14 May 2014

An Open Letter To The Person Who Abandoned My Bunny

Here is what I know about you:

In the spring of 2008, you were living somewhere in the Washington D.C./Northern Virginia/Maryland area. Sometime that summer, you took your 4-pound pet lionhead rabbit and released him outside, figuring he could fend for himself. He was eventually picked up as a stray and taken to an animal shelter in D.C., a facility that was operating at near full capacity and had been euthanizing nearly every rabbit it received.

That didn’t happen to your rabbit. 

In August, a Maryland rabbit rescue swooped in and rescued him from the shelter. They named him Custer, because of his caramel-colored muttonchops. He went to live with a foster mom in Maryland named Lori. I met him at her house a few weeks later. 

I was in no position to adopt a rabbit – I had just completed graduate school at the University of Maryland and was preparing to move to Virginia for a new job, writing news features for a newspaper in the Shenandoah Valley – and was at Lori’s to meet a different bunny named Bubba and to “learn about what it means to have a pet rabbit.” But then I walked in and saw your bunny in his cage, and I asked, “Can I hold that one?” and Lori picked him up and placed him on my chest and he looked at me with his brown eyes and twitched his nose and that was pretty much that. I took him home a few days later. 

I named him Henry. 

He lived with me and my cats for six years before dying two weeks ago, quite suddenly, of heart failure. My vet discovered after that he had a tumor on his adrenal gland that was releasing steady streams of adrenaline and epinephrine into his bloodstream, and the hormonal onslaught was too much for his little heart to take.

He was not in pain. He did not die alone. And he had a very good life.

I don’t think you know too much about him – if you did, you would never have given him up willingly – so I wanted to tell you some things about Henry. 

His full name was Henry James Bunman (used mostly when he was being naughty). He was very brave and very curious. He liked to meet new people and enjoyed bossing my cats around. He liked cilantro, parsley (he was partial to the flat-leaf kind), baby kale, baby carrots, mint, watermelon and Cheez-Its. He was not a fan of dill. 

In the mornings while I made my coffee, he would hop into the pantry and steal packets of Splenda. When he wanted a treat, he would stand on his back feet and inch slowly forward until he was standing on my feet. Sometimes he chewed on my hair. 
Nothing made him happier than having a blanket on the floor all to himself. 
He gave lots of kisses. 
If you weren’t paying enough attention to him, he would nudge your feet with his nose repeatedly. When he wanted snuggles – we called them “bungles” – he would come stand by the couch on his hind feet, and I would pick him up, and he would hop onto the back of the couch and settle in right next to me. I would pet him and rest my forehead on his forehead and tell him that he was a good bunny, the best bunny, and my favorite bunny in the whole entire world. 

I have always felt conflicted about you, because Henry didn’t deserve what you did to him, but on the flip side, he so very obviously deserved a better home than the one that you gave him. And if you hadn’t let him go, I would never have been able to have him in my life, to rub his ears and kiss his nose and tell him what a good boy he was. Because he was. 

So thank you for not realizing what you had when you had him. He was cherished until the very end of his life. I don’t know if you ever missed him or thought about him, but please know that I do and I will.

He was a very good bunny.

He was my bunny.

28 April 2014

Weekend snaps

Summer, for all intents and purposes, is here (I live in the South, we have no time for your transitional seasons). The weather is perfect, if stormy, from now until about June, and then things turn disgusting and my hair grows three sizes in the manner of the Grinch's heart, and I make Brandon sit at least a foot away from me at all times because it's too hot for touching, and it is a struggle to leave the bliss of air-conditioned indoor spaces.
But for now, it's lovely; 70-80 degrees and low humidity and I don't want to die every time I go outside, so we have been taking advantage of living on the coast before the tourists arrive en masse. This weekend we rented a paddleboat and toured Greenfield Lake for an hour, visiting with turtles and fish and one very slow-moving alligator, and we also spent a wonderful afternoon at the beach, playing cards and reading and quickly moving our stuff away from the shifting high-tide line. It was a very good weekend. And now...Monday.


25 April 2014

Like they do on the Discovery Channel

I took my bunny to the vet on Monday to get a hormone-regulating chip implanted between his shoulder blades. It’s like Implanon for rabbits. Implanbun, if you will. Birth buntrol.



Mr. Henry James Bunman is a very adorable, stuffed-animal-looking 4-pound lionhead rabbit. He is a rescue – an Easter gift someone got bored with and dumped outside an animal shelter in D.C. – so I’m not sure how old he is, but I am sure that he’s neutered, and that he has been since I brought him home in 2008. In those six years, he’s never behaved badly beyond chewing some of my belongings that I would rather he not chew, so you can imagine my surprise when he spent last weekend trying to mount my cat.

Horny rabbits are a funny thing. Boys do this weird mating dance, where they hop in circles around their object of affection while making a soft, strange "honking" noise. After effectively communicating his desire, Henry gets up behind Sophie and starts sniffing her back, starting at the base of her tail and working his way up. And then he, you know, tries to get down. Sophie – also spayed! Are you reading, Bob Barker? – is decidedly Not Into This. I am also Not Into This, and spend most of it awkwardly walking around, flapping my hands and yelling, “NO ONE IS INTERESTED IN YOUR MAN LOVE, HENRY!” Sophie deals more productively, mostly by bopping him on the head and walking away, and as the rejections pile up, Henry gets more frustrated and thus more aggressive. The whole thing usually ends with me giving up and putting him in his cage, where he chews the bars in a way that reminds me of prisoners in jail scraping their tin cups back and forth against the walls of their cells.

