Maddie and Teddy

I drove to Brooklyn and back, all by myself. I brought my passport, just in case they checked at the border and gave some cute stamp. But enough about me—this is about Maddie and Teddy.

Several weeks ago, Maddie developed an abscess on the bottom of her back paw. Maddie and Teddy’s mom sought immediate veterinary treatment at the incomparable Catnip and Carrots Veterinary Hospital and her foot has since healed well.  Over the course of the healing, Maddie and Teddy’s mom and I got to talking about the emotional and metaphysical connections to physical changes and injury. We talked about the connection to feminine energy and the side on which Maddie developed the abscess. I told their mom to read some of my past blog entries about Reiki and rabbits. We decided a Reiki treatment was in order.

I took my pilgrimage west. Upon my arrival to their home, Maddie and Teddy promptly hid behind furniture—stranger in the house! To start our session of sharing energy, I anointed myself with Frankincense and called on our guides to support all beings and objects who are open to the energy.  I started “working” on Maddie first. She “showed” me the color grey. Her third eye chakra is blocked and she has trouble believing in her own instincts so we worked together to shift that energy (and I knew it! There’s the connection to the abscessed feminine energy in her paw!). Maddie “told” me that she feels very secure and loved.

Her root chakra is very solid.  She did not want any hands-on work, which is incredibly interesting when compared to the ridiculously lavish snuggle session she and I had after the Reiki was over. Maddie flopped as soon as I started working with her husbun Teddy.

Teddy doesn’t want anyone to know his “secrets” or about his past, in a silly, playful way, so much so that he ran across the room and up the stairs! Teddy is very funny, like a cartoon character in his spirit. He “showed” me the numbers 2, 3 and 2 again. His sacral chakra is low or blocked so we worked to open up that energy. Overall he has a very chill energy. He loves music and the flow of water. It is likely that he is a water sign, but tough for us to do his astrological chart since we don’t know his exact birthdate!

Together, Maddie and Teddy love being a couple and they know they are with this family forever. I am very grateful to Maddie and Teddy’s mom for allowing me to share Reiki with her furbabies. Much love!

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Valerie

I don’t do diapers, but I’ll gladly do litter boxes.  We bunny-sat for Valerie this weekend.  Call her a BWB (big white bunny), REW (rudy-eyed white), but the most fitting label for her is Snuggle Bunny!  This girl can cuddle for hours.  It’s kind of funny—people, especially those with kids, who inquire about adopting a rabbit often think they want a dwarf or other small rabbit.  Here’s where it gets funny… the little ones usually aren’t the cuddly ones!  The BWBs and REWs, in my modest five+ years experience are the lovers.  The little guys just want to get away from you (with some exceptions of course).

BWBs are the hidden gem of the companion animal world.  They are puppy-like, without the need for outdoor walks and pooper-scoopers.  They are sweet and playful.  They are abundant in love and cuteness.

Valerie snuggled with me more from Friday to Sunday than my boys have for the entirety of 2017.  I was able to read a book next to her without her trying to eat it—Peanut and Tater have “personalized” many novels.  Valerie is one the neatest rabbits I have ever encountered, and I handle, on average, 15 rabbits per week.  She made one, yes one, “bunny button” outside of her litter box over the three days she was here.  Unfamiliar environment, unfamiliar rugs, still neat.  She’s a dream come true with big ol’ ears.  And you should see those binkies!

Falling in line with how things go around here, Valerie loves the Bunny-Daddy far more than she loves me.  I clean; he feeds.  The logic is there.  She and I would be in the thick of a 20+ minute patting session… then the door would open.  Footsteps on the stairs to the lower level.  And she would bolt away from, poised at the far end of the double-pen, waiting for her new bestie to come for a visit.  Forget me—Bunny-Daddy is here.  Thanks, girl.

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Bunny-Daddy and his favorite girl

We absolutely loved having her here and begrudgingly gave her back to her wonderful family last night.  They’ve become great friends of ours, just like you parents with human children make mom and dad friends.  They get us.  And I try not to get jealous of how perfect their little angel is while I’m cleaning up hundreds of stray “bunny buttons” in our living room.

Valerie’s parents, thank you for sharing her with us for the weekend.  She’s welcome back here, any time.  Much love.

The Business of Bonding

Alternate title: Lies My Rabbits Told Me

How do you best admit struggle when you’re the leader?  How do you exhale and admit, “It’s getting tough for us over here!” when you’re the one people turn to when the stuff gets tough for them?

Confession: bonding got tough this week, out of seemingly nowhere (but not actually nowhere when I stopped to think about it).  Quick catch-up for those of you who haven’t tuned in before: lived side-by-side for 5 years, moved to a new home one month ago, started official bonding the day we moved, all was going very well.  Then, I guess middle of this past week, the little bits of circling or chasing that would happen occasionally but diffuse quickly and on their own started to pop off into near-fights or actual fights.  And I couldn’t tell anyone, besides the Bunny-daddy of course.  I’m the one who gives bonding advice or at least connects you to the people who can give you the best advice—how could I admit that the relationship-building took a turn for the tough in my own living room?

