Adopting An Easter Bunny? Make Mine Chocolate!

Easter bunny, anyone? Awwww…nothing sweeter than baby bunnies. Well, baby anything, right? And soon, our “Cottontail Mountain” home will be surrounded with rabbits courting and chasing and pitching woo–with lots of offspring soon to appear.

Easter Bunnies baby rabbit

‘Tis the season for Easter bunnies…real ones need lots of love, attention and proper care, and are not stuffed toys! Image Copr. Audrey/Flickr Creative Commons

Karma-Kat loves watching “bunny TV” out the back patio windows. I think he’d love to have one come inside to *ahem* cuddle and play. NOT! Just like other animal companions, it takes more than admiration to make bunny love positive for everyone.

Easter is not the time for a spur of the moment furry gift. Chicks and ducklings and baby bunnies by the score are purchased each year, some dyed in ridiculous colors, almost as gag gifts despite the fact they are living creatures with very specific care needs. A rabbit is more than an Easter bunny joke.

Easter Bunny, More Than A Toy

The House Rabbit Society has lots of great information about caring for a bunny. They do make wonderful pets–but you have to want them for more than a couple of weeks, or until the “cute” wears off.

Did you know that bunnies mark territory? Chew all kinds of stuff? (even more than dogs!). And unless you “fix” your bunny friend, aggression can become a problem. Read on!

Easter bunny

Bunnies need love and proper care–they are not an impulse! Photo from House Rabbit Society

Bunnies are intelligent, social animals who need affection and get along well with cats and well-behaved dogs. They can be litter box trained (emphasis on the trained)–it doesn’t happen with the wave of a wand. Rabbits tend to eat and poop at the same time–the original multitasking pet–so standard clay cat litters won’t work and can be dangerous to bunnies. You’ll find tips on rabbit care and training at the House Rabbit Society, a nonprofit group dedicated to helping educate the public.

EASTER BUNNY MARKING

Similarly to cats and dogs, intact rabbits use bodily functions to mark territory. You’ll need to spay or neuter your bunny friend to curtail the hormones that prompt marking behavior. This also decreases destructive chewing and territorial aggression. An attack rabbit is no laughing matter! House rabbits should be “fixed” between the ages of 3-1/2 to six months, depending on sexual maturity, by an experienced rabbit veterinarian.

EASTER BUNNY: A GNAWING HABIT

Once de-sexed and litter box trained, bunnies can freely roam your home and interact with the whole family. But first, rabbit proof the house. It’s natural for rabbits to chew on just about anything: furniture, rugs, drapes, and even deadly electrical cords.

Use the same tips for preventing canine teething to safeguard rabbits and provide safe chewable alternatives and toys to keep the bunny happy and distracted. Rabbit experts recommend cut, dried branches from apple, willow or aspen, or pine firewood; cotton towels; baskets or cardboard boxes filled with hay; and compressed alfalfa cubes. Juvenile delinquent bunnies under a year of age are more mischievous, and require more safe confinement and bunny proofing than older rabbits.

PROPER EASTER BUNNY CARE

Your pet bunny requires the same good veterinary care you provide for your cats and dogs, and rabbits are prone to specific health issues you’ll need to address. For instance, bunnies are naturally clean and groom themselves constantly–but that makes them prone to fur balls like Kitty. But rabbits can’t vomit. If the excess fur can’t be passed into the litter box, a blockage can kill the pet.

Therefore, you’ll need to regularly groom your rabbit, provide at least 30 hours exercise a week to keep bunny moving on both the outside and inside, and provide fresh vegetables to help keep her regular. Special bunny hairball laxatives can help during molting season.

easter bunny

If you don’t have time for a live Easter bunny, there are plenty of “stuffies” to adopt!

WHY NOT ADOPT A RESCUE EASTER BUNNY?

The days and weeks following Easter finds many adoptable bunnies in shelters. If you really want a furry friend, you could also save a life by rescuing one of these sweet babies.

This year prepare ahead of time for your new Easter bunny surprise. You know your situation best. Bunnies can be rewarding pets but they do require time, training, and appropriate care. In the months following Easter, local humane societies and rabbit rescues are flooded with rabbits, former Easter gifts whose owners no longer want them. The unlucky ones are dumped outside where they usually become victims of predators, cars, illness, and injury.

