Sunday, February 24, 2008

No Pyrrhic victories wanted.

The rabbit detente seems to be at in impasse. In the bathroom, both seem to have given up attempts at dominant mounting, settling instead for a nose-to-nose game of Groom Me. (In this exercise, the one who gets groomed wins.) They will stand cheek-to-cheek for about ten seconds, then break up and walk away when neither concedes.

In the living room, however, The Meemster is more aggressive, and nips Rudy's face. Rudy, never the one to throw the first stone, is so affronted by this egregious breach of manners that he responds, and I'm diving in to separate them, wishing I had some chickens.

Yesterday I tried some operant conditioning with a squirt bottle, squirting Mimi at the first show of aggression. Problem is, she's usually aggressive when she's face-to-face with Rudy, so after ten minutes both rabbits had drenched faces and Rudy looked miserable. Wiping his sad, proffered face with a facecloth, I felt like a waterboarding thug at Guantanamo, and began to wonder whether this was worth it.

At one point, both cats walked into the room, and I hoped that their presence would intimidate Mimi into seeking out Rudy for security.

When she had Harry backing away, I knew we were dealing with something bigger than all of us.

Last night I tried the "smear their faces with peanut butter to encourage grooming" trick. All I had were two peanutty-smelling bunnies and a more miserable Rudy, who clearly couldn't understand why this was happening. I looked at his forlorn, smeared face, and my heart broke.

There are other techniques I can try, but the main thrust of them all is to stress out the rabbits such that they instinctively turn to one another. This would be one thing if Rudy were, say, a couple of years old, but he's seven. Seven means he is officially Geriatric. Plus, he's incredibly sweet; he came over last night as I sat on the floor and pressed himself against my thigh for a comforting head rub. This bunny wants to be loved, and instead he's being attacked.

So as much as it kills me to do it, I have to send Mimi back.


Jessica said...

Aww, Joy, I'm so sorry to hear this. You did everything you could to make it work and I'm sorry they haven't become buddies.

I'll be thinking of you.

JC said...

Hey, thanks. I did give her one more try and ended up with two bunnies in a death lock that I had to separate while keeping my fingers. Minutes before, she'd charged Harry. HARRY. So I'm looking at it this way: it;s better for her to leave than to stay someplace where she;s unhappy and taunting death.

SP said...

Indrew will take her.

JC said...

Expect a package, Indrew! (The customs forms will say it's books. It's not.)

SP said...

Good to know, because he wouldn't have opened it for at least a year if it was books.

JC said...

On second thought, it's coming to you.