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Forum BONDING I’m Back with a Third!

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    • Susanne
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        Hello all, I’ve missed being on this forum! I had a crazy year, and luckily my bonded pair that were so difficult to bond have been awesome.

        Now, I have more space and time, so with my 2 feeling solid I decided to foster (to adopt) a third bun! I’ve already done pre-bonding and two bonding sessions. They seem to be doing really well and hopefully this works 🙂

        As of now,  Ruby and the new bun (shelter name Bill) are practically bonded. It was the quickest I’ve seen! Maxwell has not been happy, and does not like Bill! Poor bill got a couple good chunks of fur ripped out above his nose but thankfully nothing to deter progress. Towards the end of the 2nd session, Ruby actually started protecting Bill from Maxwell. lol. Maxwell still laid down close to the other 2 but looked sad. He tried to lay with the 2 (he did briefly) but changed his mind.

        Anyway- no questions yet but wanted to start a thread because I’m sure I will soon 🙂 Right now I’m hoping to keep doing the same and get more progress.

        Thanks!!


      • DanaNM
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          oooh good luck!

          . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


        • Susanne
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            Picture of the 3!


          • Susanne
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              I can post again, woo hooo!

              That said, I won’t do a full detailed journal, but with my trio even though we had a good start, my original male kept biting the new guy. He would seem fine and relaxed then all of a sudden a really hard full pulling bite, and many times on the face, so it was really hard to stop. It happened pretty much every session, with varying severity. There were a lot of tornadoes and could have ended really badly without quick intervention.  Sometimes is was just a bite and nothing else. I also think I let the sessions go too long and that caused problems.  The final straw was a second shoulder bite that broke skin. I decided my new one needed a break since it had to be a ton of stress with also being in a new home and didn’t want to risk a serious injury. Thankfully, my original pair is still tightly bonded. Maxwell’s bite attempt even missed new bun (now called Snoopy) a couple times and got Ruby pretty good, and she was very forgiving. No issues with the female and Snoopy at all. Snoopy fur pulled a little but Ruby never got aggressive with him.

              Fast forward 6 weeks (or more, I lost track), and they seem pretty much the same, but the major difference is that Maxwell has not been biting. They’ve been living with a shared barrier the whole time, with occasional swaps (their food and some chew toys are at the barrier). During sessions, Maxwell still lets Snoopy and Ruby cuddle/interact, he still accepts Snoopy in the same space, but does NOT want him to touch him. LOL. Now, instead of a bite Maxwell does a quick lunge, sometimes mouth open, but hasn’t actually bit down. I’ve done 2 short and one longer (7 hour) session this round.  (I also have intervened a little, said no, etc at anything that looked like possible aggression but still let them interact a little). At the end of the long one, the boys both did fake lunges when they thought the other might attack.. but then they figured out it was ok and slunk down to a loaf. They can lay about a foot apart, though this was the same last round..but it seems good that after 3 sessions there has been no fur pulled or bites at all, considering??

              I get a feeling we’ll be in this stage for a while….I don’t plan to do any intense bonding as I want to enjoy my summer but if I can get them together a couple times a week I hope they slowly start trusting each other more. Meanwhile Ruby just wants to sleep and be left alone lol. She doesn’t seem to like Snoopy too much, but will sometimes give some grooms or let him lay against her. A lot of times she runs away from him and her and Maxwell cuddle while poor Snoopy lays across the room. I’m just happy she isn’t aggressive as she was when I bonded her and Maxwell.

              Has anyone had a similar experience? If I can’t get them to bond, once I’m in a permanent place (rental until next August) I will likely go for 2 pairs.


            • DanaNM
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                That does sound like some progress! I wonder if doing sessions with just the boys would help? I considered working with just the girls with mine, and might still do that if I resume trying for the trio.

                . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


              • Susanne
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                  I did try that once (although in a small space not the larger room), and it went really bad! Maxwell kept going after Snoopy and I was holding him back almost the whole time while getting bit (gloves on). It seems like Ruby makes him feel more safe, and Maxwell definitely needs his space..  Also, Ruby will spend some time sleeping while those 2 are up, so they do get a little one on one even with her there. It may be something to try again later if we are at a stalemate for too long.