Easter is a joyous time of rebirth and hope. Enjoy the egg hunts, the Easter candy, dinners with family and friends, safe plants (BEWARE of Easter lilies!)–and if you’re ready, welcome a living creature into your home and heart. If not ready for the breathing/chewing/pooping version, celebrate the wonderful world of bunnies with a stuffed toy, or a chocolate rabbit. They won’t mind being tossed aside.

Do you share your home with a bunny? My brother’s family has a pet rabbit that gets along well with the cats and dog–it can be done! Please share your bunny-licious experiences.


 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy–Why Does My Cat Spray?

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Why does my cat spray? For the same reason that dogs leg-cock and “baptize” objects. Cats use urine to mark territory. But it goes beyond that.

To the cat, his own urine smells like him/her. Think of it as kitty cologne and spritzing that familiar scent all around makes the cat feel happy and comforted the same way you entering Grandma’s house and smelling cookies baking “reminds” you of familiar safe things. So that means when your cat feels stressed, a way to calm upset kitty feelings is to turn on the (ahem) water works.

I’ve also known cats that spray over top of smells that either frighten them or that they associate with with something or someone they love. The cat who sprays the new boyfriend’s shoes, for instance, might be trying to make him smell “safe” while spraying your pillow could simply mean “I own this space because it smells like my beloved so other cats STAY AWAY!”

Whatever the meaning or the cause, spraying can lose cats their homes or lives. People rarely consider spraying to be the back-handed compliment it is. Hit or miss potty behaviors are the top behavior complaint I receive and the number one cause of cats ending up in shelters. When I was a contributing writer for my colleague Franny Syufy’s outstanding cats.About.com site I wrote a whole series of articles on the subject so you can learn more here. Often the spraying arises due to conflicts between multiple cats sorting out their social standing, and my book PETiQuette offers specific help for multiple cat homes.

The Ask Amy video offers several suggestions for helping with this issue. My colleague Marilyn Krieger specializes in Bengal kitties and can be contacted for specific advice regarding this glorious breed. What are some other suggestions that have worked for you with your cats?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Tuesday Tips: Dragons, Mountains & Publishing

Last week I was in the mountains of Colorado–BLISS!–communed with nature, beverage, bling, friends, and fictioning (not necessarily in that order). The past several week’s Tuesday Tips have been a great help for me sharing insight from best-selling thriller authors. And I harvested a bumper crop of all-things-writerly and meant to include them in yesterday’s Monday Mentions but there were just too dang many. So you’ll find ’em here. But first a little introspection.

[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”500″ caption=”Meet Maurice, my dragon muse who keeps my fictioning ass-ets on target.” .

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Like many bookworm rabid readers I thought that I could write a novel. And I tried, oooh how I tried! My first agent told me my work was wonderful, awesome, spectacular and that when the movie-of-the-week came out, I should play the lead. Wow! Of course, that was long ago in a galaxy far away when I’d only just fallen off the writerly turnip truck and PAID said agent for those glowing reviews. (See WRITER BEWARE blog listed below). Four novels later that agent got dumped–hey I was a slow learner!–and I’d begun selling articles while I searched for another agent for the fiction.

Low and behold, the articles garnered my first book contracts when an editor from Nooo Yawk contacted ME to write The Cat Companion followed by several other pet books–all without an agent. The search for an agent continued, and one in particular turned down the fiction but wanted to see nonfiction efforts–together we sold probably 15 pet care titles. I guess you could say the fiction gave me my book career, yet that success shoved novels and article writing aside.

Fast forward to the present–Nooo Yawk no longer calls or even picks up the phone or opens the email for pet books unless the author also has a network TV show or has slept with the wrong famous person. Print magazines that launched my own and others’ careers are gone or fading fast. Online writing for pennies a page or for the “glory” of a byline has begun the new paradigm. Agents can’t sell books because editors are afraid to buy.

Ebooks are the (current) king! Scary crappiocca but exciting, too. Never before have writers and authors had so much control–IF they take that leap. Once I’d finished pounding my head bloody against the wall and gnashing teeth over the changes, my books took that Ebook plunge and Internet articles became my bread and virtual butter. So how are you managing the changes in your writing life? Still angsting over schtuff that you can’t change or taking the bull-hocky by the ballz and making a difference in your career?

