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Sweetie's Page

Last Updated: 12/6/10

Sweetie on 3/27/03, the second day we had her.

Photos
Story


Photos

Photos are listed from oldest to newest.

Sweetie in April of 2003.
Sweetie on 10/31/04, hiding in the run. "You can't see me!"
Sweetie on 2/13/05.
Sweetie on 2/13/05.
Sweetie in the dog run on 10/2/05.
Sweetie in the dog run on 10/2/05.
Sweetie and Mr. Tiny in the dog run on 10/2/05.
Harry, Sweetie, and Mr. Tiny (left to right) on 3/18/06. There is a video from then too on my video page.
Back iris garden - I put this photo here because the rabbit hutch is in the back corner. You can actually see Sweetie in the window of the left room of the hutch. The photo was taken on 4/26/06.
Sweetie and Isabella in their cages on 7/10/06. This is where Sweetie was kept (yellow cage bottom) while her new cage was coming.

I took three views of Sweetie in her new cage.
Sweetie in her new cage on 7/22/06.
Sweetie in her new cage on 7/22/06.
Sweetie in her new cage on 7/22/06.

Sweetie in her cage on 1/13/08. Wow, I did not take any photos of her last year, oops!

Sweetie on 10/20/09.

Basement on 10/20/09. You can also see Sweetie and her cage. I was taking photos of the basement pond and plants I brought indoors for the winter.

Sweetie on 7/3/10.


Story

My mother saw an ad for the animal shelter with a bunny in it and wanted to rescue her. After going through extensive interviews, a home visit, and paperwork, they deemed our home good enough to adopt her. Sweetie was a 9-pound mix-breed doe. She was brown and white, kind of like Jimmy, but with normal ears. According to the previous owners (they filled out a form we got), she was 1.5 years old when they gave her up on 2/12/03 (four days before the blizzard of 2003 in MD). So, I will assign her the incorrect birth date of 8/12/01. The previous owner's kept her in an outside cage. They cleaned the cage every two months. From that, I am assuming it was a wire-bottomed cage, bad on her feet. I cannot imagine that she was warm in an open-bottomed cage this winter when it got down to 5 degrees F. My bun hutch has a solid wood floor. That way, it is warmer, safer on their feet, and dogs cannot terrorize them from below. The snow was so deep during the blizzard, I had to bring in Izzy. If Sweetie had still been in her open-bottomed hutch, she may have been swallowed up by the snow. Certainly the owners would not have been able to tend to her as I could not get to my hutch for three days to dig it out (while Izzy was safe inside). The owners said she ate rabbit pellets "all day." They listed no other foods. They said she did not use a litterbox but I was sure she would for me (they probably did not even try). They said she was afraid of brooms (how would they know that?). Two months before (roughly 12/12/03), she scratched someone "because of long nails." I guess they did not bother to trim them! They said she was "fun, loving, sweet" and plays soccer (huh?). She came from a breeder. Since she had no tattoo, I assumed it was not a licensed breeder, probably some kid breeding them in his back yard or something. The questionnaire said "Why are you surrendering your pet?" They answered "can't take care of them." They should have said, "I won't take care of them because I don't care enough!" The shelter had two more rabbits and a cute guinea pig. Too bad we cannot take in all the needy animals! One of my many dreams would be to create a permanent sanctuary for unwanted small domestic animals (not including dogs and cats since there are simply too many). Unless a million dollars falls into my lap, it will never come true.

