Tuesday, 30 April 2013


One of the biggest mistakes novice rabbit owners make is to swoop down on bunnies and lift them up. As I've written before, rabbits are prey animals, consequently being picked up frightens them. People also make the mistake of expecting they'll become instant friends with them. Unlike dogs, humans must earn the trust of bunnies. Only in this way can they become friendly and even affectionate companions.

When acquiring a new rabbit, you must let the poor creature acclimatize to his or her new surroundings. The bunny needs to establish a safe zone to which he or she can run to. A large cage or pen is your best sort of enclosure for a rabbit's new home. I've found that small rooms, such as a bathroom, serve well for this purpose too.

Establish trust with your rabbit by sitting quietly near the enclosure. Let him or her sniff you but don't try to pet or grab the bunny just yet. You can condition your long-eared companion to know that you provide good things by giving out tiny treats each time you come to the pen or cage. Small pieces of green lettuce, not Ice burg, are one safe sort of bribe to give your rabbit.

Eventually, you can pet your bunny and let him or her out for supervised exercise periods. Let your bunny know you want to start petting by speaking softly and making no sudden moves. Rabbits love their noses petted. Once your bunny understands that hands mean petting or treats, you can lie on the floor with her or him and enjoy what I call floor time.

In the picture above, I'm lying with Neutrino and petting his soft fur. All I'd have to do is start sitting down and he'd bound over for pets. My current rabbit, Deborah, does the same thing. She knows that when I lie down on the kitchen floor, she'll get plenty of pets. all the bunnies I've lain with have closed their eyes and tooth purred. That's a sort of grinding noise they make with their teeth to express pleasure, hence the name.

The tragedy of Easter is that many folks buy rabbits on a whim and assume they know how to look after them. Parents foolishly expect their children to look after their new pets. When the children lose interest and the parents end up caring for the bunny or bunnies, the poor creatures end up in lonely backyard hutches. Rabbits are social creatures and they thrive on being with patient caretakers. They like quiet and orderly surroundings. With proper care, they can make wonderful companions and live for about ten years.

For further information about rabbit care, visit the The House Rabbit Society site. It has everything a novice bunny owner needs to know. For what you can expect out of living with house rabbits, please check out the information for my When a Man Loves a Rabbitmemoir. It's on the left hand side of this page.

Additionally, I have a brand new book out called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Please check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 26 April 2013


When I returned home from junior high school one March afternoon, I had no inkling that my minder would assume I had broken the law. She should have known that I would never have done anything of the sort, yet she scolded me as if I was guilty.

As I took my coat off, Mrs. Boyle noticed a stain on my left thumb and index finger. "What's that on your fingers?" she demanded. Before I could answer, she grabbed my wrist and asked, "Have you been smoking?" When I denied that I had, she lectured, "Don't you know smoking is bad for you? Look at your fingers. They're all yellow. Don't tell me you haven't been smoking."

"But I haven't been smoking," I explained. "We did a science experiment in school and I got some tar on my fingers. I described how we placed bits of wood into a test tube and put a Bunsen burner under it. The tar dripped into a flask beside the test tube and the flammable gas went upward through another tube. Mr. Quigg, our science teacher, instructed us to light the gas escaping through the glass tube to show that it was indeed flammable. The experiment was designed to show how charcoal was made.

Mrs Boyle didn't seem convinced by my explanation. Even so, she told me to go wash my hands. I had done so at the school but the tar refused to come off. Even after scrubbing for a half hour in her bathroom sink, the stains persisted. They eventually faded but I don't believe Mrs. Boyle completely believed my explanation. She must not have told my mom either since I never was rep remanded when I went home on the following weekend.

Though I didn't like boarding at Mrs. Boyle's house during the week so I could go to public school, it was far better than being sent to Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind in Vancouver for months at a time. My parent's home in fort Saskatchewan was only twenty miles from Edmonton, making it easy to visit each weekend. McDougal Junior High had counselors who were tasked with helping us sight-impaired students with reading assignments and filling out tests.

I touched on my experiences at Mrs. Boyle's house in my recently-published book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from cultism to Christianity. Amazon and Barnes & Noble distribute the e-book version while Virtual Bookworm distributes the paperback edition.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


ne little-known fact about rabbits is that they still have many of their wild instincts intact. Though they domesticated for a thousand years in Europe, they were bread for size and fur colour. Consequently, they continue to exhibit behaviours that served their wild ancestors well.

