Sad rabbit injustices #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit
For more of Barbara’s blogs, visit the archive at #barbarablogs!

Hello, my furry and not-so-furry friends! It’s Barbara Rabbit here again, and today I’d like to talk about a very serious topic. I’m usually pretty happy, but some days, I’m quite a sad rabbit.

Lots of things in my life are very good. I like where I live, mostly. I have nice brothers. My human parents are pretty good. But sometimes things are not quite to my liking. There are often times when I don’t consider life to be fair. And I’d like to tell you about some of those times today.

What makes me a sad rabbit

Sometimes I have to go in my cage. They try and call it a “house” to make it sound better, but really. Come on. I know it’s a cage. It might be big but it’s not as big as having the whole room to play in.

Gingee goes on the stairs. The stairs worry me. I don’t feel happy until he’s back.

Barbara and her daddySometimes, after we’ve had cage time, Ned and Gingee get let out before me. I’m the oldest and the biggest and it’s really not fair.

When my daddy is carrying me down the stairs, there is a mirror rabbit who has the exact same daddy and that is just weird. And she stares at me quite rudely.

The vacuum ate my poo and won’t give it back.

The radiator isn’t always on. I love the radiator. It’s nice and warm and I get to cuddle up to it. But for some reason, like for the whole of August, it wasn’t on. Why not?

On a similar note, sometimes the sun isn’t out and I can’t sit in my sunny patch of floor. I love having daytime naps in the sun (inside only, of course. This lady doesn’t go outside!). Why can’t the humans arrange a bit more sun for me?

Sometimes one of my parents is sitting in the exact spot that I want to be sitting in. How rude!

I am not allowed to eat cheese. It smells good and I like most food. Why can’t I try it? Also I had a chocolate biscuit once and I’d like to have another.

When my daddy cleans out our room, he closes the door. So we can’t go in while he’s in there. And then he comes out and yes, it’s lovely that we have new hay and my toys are more visible, but the room doesn’t have my lovely scent all over it again.

My parents get disproportionately annoyed with me when I try and nibble at their cables. If you don’t want them eaten, don’t have them, is all I can say.

My ear fur gets white patches in the summer and my parents call me Mouldy Ears. So rude.

So many problems! No wonder I’m a sad rabbit from time to time.

How I show my displeasure

Barbara the sad rabbitIt’s okay though, because I have some tricks up my sleeve. (Note: I don’t wear sleeves. But sometimes I like to put my head in other people’s!)

  • Thumping. It’s an old trick but a good one. Run around your house thumping and you’ll certainly get everyone’s attention.
  • Making a run for it. If I get the sense that my humans are trying to give me a “cage feed” (read: leave me imprisoned for the day but think some pellets will make up for it), I will push past their hand, ignore the pellets (this is difficult, I admit!) and run out either into the main room or maybe even into the hallway. It feels good to assert my independence!
  • Peeing on things. I am really good at this. I like carpet a lot because it’s so soft.
  • Chewing some wires. When they try and take them off me, I just clamp down more. Sometimes while thumping and shaking my head. I’m pretty strong.
  • Flicky feet. My humans speak pretty good rabbit, and they know that this means I’m very annoyed. Also, I can get up quite some height when I do this!
  • Finding somewhere to hide and glaring. I’m really good at glaring.
  • Convincing a smaller rabbit to get revenge for me. I’ve got Ned to chew up a phone charger before now. He’s small and cute and had never done it before so no one suspected him!

My friends, I hope that these tricks help you to find relief from a sad rabbit life and move into being more in control.

Do feel free to tell me the dreadful injustices you’re suffering. I know it’s not just me who goes through this!

Until next time!


Pregnancy judgement, or a recent trip out

pregnancy judgement

I have an admission to make. Before I got pregnant, I always kind of rolled my eyes when I heard people talking about all of the pregnancy judgement that came their way.

No more. I’m now eight months pregnant and the judgement happens regularly.

I’m not sure why! Maybe I’m just particularly obtuse or don’t care about my fellow humans enough. I cannot imagine making a comment on what someone is doing.

(Okay, maybe once. Another admission: once in early pregnancy when I was feeling awful I nearly told off a woman who was smoking in an enclosed multistorey car park. She wasn’t (visibly) pregnant, but the smell of the smoke made me feel awful and I just saw red. My husband dragged me away before I could say anything. But other than that…)

The other weekend I went to Sainsbury’s to do our weekly food shop. I love this Sainsbury’s by us – it’s got everything we need and is less scarily chaotic than the big Tesco. Once they opened a new till for me when they saw I was pregnant and struggling to stand in the queue for too long. Also the clothes are awesome and I really should stop buying them!

