WARNING! Animal Antics are not for the faint hearted. My nerves and emotions are just about settled now. Thank goodness. This two months have been a bumper roller coaster ride of happiness and sorrow, frantic activity and chaotic wonder in our little animal world. Not even a moment to blog a morsel of cheese for a mouse.
Our Gigi leads the pack by getting pregnant, again, and very, very sneakily. What we didn’t know was when her kittens were not even quite 6 weeks old, she tarted herself up and went on the prowl. First time lucky we figure since she appeared to be with her kittens the whole time. About a week after giving away the last of the kittens (at 9 weeks) we finally noticed she was a tad pudgy around the middle. Our first reaction was ‘No way!’, but Yes way and we had to cancel her sterilisation at the vet. (Honest, we had tried not to let her know what was in store for her.) By the next week we knew for sure as her appetite soared and so did her telling us about her day. It was like living with an opera singer on full non-stop vocal.
At this time she also decided that having another cat around, albeit one of her own kittens, was simply not on. We had decided to keep Lapsong from her litter. Well, actually she chose us, and who were we to say no? But at 10 weeks, Gigi decided it was just another mouth for us to feed, e.g. less for her, and wanted her kitten gone. Hissy fits ensued, though I will note, only on the side of Gigi. Lapsong was, bless her, amazing at simply ignoring them. A better cat than I for certain.
Since Lapsong wouldn’t go away, not to mention she also had to share the house with a dog and a duck, Gigi decided she would have her kittens elsewhere. So there. We put out boxes all around the garden, in sheds, in the garage, but no, they were just too close. As the weather got hotter and she got fatter, she started lounging under the neighbours sun umbrella, only bothering to come home when she wanted to eat. Luckily our neighbour was great at texting me to let me know where the G was so I didn’t worry. And then, earlier than expected, she disappeared…
In re-reading the above, maybe I should have started with Churchill. About the same time we discovered that Gigi was pregnant, again, Churchill, a pet rabbit, broke her hind leg. Badly. We took her to our local vet and they said it was beyond them to fix so off I drove to the nearest exotic pet vet, almost 2 hours away. They kept her with them for a couple days to see if they could save the leg, but alas, not. Churchill had her leg amputated from the knee down. I brought her home with the strict instructions she was to be separated from the other rabbits. No jumping, hopping, playing allowed, and the other rabbits might incite. She also had to be on carpeted floor so she didn’t slip around when learning to get about again. Between the hissy fits and other animals, not to mention lack of carpet, this meant she couldn’t recuperate in our cottage.
I found an old carpet, various old rabbit hutch walls and cobbled a large space, enough for her to exercise in, in the Chateau’s lounge. (After all if you are going to have to recuperate, might as well do so in nice surroundings.) We found Churchill faired better with having company, so I moved my office to be with her (thank goodness for wifi), which actually worked well as I found I got lots more done ‘going to the office’. She recovered well and we were able to slowly introduce her back in with the other rabbits, Dumbledore and Hobbs.
This involved at first keeping her separated from the others since she was inclined to run around with them then collapsing in an exhausted heap. As the summer was heating up, we felt it better she take time to gain back and build up strength in the remaining limbs before tackling the Indy Rabbit 500. Dumbledore and Hobbs had other ideas. No matter how much we separated Churchill from them, they inevitably got in to visit with her. Still, all in all, maybe it aided and sped up her recovery as it was not too long before we were able to remove all the barriers and give her freedom to roam in Rabbit World once again. (Though we did make sure to add in additional niches she could relax in and lean up against something to ease her remaining hind leg.)
Amongst this we had various duck débâcles. Maggie, our pet duck, decided she wanted to have a go at being a duck. Normally she wanders the garden with the other ducks during the day, scoffing bugs, demanding lettuce and edging a toe into their paddling pool. (She’s not great at swimming.) Come dusk and bedtime she would assist me scoot the others in to the duck house and then walk up with me to our cottage. She then sits on the end of our sofa and preens her feathers and watches cottage life as it goes by from her vantage point, occasionally pecking at the odd passing cat – purely in fun. Then one night, she decided she wanted to stay with the ducks.
We followed our normal routine, but this time Maggie went inside instead of waiting for me by the gate. It was such a surprise it took me a little while to determine this was definitely her decision. Yup. She wanted to see how the other half lived at night. I was bereft. I hadn’t expected this, but then nothing is ever truly expected with a pet duck. You certainly fly by the seat of your pants in this pet area.
The morning brought a very vocal Maggie out of the duck house, obviously telling me all about her new adventures of the night, though whether they were good or bad I couldn’t tell. Still, I reckoned they must have been good, as the next night once again she chose to spend with the other ducks. I was surprised with how much I missed her. This continued, and then suddenly she decided one night she wanted to come back to the cottage with me. It was back to status quo, at least for a couple nights. Now, each night we wait to see where Maggie decides she wants to be. Predominantly it is with the ducks. Whether this is because she is enjoying being a duck more than a human now (I have to figure it is easier on her) or whether it is because our house is getting a bit crowded for her, it’s hard to say. But I am jumping ahead…
In case you have lost the plot at this stage (believe me I had whilst living it), Gigi is away having kittens, Churchill is now down with Dumbledore and Hobbs, Maggie has decided to be a duck and I will add Lapsong (kitten) and Chewie (puppy) have decided to be best mates and chase each other around the grounds and over and under the furniture whilst there are less incumbents in the house.
This year in particular mother nature was obviously high on something, and often times cruel as a result. If you have read other posts you may have picked up on the amount of excessive rain we had this year. With rain came mosquitoes, and with mosquitoes, disease. At first we thought it was conjunctivitis in Dumbledore’s eye. A trip to our local vet seemed to confirm this, but a trip to the exotic pet vet gave us the diagnosis of myxomatosis. Unknown to us there was a vaccination for this disease (though none of the vets had told us about it) which gives a rabbit a 35% chance of survival. Without it, there is no chance.
It is a quick and painful disease, swelling the eyes, nose, mouth and genitals. We had Dumbledore another couple days before it became obvious a final trip to the vet was necessary. We had a brief hope that Churchill and Hobbs had managed to not contract it, but sadly it was not to be. Within the week Hobbs died in his sleep and we had to take Churchill to the vet. She fought the hardest throughout, and to the last minute. Having overcome her amputation she was not ready to go, but the disease said otherwise. It is because of brave Churchill I have been so long away from my blog and am only now able to sit down to write this post without breaking down.
We disassembled Rabbit World and Pumpjack made beautiful grave markers for the rabbits nearby, complete with lovely little paw cut-outs. He is going to make a 3-sided commemorative bench we can put in place of Rabbit World so I can continue to enjoy sitting, reading and writing in this tranquil spot, and probably still talk to the rabbits. Rest in Peace Dumbledore, Hobbs and Churchill.
(To be continued in Part 2…)