Category: animals

Releasing the bunnies

Today was the day, just this morning. It was supposed to happen yesterday, but Ingrid said she got too emotional.

We released them in a low hedge near our house in the front yard. The first thing one of them did was run through the hedge and right into Bella, who was standing by watching the whole operation. The bunny ran away from Bella into the side yard, which was a bad place to go as there’s not much cover back there. Luckily, within a few minutes Bella managed to flush that bunny out again and sort of herded it back to the hedge.

Bella is such a sweet, gentle soul. She hates jackrabbits, though. HATES THEM. Dunno why.

So while I hung around for a few minutes before going to work the bunnies explored the hedge and a couple of them would venture out away from the hedge a bit before scooting back. They already seem very comfortable moving around in the fringes of the hedge, they aren’t acting as scared and skittish as they did when they were caged.

They don’t seem much afraid of us. Of course, they won’t let us get very close to them, but they don’t skedaddle on sight like some of the other bunnies in the yard do. They are also very tolerant of Bella, allowing her to come up pretty close. This, of course, worries me. Their most dangerous predators will be coyotes, so I hope they know the difference between my dog and a coyote (Bella sure does, she loves other dogs, but LOSES HER SHIT over coyotes, which of course look just like dogs to me, so I guess animals know the score).

I’ve been getting photo, video and text updates from Ingrid, who is hanging around the front yard this morning, keeping an eye on the bunnies. We left them with water, some carrots (there is plenty for them to eat in the yard, bunnies mostly eat grass), plus a little bunny house I made for them out of pine. Several other bunnies have appeared in the front yard. I hope they help our babies in some way, maybe showing them the ropes.

If they survive the next 48 hours, I think they will do all right.

I hope the other bunnies help our little guys out. I’ve been observing our neighborhood bunnies very carefully, and while cottontails do congregate in small, loose-knit groups, there is nothing like the fairly structured organization I have observed with my own eyes in Europe, and read about in Watership Down . Dunno whether that is good or bad for my babies. On the one hand, it probably means they won’t get much assistance from other bunnies; but then they would probably be regarded as outsiders by a more formal grouping.

Jackrabbits are highly solitary by contrast. Just saw a young one in the yard today, the second I have seen (there’s an adult jackrabbit I see about twice a month). A cottontail was following him around.

Bunny update

Yesterday I went to the feed store and bought a cage, some pine bedding, a water feeder and some kitten formula for the bunnies. They are still very frightened, and huddle in a tea box when I am around, though I can tell they are playing around in the cage when I am away because there are pine shavings all over the floor around the cage and the kitten formula and water dish are empty (but filled with pine shavings).

Last night I gave them more water and kitten formula and this morning it was the same thing, a mess of pine shavings everywhere and the formula and water was gone. The bunnies were huddled together in their tea box.

Ingrid put some bird seed and bunny alfalfa pellets in the cage yesterday, just in case, and this morning I inspected one of the bunny pellets and found little teeth marks. So they are certainly able to eat normal food. In fact, I think they are less than a week from being big enough to release.

I found an informative bunny care document on-line, though every other paragraph basically said YOU SHOULDN’T ATTEMPT TO REHAB BABY BUNNIES ANYWAY AND ONLY EXPERIENCED REHABBERS SHOULD ATTEMPT IT (with links to a directory of rehabbers), so it seemed a little like a big ad. Also, I gathered that most of the advice was for bunnies much smaller than ours, bunnies that had to be fed with a syringe and whose eyes weren’t yet open; my bunnies are much bigger than that, even though they are smaller than tennis balls. But there was a lot of information about bunnies.

For example, what I assumed was a call of distress (since my god it really sounds like one, it’s really kind of horrible) is actually vocalization mom and baby bunnies use to find each other in the dark. So now I wonder whether the blood-curdling scream we heard the other night coming from outside was not the fourth bunny being eaten, but maybe it was just calling for its mom. Maybe he detected his mom in the area and let out a yell. Or maybe so many hours had gone by that he thought it was time to start yelling for mom. I don’t know. But 30 seconds after we heard that one of our own bunnies made the same noise, with no one touching him. So I guess he heard the outside bunny screaming and was simply answering and hoping their mom would come for them too.