I got the usual big shop. It’s a mix of healthy and unhealthy, to be honest. I’d like to say that we have wonderful diets, and we do manage to get a lot of good food in there, but we do also enjoy our crisps, cake, pastries, etc. (I can feel your pregnancy judgement growing – how dare she? Crisps?!)

So imagine the situation. I’m standing there with a trolley piled high with a good mix of food. Some ready meals because, eight months pregnant. Can’t always be bothered to cook. Lots of yoghurt and cheese, some fruit, veg (fresh and frozen), and then Pringles, some cakes, bread, etc. Your usual weekly shop.

I think to myself, hey, my husband might like a beer tonight. I don’t drink (even pre-pregnancy, never had the taste for it) and he’s hardly a heavy drinker. He goes out one night a week and has two pints then, and usually has a beer on one night each weekend. He likes his IPA. So I roll my trolley and my big pregnant belly over to the booze aisle, and debate over various IPAs for a few minutes. Select one, put it in the trolley.

Then I become very aware of two ladies having a conversation about three feet away from me. It’s one of those conversations that you’re meant to hear.

Judger One: She’s buying beer. That’s disgusting.

Judger Two: Ugh. How awful. I pity that poor baby.

Yes, by all means, pity my poor baby. Poor baby with a father who had a total of three beers in a week.

Honestly, even if the beer had been for me, who cares? Maybe I was planning to dilute it with lemonade and drink it over the period of a week. Maybe I was planning to drink the whole thing in one evening. None of their business either way!

But, as a mature and sensible pregnant lady, I said nothing. Just pushed my trolley onwards, beer included, paid and went home. Where my husband enjoyed his beer.

So, that’s the latest pregnancy judgement I’ve received. What about you?

Adopting rabbits: Ned and Gingee

adopting rabbits - gotcha day

When my husband and I got married, we always knew we’d be adopting rabbits pretty soon.

There are a few times I can honestly say I really felt God intervening in my life. I may not have noticed it at the time, but looking back, I can really see that it was the case. Some of these times have been scary, some have been comforting, and some have just felt absolutely right.

One such time was just after we got married. We had talked about getting rabbits soon after the wedding, but had decided to wait a couple of months or so and settle in to life just the two of us first. And then, midway through our honeymoon, my husband turned to me and said, “Why don’t we go online and just browse some rabbits?”

So we did. We looked for local rabbits who needed rehoming. Probably two girls or a boy/girl pair, who needed a new home for whatever reason.

We weren’t looking to travel far, and we weren’t looking for two boys.

I’d heard about lots of problems with mini lops, so we weren’t looking for them.

And then I saw this little face.

adopting rabbits: Ned

He was from a breeder. This wasn’t a bunny in need of a new home because of family allergies or divorce or anything like that. He was a baby. A mini lop. And his profile mentioned how attached he was to his littermate. His brother. Two boys, then. Oh, and they lived 50 miles away.

But he was mine. I just knew it. I bookmarked his page and kept going back to look at him, whispering his name to myself. Talking to him in my head. Hold on, little guy. If you don’t find a forever home before I get back, you can come and live with me.

When we got back from our honeymoon, his profile was still there. I bought a hutch. (Oh yeah, adopting rabbits meant outside rabbits back then!) It rained all weekend so we couldn’t put it together. I found myself saying things like, “Well, they can live inside until we get the hutch put together. Just so that we don’t miss them. We don’t know what the situation they’re in at the moment is like. We shouldn’t wait too long. If it’s bad, we shouldn’t leave them there. We need to get them home.”

I needed those two rabbits.

My husband went back to work on the Monday and I had another week off. We agreed that I would contact the breeder in the morning and we’d go and meet them after work, if possible.

I called the breeder at 9am. No answer. I left a voicemail and sent a text (We’ve seen Ned and Gingee online – are they still available?) and held my breath. And then, at 10.24, I still have the reply. Yes, today, come any time.

I felt almost embarrassed walking in to the breeder’s house. I wanted these two little guys so badly. So much that I almost felt we shouldn’t have them.

I wanted to feign indifference because it felt almost overwhelming, and I could barely bring myself to look as we were introduced to them, as we put them into their new carrier, took them to the car.

When we got them home, I just wanted to stare at them. Ned in particular. That little white bunny with those piercing blue eyes. It felt like I already knew him.

