My Furry Overlords: Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane has lived with me for about three and a half years. As far as she’s concerned, I am a badly trained servant she inherited when she moved in with my other rabbit, Noel. I strive to keep Sarah happy, as when she is unhappy, she takes it out on the bedlinen. With her teeth. As you can see from her picture, she is a gorgeous girl, with a slim elegant nose and those fabulous ears. She’s so big, you want to just pick her up and hug her. Don’t. She can turn quilts into eyelet. If she’s in the mood, she will lower her head and you may pet her and be grateful for the honor.

I got Sarah when I had taken Noel and my other rabbit Robbie home to Baton Rouge with me for Christmas. Robbie was a sweetheart, but he had a condition called head tilt which was caused by an infection in the middle ear, leading to him holding his head at a permanent angle. He had some trouble getting around at first, but he adapted well and was a happy, loving guy. I had brought them home with me because Robbie had an abscess in his jaw that required surgery beyond what my usual vet could do so he was seen by the head of exotics at the LSU Vet School Clinic. My dad was a professor at LSU Vet School, so I grew up in a house where pets got the same level of care as we did. Robbie was an older rabbit, and it was major surgery. He made it through, but went into cardiac arrest as they were closing the incision. Rabbits bond very strongly, and when one half of a bonded pair dies the survivor can mourn to death. Robbie and Noel were best friends, and I didn’t want Noel to be on his own. My dad knows a vet in New Orleans who works with rabbits, and he had a girl available for adoption. We drove down with Noel to see if they would get along.

Matching rabbits can be difficult. Before Noel I had Beatrix, and she beat up three males before deciding Robbie would be fine for her. I got Noel when she died, and Robbie accepted him right away. I hoped Noel would be as easy going. We got to the clinic, and they got Sarah out and put her on the floor. I put Noel down to see how they would get along. He was very polite and gracious, a little shy. So she humped his head. He expressed his displeasure by hopping away. He tried again to be friends. She humped his head again. As they weren’t trying to kill each other, I figured it was good enough. And car rides in a carrier do wonders for bonding rabbits, and we had an hour drive home for them to find common ground in being freaked out at being in a box in a moving vehicle.

Sarah was pretty rowdy from the start. Noel is a gentleman, so well behaved and patient. Well, he can take issue with the cats if they loiter and will move them along with a gruff shove and a bark. Sarah was bouncing around like a crazy thing, and my mom was none too happy about my bringing them into the living room in the evenings so they would have more room to run around. They’re fully litter trained, but mom doesn’t always believe it. I should mention before this next part that Noel was long neutered, but Sarah was just six months old and hadn’t been spayed yet. Well, one night, I guess Noel had had enough and decided he was going to be dominant. And mounted Sarah Jane all over the living room carpet. My parents found this hilarious, I felt like I was watching my kids in a porno. I guess that one act of domination was all she needed, because Sarah calmed down and started respecting Noel, and never humped his head again. Noel slowly taught her the wonders of hanging out next to each other, but just laying there with her and patiently staying even when she got bored and squirmy. He used the same patience to get her in the habit of mutual grooming, though I think I remember her licking him the wrong way at first.

They’ve got it down now, and the two of them are disgustingly cute to watch. They’ll just hang out under the kitchen table, Sarah tucked up and Noel sprawled out. When Sarah needs comfort she tucks her head under Noel’s chin and he licks her head. At treat time, she sometimes gets overexcited and turns into one of those punching nun puppets, complete with barking noises. Noel does not like being punched in the head when he’s trying to enjoy a yummy treat, but he never hits back. Couple minutes later and they’ll be back next to each other, like nothing ever happened.

People always ask me how the cats get along with the rabbits, and I have to say it depends on the individual cat and rabbit in question. My first rabbit Lindy, ten years ago, enjoyed scaring the cats and chasing them off. He and my cat Toad learned quickly that Lindy could hit Toad and not get in trouble, but if Toad hit back he’d be punished. Lindy took full advantage of this. My next rabbit, Beatrix, basically adopted my cat Badger as her kitten, and he grew up hanging out with her and Lindy. Bea would hold him down and bathe him, and when she got sick, he would curl up with her when she was having a bad day. Robbie never quite understood the cats, mostly ignoring them, and Noel tried to protect me from Toad when they were both on the bed. This did not go over well with Toad. Zelda, the cat who came with my house, found the rabbits fascinating and would sit and watch them for hours, trying to figure out what they were and how to befriend them. Then came Sarah, and all rules were out the window. Sometimes she would be demure and scared of them, sometimes she was devil bun and went for them, and they never knew what to expect. Even Badger was spooked by her, bless her mad little soul.

Toad died of cancer last winter at 17, and I got a new Siamese kitten named Nick over Christmas in Baton Rouge. I brought him home with me, fully expecting that Sarah could and would kill him if she disliked him. She is a great rabbit, full of personality, but she is a strong mother fucker and could tear you open with her wicked strong back legs if she had a mind to. It’s been six months, and Nick has yet to catch on to the fact that the rabbits do not enjoy playing “Pat the Bunny” as much as he does. He and Sarah bounce at each other, she charges him and shoos him away when he’s bugging her, but she hasn’t tried to kill him yet. I see her watching him, and I think she’s trying to decide how she can use him to her advantage, bend him to her will.

She’s got me doing her bidding. When I’m eating an apple on the couch, she hears me and comes to ask for a piece. She prefers Granny Smith, so those are the only apples I buy anymore. I love biting off a piece for her, having her take it in her mouth and hop off into the kitchen to eat it, then come back for more. She’s discovered I sometimes have fun food in the bed, so she jumps up to share tortilla chips and almonds. And allows me to pet her while she eats. This is much better than what she used to do, which was jump up on the bed and dig and pull the covers off me. I’m starting to think she might like me. Well, at least tolerate me for food.

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May 23, 2010. Tags: , . Pets.

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