It’s actually normal for neutered rabbits to behave like this occasionally, but since Henry never had in our six years together, I figured it wasn’t “normal” in our case. So I called the vet. And y’all, I can’t. I am a grown-up, everyone at the vet’s office is a grown-up, but I had to tell this story to three people and I could not get through it once without snorting. Only one of those three people – and not, it should be noted, the vet – managed to listen to the whole thing without laughing. ADULTHOOD: WE HAVE IT.

It turns out that this sort of sudden reversion to hormonal behavior is almost always caused by an adrenal gland problem, usually brought on by tumors (typically benign). The vet could have operated to remove the adrenal glands completely, but because it’s not a surefire solution, and because Henners is in the last few years of his life and is not in any pain, I don’t see the point in putting him through that long and difficult recovery process. So we opted for the implant. After giving Henry an awkward groin-region rub-down to make sure he didn’t have any “testicular remnants” (Y’ALL), they took him into a back room to insert the implant. Apparently it involves a very large needle, and apparently he was Very Brave. Four pounds of steel, my bunny is.

Oh yes, that's blood on his nose. His own blood, from burying himself inside the towel when the vet was trying to check his teeth and ripping out his own thumbnail. He's fine. NERVES OF STEEL, THAT ONE.

Three full days later, I can’t really tell if it’s making a difference. He’s still honking and trying to get all up on Sophie, and she is still Not Having It. He seems maybe slightly less aggressive about it (?), but still gets, shall we say, extremely amorous at night. My vet said it’ll take a week or two to kick in, so I guess it’s just a waiting game at this point. (An awkward, horny waiting game that nobody is enjoying.) If the implant doesn’t end up working, I will remain convinced this whole thing is a government ploy to keep tabs on the extremely important happenings around my house.

Joke’s on you, NSA. All that happens around here is a lot of snacks, books and ridiculous group text messages.

A good use of taxpayer money, to be sure.

For people like me who are interested in animal care costs - as vet trips go, this wasn’t too expensive. Total bill: $197 - $47 for the exam and $150 for the implant. I have pet insurance for Henry through VPI*, so pending approval of my claim, I should end up having to pay around $60 of that. Cheapest turning-my-bunny-into-a-cyborg trip ever.

*VPI paid me zilch to disclose that. I doubt VPI even knows I exist, minus the money I send them every month. Sup VPI.

19 April 2014

some notes on my butt

I am ONCE AGAIN sidelined with a random running injury.  Let us list my athletic medical history!

1. Runner's knee. They crackle to this day. Impressively.
2. Achilles tendonitis. I had to wear running shoes to and from the statehouse in Maryland and then stand in the lobby and awkwardly put heels on while trying not to make eye contact with any of the politicians. It was fashionable and not awesome.
3. BENIGN LEG TUMOR (my personal favorite). That shit is still in there, being benign and never ever hurting, except for that one time when I was training for a half marathon and it decided to hurt all the time and scare everyone. Here it is in all its glory:

It's that huge black thing wrapping around the bone. It looks scary, but it literally does nothing but sit there. Kind of like me right now, which brings us to:
6. Some butt thing idk. I would be more specific, but a team (A TEAM!) (but decidedly not the A-team) of physical therapists has no idea what's going on. I think it's piriformis syndrome, which is a fancy way of saying that I've somehow pissed off a muscle deep inside my butt, but the doctors can't agree on anything. To "recover," I'm basically half-assing a bunch of PT exercises that don't seem to help or hit the correct spot. Some days it hurts, some days it doesn't. I'm friends with ice packs and heating pads and ibuprofen and whining. Standard. (My poor boyfriend, y'all. I am lucky that he is the sweetest.)

Us and my butt, in happier running times.

In the mean time, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself, aside from canceling my registration for the marathon I was going to do in June. Registering for races and then not getting to run them is totally becoming my jam. I think I will get a second opinion from a doctor who maybe knows what he's doing. I think I will try to bike, I guess, but that hurts my extremely bony butt in a whole other kind of way, which seems to sort of defeat the purpose.

On the plus side, I am relatively sure that there is not a tumor in my butt. Though I guess that would be the logical progression of my life.

That time I ran a half-marathon pain-free. I remember you fondly,
on account of you were a month ago.

Edited to add: existing tags I added to this post include "ow my butt," "it's not a toomah," "sadness and woe" and "these tags are ridiculous." Just. What.

29 January 2014

a tropical heat wave

It's cold in Wilmington and I can see snow on the ground from my couch. Snow! This hasn't happened in the three years that I've lived here and predictably, the city can't deal at all. Everything that can be shut down is shut down, which irritated me to no end - IT'S LIKE TWO INCHES OF SNOW YOU PEOPLE ARE SO WEAK - until my office was included on that list. At which point I was all, "Oh, yeah, it is kind of bad out there, maybe we should all stay inside until Saturday."

I did venture out twice, once to take a little photo walk and the second to go to the gym. It took about 15 minutes to drive the two miles there, only to find that the gym was closed despite its Facebook page telling me it wouldn't be (liars). There were a bunch of guys in the parking lot and when I turned to leave they all piled into their BMW and spent 10 minutes turning doughnuts in the parking lot. They were idiots - it's a large stretch of pavement, but there are a lot of light poles scattered throughout it - but it reminded me of being 17, when it would snow for days and my boyfriend would take me to the empty high school parking lot to do the same thing. I turned that into dramatic poetry post-breakup - "You pull the emergency brake and we go in circles," is how I worded it - but today the only drama is the fact that my hot water pipes are once again frozen and I can't shower. Apologies to my coworkers tomorrow. I tried.

(Title is a reference to this...

...which I always, always think of when it snows.)