Since we came home from our tour, things have been much better with our bunny. I was having doubts, while I was away, that this whole thing was going to work. She must have felt it, because when we came back she set about showing me that she adores me. Perhaps it's because our housesitter was allergic to her, and she couldn't come in the house the whole time we were away. This was an unplanned last minute disaster - as I showed my housesitter how to brush her, and she started sneezing badly. I had a plane to catch and no time to make other arrangements for her. So I left her, locked in her cage for two weeks. Ouch - I felt so bad for her. But if she lived with the rabbit people, that'd be her life. As it happened, my housesitter's boyfriend did let her out for a brief hop each morning, so it wasn't as bad as I feared.
Still, when we got home, she showed her appreciation for me big time. When I bring her into the house, she hops around happily, frisking and twisting in the air, and she follows me everywhere. When I work at my computer she sits at my feet. When I sit on the floor she hops over to me, and when I stroke her, she snuggles up to my leg and stares at me adoringly.
I read an ebook about rabbit business, and while the book was exceptionally badly written and overall quite disappointing, it did have a few tips that have helped me, and I've made a few changes to what I've been doing, with good results.
The book points out that in the wild, rabbits are at the bottom of the food chain, the hunted, not the hunters. They have evolved to survive by escaping any form of entrapment, fearing and bolting from other creatures. No wonder she doesn't like to be held. These days rather than picking her up, I wait till she hops over to me, and then brush her while she's sitting on the floor. She feels free, and guess what, she loves it! She so enjoys being petted and cuddled by me, that I've been gradually training her to hop up onto my knee to receive this goodness. Bit by bit, she's becoming more comfortable on my lap. I sitll have to pick her up each day to brush her tummy, but it's for a much shorter time, and when she's all blissed out from cuddle-love she seems to tolerate it ok.
Another thing I learnt from the book is that socially, rabbits have dominant bunnies and subordinate bunnies. The dominant bunnies boss others around and get them to do certain things by nipping them. I have been totally perplexed that I'll be petting and loving up my rabbit, who is obviously enjoying it, and then when I pause she nips me on the arm. Huh? But now this is explained - she's telling me in her bossy way to continue. The answer, says the book, is to show her I'm the dominant one, not her, by gently pushing her head down towards the floor each time she nips me. She does still occasionally nip me but she does it far less than before, and generally these days it's only when I've put her on my lap.
Jesse snapped this pic of the bunny sitting happily on my knee for a cuddle. The training is going well so far!