Wednesday, 5 August 2015

6 Possible Garden and Outdoor Hazards To Your Bunny

1. Pesticides and chemical fertilisers
  • If you have a bunny at home, it is unadvisable to use these substances on your plants. For instance, your bunny's paws could come into contact with the dissolved fertilisers in water drained from your potted plants.

2. Wild mushrooms, particularly strange-looking weeds, and litter
  • If you spot any of these items on your lawn, remove them immediately.

    Wild mushrooms - these tend to pop up during damp and humid times of the year.
3. Gardening tools
  • Keep gardening tools, especially those with sharp and pointy ends, out of your bunny's reach. Some bunnies might have the tendency to chin these objects.

4. Compost
  • Those who do trench composting - where a hole is dug in the ground, and kitchen scraps are placed into it and covered with soil - be careful not to let your bunny have access to that area. He/she might try to dig out the various rotting vegetables, banana skin, etc underneath!

5. Potential predators
  • You MUST supervise your bunny at all times when he/she is outdoors. Leaving your bunny alone for even a mere 5 minutes could result in an accidental escape.
  • Keep an eye out for eagles circling above your home as well as feral cats.

6. Poisonous plants
  • Check that the plants in your home are not poisonous. Here is a list from the House Rabbit Society's website: Poisonous Plants
First published on 02/01/2012

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Chewing - A Problem?

Why Bunnies Chew?
  • Chewing is part of a bunny's nature, and to bunnies, it is a rather enjoyable pastime. 
  • The practical benefit: a bunny's teeth do not stop growing, so they are worn down by everyday chewing and munching. 

The Right Attitude
From a human's point of view, chewing is often considered to be "bad" behaviour because household items are often targeted for chewing purposes. Common objects include:
  • wires
  • legs of wooden furniture
  • remote control buttons
  • books placed on accessible shelves

We must understand that our bunnies don't know it's our treasured possessions they unknowingly damaged. They are innocent.

DO NOT hit, scold or punish your bunny in any way.

The Common Mistake: Chewing "Rewarded"
When we're engrossed in activities like watching TV, a graceful hop up the bookshelf or consistent gnawing on the wooden chair legs will no doubt attract our attention.

In order to somewhat stop this behaviour and resume our activity, we give our bunnies a treat or an extra piece of vegetable. After eating, they usually become satisfied and will go about with their usual grooming or resting business.

Now, here is what the bunny learns from our actions: "Ohh, by chewing, I get something yummy."

The chewing behaviour is unconsciously reinforced!

How to Prevent
1. Provide hay at all times.
  • When your bunny finishes the given amount, do not hesitate to offer more. The bunny can munch on the hay to satisfy his/her chewing urge.

2. Chew wood
  • These can be bought from a pet shop.

3. Bunny-proofing your home
  • You can use baby gates to fence off your study, for example, where the books are kept.
  • Wires can be encased in plastic tubing. Slit the length of the tubing to wrap the wire inside. 

First published on 07/08/2011

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Man in the Music, Dancing the Dream

Man in the Music by Joseph Vogel

Dancing the Dream by Michael Jackson
(There's the 1992 cover, but what I have is this one.)

I have been waiting for these two books for half a year. I ordered Man in the Music from my nearest bookstore in December 2014. But months past ... it never came. The answer I got from a member of staff in around April/May 2015 was: 

"The supplier keeps postponing the order."

When I enquired another time, just to be sure that the bookstore isn't placing the order as I was going to order the books from other sources, the answer I got in June was:

"... Your order isn't our files."

Right. Well ... I still love the bookstore. Almost every book on my shelves were bought from it. Just a bit disappointed.

I tried Kinokuniya next. I placed the order by email. They were very efficient at replying, and the postage charged wasn't expensive either! And what could make this even better? Instead of the usual 3 - 4 weeks, the books came in two weeks!

I need to, once again, emphasize the fact that I only had to wait for two weeks. Two weeks! Compared to the agonizing 6 months I had to endure, 2 weeks is like a ... miracle. (As you're reading the words of someone who had been dying to read the two Michael Jackson books, kindly excuse my overwhelming emotions.) 

Oh, especially Dancing the Dream, all the poems and essays in it were written by Michael himself. I've read several of those from the internet before getting the actual book, and they're brilliant. Behind the well-known 'King of Pop' title, the moonwalk and everything else which made him a global pop icon, is simply a gentle, curious and rather keen observer.

I'm neglecting Man in the Music, aren't I? Right, I'll save the best for last.