The website said the best thing to do is leave the bunnies near the nest and the mom bunny will come back in the night, and while that sounds good to me their nest was in a raised planter, and I have no reason t believe the mom is returning to it. It’s very dangerous for small animals in our yard on account of the motherfucking hawk we have, the one that ate my dove babies, so I don’t want to let them go until I am pretty sure they can take care of themselves.

Ingrid will attempt to handle them some more today, she likes that. I don’t see anything wrong with that, I hope it calms them down. Bella is of course very curious about them and likes to sniff around the cage. I am sure she wouldn’t want to hurt them, but I am concerned about the bunnies becoming too familiar with the dog, as their biggest threat once they are outside will be coyotes (and dogs), in addition to the fucking hawk that killed my baby mourning doves.

Bunny news

Yesterday Bella flushed some very small baby bunnies from the entrance to their burrow in a planter near the front door of the house. Ingrid says there were four babies, and while one ran into the yard, the other three ran towards the door where Ingrid picked them up. There’s no question of returning them to their mother, and they are too small to live for very long outside (in fact, we are pretty sure we heard the fourth one get swooped up by an owl or a coyote or maybe even a skunk last night, those babies can really make a very loud noise).

So now we have baby cottontails to take care of:

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We only want to keep them long enough for them to get big enough to release. Right now they are terribly frightened, it’s heartbreaking, but then I suppose living in fear is the natural state for rabbits.

This morning Ingrid will call some wildlife rescue people for advice. We just need to feed them and keep them warm and safe, I reckon.

Cats

So now we are moved to Reno and have these cats:

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I don’t recall whether I mentioned an argument I had with Ingrid over the phone about getting cats. Cats are completely impractical here, unless they are 100% indoor cats, but part way through the argument I started getting the feeling that she had in fact already got the cats. I was right.

They are half siblings of Hiroki, the cat she got last summer and who spent a few weeks with me in Sparks. Hiroki has gotten on so well in the neighborhood in Costa Mesa he is staying there, but these kittens moved with us.

My lifestyle includes having a sort of open house, with doors and windows open, partly for airflow and partly so Bella can come and go as she pleases, but that’s now out. Also we have to figure out how to feed the cats so that Bella doesn’t get their food. And you can’t leave the door open for any reason. Bella and I came back from a walk this morning and the front door was open. Ingrid said she left it open because she knew we would be back soon. I asked her where were the cats? She said, oh, she forgot about them. Luckily they didn’t get far.

I’ve always liked cats okay (I like pretty much all animals), but they have no business here. It’s going to be a hassle just having them.

Kelly’s Camp overnight

Sunday and Monday we did an overnight hike up to Kelly’s Camp in the Cucamonga Wilderness. We would have preferred going somewhere in the northern part of the San Gorgonio Wilderness, but that area is now closed due to June’s Lake Fire. Kelly’s Camp is second best if you can’t get to San Gorgonio.

The spring at Kelly’s Camp has been dry for at least a couple years, so we had to carry water up from a more reliable spring two miles below. That sort of knocked Ingrid out and she and Bella napped most of Sunday afternoon; which was good for them because we sure didn’t get any sleep Sunday night, now that we have learned for certain that Bella is too big to share the tent with us.

We got a late start Monday morning:

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And on the way back down the we encountered a pair bighorn sheep (which we always see up there between Icehouse Saddle and Ontario Peak):

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The sheep were digging in the dirt with their hooves, maybe looking for moist roots. Their normal water supply in that area would be the now-dry spring at Kelly’s Camp.

The hike down below Icehouse Saddle was one of the worst hikes of my life. We decided to descend the Chapman Trail sort of spur of the moment; Ingrid had never been down it. But I wasn’t thinking. It was already around 11:00 when we started down the trail, much later than I thought; it follows a south-facing ridge; it’s almost two miles longer than the Icehouse Canyon Trail; there is almost no shade; and down in the valleys it was one of the hottest days of the year (over 100F on Monday; we had no idea, since Saturday it was so mild). While Ingrid and I were not uncomfortable, there was no relief from the heat for Bella until we could get her 3.7 miles down the trail to where it rejoined the Icehouse Canyon Trail next to icy cool Icehouse Creek.