We visited Sweetie on 3/22/03. On 3/26/03, Sweetie was spayed by the shelter's vet (required), and my mother picked her up around 6 pm. Her eyes were wide from a mix of shock, pain, and anesthesia. By the next morning, she still had not eaten. That night, when she was still not interested, I had to hydrate her and force feed her. I used lactated ringers to put some fluids into her back (subcutaneously fluids), about 100 mL. While doing so, she made her first pee, all over my pants and socks, nice and deep yellow since she was dehydrated. After that, I force fed her half a syringe of Critical Care by Oxbow which is fine timothy-based pellets with good stuff in there to help sick buns. She ate about half and half got all over the floor and I. When I put her back into the cage, she peed again, not in the litter pan so I had to soak it up with a paper towel. The next morning, we saw her eat a few bites of spinach and kale but no major eating yet. So far, the water bottle was untouched (I normally use bowls for water for my buns but she had spent her life so far using water bottles so I wanted to start with that, plus it let me know how much, if any, she drank). She was not as timid by then and was more dominant like most does, grunting and lunging a little when I put my arm in the cage. She did not fight being petted though but was not too happy being manipulated the night before in order to give her fluids and syringe food. Hopefully, she would be okay now. She would visit the vet that Sunday to see if she had mites or other obvious problems. If not, she could go outside into Jimmy's old room in the hutch. Since she was not litter trained, I was hoping she took to it quickly and naturally and did not pee all over the wood-bottomed hutch. Ellie came from the wild, and she always used the litter pan after we caught her. My other buns also put 95% of their pee in the litter pans (not as much poop though which they like to spread around a little, luckily it is very easy to sweep up). On 3/29/03, she was eating a little hay and fruits and vegetables but would not eat any pellets. Since the water bottle was untouched, we gave her about 80 mL of lactated ringers under the skin again to keep her hydrated. She now grunted at me (typical intact-doe aggression, hopefully it would go down as the hormones left her body). She did not grunt at my mother so she just did not like me I guess.

On 3/30/03, she went to the vet for her checkup. The vet could not find a thing wrong with her! That is a first as there is usually something wrong! I was very happy. So, on 4/2/03, Sweetie moved into Jimmy's old hutch next to Izzy. She spent the day sniffing and standing on her hind legs to explore every inch of the place. By that night, she ate some food, and by the next day, she seemed to be settling in. Now, if she would just put her pee in the litter pan and not on the wood floor, everything pertaining to her would be perfect! This was just too easy! Maybe my luck with buns had turned around! [Alas, that was NOT to be the case.]

Update: 9/12/03. Sweetie was very good with her litter pan and put most waste in there now. She ate like a little piggy. She grunted and lunged like all my rabbits have when I went into her cage. She seemed happy and enjoying life. Izzy and Sweetie seemed to enjoy each others company when I let them hop together. She did shed a lot but not as bad as Jimmy did. No real problems yet with Sweetie!

In the spring and summer of 2004, Sweetie had some problems with diarrhea (or just messy poo) so she got a few baths. It seemed to have subsided by 7/21/04. She was just too big (fat, stone heavy).

In September, I realized Sweetie was having problems again with lots of poo on her rear. I had to give her a few showers to clean it off and prevent maggots. In addition, she had been shedding for months on end. That was not normal. When Jimmy had that, it was due to mites. Sweetie was going to the vet on 10/11/04 to discuss those problems.

Sweetie went to the vet on 10/11/04. He thought the problem was that she simply was not grooming herself. For some reason, she was not removing her shedding fur or eating her night feces which instead ended up all over herself and the floor which made a mess, stunk, and attracted flies so I had to keep cleaning. The vet guessed it was her diet. I had cut back on her fruits and veggies and increased her hay and timothy-based pellets to see if the extra roughage got her to eat her night feces like she was supposed to do. For once, I would just like to have a healthy bunny! Sweetie's problem may simply be eating too much, at least of the wrong things. She was up to 9.4 pounds in weight.

On 12/26/04, I scraped the huge amounts of poo out of the right side of the rabbit hutch where Sweetie lived, and I gave Sweetie a bath since she was entombed in feces. Since it was cold out, I brought her in until the morning of 12/29/04 so she could dry and heal. I put Neosporin on her to the sides of her privates as it was bloody raw. I really wished she would eat her night feces!!! Instead, I had trouble cleaning her often enough to prevent this. If she were indoors, it would be easier but my parents want her outside. While inside, no new poo accumulation occurred so maybe she was better. Also, she got to move into Isabella's side of the cage since Izzy was permanently disabled (cannot move at all basically) and inside at that time. The left cage is 35% larger in surface area so Sweetie had more room! It is 13.2 square feet versus 9.8 square feet. I thought she liked it! I hoped she would not cover it in too much poo!

Update 7/8/05 - Sweetie was fine except that she still smeared night feces all over the wood floors. I tried to keep it clean but it was hard. She put her normal feces and urine all in the litter pans. Update 8/17/05: Sweetie still would not groom herself or clean her rear. I had to give her baths to keep her butt clean so the flies would not lay eggs there. I fed her less per weight than the other rabbits so I did not know why she was so overweight. She got less than twice what Mr. Tiny was getting, and he was about five times lighter!

