Tokki and Gus

Finding Gus

30th August 2020 – Tokki and Gus’ first meeting

Backstory After getting Tokki, I spent more time reading about rabbit behaviour, how to bond with them etc. I guess one of the dividing debate is whether your bunny will be happy being an only bunny or not. I was leaning towards the solo bunny due to cost of keeping a second bunny (vet fees, especially) and the fear of getting a destructive bunny. The horror stories I’ve heard from people about everything their bunny chews/destroys, I didn’t want to risk it as I think Tokki is the exception. My other fear is if the bonding doesn’t go well, I can’t afford the space to house two bunnies as I want them to be free roaming.
I found a bunny play date group and was planning to take Tokki there when they restarted their meetings.

When I went on my annual trip (holiday and to meet family) in November 2019, Alena (she was my neighbour then) very kindly helped me babysit Tokki. It was perfect as she would still be home and everything will be familiar. As it was my first time going away when I have a pet, I felt a bit bad as she would be by herself for a few weeks. Alena did spend some time with her but as Alena has her own cats to care for, it’s not quite the same. The heart breaking point was when I asked Alena how was Tokki when I was away and she replied, “She is okay but she looked a bit lonely.”

*cries*

I felt sooooooo bad for my poor baby. That was when I started seriously considering a second bunny.

I knew I wanted to go with a rescue rather than buying a bunny – so I started looking at listings for bunny adoptions. None came up suitable until August when I found SA Rabbit Rescue and Adoption – Tokki didn’t have much of a choice as Tippy (Gus’ original name as he has a white bit on the tip of his right ear) was the closest in size and age to her (that is male – recommended since it’ll be a bit easier to bond). That top photo looks so funny as Tokki was giving me the “GET ME OUT OF HERE!” look. Tippy was very happy and smitten – this could also be the hormones at the time since he wasn’t desexed yet. Sue had to have a water bottle handy to spray him if he tried mounting Tokki πŸ˜“

Tippy was the only male (left?) in the litter that was left at the door steps of a regional vet clinic. He and his sisters were brought to Adelaide and fostered by Sue. Maybe that was meant to be. I was a little hesitant since I read lop eared bunnies will have increased risks of ear infections/problems (I bumped into a patient at the vet I took Tokki to and the lop eared bunny had to have his/her ears cleaned out weekly! Imagine the fees!) but he was so cute! So even though I had my concerns, I paid the $20 initial fee for Tippy to go ahead with his surgery. They will not let you take a bunny home that’s not been desexed yet and I’m glad for that. They work closely with a local vet that does these surgeries at a very low rate (this will be part of the adoption fee, which I think is fair).

20th September 2020 The day of picking Gus up. After the first meeting, I thought of a name for Gus. I did consider leaving his name as Tippy since it would be T+T but somehow this name came up instead. And it’s not short for anything else fancy – I just thought of the simple, silly little rescue mouse in Cinderella πŸ˜‚ He just had a Gus vibe. In fact, his full name is “Gus Gus Gus Gus Gus”
[Eeeps! I just rewatched the clip of when the mouse was rescued – he was called Gus for short but Cinderella actually named him Octavius!]

Gus sat on my lap and let me pet him – without squirming or running away. This was one of the reasons I thought it was good to get him as I really wanted a cuddly bunny. I was hoping his “cuddliness” would rub off on Tokki. Little did I know it was all a ruse to get me to take him home. πŸ˜…

When we got home, I put Gus in my craft space as I read it’s best to try and bond them in a neutral area. However, I also read the neutral space should be close enough for the other bunny to see/smell each other! That’s not possible with him being so far away so I moved him right into Tokki’s territory. You’d think this fella would be a bit wary of his new surroundings that smells of Tokki but nope! Took it like a champ. In fact, it was Tokki that kept thumping and she hid under the sofa doing that 🀣

Compared to Tokki, Gus is sooooooooo relaxed. I saw him flop right in front of me on the first day home! I’ve yet to see Tokki do a proper flop with my own eyes, I’m not sure if she has ever done it since coming home with me. He did seem a bit nervous when Tokki came near to check him out – and he will poop on the blanket to mark his territory when she came near. His ear will also stick up when he is on alert.

I was very lucky with them – the bonding happened very quickly and went well. Alena also helped heaps when I was at work. From day 3 onwards (since she has stopped thumping and would come close to play pen), I started letting Tokki into the play pen for short periods of time (with supervision). Then slowly for longer periods of time (Tokki in play pen since I didn’t trust Gus to free roam yet) and then unsupervised. I was impressed with Gus as he has been using the litter box(es) to pee from the first day he got home – so I then started to leave the play pen door open for him to explore the house (supervised). Everything I learned from my first experience with Tokki, I applied to my journey in making Gus a free roam bun. I am also very thankful for Alena as she helped in the initial stages of their bonding process.