We used up all my water on her and toward the end I had to physically pull her up to keep walking as she would drop to the ground every time we encountered a bit of shade. Poor baby, it was a real death march for her. Towards the end we were moving as rapidly down the trail as Bella would let us (she kept trying to stop in the shade).

As soon as we got to the creek she just plopped down into the water and lay there for a while. In less than ten minutes she was fully recovered from her ordeal on the Chapman Trail, and she got up and started hunting along the creek for sticks to chew on.

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All’s well that ends well, I guess.

Remembering Cisco

My last dog Cisco was really emo. He didn’t like hiking. Here we were taking him down the East Fork of the San Gabriel River and he lay down and would not move until we removed those ridiculous booties from his feet:

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But we used the booties for a reason, they helped him when his feet were sore.

I once attempted to get him to the top of Mt Baldy; that was the hike from hell. He really didn’t want to go. Finally at about 8,500 feet he just stopped and wouldn’t budge. We turned around and somewhere below the Ski Hut he started to lay down in the trail again and again. It finally occurred to me his feet were sore, so I put his booties on and he raced down the trail, heading for the car. All he wanted to do was get back to the car! When we stopped for a rest, he wouldn’t look at me! Like a sullen kid, he lay down and faced away and refused to look in my direction:

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When we got to the car he just laid down like he was dying.

Boy was that a moody dog.

Okay, here are some animal friends

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I know what’s going on here. If you let them, rats will pry your lips open with their little hands and lick the inside of your mouth:

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Sometimes Ingrid and I think about getting rats. We are pretty sure Bella would get along with them fine, but I don’t think I am ready for dealing with rat piss all over the place again (rats mark everywhere they go).

Holiday weekend was kind of a bust.

We headed up to Mount Baldy Village in two cars (mine was filled with shootin’ stuff and guns). The idea was to spend the night at the Buckhorn Lodge Motel and hang out on the dog-friendly patio bar of the Buckhorn Lodge while they had live music inside the restaurant. I did that with my dog Cisco five years ago and it was great (Cisco was terrified of fireworks and Costa Mesa is like the Battle of the Bulge on Fourth of July; no fireworks of any kind up in Mount Baldy Village). Well, a lot can happen in five years. The Buckhorn is closed, no bar, no music, no restaurant, no Buckhorn Boys (a local band of retired studio musicians from the LA recording industry). We we able to spend the night in the crappy motel, though.

So we took a little walk up Icehouse Canyon and played in the creek.

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Ingrid and I hung out for most of the evening at the Baldy Lodge, which is now the only game in town and has a DOGS PROHIBITED patio. It was a pleasant, cool night, but hot as fuck back at the motel. Coyotes started up with their singling and yipping in the night causing all the dogs in the section (except ours) to start barking. Did I mention it was hot in that little room? I didn’t sleep much.

Up bright and early, Ingrid had to take Bella home while I was supposed to drive the Glendora Mountain Road through the mountains to the East Fork San Gabriel River and Burro Canyon Shooting park to set up for our monthly fun shoot. Except the road was closed and I had to go back down the mountain to take the freeway to Azusa. Only one other person showed up for the fun shoot, but I was supposed to hang around until 3:00pm when Ingrid was going to come with her sister and her sister’s grandkid after picking them up at the airport and bringing them straight to the range so the kid could do some shooting. But she got a message to us through the range office that the flight was cancelled, so we packed up and went home.

Didn’t shoot much today, I was pretty bushed:

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I think tonight’s gonna be a mellow evening of Yes Minister DVDs. An early night in any case, I hope.

Took the kids up Mt Baden-Powell yesterday

Great hike, great day.

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That’s Mt Baldy in the background, 600 feet higher.

When I got home the cat was sitting in the chair by the back door, so the dog couldn’t get out of the house. I thought that was pretty shitty, but then I took the dog to the park to chase the ball before it got dark (she’s OCD about catching tennis balls). At the park she must have pissed a liter or two and took three MASSIVE dumps. Huge piles of shit.

The goddamned cat must have been in that chair all day, trapping the poor dog in the house. The shithead.

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