Tuesday, September 3, 2019

My Life has Changed Forever

I've been planning to have more posts about science, particularly biology, and was looking forward to writing them, especially one about teeth.  However, a few things happened, which lead to me taking a break from this blog.  The first thing was that my hands were giving me lots of trouble.  Carpal tunnel symptoms are very adept at finding me.  So for months, my hands were plagued with pain and odd, uncomfortable sensations.  Keeping my typing down to mainly just my two volunteer jobs helped a lot.

Somewhere around June of this year, my frustration of not being able to work a salary job due to two disabilities took a turn.  As throughout these past 3 years, there were moments when I thought, "Wow, I'm doing so well, I think I'm ready to work again," only to be followed by some setback.  I was a 0 on the dial of life, which is better than a negative number, of course...still...

Now, in Sept., I'm a business woman, getting ready to open her own business and market her creativity....later on this month!  I live as a business woman and think as a business woman...all the time.  There's a lot of things I can rightly attribute to my transformation, and that includes the rabbits.  During the 1990s I rode an enormous wave of creativity in art and the written word, but by the early 2000s, such gushers had dried.   While there were cracks and stirrings as the years went on, writing for a rabbit rescue really set me back on the path.  For every newsletter, I create short pieces of whimsical writings.  The most current newsletter also includes an article that I wrote.  Volunteering for rabbit rescues has benefited me in almost every facet of my life.  Volunteering truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The People Connection (Curing the Post-graduation Blues Part 2)

Leaving North Dakota and going back to South Dakota was extremely difficult.  This was the place I had spent the darkest days of my life.  I wasn't interested in crawling back into a lightless tunnel of woe, pain, and disgust, but economics lead me to the doorstep of my former roommate- in South Dakota.

I seemed to be okay at first.  For months I filled out online job applications for positions all over the country with confidence and hopefulness.  As the days dragged on and my physical pain began overtake me, my activities began to changed.  Actions, such as filling out applications morphed into sitting and staring- either because I was too out of it, due to lack of sleep, or I didn't want to move due to pronounced pain. Almost everyone I knew had left town and my world become smaller and smaller.

Enter the rabbits.  Not a day goes by now that I don't speak to someone in the rabbit community.  My partner from work offered friendship to me, and I communicate daily with people in my rabbit Facebook groups.  In general, advocacy people are really great people to befriend.  They are friendly and patient.  They are kind, yet brave.  They are self-sacrificing.  They are heroes, and great people to have in your life.

However, there are exceptions.   When I first came back to town, I attempted to join a local group that helps humans.  What I got was incompetence, arrogance, and rudeness.  Dropping them from my life opened up a door that lead to some really wonderful people.  Preparing to bring rabbits into my life certainly seems to be the gift that keeps on giving.  As I continue to live on a steady stream of contentment, various aspects of my life continue to change in a positive way.  Sometimes, even just thinking about that brings me close to tears.  So here's to the rabbits and the people who strive to protect them.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Curing the Post-graduation Blues

In the winter of 2012, I packed up my stuff and I went up North to complete my education.  It was cold and dark, and at times I felt like I lived on "the edge of the earth."  Flying squirrels, cackling crows, hoots in the night, extreme cold, thick ice, and the cloudy, starless sky- the good and the bad of Northern life- they all seem so far away now.

Graduation from grad school was a wonderful time- full of hopes and dreams and joy.  With a 4.00 semester GPA,  a 4.00 overall GPA,  and golden recommendations, I knew I was on my way.  But then came the walkers, and the creams, and the oral medications, and the circular bandages, and the doctors, and the foot pads, and the infections, and the physical therapy, and the pain.  For over two years, my life was not my own.  And all my hopes and dreams melted away for the umpteenth time.

Enter the rabbits.  I started work on a volunteer basis for two rabbit rescues- each one over 1,200 miles away. Each job offered different opportunities.    Physical exercise strengthens my body.  Advocacy work strengthens my soul.  And now, weeks later, I look around and almost all the voids are gone.  How did that happen?  When did that happen?

Rabbit rescue work, fills me with feeling.  It is immensely rewarding.  It is humbling.  It is interesting.  It is joyful, and sometimes sad.  It is fantastic.  It is awesome. And, it is one of the greatest, truest things I've ever done in my life!

