Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Frozen reference. But today’s post is all about Olaf, whose namesake is the sun-loving snowman of Disney fame, so it’s completely appropriate.
Olaf actually began life as “Elsa”, until his owners moved house and could no longer keep him. They gave him to a forest education centre where my boyfriend’s mum works. They have a group of female rabbits living in a big outdoor enclosure and Elsa was to join them. Thankfully the staff realised that Elsa was in fact Olaf and had him neutered before any baby Olafs came along!
Tom and I sometimes help out at the centre and Olaf was the best rabbit for the children to meet by far. He didn’t mind being petted, stroked, occasionally prodded and of course his name made for a wonderful introduction “Who do you know who likes warm hugs?”. Compared to other rabbits I’ve known and owned his patience and tolerance was off the charts and he had a lovely group of bunny friends to go back to once the children went home.
Unfortunately, last month Olaf was found in the enclosure with his back legs not moving. I wasn’t involved in his vet visits but it seems the centre have a great “rabbit savvy” vet because several times he was taken “probably to be put to sleep…” and the vet tried something else. He or she settled on a diagnosis of E. cuniculi, a parasite carried by many rabbits which can sometimes affect the brain, eyes and kidneys. The effect on the brain can cause the limp hind limbs as in Olaf’s case. He began a 28-day course of Pancur to kill the parasite.
During his treatment Tom’s mum went away and left Olaf with us. As I’ve mentioned before, we live in a flat so Olaf had to become a house rabbit. Luckily he has adapted very well. He likes to sit under our desk and I think our shiny floors help him slide along. He also has a tatty old rug and a selection of towels for when he wants a firmer surface and is starting to become litter trained. With the exception of one phone charger (oops) he doesn’t seem to be a big chew-er either!
Before I go any further I want to say I’ve given really careful thought to whether Olaf should be put to sleep. He doesn’t understand what’s happened to him and his movement is definitely limited compared to a healthy rabbit. Although he can control his bladder, when he pees he does sometimes get wet and I have had to try and get him used to mini baths. However, on every other quality of life indicator I’ve ever used for my pets, Olaf scores well. He eats and drinks properly; he shuffles all over our living room; he likes to be petted and scratched; he goes to the toilet properly. If he were to get worse then yes, euthanasia might be the kindest option. But for the moment it seems unnecessary as he seems happy and mostly healthy. From my reading online rabbits can recover given time and care, so whilst he seems to be doing OK, I see every reason to give him a chance.
Olaf’s new shuffling way of getting around sadly won’t work in that lovely outdoor home at the education centre, so he’s here to stay for a while. If he doesn’t recover, we’ll probably try to find him a home with a rabbit lover who understands his needs and has other rabbit friends for him. For now he makes a hopping motion as he shuffles but his skinny back legs can’t support his weight yet. I’ll keep you updated!