Friday, August 25, 2006

Orion the English Spot

Kristen inquires, not without reason, whether we traded Willow for Orion.
Well, I was quite taken with Willow. My heart really went out to her (I can't really say why she was previously thought to be male, so don't ask). I felt sure that what she needed most was a good home with an affectionate companion. However, her basic reaction to Ms. Spots was to sit rather tensely in the corner. Ms. Spots was, I thought, quite sensitive about this on their second encounter, and spent much of the time sitting in a bread-loaf posture near but not touching Willow. This seemed kind but not conducive to quick bonding. The staffer there thought there was not much chemistry.
We tried a lively young guy next. To my surprise, he was primarily interested in checking out the litter box and climbing the sides of the enclosure, although whenever he did go near Ms. Spots, he was friendly and wanted to lick her forehead. She didn't seem that interested in him, though. I couldn't tell if it was nap time or what. She had, after all, gone into the carrier of her own free will even though that meant going to the HRS in the car to see Willow (I tell her what's in store).
After awhile, I asked whether there were any other rabbits Ms. Spots might like. The response was that we should try Orion.
I had seen him briefly before (he was pretty new at the HRS) when spending time with Willow.
Ms. Spots immediately woke up from her nap-time lethargy. While she didn't go right over and put her head near his, as she has with several other rabbits, the two immediately began flirting. She was very skittish around him, but in an obviously positive way. Neither rabbit had biting or fighting in mind. We enjoyed watching them race around; they were like a couple of sparks, or magnets that are constantly attracting and repelling. We agreed I should bring Ms. Spots for a second visit.
I had a very good feeling about this match. Ms. Spots and I were excited all the way home.
The next day I came back from the library in time for a late lunch before taking her over, but I never got to have lunch because she bounced into the carrier and stayed there when I asked if she was ready to go over and visit Orion.
They were more subdued this time, but still had a positive energy to their behavior. After awhile, Ms. Spots did get a bit testy, but I had decided they were getting along well enough to take Orion home, so we put her in her carrier to calm down while I did the paperwork. She made no objection when we added Orion awhile later.
I was determined to make this bonding process as painless as possible for everyone, and my technique worked! Basically, I drove them around in the car for about an hour and a half (half an hour locally and sitting in the car while I loaded it at the house, an hour getting into San Francisco), and then installed them in an X-pen in the middle of Cesar's living room with two litter boxes, plenty of hay, and a bowl of water.
By the time they clambered out of that carrier, they were not interested in having any fights; they wanted to see where on earth I had brought them. Ms. Spots was in one of her "I must nap in order to recover from my ordeal" moods and spent most of the first hour lying in the carrier watching Orion explore. By the time John brought me a burrito, Orion had devoted at least twenty uninterrupted minutes to licking his new doe's face. While she was still a bit skittish, both rabbits were obviously madly in love.
John's reaction to my pronouncement that these rabbits were in love was to remark that he's never had animals and isn't a romantic. Since he does like animals and finds them quite interesting, I had to conclude that this was just one of those moments of ignorance. One doesn't have to be a romantic to be in love or to admit that humans fall in love, and likewise for rabbits. While of course rabbits are not humans and don't fall in love in quite the same way, their emotions are very similar to ours. Anyone who spends much time with them sees them experiencing a wide range of familiar emotions.
What I was seeing with this pair was a strong mutual attraction and liking. Since they've been spayed and neutered, the sexual element is reduced, but it wasn't gone. Actually, Calypso Spots seemed quite content to have Orion mount her backwards, but she objected if he mounted her in the standard mating position. And, interestingly, Orion was unusually sensitive to her preferences right from the start. He doesn't give up trying something that makes her run away, but he never forces the issue. Instead, after one or two tries, he stops and does something else, which could include ignoring her for a few minutes. Eventually he'll try again.
I was much impressed by Orion's tactics, as they are not typical. They have worked beautifully with Ms. Spots, as instead of riling her up and getting her ready to bite him, he piques her interest and causes her to come sashaying up to him after a minute.
After two nights at Cesar's, I decided to go ahead and bring the honeymooners home. The fine pair have some things to work out about sharing the house, but there have been no fights, and they are still quite affectionate, if not quite as nonstop about it.
My parents, who have been visiting my aunt and some friends, called this evening and I was relieved to learn that the plastic tube Orion had bitten is an unused tube designed to supply water to refrigerators that require it. My mother was surprised to learn that it had any water in it. Well, I would estimate it produces about 3 gallons an hour, but it is now clamped shut and there is very little water on the kitchen floor.
To be sure, in the meantime Orion has insinuated his way behind some rabbit-proofing and chewed on some LP covers, and he and/or Ms. Spots have rendered the speaker wire into quite a few pieces (apparently they objected to my playing so much music during their nap time; I'm not sure why this particular wire was unprotected).
Today it has been quite clear to me what parents go through: no, you don't actually want to return the kids, since you think they are awfully nice and ridiculously cute, but you really wish they would calm down and stop getting into so much mischief.
But altogether things are well in the lapine world.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kristen said...

Well, I'm glad to hear there's been a love match in bunny world!

August 25, 2006 11:04 PM  
Blogger Karla said...

We are much relieved. There has also been celebration at the House Rabbit Society.

August 27, 2006 2:43 AM  

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