Sweetie continued to have the messy butt problem to the point that I then had to bathe her weekly in antibacterial shampoo from the vet. When I started on 8/20/05, I had not gotten all the poo off her the previous week (with wet and dry paper towels). The result was fly strike. It was nasty and always makes most people feel guilty for not preventing it. I am sharing my errors if you will in the hopes that it will help others. It is very important to keep any animal's rear clear of feces. The flies will take advantage. After getting a small clump of poo off her rear in the laundry tub, I pulled open Sweetie's anal gland pockets. They were full of maggots. I used my fingers and Q-tips to remove maybe 100 of them. They were pretty big. It was like a horror flick but I had to do what I had to do. They had chewed a small hole into her body on the left side. I had to flush it with hydrogen peroxide to get them to come out and work them out. When they were all off, I packed the area with Neosporin. This should not be used if a bun can lick their privates but Sweetie could not reach there which was the reason for her problem. I thought the cleaning would make her feel better but then she went off her pellets and hay and was just eating vegetables.

On 8/30/05, I took her to another vet for blood work (her regular vet does not do that) and a second opinion. She was down to 8.4 pounds or so. While that was less than the previous year, she was still plump. Her blood work came back basically normal. When I was pulling wads of fur off of her, it had reminded me of my cat, Elvi who has hypothyrodism so I wanted to rule that out. Sweetie's T4 was 1.8. They think for a rabbit normal is 1 to 4. Her red blood cells and protein were slightly low, and her blood sugar was slightly high. I was almost hoping the blood work would show something so we would have an idea of where to head. This vet basically did not have an answer either as to why she shed like mad and did not eat her night feces aside from she just did not do it, partly due to being obese (which the vet whispered so Sweetie would not hear it!). They looked at her privates and agreed with me that her vulva was infected and had some pus. There were no maggots left but their damage had been done. Sweetie was put on liquid Baytril. Unlike Izzy's bubble gum flavored Baytril, this stuff was yellow and had no odor. Sweetie hated it. I squirted it into her mouth, and she just sat there, letting it drip down her chin. She did not want to lick it up! Even so, a week later, and her privates looked much better. I was going to keep a keen eye on her butt from now on believe me! This was only the first fly strike for Sweetie but Jimmy had it once (he had similar problems). Yes, I am aware that she would be better off indoors with regards to fly strike prevention. I thought that as long as I kept her clean, she was happier in her huge hutch than she would be in a tiny cage. They just did not make nice-sized, decent indoor rabbit cages.

Update 11/5/05: I had been doing weekly butt baths on Sweetie. Each week there was always something there to clean, sometimes the size of golf balls of dung on her. She put up a grand fight but she must be cleaned. It was now part of my routine so I would not let it slide again.

On 7/4/06, it was hot so I brought in Sweetie. I kept her in (for the rest of her life). She created so much messy poo that I could no longer keep the flies off of her outside. It was smelly and disgusting. She was in a small commercial rabbit cage for a little bit. I ordered her a cage (large size) from this site that was almost as big as the hutch she was in. I would have to cover the entire thing with CareFresh (Note from 11/24/10: Little did I know that would equate to $20 a week for 3 years and 4 months or $3500 just for CareFresh!). At that point, she had a litter pan but I could not keep up with the smellers she was smearing all over the bottom. My bun, Harry, would go out into her hutch room once I scraped it down which would take a few weeks of hard labor since it was so filthy. So, I had created more work for myself but at least the maggots would not eat Sweetie again.

Her cage arrived on 7/12/06. I put it together. It was huge!

Sweetie went into the new cage on 7/15/06 after her shower. She seemed to enjoy it. I put photos up above. The cage is 56" x 27" which is 10.5 square feet. Her hutch was 12 square feet so this was almost as big. I had to use almost an entire $20 bag of CareFresh to fill up the cage so I was only changing it once a week but it was still a lot of work. She was litter trained and would pee in a litter pan but I had to put down litter because she smeared messy feces all over everything. When I bathed her on Saturdays, usually it was like someone stuck something the size of a plum down there, albeit a stinky plum.