                • Susanne
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                    We just finished our fourth session. Less than a minute and Maxwell bit Snoopy above the nose again, and ripped out fur. :(.  Later, Snoopy actually tried to flop almost on Ruby and Maxwells heads and Maxwell bit him hard again. Didn’t see damage but Snoopy acted hurt for a minute.

                    I decided to continue, I should have been more diligent. They slept a long time all separate. Eventually they were all eating on the pee pad together, and I was on top of them preventing any biting but there was sniffing.. and want looked like an attempt by Maxwell to pee on Snoopy… I scooted him away. I decided to go a little longer, and later Maxwell did go over near Snoopy, eat some of a treat, drink from the water bowl, and laid down. So I pet them both, let them relax near each other about 10 min then took them back. It was about 5.5 hours total. Not sure if it was actual progress, but at least now I’m not pushing longer like the last time around so hope that helps. Also have to remember to be on top of them any time they get close.


                  • DanaNM
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                      Ugh those face nips are so stressful! Bonnie does that to Myra. It’s can be hard to prevent without preventing any and all interaction.

                      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                    • Susanne
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                        Yes, and they are full on bites. Last night looks like Maxwell got a big chunk of fur out of Snoopy through the gates. They are small grids and didn’t think they could do that much, plus it’s been over 3 months! There were small bits of fur here and there before but hadn’t seen anything in a long time. That said, yeah mine are not doing well at all, lol. I just keep doing bonding sessions to get them in the same room but I really don’t allow much interaction at all still. If Snoopy gets bit too much again I’ll probably take another break soon. My main goal in the sessions are just getting through without a bite, and hopefully they lay close together.


                      • DanaNM
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                          I wonder if you might need to try super short sessions to break this association?

                          Do they respond well to petting? Like, if they approach each other and you pet them, do they relax?

                          . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                        • Susanne
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                            Here they are at the end the other day. The only good thing is despite all the bites, Snoopy hasn’t been fighting back and still wants to be friends.

                             


                          • Susanne
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                              Possibly. It’s tough because the first bite yesterday was immediate, and they didn’t lay close or seem better until 5.5 hours. I don’t want to keep going once they are good because in the past Maxwell got bitey again after too long, and made it harder to end on a good note. Basically I try and wait until they seem OK, sometimes 2 hours, sometimes 5 or 6, sometimes if too short they stay on opposite sides of the room the whole time. They don’t really seem to have any kind of pattern.

                              I did pet them both at the end yesterday.. problem with that is Maxwell doesn’t actually like to be pet most of the time. He is a weird one!


                            • DanaNM
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                                that’s tricky. I spoke to a friend at the rescue I used to volunteer at about mine and she suggested something that is more commonly used in dogs and other animals (such as in zoos when they need to introduce a new animal into a group). They will do training sessions with the animals in the same area (starting out far away and then moving closer over time). I thought this was really interesting. My buns aren’t clicker trained but I’m thinking if we’re in this for the long haul it might be fun to give it a go. Maybe you could do some training with Maxwell to distract him from biting?

                                . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                              • Susanne
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                                  That’s a good idea, I do think he would respond well to that. Out of my 3, Ruby I think would really enjoy some training. When I have more time, lol.

                                  Meanwhile, I’m really glad you brought that up about the zoo training. I had a thought last night and already forgot by morning but it’s similar. I saw one Youtube person who does a lot of bonding, and takes her time with it and says she is 100% successful. One thing she does, is only do bonding sessions in the same area once all aggression is gone. If there is any aggression, she puts them in the neutral area in an xpen but a barrier between the buns… that I’m thinking I could try with just the boys. They could get more exposure to each other without the risk. At first I thought it wouldn’t be any different than sharing a barrier all day, but maybe being forced to be closer and on neutral ground could start to change the dynamic.