One behaviour that suits us well is how easily rabbits can be litter-trained. Wild bunnies don't foul their warrens but relieve themselves above ground. Like many other animals, they use feces and urine to mark their territory. I've noticed how concerned my bunnies became when I changed their litter boxes. Gideon became especially worried when I put fresh shredded paper in his box. He used to spend at least ten minutes smoothing it down as if a mere human such as I couldn't do it right.

All of the rabbits I've had enjoyed relaxing under chairs and coffee tables. In the wild, their ancestors often loafed beneath spruce trees and in thickets. Chairs and low tables help rabbits feel safe from attack from above while giving them a wide vista. They also can dash to the safety of their hiding places at the first sign of perceived danger.

As wild rabbits dig warrens for safety and to escape the elements, domestic bunnies feel the need for a safe place. I've had rabbits whose constant fixation was to get under my bed. The problem with that was that they would tear the box spring and rip up the carpet. I solved that by putting hardware cloth under the bed and covering it with cardboard. I also placed planks of wood against the wall to prevent any long-eared vandal from decorating the baseboards with teeth marks. I also nailed plywood to the bottom of the box spring to prevent upward tunneling.

Getting back to the topic of litter boxes, I've found that placing hay at one end encourages bunnies to eat while they do their business. Since wild rabbits eat and excrete simultaneously, their domesticated cousins prefer to do the same. Hay is beneficial for rabbits since it wears down their ever-growing teeth and provides roughage for their digestive system.

Another behaviour is digging scrapes. In the wild, rabbits will dig a shallow hole in the ground and then lie in it This provides a measure of safety as well as helps cool their bodies in summer. My recently-departed Mark used to paw at the rug under the coffee table before settling down. This behaviour puzzled me at first. Then I remembered R. M. Lockley's book, The Private Life of the Rabbit. This book explained the behaviours of wild rabbits. Mark's actions under the coffee table were instinctive, not an act of naughtiness.

One behaviour that makes me laugh is the way rabbits shake their forepaws before washing their faces. I believe this is an instinctive way in which they fling dirt from their paws. No matter how clean I kept their rooms or enclosures, every bunny I've had flicked his or her paws before grooming.

I wrote many more observations of my bunnies and their behaviours in When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living With Bunnies. Please check it out at the left side of this page.

I also published a memoir called How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity recently. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers distribute e-book and paperback editions of it.

Friday, 19 April 2013


Long distance public transit isn't what it once was. Passenger trains are almost non-existant and bus companies, such as Greyhound and Red Arrow, are cutting back on rural routes. If you're fortunate enough to have bus service, the ride isn't as pleasant as travelling by train once was.

I had the privilege of riding through the Rocky mountains four times during my lifetime on a train. In 1968 and 1969, my parents paid my way home from Jericho Hill School for the Deaf and Blind so I wouldn't have to stay there during Easter. Though my vision was poor, I enjoyed the tall snow-covered peaks and icy lakes as they passed by. Even at night, I saw the moon shimmering on a river and similar delightful scenes

Though I had to sleep sitting up during the first two trips, the experience of train travel thrilled me. Instead of tinted green or brown windows like the busses had, the train windows were large and clear. Instead of crampt seeting, I had plenty of leg room. Being able to visit the dining car also relieved the boredom when I couldn't pick up any stations on my radio.

The dining car was like a restaurant on wheels. It had white table linnen, real china plates, and metal cutlery. Sitting on real chairs at proper tables added to the feel of being in a restaurant. Watching the mountain scenery as I ate added to the feeling of luxury.

Though the prices of the food shocked me, it tasted very good. On my first trip, my parents skimped on the ticket price. They also sent me a five dollar bill and expected that to suffice. By the time I arrived in Edmonton, I had spent all the money and eaten very little. Mom was astonished at how much the food on the train cost. She gave me a ten dollar bill when I boarded for Vancouver but I still couldn't eat my fill.

The second trip home was nicer in that my parents paid for a berth in the sleeping car. I had heard about falling asleep to the rhythm of the train wheels but I hadn't experienced it properly until then. I slept well on both the trip home and back to Vancouver.

Even the daily passenger train trips were pleasant. Having room to sit properly and watching the countryside passing by the large clear windows was a welcome change to riding a bus. Back in the nineteen sixties, most rural towns in Alberta had train service.

One by one, towns lost their daily passenger trains. Busses charged less for their trips than trains so people flocked to them. As more people bought their own cars, trucks, and vans, even the bus companies lost money. One by one, rural towns lost their stops. Even Radway, the hamlet I live in, no longer has Greyhound service.