When I bathed Sweetie on 12/9/06, I discovered a tumor on her abdomen. I took her to the vet on 12/11/06. The vet took a needle aspirate and looked at the cells. She said it was not a fatty tumor. She sent out the cells to cystology to see if the cells might be malignant. I was guessing she would need to have it removed. We were waiting for the results. She weighed 10 pounds.

The results came back on 12/15/06. They did not know for sure; that is really helpful for $100+! It may not be related to the mammary glands and was some kind of epithelial (skin) cancer. To reduce the likelihood that the surgery would kill her, the vet suggested blood work so she had blood removed on 12/16/06. Those test results came back fine, "better than last time." She had surgery on 12/20/06. She came through it okay except they shaved her privates (which had a little poo as always) and cut them! I almost had a heart attack though when they told me the bill was over $500?! How could that be? I had never had to pay more than $200 for a simple animal surgery before. Well, first, they charged me $100 something for a biopsy; I got them to remove that. It did not change her outcome to know if it was cancer or not; I just assumed it was. It was $80 for the blood work (I had not paid yet). That still left a lot of money. It was $100 for the surgery, then they charged me for buprenex (pain killer), lidocaine (local pain killer), gloves (huh?), knife blade (huh?), and so on, each of those not much alone. The big cost was $150 for some new anesthesia (something fluorane) which is better than the much cheaper isofluorane. It made her wake up faster. I think I will go back to the old vet for future small mammal surgeries. I switched because the last surgery he did was on a guinea pig, and she died the next day (could not breathe; the anesthesia killed her). But, he has done probably a dozen surgeries on my animals, and the others were fine. Sweetie was now the most expensive rabbit I had ever had as far as vet bills go! Her stitches dissolved. She was too fat to reach them to play with them which was good. Her eyes were a little weepy the first day but it seemed she would pull through.

My brother watched me bathe Sweetie on 9/28/07. It was the first time my brother watched so he was going "ew" a lot. He asked me "what's that thing." That is when I realized that Sweetie had a little bit of papilloma on her anus. Isabella had it bad. Perhaps Sweetie caught the virus from her years ago. There was not much I could do about that. Sweetie's overall condition had not otherwise changed in the last year.

I had to bring Mr. Tiny to the vet on 12/6/07 to have a tumor checked out so I brought Sweetie in as well as she had many problems. This vet (her original vet not the expensive one) thought that diet was an issue. He wanted me to try another diet (he was looking into it). I left her rear dirty for him to see so he had to bathe her. It was getting more raw down there, perhaps urine scald from all the poop so he gave us some Animax ointment (nystatin, neomycin sulfate, thiostrepton, and triamcinolone acetomide) to treat the area twice a day. He wanted me to clean her rear twice a day but it was a ton of work. I would try. There was nothing that could be done for her minor papilloma. She had been rubbing her left eye on the water bottle. Although the vet did not see an infection, he decided we should give her some Tobramycin antibiotic in that eye twice a day for a week to prevent infection. He did not think the little sore on her tail (where she kept biting herself) was significant enough to treat. Her weight was up to 11 pounds. She did not groom her fur or her rear (she could not reach it). She got the same foods and amounts as my two small rabbits. She just did not metabolize much.

The vet called on 12/7/07. He could not find the names of the other foods but he thought he had found out why Sweetie had the poo problem. He said it may be cecal dispanosis (I know I spelled that wrong! I tried searching for the word on the internet and cannot find it. Does anyone know the correct spelling?). Basically, this problem is when the night feces stay in the cecum for too long. They start to ferment and, by the time they come out, they are more gooey and smelly than normal night feces. This makes sense because she did not make the feces every night like a healthy rabbit would. Treatment is basically what we already have know/tried - more hay, less fruits/vegetables/treats, and giving her good bacteria. I had gone back to giving her acidophilous (she used to get it but it did not seem to help) and also some ProZyme I had (and will get some more). I had also cut back her non-hay/non-pellet foods more. She still got a few because they were her "raison d'etre." I hoped these things would help.

As of 1/17/08, she seemed to be better as far as making fewer messy poos. She ate an acidophilous pill every day and got some powder on her pellets too. It seemed to help.