My worst fear did come through – Gus was a bunny very keen on bunstructions. The first day I let him free roam unsupervised (because he had been very well behaved all the times when I let him out of the play pen supervised), I came back to ripped couch.

*sigh*

I was very upset and frustrated but I know better now that I can’t be upset with him as that is in his nature. He also ripped the ottoman from his digging. He was VERY fond of digging, often digging up the litter box as well. What a mess! Tokki was never this messy. However, he makes Tokki happy and I also feel happy when I see him being so relaxed (a sign that a bunny is happy/comfortable/trusts you or his environment).

Gus made me a better bunmum, I think. My bunnies are very different in personalities and likes, so it’s important to cater to those differences for the sake of a nice home. πŸ˜…
From that faithful day of coming home to ripped couch and ottoman, I started getting more toys/chew items for Gus – better he destroys things he is meant to. I got IQ toys for Tokki and made dig boxes with hidden pellets for her. I braved myself and attempted clipping their nails again (I tried when it was just Tokki but I was too afraid of hurting her since she was so small. I have gained more confidence to do it on my own now) – Gus’ nails get really sharp when he digs so they easily rip things up if I don’t trim them regularly. I now have a firmer grip on them when I pick them up for grooming or to get them in the carrier (they hate me after but hey, gotta do what I gotta do). I also made sure I properly bunny proof all those irresistible “spicy hay” (wires 🀣).

Ah, Gussy Gus Gus.
You gave me very many first experiences as a bunmum. Thank you for coming into my life and making me feel included by doing all those things other bunny owners have experienced. 😝
The couch, the ottoman, the holes in my clothing, the holes in blanket, the USB cord to the pet cam (making me think the internet was out), the water bowl, the mess…but Tokki loves you very much as her husbun so that’s all that matters.

Extra When Gus first came back, his thumpers were so yellow. Within a month, it was much cleaner (with the help of Tokki and also their litter boxes are cleaned twice daily) and now, they are fluffy white. πŸ₯°
In the first few weeks, Gus’ poops had a very pungent BO smell but eventually, it’s no longer noticeable (or did I get used to it?)

Bunnies do need work to keep them happy and clean – it’s a commitment and bunnies are not any less than other pets. Please think it through when getting any pet home and remember that they depend entirely on us as domesticated pets.

Tokki – always my baby girl

Sunday 26th May 2019 – this was the day I went to “have a look” at the “baby bunnies” Silv had at home

Backstory Silv came in one day and asked every one at work if they wanted baby bunnies. I’ve always wanted a pet when I have my own place and to me, a pet = a dog. I didn’t give too much thought about Silv’s question about the bunnies because I had a plan to adopt/get a dog after my 40th (and Scottish hiking trip with JoFo). I was never ever tempted or considered taking any bunnies home as a pet. Sure! They are cute, but because of my {pet = dog} mindset, they’ve never come up as a pet option.

I was having my lunch break and Silv came in asking the same question. Izzy was sitting across me and she very quickly answered, “Yea! I’ll take them.”
I looked at Izzy and asked, “Uhm…what about Boston? I don’t think German Shepherds go well with bunnies?” Turned out, she thought Silv was offering game meat. πŸ™ˆ

Silv explained that she got given baby bunnies from her friend who didn’t know they had a pair of male & female bunnies when got them from the pet store (?). She also mentioned that they are small and “won’t grow any bigger” – I kind of wondered how would she know they won’t grow any bigger since they are still babies. However, for some reason, this time I said, “Yeah, I’ll come have a look!”
I did a quick read up about bunnies as pets (why? I don’t know πŸ˜…) and I also asked Ju for advice/thoughts since she has Rupert. Somehow I was drawn to the part where bunnies can be cuddly, independent and toilet trained (I “blame” YouTube videos of Lennon the Bunny. πŸ™ˆ)

So Sunday came and somehow my heart has decided to take a bunny home as a pet. (Yes, yes, I know better now but at that time, I THOUGHT I was prepared for it). When I got to Silv’s place, I was taken to where the “baby bunnies” were and I was half surprised to see how big they were. I initially wanted to take the grey one home but Silv told me that her sister already wanted that one as a pet. So I looked at the other corner and the rest looked similar. The only thing that was different is that Tokki was the only brown/broken bunny; the rest were grey/broken. This was why I made the choice to take her home.