I wrote more about my two Rocky Mountain train trips in Deliverance from Jericho, a memoir of my years at British Columbia's infamous deaf and blind institution. Please check it out at the left side of this page. How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is my newest book. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers distribute e-book and paperback versions of it.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

THE PERFECT SITE FOR GOOD RABBIT CARE INFORMATION The Internet is an amazing source of information. The problem is that some of it is inaccurate or completely wrong. This fact makes it hard for casual researchers to know if the information they're reading or hearing is correct.

From my experience with having bunnies living in my home, The House Rabbit Society web site is the best place to learn about these long-eared pets. Because this organization is made up of volunteers who live with house rabbits, they know much more about the behaviour and care of these creatures than most people.

Moreover, The HRS rescues unwanted and abandoned rabbits and finds them good homes. Each summer, the population of rabbits at animal shelters swells because naive parents bought baby bunnies at Easter. The novelty soon wears off and the poor animals end up in shelters or dumped in the woods. The HRS works tirelessly to educate the public regarding the joys and difficulties of having house rabbits.

Additionally, this rescue organization has a veterinary listing so people can find clinics which know about bunnies and can give them expert care. Most vets consider rabbits to be exotic animals so they only treat dogs and cats.

The HRS also has an activist Corner for those who want to do more than feel sorry for abandoned or abused bunnies.

As a service to animal shelters, they provide a page For Rescue page. It has a wealth of information on how to rescue rabbits and how to care for them. Grants for rescue groups are also available from this non-profit organization to deserving organizations.

For those who wish to help out with educating the public and rehoming bunnies, visit the support HRS page. On it is information on becoming a member of the society or just donating to help them out. They accept cheques and PayPal.

One excellent page for additional information on bunnies is The Rabbit Reading Room. Along with The House Rabbit Handbook by Marinell Harriman, the page features a good variety of bunny-related paperbacks. It even has a link to my memoir, When a Man Loves a Rabbit: Learning and Living with Bunnies It's also available from this page.

My new book, How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers.

Friday, 12 April 2013


What was the sweetest demonstration of pure joy that you saw an animal express? Most people know about playful dogs and some know about frisky cats but what about rabbits? Most folks would be surprised that these animals have their own way to express their happiness.

One of these ways is what certain rabbit owners call binkying. A binky is a leap straight up in the air, sometimes accompanied with a twist of the body. Many rabbits often land facing the opposite way from which they ran. Frequently, the bunny will look confused or bemused. Binkies are common with young rabbits who feel confident about their surroundings. When these pets are allowed to live in a home, either in a large pen or free range, they delight their humans with these magnificent leaps.

Another way rabbits have of expressing happiness is racing from room to room or up and down a hallway. My bunny-loving friends call that the Bunny 500. The sheer ecstacy of living in a safe enviroment causes rabbits to race around for the fun of it. I remember being startled by a noise behind me as I worked on my computer one morning in 1998. I turned around and saw Gideon racing back and forth in the hallway. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get his Bunny 500 race on video.

Rabbits will also shake their heads and torsos before hopping to some desired place, such as the food bowl or a human offering petting. This is a diminished form of joyful expression but it still indicates pleasure. Sometimes a rabbit will do a sort of ear wiggle to express excitement.

Though rabbits thump to sound the alarm, they sometimes slam their feet down to express excitement. I've seen quite a few bunnies check out a room and then then thump. It's like they're saying, "This is mine! All mine!"

Bunnies also will wiggle their tails before racing off somewhere. This is either a show of defiance to a human or an expression of playfulness. In either case, it shows that the bunny is happy in his or her environment.

After working off their excess energy, house rabbits often flop on their sides with their feet kicked out behind them. My friends call this "happy feet." It's a demonstration that the bunny feels relaxed enough to risk a slower take off at the first sign of danger.

If rabbits feel very secure, they'll risk sleeping on their sides with their eyes closed. As in this picture of Deborah snoozing on the rug, bunnies feel that they can let their guards down and relax.Moments such as this are missed by those people who keep rabbits in tiny cages. What a shame that more folks don't know that they can experience such sublime sights if they chose to.

In When a Man Loves a Rabbit, I wrote about many wonderful times which I had with my long-eared companions. Please check this paperback out at the left side of this page.

I recently published How I Was Razed: A Journey from Cultism to Christianity. Check it out at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Virtual Bookworm Publishers