Drop the ego.  Get it together.  But in the thick of it all, I wasn’t paying attention fully.  I wasn’t using my “toolbox” of mindfulness and personal development that I teach about!  If I was, I would have realized that Tater stopped grooming Peanut, a loving and lengthy ritual that Peanut began to expect at the beginning of and periodically throughout the exercise time/bonding sessions.  Of late, Peanut had even begun to reciprocate the grooming—it was a freakin’ miracle in this house.  Maybe that milestone distracted me.  I can see clearly now that last Tuesday or Wednesday, whenever this mayhem started, that the lack of the grooming ritual was causing the conflicts.  But I wasn’t fully present.  I was coasting on last Sunday’s amazing 14+ hour bonding session.  I was coasting on the Nothing In The World That I Can’t Do mentality that all too often leaves me with blinders on to the indicators of change or of changing needs.  I was getting ready for bestie to visit, I was getting ready for a holiday that I celebrate for tradition, I was still trying to unpack and settle, all while cruising through bonding.

The realization of the root of the issue came when I finally sat with the bunnies and was fully present.  I sat with the intention to sit there, not with the intention to make sure they were ok then throw in laundry, wash dishes, finish Christmas cards, unpack a box, answer Rescue emails, etc., etc., etc… it was ONLY when I sat there with the intention of being there and there only, that I realized the grooming had stopped, thus the course of their relationship-building shifted.  Duh.  But in running the house, one day job, two small businesses, one non-profit organization and a beautiful family group, I let my true presence be absent.  I really thought they were good, that they were bonded!  Look at how they were behaving!  Yes, I had been pouring on the Stress Away when the fights started—now I knew what else I needed to add.

So, this morning, after bestie left, I dripped Peace & Calming into the diffuser, I sprayed myself and the living room with White Angelica, I put Valor II over my heart and some drops of Surrender and Highest Potential in my hands.  Yes, I know, one drop of one oil would have been enough but in typical B-fashion I had to go over the top to ensure success.  Being fully present, I sat with the boys for 30ish minutes this morning.  There were some scuffles, but I get it now.  And when I’m fully present, the sessions may be shorter but they are more purposeful.  I tell my colleagues in business and Rescue and my learners at the day job that my success comes from my laser-sharp focus.  And here I was, not using it, one of my greatest tools.

Lies my rabbits told me—more like lies I tell myself!  I let their progress delude me.  I let it fuel my tendency to take on too much at once.  Now, my options are clear: I am where I am, fully present or I am shut off.  I cannot ensure their progress (or safety, for that matter) while simultaneously working on three other things.  Or one other thing.  See how even my diction reveals the pressure I put on myself… get it together.

I’ve often toyed with idea of having “Be Here Now” tattooed on my wrist.  I think I’ve hesitated because it rocks my Type-A intense achiever personality to admit that I need such a reminder, especially for something that seems so basic.  Also, I need to donate blood again before I get my text tattoo.  But anyway, the lesson here: Bonding is a business.  And just like one of my mentors-in-my-head Bethenny Frankel (love her or hate her, I don’t care!) says, “Everything is your business” and when you treat every task you take on like it’s your business, the care cultivated and the success sustained is remarkable.

Be here now.  Do one thing at a time.  Pay attention on purpose to what’s going on in front of your face and in your heart.  Much love.

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Our Boys, Part 2

Here’s what I meant to tell you last week…

About a month after we had Peanut and Tater Tot, they started to fight.  Not horribly, thank goodness, but they (mainly Peanut) began to exhibit behaviors intended to establish dominance.  Again, we were brand new bunny-parents; we had no idea what to expect.  But it didn’t take long to realize that this behavior could be dangerous.  Tater had to endure a few hours of being picked on before Bunny-Daddy could get out of work and purchase another cage, a plastic bottom one this time (the evolution of our appropriate housing knowledge continues—getting closer this time!).  Peanut was moved into his own cage next to Tater and there the boys were situated from January 2012 until last month.  Their physical enclosures evolved to individual extra-large dog crates with larger litter boxes as our parental knowledge expanded (thank you Rescue and our FB bunny community).  The boys enjoyed a rotating schedule of exercise time in the living room, sharing space and toys but never at the same time.

