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Calli Joins her Friends at the Bridge

This morning Calli departed her ailing body to join her friends at the Rainbow Bridge. She started having labored breathing last night, but she was still alert and eating a little. This morning she was the same and getting worse, so I took her to vet. I knew her condition was dire, but hoped perhaps some oxygen might buy her more time since she was still interested in food and her surroundings. However, she crashed within minutes of arriving at the vet and passed.

 
The necropsy showed that the mass in her abdomen that we thought was abscess was actually a tumor. (Which, of course, explains why she didn’t respond to the bicillin or other antibiotics.) I asked my vet to have tissue samples analyzed which may tell us more. [7/21 update: The pathology report shows that the cancer she had was a fairly aggressive intestinal adenocarcinoma.]

I’m devastated at the loss of my feisty, sweet little girl. At least she had a good, long life. (She was 11 years old.) The first three years as a breeder bunny at a feed store weren’t so great, but I made sure the next eight were. She adored and doted on her three boyfriends, and they adored her, too. I hope she is doing lots of happy hops with B.B., Oliver, Marley, and honorary bunny, Lucy, at the Bridge.

Below are some of my favorite photos of Calli (click on thumbnails to enlarge) and the last video I took of Calli as she groomed Marley (don’t miss the yawn at the beginning):
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Happy Fifth Birthday, Marley

Happy Birthday to Marley who is celebrating his fifth birthday at the Rainbow Bridge today with Oliver and his new bunny friends up there. I miss you, little Marley! I wish I could have celebrated your birthday with you today.

Below is a photo of him taken at his first birthday party four years ago:

Marley poses with his balloons

One Year Ago Today…

It was one year today that the World’s Cutest Bunny went to the bridge. I miss you and love you forever, my precious little Scootie.

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Marley Has Joined Scootie at the Bridge

My sweet little fluff-ball, Marley, passed away a couple mornings ago, on 6/12. This didn’t come as a complete shock as I’ve known since February that he was terminally ill, and for the past few weeks he has been declining very slowly. But the night before he died, he actually stood on his hind legs to beg for his bedtime treat, so I did think I still had some time left with him. The next morning, though, it was obvious that he had taken a terrible turn for the worse overnight. He couldn’t even sit up, and although he actually attempted to eat his favorite treats when I offered them, he didn’t even have the strength to pull them into his mouth. It was clear that it was time to say goodbye, so my husband and I took him to the vet for euthanasia, but he passed before my vet even had a chance to come into the room. I was petting him when he passed, and I had brought his 11-year-old girlfriend, Calli, along, so she was by his side. His passing was very peaceful… I think I petted him for a minute or so before I even realized he was gone.

The necropsy indicated he had stomach cancer and that it had spread to his liver, causing those mysterious calcifications. I always suspected he had cancer, but I’m glad to finally have a definitive answer. I’m very grateful for the months I had with him after we first discovered he was so sick. It gave me time to prepare myself emotionally (as much as one can, anyway), spend more time with him, and spoil him with all his favorite foods. My vet found no sign of inflammation when he did the necropsy, and doesn’t believe he was in pain or suffering. And I never got the sense he was suffering, either. He continued to snuggle with Calli and eat his favorite foods up until the very end.

By the way, it’s the end of an era… Marley was the last of my front-toothless bunnies. (Over the years I’ve had seven. The last five of my bunnies to pass have been front-toothless and they’ve not all been elderly. You can draw your own conclusions.)

I miss my sweet little fluffy guy. It’s just so unfair… Marley was young. His fifth birthday would have been in 12 days from his passing, on 6/24. I’d hoped he’d live to see it. I had a dream that he died a few nights before he did, which woke me up crying. I guess on some level l knew the end was near. I’m trying to find comfort in envisioning Marley at the Rainbow Bridge with Oliver and Scooter, two of his buddies during his too-short time here on earth.

Calli was Marley's sweet companion to the end. She's 11-years-old and misses her boyfriend.

Calli was Marley’s sweet companion to the end. She’s 11-years-old and misses her boyfriend.

Now Calli is alone, and unfortunately, she is not well either. She actually had the same symptoms as Marley (decreased appetite and tiny poops), but she doesn’t have the same diagnosis. Concerned about her symptoms, I took her to the vet a couple weeks ago, and he found a mass in her abdomen. He believed it to be an abscess/infection so he did an ultrasound and fine needle aspirate, and confirmed that the mass is an abscess, which appears to be the result of a wire suture from when she was spayed (not by my vet, who is appalled that wire sutures were used) that after all these years has poked something in her abdomen, causing a small perforation and subsequent infection. She is scheduled to have surgery on Monday to remove the abscess (and the problematic suture), which is very risky, especially considering she is 11-years-old. But the only other option would be to do nothing, and the abscess would kill her for sure. She’s a very spry girl, and has always been very healthy, so I’m not ready to give up on her despite her advanced years.