If things in your life aren't quite right and you find yourself searching for something, consider volunteering to help those in need- humans or animals.  Don't let distance stop you.  The phone and the Internet are wonderful implements that can get you where you need to go.  It's just a matter of connecting with flexible agencies and organizations.  And maybe one day, you too will look around, and will surprisingly find, your voids have been filled, your spirit has been nourished, and your soul has been strengthened!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Helping Rabbits in Need

It's amazing how two little creatures that I have not even met yet, have changed my life.  My credit score went up again.  I've entered a whole new community.  My love for reading non-fiction books is being nourished. My body is getting stronger through exercise.  My mind is focusing less on my disabilities.  I'm even finding different ways of dealing with the pain when it comes.   All of this is happening because I am prepping myself financially, intellectually, and emotionally to be a bunny mom!

My future bunnies have done so much for me.  I want to do more for them, and all bunnies.  Creating this blog and doing volunteer work doesn't seem to be enough for me.  I want to do more.

Many animal shelters and rescues have wish lists.  Some are listed on the right side of this blog, towards the bottom.  However, there are many, many more in existence. You can pick one from this blog, or search the shelters and rescues on the Internet.  Wish lists allow you to see the specific things that shelters and rescues need, such as blankets, food, toys, etc.  Tending to a wish list allows you to play Santa whenever you want!  There are many other ways to help, as well:

AmazonSmile has a program that will donate when you buy items from Amazon.  Amazon states that "AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you...The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases."  Now, 0.5% does not seem like much, but the more people that become involved, the more money will be donated.  Over time, things do add up.

Learn about AmazonSmile:  http://smile.amazon.com/about

Charities that are interested in receiving donations through AmazonSmile should visit https://org.amazon.com/ to learn more.

Helping rabbits and others in need can be as simple as using an Internet search engine.  Goodsearch, helps a variety of people and animals.  When you use the Goodsearch search engine, money is donated to a charity that you pick.  Again, the amount is very small, but don't let that discourage you.  Great things happen when tiny strides of progress are combined.  If you want to help rabbits through Goodsearch, you can choose for Special Bunny (an agency that helps bunnies with disabilities and non-disabled rabbits) to receive donations when you search the Internet.

Goodsearch:  https://www.goodsearch.org

1) Amazon, About AmazonSmile
2) Goodsearch
3) Special Bunny

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


Christmas came and went.  Parts of it were very pleasant.  Parts of it were incredibly difficult.  I have not one, but two disabilities, and other physical difficulties.  After eating processed and ready made food for year straight, I decided to fix lasagna...a meal I haven't fixed in about 25 years.  It took 5 hours and those 5 hours were full of stress and struggles.

Earlier in the day when delusions ran abound, and I actually thought that the coming dinner would be easy to fix, I found myself daydreaming...a lot.  I dreamed about Christmases that have passed and about ones to come.  I was pleased to find that I had so many beautiful memories, starting from my childhood and continuing onward through time.  In the future I saw myself with two rabbits on Christmas.  They were not presents.  I had had them for a while. I had brought them lots of gifts.  I was still living with my current roommate (who is sick this Christmas season), and everything was nice.  I was happy.

I know in reality, things may not work out...I know that.  But I think I have a good chance of making this work.  You see, I have a theory.  I think a lot of people are bringing rabbits into their homes without preparing for them, which includes doing research, rabbit proofing the home, reading up on disorders so they can be more likely to notice if something is not right, educating themselves on rabbit behaviors and rabbit communication, and making sure they are financially ready to buy everyday things like food, and financially ready to combat challenges like medical emergencies.  Do most rabbit owners have pet insurance?  I wonder.  I wonder...if everyone took the time to prepare...really prepare for having a rabbit (or any animal they plan to get), would the animal rescues and shelters be almost empty?  Hmmm.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Credit Scores and Healthcare Plans

Pets can decrease stress, reduce depression, raise quality of life, lower anxiety, and even add years to your life. Although some scary, health-related situations can arise with your pet, overall, having a pet keeps you calmer while certainly making life more interesting...and better! 

 But can having pets increase your financial stability?  I certainly believe that.  With a twitch of the nose, and a thump of the feet, Muffin certainly isn't going to expand your wallet.  But it's the commitment to provide Muffin with food, safe and enjoyable housing, and access to medical care that can keep you on the straight and narrow.

I grew up in a middle class family...an economic status that did not transfer to my adulthood, once I moved out on my own.  Through the years, there was one huge barrier after another.  When it seemed like I was almost at the end of the tunnel, and I had finally achieved a graduate degree, lack of experience in my field, lack of overall experience, and the development of a second disability all hit me like a ton of bricks.  As I watched opportunity after opportunity fly out of my grasp, my credit score reached new lows.  It just seemed like something I couldn't control and something that I had to accept.

