June 22, 2007

Then there was hope

Posted in bunnies, real life, turtle, Willow at 11:43 pm by nevavegan

I’ve been sort of at the end of my rope lately. Some of it I’ve posted here, some is just internal stuff stirring up on me, some is other areas of stress in my life, and it’s all been coming together in this perfect storm. It makes me want to hide from the world.

Then this afternoon I walked my dogs, through our neighborhood, past the litter, past the dumped carpets and abandoned shopping carts, toward the park. And right before we got to the park the dogs started sniffing furiously, and there maybe 20 feet from the creek, a yellow slider turtle was digging a hole to lay her eggs.

I was not expecting to encounter any turtles. I had to yank the dogs back kind of quickly. The turtle looked at us defiantly as if to say “It took me a long time to dig this hole, and I’m not giving it up.” I took the dogs away a distance so we could watch, but Nikita kept whining, so I took them further away and all we could see was the turtle’s shiny shell, like a tiny glint in the distance. When we saw the turtle moving away we came back and watched her slow progress back to the creek where she vanished into the murky water.

She had covered her nest over so perfectly, even kicked some torn grass blades over it to disguise it. It was just such a beautiful thing.

Then we walked home, dripping sweat, only to get ambushed by small children wanting to pet the rabbits. This is usually ok, because it’s usually just the three little girls from next door. Somehow word spread this time and there were more knocks at the door and before I knew it I had eight children varying from tiny to tall all petting the rabbits. The rabbits eventually had enough and hid, so the kids switched to doting on Willow, the only cat brave enough to show her face. Willow ate it up.

The littlest girl was so funny though. At one point an older girl picked up a pack of gum Sean had left that only had one piece left and asked “What’s this?” I think she knew, but anyway I said it was gum, but there wasn’t enough for everyone. The tiniest little girl heard and said “I like gum.” Then everyone shifted around again, running up and down the stairs to offer the bunnies various veggies. The littlest girl came up to me again and said “Did you know that I like gum?” I told her again there just wasn’t enough to go around. A little while later the pack was empty on the floor and she was chewing furiously. I hope it was ok for her to have it. But anyway, it gets funnier.

Ever since we rescued Willow and saved her from her near starvation she has been the neediest cat in the world. She loves to be loved. However, when people pet her she drools, and not just a little. People come over and we warn them about the drool and they say “oh, my cat drools too.” We say “No, your cat does not drool like this, here use this towel.” They don’t believe us, but then five minutes later they’re asking for the towel.

Anyway this very small little girl squeezed onto the chair next to Willow and was hugging and kissing her and Willow was loving it. Then as all the kids were leaving, the little girl said to me “Your cat is very sweaty” as she wiped her arms and hands. I didn’t tell her it was drool because I was cracking up. I hope she cleaned up when she got home though. I actually didn’t think Willow would drool on the children because I didn’t think she’d relax enough with so much squealing and laughing going on.

Anyway, it’s a good thing because the kids will ask “did you buy your rabbits?” and I tell them no, we rescued them. And they said Willow was a nice cat and I told that she’d been abandoned and nearly starved but we saved her. They asked where you can go to get pets and I told them about the shelter. Small stuff, but planting seeds of compassion.

May 22, 2007

I’d do anything for you, except the one thing you need

Posted in bunnies, companion animals, health at 10:51 pm by nevavegan

I brought up recently that I took Jasper the rabbit to the vet and the vet called him “obese.” Not “you’ve got a chubby rabbit here.” But “obese.”

My first response was to say that Jasper wasn’t obese. Sure he could be a little more active, but he’s just a big bunny…. No, the truth was I had let my bunny get overweight to the point that it was detrimental to his health.

This makes me sound like the worst bunny-mom ever, but it happened so gradually I didn’t see it coming. First Jasper really wasn’t socialized at all when we adopted him, so the only real way to interact with him was to coax him out with bits of apple or dried cherries. Then we were putting out dry food for both him and Juniper and we kind of knew that Juniper was elderly and eating less and he was getting more, but that was ok, right? Then Juniper died, and Jasper was all alone, so how else was I going to comfort him except to shower him in every type of delicious treat. The weight gain was so gradual that he didn’t look any different to me from the day he’d come into our house.

It took someone else shining a light on the problem for me to wake up. Luckily Jasper has two new friends now to keep him company and lots of hay to chew on. He still gets treats from time to time, but fewer now and the dry food is carefully measured.

We’re actually trying to be better with all of our rescued animals. Now with the cats I’m trying to crack out the toys, not treats, to bond with them. It’s hard not to give the dogs those cute little dog cookies sometimes, but they also have to go outside and walk and run with me.

It’s kind of scary how easy it is to harm the health of those we love, even with the best intentions. I’ve always loved to cook, and I totally would shower my husband with baked goods at every turn… He told me to stop actually. No more cookies, no more cakes! It feels like such total rejection to me, in a way, because I do base so much of my self image on being a nurturer, being the one who makes the food and hands it out, and then gets the praise of how good that food is. I’m finding healthy dishes to make though of course, and still sometimes I make beer battered tofu, but I can’t do it to excess.

But our country is in the middle of a human obesity epidemic that likely has its roots in just these issues. And oddly enough, right along with the human obesity epidemic is a companion animal obesity epidemic. At the same time that we’re finding starving cats and dogs living off scraps from garbage cans, record numbers of dogs, cats, rabbits, and even other animals are going to the vet with health problems from eating too much in general and too much junk in particular.

I think about this with regard to companion animals who are totally dependent on us. We love them so much we’d do absolutely anything for them. We’d take them to the vet, let them sleep in our beds, change our schedules for them. But we won’t do the one thing they need, which is make the nutritional and food portion decisions they can’t make for themselves.

Especially with rescued animals, some of them just have the “full button” permanently broken. Torty, my ex-feral cat would probably eat herself into a coma if she had the chance. She knows what it’s like to be hungry, and she doesn’t ever want to experience that again. That’s instinct. Outside it would help her store calories for the lean times ahead. But I’m the one in charge here and I know I’ll feed her tomorrow and the next day and the next. So I have to sometimes say no. Even if she begs. Even if she makes terrible crying noises and I feel like the meanest person on earth.

Of course, this is sadly true for a lot of human children too. Their parents need to force them to eat some veggies and say no to some donuts, but another rant, another time, I suppose.