Here are Calli’s x-rays and radiologist’s report, if you’re interested: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n33vpp4cuc31qn7/22Rt19kMwy

Here are some photos of Marley and his buddies (click to enlarge and read captions):

Baxter’s New Buddy!

It’s been nearly a year since Baxter lost his little buddy, Scooter. Baxter was alone for most of that year, but now has a new friend! A few months after Scootie passed, I tried introducing Baxter to my other single bunnies… Godiva, Monkey, and Tricks… but he was terrified of all of them. (For a short time it looked like it might work out with little Tricks, but then things went downhill when Tricks wouldn’t groom him.) I was very leery of stressing Baxter given his delicate health, so I gave up on trying to bond Baxter with any of the bunnies I currently had.

Then in November I heard about an 8-year-old lop bunny who had just been relinquished at a local shelter. I thought an older, mellow bunny might be a good match for Baxter. But when I met him, he was FAR from mellow. I introduced him to my other singles, but they all hated his overly-enthusiastic nature (if you know what I mean) and I thought he just wasn’t very bondable. But I kept him anyway because I fell head-over-heels in love with this sweet, adorable boy. I named him Hobbes and he became my new “bedroom bunny.” (You can read his story here: http://mybunnies.shutterfly.com/hobbes) At the time, I didn’t feel he’d be a good match for Baxter, and Baxter was having some health issues, so I didn’t attempt to bond them.

But then one day a foster bunny having free-run time in the hallway snuck by me and got into my bedroom, where Hobbes lives, and Hobbes had no negative reaction to this bunny’s intrusion. It was then that I realized that Hobbes was probably very bondable. By then Baxter’s health was stronger, so I decided to give Hobbes and Baxter a try after all.

Normally I always do introductions in neutral territory, but since I’d seen that Hobbes isn’t territorial and neither bunny likes being picked up and moved, my gut told me that the best way to do this bonding would be to just put Baxter in the bedroom with Hobbes and see how they do. My gut was right. I put Baxter down on the floor, Hobbes came over, they sniffed each other for a minute, and both were completely unconcerned. It was so nice to see Baxter not be afraid of another bunny! (Apparently, Baxter only likes other lops. The other bunnies I tried him with last year were all up-ears. Who know bunnies could be ear snobs?) Not only was it not neutral territory, but the dogs were hanging out with us in the bedroom, too! (Neither Baxter nor Hobbes are even remotely afraid of the dogs.)

After a couple hours of watching them with absolutely nothing negative between them, I felt secure enough to leave the room, letting them be unsupervised together, another bonding anomaly. They’ve been living together peacefully in my bedroom ever since, for about five weeks now.

Baxter did go through a phase for a few days where he would mount Hobbes when he didn’t feel Hobbes was grooming him enough, but they seem to be past that, and they enjoy grooming and snuggling with each other. Their bond isn’t as strong as Baxter and Scooter’s special relationship was, but it seems to be solid. And I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m very happy that Hobbes still loves me best.

And Baxter LOVES living in a carpeted room. He is getting around better on the thick carpet with his splayed hind legs, and I’ve even seen him do a couple little happy hops!

Here are some photos of the happy new couple (click to enlarge and see captions):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marley’s Mysterious Malady

Marley is an adorable little Lionhead that I adopted in 2009. I originally bonded him with Baxter & Scooter, but after a couple months of bliss, Baxter and Marley suddenly started fighting, and I couldn’t for the life of me get those two to “kiss and make up,” so I ended up bonding Marley with Calli & Oliver. Oliver passed away last year so it’s just Marley and Calli now. In the past six months before his illness was discovered, I noticed a couple differences in Marley, like he suddenly started loving salad after refusing to eat any fresh vegetables for 3+ years. And then I noticed he was allowing us to pet him, something he’d never tolerated before. I wrote off these changes as somehow having to do with Oliver’s passing. He always liked Calli much better than Oliver, and I figured he was just in a better mood because he had her all to himself.

But then mid-February, when I picked him up to groom him I noticed he was extremely thin. Under normal circumstances, I’d be mortified that I didn’t notice sooner, but Marley is so fluffy, I sometimes can’t even tell which end is which, much less notice if he is thin or not just by looking at him. And since he hated being picked up, I seldom did it except when necessary, like for grooming.

