How Hershey Got Her Groove Back
The Benefits of Rabbit Sponsorship Go Both Ways
by Mary Edwardsen
Hershey is the product of one of those horrible-but-typical situations we all hear about: She was a backyard rabbit who lived in a hutch all of her five and a half years. No litter box, no toe mats, no toys, and as far as we can tell, no love or affection except for a few kind words at feeding time, which of course, never included hay or veggies. Poor Hershey!
Hershey came to us with two other rabbits, Bunny Bear, who has since been adopted-out to a wonderful lady named Janet; and Peter, who after only two days of love in her life, died of a massive heart attack, possibly due in part to the stress of having attention, something obviously foreign to her (upon necropsy it was discovered that Peter had a weak heart wall). But this is Hershey’s story, and we have Mary, Hershey’s sponsor, here to tell you more about her.
Hershey may be the perfect rabbit. A model rabbit with an exaggerated body, tail, and ears. Everything is long, sleek, and black. And, like a model, she is grossly underweight, a half-Flemish Giant who weighs only 9 pounds! One expects this beautiful, black creature to run like the wind, to gallop like a thoroughbred, but she doesn’t. She sort of clumps along, as if the various, oversized, but underfed, parts of her don’t quite know how to work together. An awkward adolescent, who insists on going through tubes that were made for rabbits half her size, who will bully any other female rabbit, who will flirt with any male rabbit even if the male has to stand on a rather large box just to feel on even footing with her.
Hershey has gone through a number of tests since arriving at Zooh Corner: blood tests and titers, urinalysis, fecals, x-rays of her entire body. She had suddenly begun to drop weight, even though she appeared to be eating normally, and we didn’t know why. The first tests were not good. She had an infection, and there was blood in the urine. But this didn’t account for the sudden weight drop, according to Dr. McDowell. And, then there is the breathing. Rabbits are almost always quiet, yet one can at times hear Hershey breathing even when in another room. Even when she is still, she sounds as if she were terrified. A rapid, almost gasping for breath. It can be disconcerting. Her head was x-rayed and scoped, just to be sure there was no structural malformation, nothing being pushed out of place by an abscess, that her teeth were okay. She has a perfectly normal head, nose, and mouth. She just makes noises. Interestingly, she is quiet when she sleeps. We have found no medical reason for Hershey’s sudden weight loss and depression. Is it because Zooh Corner just moved, which was stressful on all the bunnies? Or is it that life may still be just too scary for her?
The infection has cleared up; there is no longer blood in the urine and her blood count is back to normal. Most importantly, she’s begun to gain weight and she now runs with exuberance and plays with all of her assorted toys!
I wasn’t around for Hershey when she first came to Zooh Corner. I didn’t see the rabbit who couldn’t be touched, who didn’t know what it was to run free or to play with toys. By the time I met her, she was already learning about love and she desperately wanted touch, more than food, more than water, more than anything. She just needed to be touched. There is no wrong way to pet or groom her. Just keep doing it, don’t stop. Never stop.
Sponsoring a rescued rabbit has given me the opportunity to intervene when a rabbit needed my immediate help. And in return, Hershey lets me come into her life, lying down next to my leg for as long as I will stay, nipping at my shirt if I prematurely stop grooming her. She gives me what I give her – love.
Like all rabbits at the Zooh, Hershey needs her very own home and family. She’s getting healthier by the day, and is almost ready to move on to a life that’s better than she has ever known. Who will show her the way?
Germaine. That is who has chosen to give Hershey the life she needed, and from what we have seen and heard, that life is Heaven! Hershey has gained nearly nine pounds, has her own room filled with toys and her own Bunny Things, she has run of the house, is spoiled rotten and (this one even we cannot believe) she has her own lullaby tape to listen to every night when she goes to sleep. It may give you a bit of a giggle, but it’s given Hershey what she needed and deserved: happiness and contentedness. Now we know that ‘happily ever after’ really does exist!