignoring, occasionally stopping to look at the other bun but otherwise hopping around sniffing and nibbling stray hay so I left them together while I started to sweep up.  took my eye off them for a second and WHAM they were full-on scuffling and the fur was flying!  She took off towards the back door and I managed to nab him when he went after her.  Nobunny's injured,  but even after I checked them both again and put him back in protective custody in the pen they were trying to get to each other through the bars!  I have barriers up now, hoping that "out of sight out of mind" will let everybun calm down.

I'm pretty sure that she started it, but he gave as good as he got.  She's not an "attack on sight" bun like Pepper was, but this isn't getting anywhere.  They are fine in the tub, but any time we go to a larger space, neutral or otherwise, she goes after him.

I'm getting very discouraged - he bounces back just fine after these but Winslet and I are stressed and unhappy.

User is Offline wendyzski
Chicago, IL
1316 posts Send Private Message
9/16/2012 7:59 AM

I took Izzy back to Red Door today.

 He figured out that he can jump a 34" barrier and can't resist "exploring" - which means going to poke the grumpy ladybun.  WEho promptly tries to beat the crap out of him.  Nobunny got hurt, but it was vicious - fur everywhere and fighting up and down the hallway.

After the earlier fight this week, things weren't calming with time - they were escalating.  I put up paper and cardboard around his pen to try for "out of sight out of mind" and both proceeded to try and chew through it - him to come out and play, and her to get in and attack the interloper.  And if he can clear a 34" wall he will shortly be able to clear a 36" X-pan.  I realized that I wasn't going to be able to keep him safe long enough for them to work things out, so I made the decision to bring him back to the shelter.

I feel guilty for giving up, but I really think it was only a matter of time until somebun really got hurt, and I'd never forgive myself if that happened.  They were fine on dates at the shelter, but once he got back here things never got back to that level, even in "neutral territory" of rooms that she has never been in.

Maybe she's an only bun.  Maybe he just wasn't the right one, and we should try somebun older, or something.  But for now we're done.  I left the pen open so that she can poop all over his things and realize that he's gone, and I'll sleep on the couch tonight so that she can maybe forgive me  (she's been alternating with being all clingy and giving me The Butt all week)

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BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > BONDING > Winslet and Isidore\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\

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