Man in the Music; this is like a breath of fresh air. It brings the focus back on Michael's artistry. A fellow fan recommended it to me. (Behold, the power of word of mouth!) Googling for excerpts and looking up for sample pages on Amazon, I was impressed by the contents of the book: every album, every song, from Off The Wall to Invincible. It's an insightful book into Michael's music. The feeling one gets while listening to a particular song - it's put into words. 

Now, Dancing the Dream. I've learnt that the book isn't commercially successful when it was published in 1992. Well ... in my opinion, the reader mustn't expect to encounter anything directly related to Michael's career, or anticipate it to be like an actual autobiography, as the book isn't split into chapters and there is no page after page of continuous, paragraphed writing.

So, a glimpse into Michael Jackson's thoughts. If you want to know what he's like, don't google for articles written by somebody else, read this. Here are three short essays I've copied out. Go on, read them.

It's easy to mistake being innocent for being simpleminded or naive.  We all want to seem sophisticated; we all want to seem street-smart.  To be innocent is to be "out of it." 
Yet there is a deep truth in innocence.  A baby looks in his mother's eyes, and all he sees is love.  As innocence fades away, more complicated things take its place.  We think we need to outwit others and scheme to get what we want.  We being to spend a lot of energy protecting ourselves.  Then life turns into a struggle.  People have no choice but to be street-smart.  How else can they survive? 
When you get right down to it, survival means seeing things the way they really are and responding.  It means being open.  And that's what innocence is.  It's simple and trusting like a child, not judgemental and committed to one narrow point of view.  If you are locked into a pattern of thinking and responding, your creativity gets blocked. You miss the freshness and magic of the moment.  Learn to be innocent again, and that freshness never fades. 

I Searched For My Star
When I was little I used to lie on my back in the grass at night.  I began to tell one star from another and wished that one of them could be mine, like an imaginary friend.

First I picked the Pole Star, because it is the easiest for a child to find, once you know that the Big Dipper is about to catch it.  But I wanted my star to be a moving star, and not such a constant one.  Besides, the sailors at sea would be lost without the Pole Star to guide them.

Next I picked out two special stars in the heart of the Swan.  All the other stars looked white, but these were bright blue and gold.  They reminded me of twin jewels, but before I could choose, I stopped.  They belonged to each other, and it wouldn't be fair to take just one.

Orion's belt caught my eye for a moment, but I'm not a hunter.  I had better leave the Dog Star alone too, with its nose pressed to the celestial trail and its tail thumping the sky.

Last of all I turned to my favorites, the Seven Sisters.  To me they were like elegant ladies getting ready for a ball, wrapped in a gossamer blue cloud.  But who has the heart to tear seven sisters apart?

My game taught me a lot about the night sky, but I was growing up.  The whole idea of having my own star faded, and it was hard to remember if I had ever chosen one in the end.  People began to tell me that the word "star" meant something quite different.  I half believed them, then one night I was tossing in bed, hurt and worried.  My heart felt heavy with troubles.  Stumbling to my feet, I looked out the window.  Thick clouds masked the midnight sky.  No stars!

I trembled to think of a world without stars.  No guide for the sailor to trust at sea, no jewels to dazzle our sense of beauty, no hunter pointing to the next horizon, no lovely ladies trailing perfume to heaven's ballroom.  But all around the globe, the air is so dirty and the lights from cities are so bright that for some people few stars can be seen anymore.  A generation of children may grow up seeing a blank sky and asking, "Did there used to be stars there?"

Let's give them back the sky and let's do it now, before it's too late.  I'm going to search for my star until I find it.  It's hidden in the drawer of innocence, wrapped in a scarf of wonder.  I'll need a map to tell me which hole it should fill, and that will be a small one.  But there are nearly five billion of us on earth, and we all need the sky.  Find your star and throw it up to heaven.  You still have it, don't you?

Dance of Life
I cannot escape the moon. Its soft beams push aside the curtains at night.  I don't even have to see it, a cool blue energy falls across my bed and I am up.  I race down the dark hall and swing open the door, not to leave home but to go back to it.  "Moon, I'm here!"  I shout. 
"Good," she replies.  "Now give us a little dance." 

But my body has started moving long before she says anything.  When did it start?  I can't remember.  My body has always been moving.  Since childhood I have reacted to the moon this way, as her favorite lunatic, and not just hers. The stars draw me near, close enough so that I can see through their twinkling act.  They're dancing, too, doing a soft molecular jiggle that makes my carbon atoms jump in time. 

With my arms flung wide, I head for the sea, which brings out another dance in me.  Moon dancing is slow inside, and soft as blue shadows on the lawn.  When the surf booms, I hear the heart of the earth, and my tempo picks up.  I feel the dolphins leap in the white foam, trying to fly, and almost flying when the waves curl up high to the heavens.  Their tails leave arcs of light as plankton glow in the waves.  A school of minnows rises up, flashing silver in the moonlight like a new constellation. 