Plainly, we were scared to put them back together.  The last things we wanted were stress, an injury (or worse) because we trusted bad advice from a breeder (see last week’s story—she told us two boys would never be a problem together).  As I became more familiar with rabbit interactions I suggested to the Bunny-Daddy that we try to bond them but he was not interested, didn’t want to risk the good thing we had going.  It’s rare for two rabbits who are not bonded to be able to share space, exercise areas, and live so closely and do it without incident.  In fact, by a few years into our configuration, Peanut would lie outside of Tater’s crate and Tater would try his hardest to groom Peanut through the bars.  They would flop in front of each other in such a way that we knew, once the bars were down, snuggling would happen.

Rescue guru, my mentor and friend M put the boys together for a lengthy but ultimately one-off bonding session in February 2014 (I think).  They did great but we were still hesitant, to put it lightly (which is a rare tone for me).  Our mantra became “When we move, we will bond them.”  And we stuck to our word… well, we are sticking to it.  It’s a work in progress.

I joke that my bonding method works great—have them live side-by-side for four-plus years, then move.  It’s different; it’s fresh.  I was a little delusional for the transition, I have to admit.  I thought we would put them together the day we moved and poof, hoppily ever after.  I had a volunteer/friend/bunny-sitter hired for moving day to be with the boys while I had a million other things to do so she could monitor and keep the peace if necessary.  Thankfully a dear friend and fellow bunny-mom talked some sense into me that morning and urged me to ready their separate sleeping quarters, as they would likely need some time to adjust.  I was just assuming that they would cuddle right up and never have a problem; she was, rightfully, reminding me that even if they are doing fine together, they might just need their own crates for overnight– thank you D and Hoppy Birthday.

From day one in our new home, the boys have been exercising and lounging together.  The first day was picture perfect.  The following days, as they got more comfortable, there was a little nipping (that same friend who gave the great advice got the worst nip… sorry Auntie D!).  There has been a little chasing, circling but NO fights or bites.  I’m peeking over the top of the screen now, one month into our new set up here, watching Peanut chin a willow basket and Tater enjoy some hay in their communal litter box.  They still sleep separately and we supervise them when they are together.  They are so damn happy to be together.  So maybe our bonding method does work…  I guess it’s like any other relationship or family situation.  Families find each other differently.  Families function differently than others; many don’t seem to function at all.  I can’t help but smile, from a place deep inside, when I see our beautiful boys in our beautiful living room.

For two people who got two bunnies without too much preparation, life for us and for them could have turned out so, so differently.  Most people give up.  I can say that for sure because I’m the person they email when they’ve given up (or haven’t even tried) in the rabbit world on our island.  I didn’t know where any of this was going when we brought the boys into our home but I let my instincts guide me and we kept just taking the next step.  And ultimately, our boys brought me my life’s purpose, opened up a part of me I just couldn’t find a way to access.  I have them, I have Rescue and I have Reiki.  I have it all.  And I have our boys to thank for it.  Much love.

Why Rabbits?

I’ve been asked the question “Why rabbits?” in a variety of contexts over the five years that I’ve been a bunny-mom and subsequently a rescuer.  I typically blink thrice and answer something along the lines of “uh, because… they are awesome.”  I’m sure I’ve given some more constructive answers when the asker is deserving of a quality response.  You, my darling readers, are deserving of a response, although many of you have your own “why” when it comes to our cotton-bottom babies.

Why rabbits…

  • Because the bunny-daddy and I live for our boys. They are the light of our lives.  Even when they are posing as bunstruction workers, Peanut and Tater Tot are the center of our world.    They turn 5 years old this month!
  • Because rabbits are the third most popular pet in America.
  • Because rabbits are the third most abandoned, neglected and abused animal in America.
  • Because, whether the day is sunshiny or downright dreadful, rabbits can always make you smile.
  • Because I can be their voice. As much as they understand us, they still can’t speak back with words.  With nose bonks, snuggles and sometimes grunts, they can though!
  • Because, and this “why” is highly personal, I’ve never felt more alive doing anything in my personal or professional life as I do when I’m giving a rabbit Reiki session, tending to chores at one of our foster homes or just lying on the floor with one of our boys.
  • Because it’s empowering to make a difference… and we are making a beautiful difference in the lives of these bunnies.

That’s how Rescue and Reiki have come together so gloriously for me.  There are tangible tasks, like catching a stray or cleaning a litter box, and there is energy work that heals, comforts and connects.  Put it all together and that’s why.  Why rabbits?  I can’t give you a point of peripety.  There wasn’t just one moment where time stopped and I was showered in golden light (well, now that I write that, there have been a number of moments like that… but we’ll save that topic for another day).  But it is rabbits.  Unequivocally.  I work for them, on the front lines, in the back office and in my energetic field all day, every day.  This hop cannot be stopped.  And I’d love to hear “Why rabbits” for you—please share in the comments!  Much love.

What Wouldn’t You Do?

2016 is nothing but consistent.  It has been tough for many people in many realms.  The loses of loved ones, furry and non, world-famous and family-famous, continue.  The heartbreak is palpable.