Oh, it’s still scary. Y’all know that now I’m the Puppies Guide at About.com, and they’ve just announced ABOUT.COM LAYOFFS, YIKES!  The “contributing writers” program at About.com (a New York Times company) was summarily dumped last week with little more than a week’s notice to the freelancers providing 12 or more pieces of “content” per month to various guide sites. In addition, 15 “channel editors” were laid off as well (see the link). After working for nearly a year as a contributing writer (CW) to the cats.About.com Guidesite before creating the spanking-new puppies.About.com Guidesite this comes as a shock to me and others working for the company. CWs are encouraged to apply for open Guide positions or the new “Topic Guide” program.  And any other writer with the credentials may also apply and find it a rewarding venue.

I’ll be releasing new nonfiction pet books in the months ahead but there’s never been a better time to return to fiction. I’m taking a fun Email course from Lawson Writer’s Academy from Tiffany Lawson Inman on the Triple Threat Behind Staging A Scene. I won the course (YAY!) from my blogging buddy Jenny Hansen. See? you can find all kinds of kewl schtuff reading, sharing and commenting on other folks’ blogs! Speaking of blogs and other writer-icity tips, take a look at the following for some great insight, tips and inspiration.

BLOG DESIGN 101, some helpful tips on color, font and more

8 TIPS FOR WRITING THE PERFECT BLOG from Lorie Huston, great writer and animal lover (she’s a vet, too!), all about keywords and tags and more.

PLEASE SIGN MY KINDLE!  here’s how...

PERFECT STORM LOOMS IN PUBLISHING from Bob Mayer’s Write-It-Forward

AWESOME NOVEL DIAGNOSIS TIPS, a peek inside the head (wowie!) of Kristen Lamb

REVISING & POLISHING YOUR NOVEL, guest blogger Jodie Renner at DP Lyle’s blog.

AMAZON’S KINDLE FIRE (TABLET), blog discussion from David Gaughran, and another great post on the topic from Jason Pinter

WRITER BEWARE! Aspen Mountain Press and also a great post on BAD CONTRACT CLAUSES

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Labor Day Travel & Pets

Welcome (almost) to Labor Day Weekend Travel, woo-woo! What do you have planned? Will you stay at home and catch up on (ew!) work? Or take a trip to celebrate the end of summer? Maybe you’ll shuffle across the state to spend time with family. Or perhaps it’s the perfect time to make that move to a new apartment or job.

What about the fur-kids? Will you take them with you for the trip to Grandma’s cookout? Or do you plan to take them along for that last summer fling to go to the lake? Do the cats enjoy rides in the cat carrier? Are the dogs eager to hop into the car? What about plane travel? Oooooh, so many questions!

BEWARE THE UN-FRIENDLY SKIES

My cat Seren isn’t a fan of carriers or cars. I can only imagine what all the hurled cat-curses would mean should she be asked to take a plane trip. I really cannot recommend taking any pet on board a plane as “baggage” these days. The scary stories abound of pets lost or injured at airlines when carriers are damaged or the cat or dog escapes. The most recent one chronicles Jack the cat lost at JFK baggage center just as the airport shut down for the hurricane last weekend. The owner has hired a pet-tracking canine to find her missing cat. But this wouldn’t have happened–or the risk would have been less–had she been allowed to take the cat in the cabin as carry-on luggage. Here’s an article with details to consider and tips for traveling with your cats by plane.

[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”500″ caption=”Luca rides in style! (Copr. KTJacobs via Flickr)” Luca

”Seren

MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG . . .

What about car travel? My first dog threw fits, cried, and even got sick on the drive home from the breeder. And that experience probably colored his entire future expectation of car rides. The first ride in the car takes him away from the only family he’s ever known. The next several car rides end up at the veterinarian for needle pokes for puppy vaccinations and rude cold thermometers inserted in uncomfortable places.

Cats are no different and actually may be worse because cats HATE CHANGE. Most dogs enjoy a bit of adventure so you can play up the fun aspect. How did you get your pets used to riding in cars? Here are some puppy car riding tips and they’ll work for adult dogs, too. The kitty version is here, including some crate training help.

LAKE CONCERNS & WARNINGS

I grew up in Northern Indiana, our house was on the river and I spent countless summer days in, on, and around the river and lakes including those in Michigan. In my new home state, North Texas boasts Lake Texoma–a man-made lake/reservoir that attracts swimmers, boaters, skiers, family vacationers–and their pets. Of course we want to ensure everyone has fun around (or in) the water but this summer a new warning made the rounds. Just in time for Labor Day, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers warned people to HAVE NO SKIN CONTACT with the water in Lake Texoma. No swimming allowed. They also warned of water spray risk if inhaled while boating. And drinking the water (can you say PETS?) also poses a risk. That’s because the drought lowered water levels while the heat encouraged the growth and bloom of blue-green algae, which releases toxins into the water.