Obviously they never moved outside. They’re house rabbits now and always will be!

Ned says: “Look how cultured I am! Why would I ever go outside?!”

Gingee took to my husband very quickly, and Ned was mine. We learnt at a vet appointment a couple of days later that he was not a healthy little rabbit. That night, I stayed up watching him, stroking him, telling him that he was loved. Just in case anything were to happen to him, I wanted him to know that he was in a home where he was important and loved.

Nearly two years later, my poor little Ned has been through a lot. He’s so much healthier than he was. We’ve seen a lot of vets, tried plenty of medications not meant for rabbits, and know that he has some problems he’ll probably always have, but we’re doing well right now. There’s no reason why he won’t live a happy life with a normal lifespan. He’s surpassed every expectation anyone had for him. He’s neutered and lives happily with his brother and their  adopted sister Barbara (yes, we carried on adopting rabbits!).

But if he’d not been a house rabbit, if he’d not had so much attention so early on, if we’d not taken him to the vet so early… he probably wouldn’t be here with us now. We saved him.

He makes such a difference to my life as well. Ned knows when I’m sad or in pain, and he comes up to me to fuss me. He has licked tears off my face. He buzzes and squeaks happily when I’m around.

Gingee does the same for my husband. If I’m playing with them and he knows that his daddy is somewhere in the house, he won’t settle until he’s there for playtime as well. When my husband goes away, Gingee worries. He’s a little caretaker, the therapy rabbit who just wants to make sure everyone is happy and healthy.

Adopting rabbits was the best thing we ever did.

Baby names – does the perfect name exist?

Baby names - does the perfect one exist?

When I was eight or nine, my grandad bought me a baby names book. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and that included dictionaries and reference books as well as fiction.

This book (I think it was the Oxford Dictionary of First Names) started a lifelong love of onomastics.

I’m a bit of a name snob, I admit. And my husband and I have talked about names for a long time – since way before we got married. He generally has good taste in names too.

So obviously, when we found out about this little one, I was so excited to start thinking about baby names.I really thought we’d find it easy and fun and the moment we knew the gender we’d be able to talk about this little one by name and everything would be lovely. Not exactly!

We’re at 32 weeks pregnant now and baby is still going by Shroody – our nickname for Schrödinger’s Baby, which we started using back before we’d even had the positive pregnancy test. At this rate, we’ll be putting Shroody on the birth certificate!

I never thought it would be this difficult, or that it would distress me like this either. I just want to know who this baby is! And naming feels like a huge part of that.

Our criteria were fairly simple.

Our baby names criteria

  1. A real name, with a history. While names like Daenerys might sound pretty, they don’t exactly have a history. We don’t just want a collection of pretty syllables. I’d like something with an actual meaning (and no, “mother of dragons” or whatever does not count!), previous namesakes and a history of use.
  2. On the correct gender. Seeing girls called Tyler, etc, always makes me wonder how much confusion they cause when people see the name before they meet them.
  3. Not too common. Obviously this is pretty subjective – does this mean not in the top ten or not in the top 1,000? I don’t really want baby to be Firstname C at school, although that’s not the end of the world. But popularity is more important to me because our surname is very, very common. It’s more that I don’t want baby to be one of multiple Firstname Lastnames in his or her class or year group. My husband was, growing up and also in one of his first professional jobs. It’s obviously not scarred him, but it’s an annoyance that we’d rather avoid if we can.
  4. Not too tied to any one namesake. Yes, Beyoncé Smith is never going to be able to escape her famous namesake, but Michael Jackson from Birmingham might also get some comments unless he can ensure he goes by Mick or Mike 100 per cent of the time. Having a popular surname, there are quite a few names that we’ve had to rule out because of actors, politicians, etc.
  5. Not from a vastly different culture. I really like Indira, but we are not Indian enough to pull that off. Ditto Aoife and being Irish!
  6. Can people spell it? See Aoife (ee-fa). It seems unfair to condemn the baby to having to spell out his or her name constantly.
  7. Something we like! This is the hardest one of all!

Baby names we have rejected so far – boys’ edition

  1. Theodore. Some of our best friends have a Theodore.
  2. Edmund. One of our rabbits is Ned. It would get confusing!
  3. Siegfried. Husband’s suggestion. Hard no from me!
  4. Lionel. Too similar to brother in law’s name.
  5. Walter. Husband doesn’t like it.
  6. Gabriel. Too popular.

We have a boys’ name all lined up, middle names and all. Obviously that means that we’re far more likely to have a girl! Although we’re not 100 per cent certain who’s in there – it wasn’t definitely clear at the 20 week scan.