Last December, a colleague of mine from the elusive day job adopted a rabbit from us.  To be honest, I wasn’t sure how this would all go down; I didn’t know her well and didn’t know her family at all.  I stayed out of her adoption process in my continual quest to keep day job and rescue life separate.  From the day she took our Andy home, she and her family became the perfect bunny family.  I was overjoyed.  I guess from the number of abandoned, abused and neglected rabbits we deal with, I’m apt to expect the worst from people.  Andy’s new family immediately poured on the love.  They renamed him Buddy.

Every day at work, Buddy’s mom would show me pictures and videos and regale me with stories of Buddy’s adorable mischief.  My favorite story, which came with pictures as well, was when Buddy’s human sister was packing to go off to college—Buddy let himself into her room and unpacked her bag of shoes, tossing each boot, shoe and slipper across the room.  He clearly wanted her to stay home with him!

Yesterday, I was in a class when I noticed a missed call and voicemail from Buddy’s mom.  I didn’t need to check the message; I knew something was wrong.  Since I couldn’t talk, I tapped my mentor and rescue director M to contact Buddy’s mom.  Buddy didn’t jump for his breakfast or treat (he’s normally a food monster!) that morning so his mom had already brought him to Catnip and Carrots (yet another reason I love having a vet that is open 7 days a week and takes emergencies 24/7 for clients).  They were keeping Buddy and suspected something was up with his liver.  Something just like sweet Sylvia faced a few months ago.

By the time I got out of class, it was determined that Buddy was facing liver torsion, usually fatal, only possibly fixed by a very risky and VERY expensive surgery.  If you know me, you know I always come from a mind state of abundance.  When the cost of this surgery was being discussed, I paused.  Money would not be a deciding factor here.  Money can always be made or raised or scraped together.  If there was a chance to save Buddy, I would figure out the finances.  His family was not looking for someone else to pay the bill—but I totally understand how someone may hesitate to plunk down thousands of dollars for a surgery with such a low success rate.  For me, there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my boys.  So I told M to tell Buddy’s mom to forget the price tag, if that was something she was considering, and to follow her instinct and the advice of the doctors to make this decision.  They went ahead with emergency liver surgery late last night at another rabbit-savvy veterinary hospital, due to the day, time and nature of the surgery.

I awoke in the middle of the night to a text saying Buddy made it through surgery—a miracle for sure.  Another text soon followed.  Buddy had a stroke after surgery and passed away.  Buddy’s family is devastated.  A rabbit we rescued from a residential backyard just 15 months ago, fostered and loved, found a loving home then hopped over the bridge way too soon.  But I’m damn happy they tried the surgery.  Yes, it’s horrible that his family has a huge bill to pay and an empty litter box in their living room right now.  But what wouldn’t you do to potentially save your family member?

Binky free, Buddy. xo

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Labels

As an intense, Type-A lunatic, you would think that I’d like labels.  But the truth is, I don’t.  I barely read them on tangible items, just a scan because, in true Denise-fashion, I know exactly what I’m looking for.  Although I have to say, even when I was a little girl, the toothpaste label bothered me—why do we have to call Poison Control if we ingest something that we’re supposed to put in our mouths?  Perplexing.  Glad I’ve found a better option…

As for things without printed labels, like people for instance, labeling feels so prohibitive.  If I call myself a vegan, can I look at a cannoli without your judgement?  If she’s a bitch, is there a moment when she’s acceptable in your world?  And days… does it have to be a good day or a bad day?  The pressure we put on ourselves for this party to be epic or this workshop to be a record-breaking success can really ruin the moment.  I’m all for setting substantial goals and crushing them.  I’m a manifest-er.  I make stuff happen beyond others’ wildest dreams (and also far from others’ dreams, but back off—they are my dreams!).  But enough with the labels… for me.  I’m just going to Be Here Now.

And come to think of it—rabbits get labeled too.  They get wrongfully labeled as good starter pets or easy to take care of.  Some breeds get labeled, often accurately.  My Lionhead thinks he’s a lion.  I have the bite mark on my thumb from yesterday to prove it.  Other breeds get mislabeled, like the Ruby-Eyed Whites (REWs), otherwise known as Big White Bunnies (BWBs).  Those literal labels aren’t wrong but the misconception that their eyes are “scary” is ridiculous!  Those eyes are gorgeous, precious and those REWs are the best pets ever.  They are like puppies without the outside walking.  They are playful and robust.  But wait… am I labeling?  Nah, I’ll label this describing.  Stereotyping actually, because there are some shy BWBs out there (yes, Chloe and Portia and Vanna White, I’m talking to you).

So I guess what I’m saying is, read the label.  And if it sits right with you, go with it.  But don’t be fooled by the label.  Go deeper than the label.  Make your own label.  Find people, places and things whose labels match your goals and purpose.  That’s how we reach some next level beauty.

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