Marley022613_topMarley022613_sideSo I immediately took him to the vet. I assumed it would be a dental issue or a parasite. But it was neither of those things. So then we did blood work and x-rays. Blood test results were normal but the x-rays showed some sort of bizarre calcification throughout his abdomen. (Click on thumbnails to enlarge.) My vet then did an ultrasound and confirmed that the calcification/mineralization is in his liver and surrounding soft tissue. The urinalysis was normal, as was an ionzied calcium blood test. We also did an e.c. titer which was negative. It did indicate a high amount of inflammation, though, so we started him on meloxicam. But we were at a loss as to the cause of the calcification, which is certainly secondary to something else.

I consulted with a lot of bunny-savvy people all over the country, including quite a few exotic vets. My vet also consulted with other vets, and several bunny-savvy people emailed their own vets about his case. His mysterious condition has been of great interest. Lots of theories have been tossed around (everything from lead poisoning to cancer), but nothing has panned out or is able to be confirmed.

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Marley, April 2013

It seems the most popular theories are cancer or some type of parasite migrating through his liver. We gave him the tapeworm shot, just in case. He also had a week of Ponazuril, just in case, too, even though his fecal was negative for parasites. We also treated him with antibiotics for a month, just in case there was some sort of infection that wasn’t indicated in the blood work. All along he’s also been getting daily sub-q fluids and probiotics, and of course as many calories as I can get him to eat. (Alfalfa pellets, calf manna, “Angel’s Mush,” and a variety of other high calorie foods.)

We did pretty much every test imaginable, other than a CT scan, which my vet felt would not be worth the expense. He didn’t believe it would tell us anything and would put Marley through unnecessary stress. Exploratory surgery is also an option, but it’s very risky, and my vet doesn’t think it would tell us it’s anything that can be treated anyway. He says this sort of calcification can’t be reversed. Other people who I greatly value their opinion advised against doing a CT scan or surgery for basically the same reasons my vet gave. So, sadly, I don’t think we’ll ever know what is causing this until we do a necropsy. Hopefully that won’t be anytime soon.

His normal weight is 3.5 lbs. He was down to 2.5 at that first vet visit after I noticed he was thin in February. Over the next three weeks he continued to drop weight at a frightening rate, getting as low as 1.8. But then his weight seemed to level out, and for the last two months, it’s been pretty stable, mostly between 1.9 and 2.0.

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Marley & Me

In mid-March before he stabilized, I was starting to ask myself the big, awful question. As a last resort effort my vet gave him a steroid injection to help stimulate his appetite. (Of course we took him off the meloxicam first.) The improvement was significant. So now every few weeks he gets a steroid injection. He also started getting vitamin B injections around that same time, which he still gets.

At this point he is still acting pretty normal (except more receptive to being petted and handled), and doesn’t seem to be suffering. He’s weak, which is why I think he was allowing us to pet him initially… he didn’t have the energy to run away. But now I think he may actually have grown to enjoy it. Every once in awhile he’ll catch his foot on the edge of the litter box when he hops out (even though I replaced it with a low-edge box) and fall over. But he’s able to get back up and doesn’t seem distressed by it.

Last week we did follow-up x-rays, which indicated that the calcification has gotten denser, but has not spread.

Marley will turn five next month. When this all started I didn’t believe he’d live to see his fifth birthday, but I now believe he will, and beyond. (Knock on wood.) I have no hope of him getting better, but I do think he’s content and can live like this for awhile, as long as he continues to be stable and happy. And I’ll continue to everything for him that I can.

Here are a couple videos of Marley taken during his illness. As you can see, he still enjoys eating and begging!

 

Lastly, if you are interested in the test results, below are blood work/EC titer and the radiologists’ reports on the x-rays (I had the x-rays looked at by two radiologists).

Blood work:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/07mv5cpdmi2rtqw/IDEXX%20Results_MARLEY_02222013.pdf?m

Radiologists’ reports:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/6zkj1v1uq0kvhe6/MarleyRadReport-IDEXX.pdf

https://www.dropbox.com/s/omg2f7urutdsydt/MarleyRadReport-Silverman.pdf

The Perfect Christmas Gift from Baxter: Staying Strong!

Baxter continues to do well. In response to my last posting, I heard from a very nice, helpful person whose bunny also had thymoma and experienced some of the same symptoms as Baxter. She told me that a couple months after her bunny’s radiation treatments, he also developed flakey skin, but it turned out that his body was sloughing off the old skin in order to regenerate new skin as a result of the radiation. So the flakey skin was actually a good thing. I told my vet about this, and he agreed that was the cause of Baxter’s skin condition, as well. The flakes are gone now, so fortunately, I don’t think it was anything of concern.

Otherwise, not much to report. He seems to be happy and doing well. He’s eating great and his other issues I posted about last time don’t seem to be progressing or causing him any discomfort. Please keep your paws crossed that his good health continues throughout 2013!