"Ah!" the sea says.  "Now we're gathering a crowd." 

I run along the beach, catching waves with one foot and dodging them with the other.  I hear faint popping sounds, a hundred panicky sand crabs are ducking into their holes, just in case.  But I'm racing now, sometimes on my toes, sometimes running flat-out. 

I throw my head back and a swirling nebula says, "Fast now, twirl!" 

Grinning, ducking my head for balance, I start to spin as wildly as I can.  This is my favorite dance, because it contains a secret.  The faster I twirl, the more I am still inside.  My dance is all motion without, all silence within.  As much as I love to make music, it's the unheard music that never dies.  And silence is my real dance, though it never moves. It stands aside, my choreographer of grace, and blesses each finger and toe. 

I have forgotten the moon now and the sea and the dolphins, but I am in their joy more than ever.  As far away as a star, as near as a grain of sand, the presence rises, shimmering with light.  I could be in it forever, it is so loving and warm.  But touch it once, and light shoots forth from the stillness.  It quivers and thrills me, and I know my fate is to show others that this silence, this light, this blessing is my dance.  I take this gift only to give it again. 

"Quick, give!" says the light. 

As never before, I try to obey, inventing new steps, new gestures of joy.  All at once I sense where I am, running back up the hill.  The light in my bedroom is still on.  Seeing it brings me back down.  I begin to feel my pounding heart, the drowsiness in my arms, the warm blood in my legs.  My cells want to dance slower.  "Can we walk a little?" they ask.  "It's been kind of wild." 

"Sure."  I laugh, slowing to an easy amble. 

I turn the doorknob, panting lightly, glad to be tired.  Crawling back into bed, I remember something that I always wonder at.  They say that some of the stars that we see overhead aren't really there.  Their light takes millions of years to reach us, and all we are doing is looking into the past, into a bygone moment when those stars could still shine. 

"So what does a star do after it quits shining?"  I ask myself.  "Maybe it dies." 

"Oh no," a voice in my head says.  "A star can never die.  It just turns into a smile and melts back into the cosmic music, the dance of life."  I like that thought, the last one I have before my eyes close.  With a smile, I melt back into the music myself.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Bonding With Your Bunny

What is Bonding?
Perhaps bonding sounds like a heavy word, as it is not uncommon for new bunny owners to have the "How exactly do I bond with my bunny?" question. Actually, it simply involves you, the human, hanging out with your bunny and both of you getting to know each other more.

Jippie enjoying pets

The First Step: Abandoning Preconceptions
"Affectionate", "cuddly", and "friendly" - these are the words that tend to come to one's mind when thinking about a bunny. Bunnies are indeed wonderful, intelligent creatures, but the typical "cute" image of a bunny doesn't represent the actual animal. It is very important that you see your bunny as an individual.

Each bunny has his/her own unique personality; some are naturally adventurous, some are feisty and bossy, while some are shy and are more on the introvert side. 

When bonding - or in less intimidating words, hanging out - with your bunny:

  • Open the cage door and let your bunny come out on his/her own.
  • Sit near, but not directly beside, your bunny. Keep a polite distance. Your bunny will come to you if he/she wants to.
  • Talk to your bunny, speak gently and give compliments: "Hello, you're a handsome bunny, you know that?"
  • If you wish to pet your bunny, approach slowly with your fingers and start from the head. It is better to position yourself beside your bunny when doing so instead of in front of him/her.
  • Avoid making any sudden, loud noises or movements.
  • Restrain yourself from carrying up and cuddling your bunny. He/she is not familiar with you yet, and so might kick and struggle when held against their will, potentially injuring both of you.
  • When wanting to pet your new bunny, I personally advise you not to use your whole hand on his/her back. It may startle him/her.
  • Do not follow or chase your bunny around - you would appear like a threat!

When it is time for your bunny to return to his/her cage or play area, use a strand of vegetable or a tiny piece of carrot to tempt and guide your bunny back. During this period, try to use carrying only as a last resort.

If your bunny seems more interested in knowing the furniture rather than you, there is no need to become disheartened or angry. The keys to a good relationship with your bunny are:

  • Allocating time daily for your bunny.
  • Making yourself the source of affection and pets.
  • Making yourself the supplier and waiter of your bunny's food.
  • Focus on your bunny when you're with him/her. Stop the incessant chatter that is so often present in our busy heads. It's not quality time spent if your mind is constantly on other things.
  • Of course, lots of patience and love.

First published on 29/07/2011