                                • Susanne
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                                    I created a new area for the boys, and split in half. Put down some foam mats and all their stuff at the barrier. Food, water and new cat scratching pads since they both love to chew on those.  I used my large walk in closet. I’m about to finish the first session with them, and my initial thought is that it’s going to be helpful. Keeping it to 1.5 hours this time and plan to do at least a few more the same (I’ll wipe down good and swap sides each time). Maxwell didn’t try and bit through the gate, and they mirrored each other a little. Both sleeping now, Maxwell at the border and Snoopy a foot and a half away. Seems like it will get Maxwell more used to him and I’ll have to decide next steps depending how the next few sessions go. I do recommend it as an option!


                                  • Susanne
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                                       I did a second session with the boys today, and had the barrier again. We stayed about 2.5 hours and was pretty uneventful. Maxwell did seem nervous, and they only sniffed noses once through the gate and there was no aggression.

                                      It’s been about an hour and they are laying next to each other (against fence) back in their regular spaces! I’m pretty sure that is a first for them… So I think this strategy is working. I think I’ll keep doing the same and maybe increase in 30 minute increments over the next couple weeks.


                                    • DanaNM
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                                        That sounds like a great plan! And sounds like good progress!

                                        . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                      • Susanne
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                                          Never thought I’d be so excited to see this!


                                        • DanaNM
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                                            Awwww!

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                                          • Susanne
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                                              I did a very uneventful session again with the boys yesterday. Maxwell has seemed a lot more interested in Snoopy last night and today. They are sooo weird, Maxwell had his foot poking thru the gate, and Snoopy made sure to be one inch away so they didn’t touch :/. Maxwell looked to nip a tiny bit but it was really nothing. I do notice Maxwell is more interested when on a certain side, so I hope it isn’t something about them having a favorite side and being jealous… I’ll take them hanging out close together more often though!


                                            • Susanne
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                                                We are back to all 3 doing sessions again. I thought I’d try it, and seems ok so far. We had 2 about 3 hours long each. Sometimes it feels like the same as 5 months ago, but then Maxwell has been laying closer to Snoopy. Still bites/nips going on, but surprisingly I’ve not seen any fur pulled. I have been on top of them though, haha. I’m sure it would have been a fight or bad bite a couple times if I didnt intervene.

                                                 

                                                Here they are, inches away from touching each other while sleeping:)


                                              • DanaNM
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                                                  That seems like progress to me!

                                                  . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                • Susanne
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                                                    So I did 2 more longer sessions with the 3, and things seemed to take a step back again. Ruby and Snoopy do OK, but Maxwell was getting more nippy again and not going as close to Snoopy. Today I decided to try again with just the boys and seems to be a little better. Maxwell still does small lunges but not those ripping out fur bites like the first round, and seems even less aggressive with just the 2 of them.  They also are laying a little closer again and much closer than they have to be! Thankfully we haven’t regressed back to the bad biting.

                                                    @Dana I know you talked to someone about the trios – (my situation is a little different since the Original pair is still bonded fine)- but wondering if they said anything about how long to work with two at a time? I’m scared to do any sessions with Ruby and Snoopy because I think they would end up bonding and that would be sad for Snoopy to keep getting separated. I wonder if I should rotate doing the boys and all 3, or just focus on the boys for a while until they can at least cuddle or be able to touch each other? I dont’ want to take it so far as causing issues with Maxwell and Ruby, though I don’t really see that happening at this point.


                                                    • DanaNM
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                                                        She suggested working with each pair-combo daily! So start with two, then swap out one for the other bun, then swap again, so you do the three combos in a row if possible. I think in your case that might be a good strategy. You could plan to start with the boys, then swap in Ruby for Maxwell, then swap Maxwell back in for Snoopy so you end with the current pair?

                                                        . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                      • Susanne
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                                                          Ok, thanks for the details! Logistically I am not really able to do everyday (plus it’s really hard to get them gathered up for sessions, so to do swaps I’d need a holding place of some sort too), and I’m still worried about Snoopy and Ruby bonding faster.. If they aren’t bonded by winter or so,  then I might try the technique :). Hopefully it won’t come to that because all the shuffling would be hard on all of us.

