We’ve recently had an addition to our family, in the form of a rescued rabbit.
He’d been lost and then found in someone’s garden.
The finders had scooped him up and taken the lop- eared and slightly droopy rabbit into the surgery to see Anne.
The first job, when faced with a found animal, is to scan it for the presence of a microchip.
These grain-of-rice-size devices, despite apparently having the capacity to store a multitude of information, actually just hold a thirteen-digit code, which can be checked against the database via a phone call.
The database provides the details of the animal’s owner, hopefully allowing them to be reunited. It is most frequently used for cats who’ve wandered off on an adventure and lost their way or a dog who has strayed from the usual environs of his walk.
Yorkshire vet Julian Norton is releasing a new book on his life at a new practice
We saw a little dog called Lenny this week, his gums as white as a cricketer’s trousers - Julian Norton
I had never come across a rabbit who had escaped, got lost and then turned up in another person’s garden, but this is what had happened.
“I think I should bring him home – just until we can trace his real owner,” said Anne that evening over dinner.
“It seems a shame to leave him alone in a kennel all weekend. We have a spare rabbit run and he’d love to spend the weekend out on grass, I’m sure.”
It was hard to argue, although I suspected this might be the thin end of a wedge which would result in the lop finding his “forever home” chez Norton. Life was busy. Did we really need another pet?
He arrived that Friday evening and we put him in our spare pen, in sight of our perky little white rabbit, Luna. The new arrival sat, looking around him, clearly confused. The permanent droop of his ears gave him a rather gormless appearance. The kids decided to call him Boris.
As the days went by and it became clear that no one was going to come forward to claim Boris, we realised Luna needed a new companion – her previous little friends had gradually flaked out through old age.
Rabbits are sociable creatures and should not be kept alone. If we could calm him down, reduce his belligerent tendencies then Boris would make a great companion for the recently bereaved Luna.
Under close supervision, we put the two rabbits together to gauge their reactions. Luna was curious, but Boris made his intentions immediately clear by stomping his feet and then trying to mate with Luna’s head.
We separated them until we came up with a new plan.
That plan was to castrate him. I looked at Anne – it was surely her turn.
I’d castrated our first Border Terrier and it was me who spayed Emmy, our Jack Russell. She accepted the challenge immediately and the following week he was separated from his testicles.
We counted down the days required to let his hormones subside before we put them together again. The first day of meeting post-castration was a bit like watching an episode of Love Island.
They sniffed, hopped and even kissed.
But there was no aggression, no stomping of hind feet and certainly no sexual shenanigans.
The castration had done the trick and we cautiously continued these bonding sessions over the next few weeks.
Now, the two rabbits are the very best of friends and utter soulmates. They spend every minute of every day together, sleeping and cleaning and eating.
Boris has certainly landed on his feet and Luna has found her best friend forever.