Baby names we have rejected so far – girls’ edition

  1. Alys. The spelling will be a headache.
  2. Marina. Too similar to Marine Le Pen.
  3. Annabelle. Husband doesn’t hate it but it doesn’t feel like the baby’s name to him.
  4. Cassia. Husband knows a Cassie.
  5. Catalina. Too Spanish.
  6. Phoebe. Too popular.
  7. Josephine. Husband doesn’t love it like I do.
  8. Martha. Hard to nickname.
  9. Alexandra. Sounds too much like Alexander.
  10. Olivia. Too popular.

We’re probably down to our final two or three now, so we’ll see what happens. There’s one I love and one my husband loves, and one that is sort of a compromise. We’ll see.

How was picking a name for you? Was it harder or easier than you thought it would be?

How to keep healthy humans #barbarablogs

Barbara Rabbit
Barbara Rabbit here again! Check out my previous blogs if you haven’t already – I have some good things to say!

Today I want to talk about a really important topic: how to make sure your humans keep healthy.

As we rabbits know, managing our own health is hard enough. Lots of us have been bred to have very flat faces which can give us breathing or eye problems, we are very susceptible to GI stasis, sometimes washing can be tricky and that can lead to infection… The list goes on and on. Fortunately, there are lots of great rabbit vets out there who can help our humans take care of us.

However, did you know that our humans can also get ill? And, as they take such good care of us, it’s only right that we return the favour!

I try to do little checks on my humans fairly often to encourage them to keep healthy. Here are some of my top tips:

Sleep is important if you want to keep healthy

Barbara sleeping next to her human to keep healthy

Me and my daddy

Personally, I like to sleep for at least 18 hours a day. I’m getting on in years a bit, and it’s important that I get my rest. I think that humans don’t sleep enough.

It’s not always easy to make sure that they get lots of sleep, but there are definitely ways to encourage them.

For example, my mummy is having a human baby. Pregnant rabbits should sleep a lot. So when I first realised what was going on, I made a real effort to lie on the bed with her to encourage her to sleep. I’d pretend to sleep next to her (okay, okay, sometimes I was actually sleeping!) and she’d usually drop off as well.

Barbara makes sure we keep healthy by sleeping!As a bonus, human beds are usually ridiculously comfortable – have you ever tried one? You might need to get them to lift you up there if you’re less mobile, but oh, the flopping possibilities – look how comfortable I am!

But time your sleep right!

You need a good balance of sleep time and play time, and humans don’t always understand where the boundaries lie.

This morning, I noticed my daddy was sleeping when he really should have been awake. That’s okay – it’s my responsibility to make sure he gets up. I went to peer at him first, and then made some loud noises to ensure that he was definitely awake by the time I was done. I didn’t want him to miss out! After all, it was food time.

My brother Ned sometimes takes a more extreme view on this and will hurl himself into the side of his cage or a wall to make a loud noise. His way looks more painful and I don’t think I want to try it. Thumping works just fine for me, thanks.

Make them problem solve

Humans are quite clever, like us. That’s why I think it’s really important to challenge them sometimes.

Barbara stuck in a cat treeEverybun knows the usual tests we put in place for our humans: can I crawl under the bed, is this wire tasty, can I break free of the cage, etc.? But they’re getting wise to those, so we need to think up some new ones!

I’ll share a fun one I tried a few months ago. My brother Gingee had a cat tree that he used to climb up. We were running round the room and I decided I’d try something new. I tried to squeeze between two parts of it and wedged myself in there. My daddy had to get out his tools and unscrew it completely to set me free! What a great problem-solving opportunity!

Don’t neglect their mental health!

Remember, stroking a furry friend is very important for humans. It can keep their blood pressure down and make them feel less stressed and depressed.

You are that furry friend. (Or, if you don’t like being touched, your sibling or mate can be encouraged to do their duty. You work hard enough!)

I don’t mean you have to give them free access to you at all times, obviously. I just mean that you need to keep an eye on them, and sometimes know that it’s particularly urgent that they give you a head rub. Those are the times you need to pester them. If they don’t do it of their own accord, nudge at them with your head, put your face in front of theirs, or maybe nibble at them a little bit. Even if it takes a slightly painful nip, you’re doing this for their health. It’s very important!

Barbara close up

Are you already doing any of these? If you’re not, I hope you start soon! Remember, your humans are depending on you to remind them to keep healthy!

Until next time, my furry friends.