                                                          As of now, Maxwell and Snoopy seem to do about the same whether Ruby is there or not, except Maxwell spends more time laying closer to Snoopy if Ruby isn’t there. He spends some time laying with her if all 3, but does go around Snoopy a decent amount. Either way, I’ve done just the boys and all 3, and Maxwell is getting less and less aggressive. It’s very gradual, but I’m now able to work in the room with them so that will help me be able to have them together more. I also set up in my living room again so hoping to get in some longer days with them in the near future and see if that helps.


                                                      • Susanne
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                                                          Finally had a 3 way cuddle!


                                                        • DanaNM
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                                                            OMG that’s HUGE!!!!

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                                                          • Susanne
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                                                              So things have been pretty stagnant. I decided to bring them up Saturday to my living room again, and since they were doing OK I’ve left them there now 48 hours lol. They are doing well enough that I can sleep or hear any scuffles, and other than a couple fur pulls they are only nipping. I thought I’d see more progress after them stuck together for 2 days, but at one point there was a cuddle from Maxwell and Snoopy, and some very rough “grooming” from Maxwell. Snoopy and Ruby are doing well, they have cuddled and groomed each other. Not really bonded but close. I actually brought up some small carpet pieces from their home area and didn’t seem to change anything, so I think that is a good sign. I also gave them some boxes and no one seems to want to fight over them. I might try to just keep them up here a while, but I’ll have to figure that out so I can leave. I can split it and separate Snoopy when I need to leave, so if they can bond over the next couple days, that would be really nice not to have to take them back and forth anymore!  Other than keep them together as long as possible, I don’t know what else I could do. They all seem relatively happy and interact quite a bit.


                                                            • DanaNM
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                                                                wow, 48 hours with no fighting is awesome!

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                                                              • Susanne
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                                                                  Well, there were definitely scuffles that might have been a fight if I wasn’t there 🙂  I ended up calling it off after 3 days. They seemed to start going downhill again, and the last night they woke me up scuffling and then I scared them and snoopy jumped about 5 feet so was pretty scared lol. I also noticed Snoopy had a big bald spot above his nose, and I know a few other spots got pulled on him too. Towards the end, Maxwell came up and acted like he was grooming Snoopys back, but then just pulled out a hunk of fur. Like nothing.. no apparent aggression. I don’t know if Snoopys bald spot on nose is from so many nips, or I missed a bigger bite. I thought they might fight worse overnight since it was gradually getting worse.

                                                                  That said, I feel awful because Snoopy and Ruby cuddled a lot, so now I had to separate them. It’s hard having a single because I feel so sad he is left out. I’m sure bringing up the rugs from their homebase didn’t help, but I am at a loss. I know Maxwell does bad in small spaces with Snoopy, but I don’t have much flooring out of their area for them, and my whole house is hardwood floors. I was trying to avoid buying more foam mats, but maybe I should since those at least can be sprayed down between sessions.

                                                                  Not sure what to do next. They have gradually improved over the last 6 months, and I do want Snoopy to have times to cuddle with Ruby, so maybe I buy more foam mats for my living room and just bring them all up with me a couple times per week for “play time”? It’s not hard to watch them, since there isn’t really actual fighting, but I don’t want Snoopy’s nose to get plucked bald either! Maybe I’ll start over once a week. Then from there hope they eventually bond. The other option is work more with Maxwell and Snoopy alone, but again, don’t want Snoopy to get more fur pulled out of him so not sure how to manage that either. I guess if I wait a couple weeks some fur should grow back.


                                                                • DanaNM
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                                                                    Are Maxwell and Ruby currently still bonded? Sorry I can’t remember if you had to separate them or not.

                                                                    It does sound like separating them at 3 days was probably a good move. Perhaps you just bumped up to marathoning a bit too soon?

                                                                    I think continuing to work with the pairs would be a good strategy, but just keep the sessions shorter again to make sure there isn’t too much fur pulling going on?

                                                                     

                                                                    . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                                  • Susanne
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                                                                      Yes, Maxwell and Ruby are still bonded. Ruby and Snoopy are like 99 percent bonded too.