Enter the rabbits...at least in my mind.  I knew, if I was going to have pets...any pets, things would definitely have to change.  With my two disabilities competing with each other to see which one would be the alpha (lol), and other physical troubles, I made a commitment to lift myself up financially.  Any animal coming into my home would have enough food, health insurance, and a medical emergency fund- in case insurance did not pay for a particular medical problem.  That was it...no exceptions!

Once I made that commitment to my future pets, things just fell into place.  I started approaching my financial difficulties like a person on a mission, instead of someone who had been beaten down by the system.  I contacted some of my creditors, and made plans. And today, only some weeks later, my credit score is up 25 points!  Some potential employers and landlords use credit scores as a measuring stick...fair or not.  Having a higher credit score also increases chances of being able to get a credit card, with a good amount of money on it, that can be used for medical emergencies.

So here's to Muffin and all her friends, "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
For those of you struggling to provide a stable environment and good healthcare for your pets, these resources may be able to help:

A credit card specifically designed to pay for medical expenses of animals and humans.

Health plans that provide help for small animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, etc.), cats and dogs by lowering your animal's medical bills.

Article about health insurance for rabbits appearing on a website that's about dogs. :-)

Health insurance for rabbits, guinea pigs, other exotic animals, and dogs & cats.  To reach their exotic pet page, click here.

 Helps you keep track of your credit score so that you can get financially healthy.  Provides information for free. 

Tips and Notes
1)  Read insurance information and other healthcare plans carefully.  Don't assume your healthcare plan(s) will be accepted by the animal clinic/hospital you plan to take your pet to.  Don't assume you can combine more than one type of coverage.   Speak to billing offices of the clinic/hospital you plan to take your pet to, and the billing offices of the agencies connected to the healthcare plans you anticipate on using. Ask way in advance.  Don't wait until there is an emergency.

Nationwide states that they are the only insurance agency that extends health coverage to rabbits. Kimberly Alt of the Canine Journal backs up this claim.

2)  Find out if the healthcare agency you are thinking of using for your pet covers medical conditions that are related to a pre-existing condition.    Nationwide expresses that they do not cover pre-existing conditions.  According to Alt, currently, "no pet insurance company covers pre-existing conditions" (2018).

Pet owners who have the Pet Assure plan need not worry about pre-existing and hereditary conditions.  However, this is not an insurance plan and coverage only goes so far as 25% of the cost.  Furthermore, the agency states, "you cannot combine the discount with other discounts or service packages.

 Are there healthcare plans out there, that can be combined with pet health insurance or other pet healthcare plans? Are there any new health insurance companies that actually do cover your pet for pre-existing conditions? Research! Ask questions. Gather good, solid information.

1)  Michigan City Animal Hospital (Oct 3, 20170), How Pets Enhance Our Quality of Life
2) Alt, K. (July 13, 2018), Canine Journal, Best Rabbit Insurance:  Hop Your Bunny Into Coverage Today
3) Nationwide (2018) [conversation with sales rep] 
4) Nationwide, Bird and Exotic Pet Insurance
6)  Robinson, K.M., Web MD, How Pets Help Manage Depression
8)  Oaklander, M. (Apr 6, 2017), TIME, Science Says Your Pet is Good For Your Mental Health

Friday, December 14, 2018

What is a rabbit...really?

Sometimes when it’s quiet, and I’m in a relaxed state, I think about what life will be like when I finally get my rabbits. It feels nice to picture myself feeding them, petting them, and even giving them proper rabbit massages.

But how much do I really know about rabbits? Let me just start with the basics. What is a rabbit…really? If someone were to ask me to define the term, rabbit, I might say something like, “A rabbit is a warm blooded creature…a mammal…with four legs and a roundish tail that hops” (the animal, not the tail, lol). Yet, this definition seems inadequate to me. A search on the web for completeness brings about more questions. A.T. Smith of Britannica states that a rabbit is “any of 29 species of long-eared mammals belonging to the family Leporidae, excluding hares” (2018).  However, it goes on to say that a jackrabbit is a hare, not a rabbit, and that rockhares and hispid hares are actually rabbits. Hmmm. Time to back up a bit and take a different approach.