This particular kind of blue-green algae is called cylindrospermopsis and blooms beneath the surface of the water–you won’t see mats, scum or foam associated with other blooms. Boaters and swimmers won’t know they’re in the middle of the stuff. Dogs won’t care. And the CDC warns that skin contact can cause skin irritation, inhaling water droplets can cause runny eyes and nose, sore throat, asthma-like symptoms or allergic reactions; and swallowing it can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and damage the liver, kidney and neurological systems. So check water recreation areas in your neck of the woods and keep yourself–and your pets–safe!

magic water 10

What are you doing this weekend with your pets? Magic will be playing hose-tag, while Seren catches up on some lap-sitting time. Oh and fair warning…I’m taking a (rare) day off on Monday to work on my thriller WIP so check back on Tuesday for the next blog. Have a fun and SAFE weekend!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Furry Friday: Lulu’s Furry Miracle

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I couldn’t do foster work, I don’t think. When I traveled for Purina as a spokesperson and visited countless shelters, the hardest part was walking away from all those needy bewhiskered faces. Bringing a fur-kid into the house, only to later give him/her away into the loving homes of another, would be rewarding but –I know this about myself — it would flat kill me.

Thank God there are rescue organizations and individuals who can do this!

While it sounds romantic to raise up cute babies and unwanted dogs or cats and give them a much needed second chance, reality ain’t the same. Dogs and cats are dumped, relinquished, lose homes for no fault of their own but challenging behavior problems and/or health issues make foster care even more daunting.

Did I mention God has a hand in such things? And the human angels on earth sometimes are granted miracles–my colleague and friend Carol Duncan gave me permission to share the latest. It seems particularly timely because of the BOOM-BOOM noise phobias mentioned in the Woof Wednesday blog that caused Lulu–that gorgeous Border Collie–in the picture–such angst. You see, Lulu panicked during a thunderstorm and tried to escape her crate, resulting in severe injuries that required hip surgery. Yes, they can do amazing things these days with cutting edge medicine for pets–and the video puts a furry face on some of these techniques.

I’ve seen other video of Carol’s foster BCs, one called Possum that was so fearful–and the progress made until she actually PLAYED with Carol’s other dogs. Makes me weepy again just to think of how far some of these fosters can come with the right care. Now, it’s Lulu’s chance.

Carol writes,

“I’m almost afraid to say anything lest I jinx myself, but Lulu, a BC is being adopted on Monday.  Lulu is reactive to other dogs and needs to go to a home with no other dogs.  Plus, she has hip dysplasia and is recovering from an FHO right now.  And she has mild urinary incontinence.  She barks a lot, too!  And she is sound sensitive, terrified of thunder and fireworks.  She is currently on Fluoxetine and Clonazepam.  She’s probably around 6 or 7 years old — has a lot of years left, we hope, but not a young dog, by any means.

Who would want such a dog?

Well, a couple in El Paso contacted me.  Their BC passed away in February at age 15.  The wife is a high school teacher and is home for the summer.  They chose to wait until the summer to get a new dog.  The wife really liked the way Lulu looks and wrote to me.  They have a pool and will be able to continue her rehab there.  They specifically wanted an older dog. And the last time they had a thunderstorm there was 2006. They had a fabulous vet reference and their home check was conducted yesterday by a woman who is a herding trial judge who lives in El Paso.”

WOW! Who can dare argue that God didn’t work a miracle? Well, the Almighty and human angels, that is–the rescue organization, veterinarians, and of course Carol and her furry crew of doggy helpers.

Are you involved in rescue work? What challenges do you individually and your rescue organization face? What about dogs (or cats) with hip dysplasia–have you ever included water therapy for your pets?

The cool video, below, shows Lulu receiving underwater treadmill therapy (WAY COOL!) from the Dallas Veterinary Surgical Center, so that Lulu’s new family has a demonstration how to continue Lulu’s rehab. Carol works with Border Collie Rescue Texas which paid for a good portion of Lulu’s treatment–but Carol funded quite a bit herself.

Love doesn’t come cheap! Think about supporting a rescue group in your area. Have you had similar miracle matches–please share!

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!