                                                                      I agree, it was too soon for a marathon, I hoped I’d get lucky:) I’m back to just the boys today. There have been lots of nips again but not really any fur pulled. Snoopy actually groomed Maxwell for a few seconds before another nip. It was scary for me, them being so close and not knowing what Maxwell would do.. so I’m happy for only a nip.  It really doesn’t seem different than when Ruby was around, and I got new mats etc, so I guess we just need more time. I feel bad depriving Snoopy of cuddles with Ruby but I think I’ll do a few short sessions with just the boys this week and hope for more improvement..


                                                                    • DanaNM
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                                                                        Yeah, that’s really tough. I am pretty much in the same position with mine except with the sexes reversed (in that Cooper gets along fine with both girls). Would getting a 4th rabbit to be Snoopy’s companion be an option for you?

                                                                        . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                                      • Susanne
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                                                                          Yeah it sucks Maxwell is being a pain haha. I do think they will eventually bond given they have progressed in some ways.

                                                                          If they don’t end up getting along though, I will get a 4th, but not until I move next summer or fall.

                                                                          <hr />

                                                                           


                                                                          • DanaNM
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                                                                              Yeah I feel ya. :/ Come on Maxwell!  Maybe Snoopy is giving him a bombastic side eye 😆

                                                                              . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                                            • Susanne
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                                                                                Yes, sometimes Snoopy nips first, so of course that just seems to set things back farther.

                                                                                So, Maxwell somehow got another chunk of fur from Snoopy’s nose one night thru the fence. It’s not bad by itself but combined with the rest he has a lot of bald area on his face now 🙁   That said, even though I’m sad for Snoopy living alone, I think I’m going to stop bonding again. At least temporarily, but I am now leaning towards going ahead and getting a 4th. I’m in a rental and technically supposed to have 2, but they don’t ever talk to me or come into the house. It’s also getting expensive.. but at this point I can make it work with 1 more. I’ll have to decide when, and make sure the rescue will let me swap if the 2 are difficult because I don’t know if I can handle more difficult bonding 🙂


                                                                              • DanaNM
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                                                                                  That’s really so hard, but don’t beat yourself up. I tend to focus on the trio success stories in my mind, but I think the reality is that trios are very hard and far from guaranteed to work. I think especially since you had a tougher bond with Ruby and Maxwell it might just be a very difficult combo of personalities.

                                                                                  Snoopy will be ok, perhaps he would like a stuffy to cuddle with? I don’t think you necessarily need to rush into getting another bun. Is Snoopy formally adopted, or is he still a foster?

                                                                                  . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                                                • Susanne
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                                                                                    Thank you, I’m trying not to be hard on myself. I could have put them in smaller areas and refereed them, and kept trying other things, but my gut was saying it’s not worth the added stress. I do think Maxwell and Ruby have a difficult bond for a third to enter into due to their super closeness, and Maxwell is generally difficult, lol.. they may even all work as 4 better than a trio.

                                                                                    That is good advice to not rush, try a stuffy, etc. It’s hard to judge how much Snoopy gets out of the fence interactions and closeness to the other rabbits, so I have been feeling guilty that he may be lonely. I did formally adopt him. I don’t make a good foster parent…..


                                                                                  • DanaNM
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                                                                                      hahah I’m the queen of foster fails, so I get that. I think if he has a stuffy and can see the other buns, he will be just fine, especially if you can spend some time with him each day.

                                                                                      . . . The answers provided in this discussion are for general guideline purposes only. The information is not intended to diagnose or treat your pet. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or a qualified behaviorist.  


                                                                                    • Susanne
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                                                                                        Thanks for your perspective. I’ll be getting a stuffy and try and resist the 4th as long as possible. I do spend at least a couple hours a day down with them so hopefully that is enough.

                                                                                        Yeah, I don’t think fostering is for me, I don’t like the idea that they may go somewhere where they don’t have as much as I give them.  lol. I think I could swap if I didn’t have one too long but otherwise would rather them stay here once they get here 🙂

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                                                                                  Forum BONDING I’m Back with a Third!