Using a taxonomic approach, one can see the many classifications that include rabbits, starting from the broadest group, Kingdom Animalia, which is the animal kingdom, down to the domestic rabbit species.

Rabbit Taxonomy:

  Kingdom: Animalia (animals)
     Infraphylum: Vertebrata (the vertebrates)
        Class: Mammalia (the mammals)
          Order: Lagomorpha(pikas, rabbits, and hares)
            Family Leporidae: rabbits and hares
             Genus Lepus: hares 
             Genus Oryctolagus: domestic rabbits
                Species:  Oryctolagus cuniculus: the domestic rabbit species

The domestic rabbit is one species within Genus Oryctolagus- the only species.  In spite of that, there are many different breeds of rabbits residing in homes within the United States:  Flemish giant, dwarf Hotot, Havana, New Zealand, Dutch, lionhead, and mini lop are just a few of them.

Rabbits are in the same family as hares, but they are certainly different from them. Think of them as cousins. Hares are larger than rabbits, especially the ears and hind legs. When hares are born, they have fur and they can see. Give them a little resting time after the birth and they’ll be ready to go! Rabbits are the opposite. Bald with closed eyes, they simply can’t do for themselves. So Mom steps in to nurture them.

It's not uncommon to see a wild rabbit outside alone.  However, when that rabbit goes home, it's a totally happening social scene!  Hares?  Not so much.  Many rabbits live underground.  They take care in building their earthy homes, as they have different rooms and multiple entrances, which may be hidden by trees and shrubs. Hares seem to be more daring, as they build their homes out in the open, such as on the prairie or in the dessert. Of course, are some exceptions to the size and environment rules. Flemish giants are rabbits that are…giant. And dessert cottontails are rabbits that live…in the dessert!!

What about pikas? And how do rodents fit into all of this? Pikas are lagomorphs, so they share the order of Lagomorpha with rabbits and hares, but not the family of Leporidae. Instead, they are in the family of Ochotonidae. On their site, Britannica explains what pikas are, stating that they are “small short-legged and virtually tailless egg-shaped mammal found in the mountains of western North America and much of Asia. Despite their small size, body shape, and round ears, pikas are not rodents but the smallest representatives of the lagomorphs” (Smith, 2018).

Back in the 1800s, rabbits, hares, and pikas were actually considered to be rodents! Instead of belonging to Order Lagomorpha, they were classified under Order Rodentia! But general differences in dental, skeletal, digestive, and reproductive systems, lead scientists to remove lagomorphs from the rodent order. However, the pika, with its short, round ears and pointed face, does indeed look just like a rodent…just like a rodent! And the viscacha, with its long, upright ears and lengthy whiskers, looks like a wise, old rabbit. It’s actually a rodent. Isn’t nature grand?

To see a pika, cousin to the rabbit, please click here (and then go down the page).

To see a viscacha, a rodent, please click here.

1) Arizona-Senora Desert Museum, Rabbits and Hares 
2) Animal World, Pet Rabbit Index 
4) House Rabbit Society, Lagomorph Species 
5) Andino Expediciones (Apr 2013), Viscach 
6) ITIS Report, Oryctolagus cuniculus 
7) Smith, A.T., Encyclopaedia Britannica, Pika 
8) Smith, A.T., Encyclopaedia Britannica, Lagomorph 
9) Smith, A.T., Encyclopaedia Britannica, Rabbit 
10) Rafferty, J.P., Encyclopaedia Britannica, What's the Difference Between Rabbits and Hares? 
11) A.G.C. (1994), B.M.W.(2000), P.D.P. (1994), Smith, D. (2005), Introduction to the Rodentia 
12) English Oxford Living Dictionary, Is a Rabbit a Rodent? 
13) Zarbock M. (Oct 2017), Flemish Giant Rabbit Breed 
14) The Infinite Spider (Mar 2014), Why Rabbits are not Rodents 
15) Langely, L., National Geographic (Dec 19, 2014), What's the Difference between Rabbits and Hares?
16) *Carlson, L. (Jun 2018), Lennon the Bunny, What Breed is Your Rabbit? 
17) *Carlson, L. (Sept 2017), Lennon the Bunny, Our First Q & A Video! 
*Note: If you visit YouTube clips on Lennon the Bunny, please be aware that according to Carlson, Lennon was raised somewhat differently than other bunnies and therefore, she seems to like stuff or tolerate things that other bunnies don't. Please keep this in mind when viewing Lennon's clips.