The cage they were in was quite deep and I did not know how to handle a bunny. I was also afraid they may bite. In the end, Silv’s mum got Tokki out for me. Looking back at photos, I now know she was actually so scared with her nostrils flaring. I had to stop the car within a minute of driving off from Silv’s place because Tokki managed to jump out of the box we put her in! I didn’t have a carrier, I didn’t have ANYTHING at home.
My heart wanted a pet but my head told me it’s not time; so I guess if I didn’t buy anything in advance, it’s not real. I was prepared but not prepared, if that makes sense. So after choosing Tokki, I stopped at PetStock and bought the bare minimum (litter tray, litter, hay, water bottle and pellets). I also stopped at Kmart to get a pet crate. Thankfully all this was before 5pm – it was a Sunday after all.

There was a bit of drama and me breaking down after taking Tokki home.
It was due to my unrealistic expectation as an inexperienced bunny mama. I didn’t understand why she kept running away when I tried to get near here. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t pee in the litter box I got her and peed on the edge of my carpet. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t let me cuddle her. I was just trying to love her!
I was trying to save money but I found out how much it would cost to keep a bunny (it’s NOT a bigger hamster) in terms of vet fees. I read that if I don’t get her desexed, it may be more difficult to toilet train AND her lifespan will be shortened due to the risk of uterine cancer. This in turn stressed me out even more because then NOT doing the surgery is not an option (then the stress of cost of keeping a pet I can’t cuddle – I kept thinking why is she not like Lennon the bunny). I got a bunny “for free” but it costs me so much more to keep her.
I cried when I found out bunnies could live for up to 10 years or more. What about my dog plan? How can I afford it? How would they live together? I don’t want to cage any of them up.
I cried when I found out that she had peed on the edge of my carpet again (only within 10 minutes of letting her out of the crate) – this is when I was running late for work. I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t use the litter box (it’s been 3 days!!! πŸ˜…) I was so frustrated that I complained to Silv while trying to hold tears back. Silv said I could give Tokki back but somehow I felt like I can’t turn back on my decision on that Sunday. I said that I will take Tokki to the vet and then decide on it then…however, as you now know, the rest is history.

So after deciding to be a responsible bunny mama and to keep Tokki, I took even more effort to learn about bunnies and how to care for them. I got her desexed (it’s official when she takes my last name 😁) and did the litter training again, slowly expanding her roaming area and time. The vet told me she suspected Tokki could’ve been pregnant when they did the procedure and we guessed that she could be around 6-8 months old – this would explain why Silv said they “won’t grow any bigger” (I have a feeling they tried to feed them like how they fed their other meat rabbits but because they are a dwarf mix, it was the maximum size they’d grow to). I found out I am allergic to Timothy Hay so she can only have Oaten Hay.
I got a playpen from Kmart and expanded her crate area so she’d have more space to exercise in while I’m not home. I spent time with her at her level and found out she was food motivated (agreeable to learning tricks). Slowly, she became a free roam bunny but because she was afraid of the floorboards, she was naturally confined to the living area. The only time she’d brave the floorboards is when she comes into my carpeted room. I got a couple more of carpets for the living area, bought toys, bought treats, grew parsley (I don’t like parsley), made a hay feeder and “extension” for her crate…people were telling me I spoil her. You think so? πŸ€”πŸ€ͺ
From being indifferently responsible to Tokki to having googly eyes over her because SHE’S THE CUTEST BUNNY EVER! πŸ₯° I can’t imagine not having Tokki in my life now.

Silv told me she didn’t know what happened to all of Tokki’s siblings. Her stories didn’t match up every time I asked her and it didn’t match up with what her sister said (when I asked her about the grey bunny). Sister said they died and Silv said they escaped. We will never know, huh? 😏
So the dramatised version of how I adopted Tokki is that I saved her from being eaten. 😳

Also a reminder: please do not use live animals as gifts or take them home without doing your research first. If you’re not prepared to care for them, please don’t be tempted or blinded by their cuteness. I may not be qualified to give you this advice since I took a bunny home without doing enough research and had unrealistic expectations. πŸ˜…
Please don’t make the same mistake as I did – it could save you a lot of tears and frustrations. If it’s too late and you’ve taken one home, please do not forget the moment that made you decide to take them home. πŸ₯Ί

P/S: Please don’t leave any hate here. I personally have not eaten rabbit and choose not to. I am in no position to judge as I do eat other meat. This is written just for the story of how Tokki came into my life.