I took Sweetie to the vet on 9/22/08 to get some more Animax for her rear and Tobramycin for her eye as well as a check up. Her eye was okay that day but she sometimes rubbed it on the tip of the water bottle and irritated it. The vet said her rear looked a lot better this time although I did not get a chance to clean it off that day (it was two days post bath). He said I was doing a good job with her. She lost some weight (but needed to) and was down to 10.1 pounds. The vet said her ears, eyes, teeth, etc. all looked good. Aside from her poopy rear, she had been shedding like mad. I had used scissors to cut off a lot of the fur because it was too messed up to get a comb or brush through. Her breathing was sometimes raspy but the vet said her lungs were clear and sounded good. I wanted him to clean out her ears since they get CareFresh dust and water from her bath in there but he said they were too clean to really clean! So, all the problems I thought Sweetie had (aside from her perpetual poo problem), the vet said wee just fine. For a seven year old, she was in pretty good shape according to him.

Sweetie had a checkup on 9/21/09. Her weight was down to 9.40 pounds but she otherwise just had the same old problems. The vet said she was healthy. I got more Animax and Tobramycin. She liked to rub her left eye on the water bottle so there was a bare skin spot under that eye. She still had a poopy problem, papilloma, and so on.

Sweetie had her yearly checkup on 9/23/10, and her weight was further down to 7.50 pounds. Her problems and solutions are the same. Her papilloma was getting pretty bad but the vet did not think it was worth risking the general anaesthesia on a 9-year-old bun to cauterize it off. The vet said she had cataracts in both eyes now but he did not think it affected her vision.

On 11/15/10, near 10 pm when I went to get the cats' food for the night, I passed by Sweetie who was thrashing about. I thought she was having a fatal stroke. It took me hours to fall asleep after seeing that. I would later come to realize that the problem was Encephalitozoon cuniculi which Isabella had. Sweetie probably got it from her. It causes head tilt and paralysis. Sweetie had very mild head tilt and mild loss of leg function for a few years but nothing that the average person would notice on seeing her. But here, the E. cuniculi was making its move, straight to her brain and her right eye (not the one she always rubbed on the water bottle). The right eye became sunken in and goopy almost instantly out of nowhere. I was shocked that Sweetie was alive the next morning. I was even more shocked to find her alive when I got home from work. She came to rest laying on her left side with the bad eye upwards. The left eye was normal. If I tried to lay her on the other side or sit her upright, she would thrash until ending up back where she started so I left her that way. Wednesday morning, I was less shocked to find her alive as I realized that she had not had a stroke but was paralyzed aside from her head and some body movement and confused due to this horrible brain parasite. For the first time in my life, I seriously considered having her killed by the vet but they wanted $70, I felt Sweetie was going to die at any moment, and mom wanted me to keep her alive. Her regular vet who would have helped with fluids and pain medication was on vacation, and the other vet was mean. When I met her once with paralyzed Isabella, she told me to have her euthanized a full year before she died. There is an entire Yahoo group of people caring for disabled and paralyzed (sometimes completely) rabbits. I am not the only one. We managed to get lactated ringers from the cats' vet (he knows me well for some 20 years), and I started her on 100 mL twice a day Wednesday night which perked her up. I also began flushing her eye with eye drops and liquid antibiotics (the same one I was giving her once a week). Sweetie ate some kale and carrots along the way but mostly pushed those and the water bottle tip away when I offered those as options. To those of you who would chastise me for not "euthanizing" her, I say I am not the one to make the decision on who dies and when, and it should be a crime that lactated ringers (it is just sterile salt water!) and rabbit pain medications require a prescription. I would have liked to have put her on MetaCam. I was not going to put this last paragraph on this page because I will get some nasty comments (I have for not killing Isabella and dying cats and a dog) but I feel it is more important to truthfully share in the hopes it may help someone else in the future. Sweetie died on 11/21/10 between 6:30 pm and 9:45 pm.

I have put Sweetie's page in the past tense on 11/24/10 which is something I do for closure. Mr. Tiny has an appointment on 11/29/10 for a blood draw to see if he is carrying E. cuniculi. If he is, I will have Mr. Tiny and Harry treated for it even though they are currently asymptomatic. After watching Isabella and Sweetie go through paralysis, if the boys can be spared, then that is one good thing.

Mr. Tiny's titer came back negative so he has never been exposed. Either Sweetie did not have E. cuniculi, or she did and never gave it to Mr. Tiny which is still possible.


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