Sunday Evening Bunny Blogging

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

A few weeks ago, I took my dog, Nola Mae, for a walk. After digging in some bushes for a minute, she emerged, facing away from me, squeaking something she found.

I didn’t think much of it since dogs in the neighborhood drop/bury balls and other toys with squeakers in them all the time. She comes home with a new toy she found outside about twice a month.

But when Nola finally turned around, the head of a two or three-week-old rabbit was sticking out of her mouth. (I never imagined how realistic the sound of squeaker in a dog toy is – sounds just like the real thing.) Like any dog owner, I knew that if I tried to take something from my dog’s mouth, it would cause her to bite down even harder. I also knew that meant a decapitated bunny.

So I choked my precious little pup until she was about to tap out. That caused her to open her mouth to gasp for air and, when she did, the baby rabbit dropped to the ground with a thud.

I tied Nola up and grabbed the motionless rabbit off the ground. After performing bunny CPR on the little thing, the baby rabbit perked up and seemed like it might live. I found its nest or den or whatever you call a hole with three little baby rabbits in it and tucked it back in. The next day, when I checked on the rabbits, the attack victim seemed as healthy as its siblings.

The picture is me holding the baby rabbit seconds after heroically performing chest compressions and bringing the little thing back to life.

After feeding my dog a jar of peanut butter and about $20 worth of bull penis treats, she has apparently forgiven me for having to strangle her.

All’s well that ends well.

-Drew Johnson

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28 Responses to “Sunday Evening Bunny Blogging”

  1. #1 |  DoubleU | 

    My sister’s dog loves to munch on rabbits, all while singing “KILL THE RABBIT” from Bug’s Bunny’s “The Rabbit of Seville” The dog also brought home a small bunny that she didn’t finish off in the park. My sister “nursed” it for a day or two and then returned it to the park and hoped for the best. The dog also likes duck’s eggs.

  2. #2 |  Pricknick | 

    My dogs catch a rabbit, they don’t play dog and rabbit.
    They eat.

  3. #3 |  k | 

    You might consider training your dog so that it will drop anything it its mouth on command. Or put him/her on a leash so it does not terrorize little bunnies.

  4. #4 |  rob | 

    fun fact: if you pinch both sides of the jaw hinge with one hand, you can then open a dog’s mouth with the other with very little effort. they aren’t able to bite down while you do that, either.

    (disclaimer: someone told me about this, and it works perfectly with my dog. for obvious reasons, i’ve never tried it on another person’s dog)

  5. #5 |  Anga2010 | 

    Never pass up free food for your dog. It’s going to eat you out of house and home!

  6. #6 |  Anga2010 | 

    And, to DoubleU, It’s “What’s Opera Doc” which can be viewed here:

  7. #7 |  Anga2010 | 

  8. #8 |  Anga2010 | 

    On Spike TV in any case.

  9. #9 |  Mike Healy | 

    I hope that you don’t have a garden.

  10. #10 |  Joel | 

    You might keep an eye on the bunnies , because you touched it mom may reject it, the solution is a dab of vanilla on each.

  11. #11 |  Joel | 

    (vanilla extract )

  12. #12 |  GÄC | 

    My hunde love to go after wildlife, and are actually proficient in catching birds (which is amazing, since they can’t for the life of them catch a treat you throw to them – I guess they just find it easier to pick it up off the floor after it bounces off their heads…).

    I did find one critter that they just don’t have a clue what to do with – a two pound, extremely surly hedgehog that lives in our back yard. When it curls up into a ball of spines, the hunde are completely flummoxed….

  13. #13 |  DoubleU | 

    Anga2010:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rabbit_of_Seville
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What's_Opera_Doc

    You are right, I was confusing my Bug’s Operas.

  14. #14 |  En Passant | 

    #3 rob wrote July 15th, 2012 at 11:19 pm:

    fun fact: if you pinch both sides of the jaw hinge with one hand, you can then open a dog’s mouth with the other with very little effort. they aren’t able to bite down while you do that, either.

    Exactly. I learned that method as a kid when I was teaching my doggy to retrieve things and drop them into my outstretched hand.

    Just to be a bit more specific, hand under doggy’s “chin” with thumb and middle finger placed on opposite cheeks just forward of the jawbone “hinge” so you can gently squeeze the cheek in between its upper and lower rear teeth. When you squeeze, if the doggy clamps his mouth shut then he is biting the inside of his own cheeks. It doesn’t hurt the doggy because doggies aren’t stupid.

    Reward doggy, then throw something to fetch again. Rinse, repeat, etc. Pretty soon doggy will fetch and drop things into your hand without need for the cheek squeezing.

    Works for kitty cats too, if you start very young.

    Sounds like Drew’s doggy already has what dog trainers call a “soft mouth”, meaning it doesn’t chew up whatever it is retrieving. That’s considered a virtue by people who train doggies to retrieve downed small game.

  15. #15 |  DoubleU | 

    I have always been amazed at how well cats hunt. My cat has brought home snakes, squirrels, of course all rodents, birds and tried to chase down a rabbit or two.
    Always been a dog person, but was adopted by this cat. He taught me a thing or two about cats. As someone I know says, “I like quiet, so I like cats.”

  16. #16 |  Ted S. | 

    GÄC:

    My parents’ old cairn terrier, whom I used to take care of frequently many years back, could never figure out turtles. They’d retreat into their shells and she knew there was something in there, but she had no idea how to get at it.

  17. #17 |  Missiletoe | 

    Yeah, I never realized how morbidly realistic squeaky toys actually are until my dog nearly killed me by pulling me down the stairs while bolting for a squirrel. (I literally remember debating the choice of “get pulled down the stairs and die” or “let go of the leash”.) He managed to get a bite in on that squirrel and it squeaked just like a squeaky toy. He probably would have managed to kill it but I got down the steps and stepped on his leash, which he clothes-lined at the end of and the squirrel go away.

  18. #18 |  AMW | 

    Bonus points for using dog, peanut butter, and penis in the same sentence without incriminating yourself. Double bonus: added “strangle” for good measure.

  19. #19 |  Steve Hill | 

    One of the more valuable commands we teach all of our dogs is to drop whatever they have in their mouths on command. They are retrievers, you YMMV in teaching your dogs this trick.

  20. #20 |  jesse | 

    I would like to see a dog actually tap out when you choke it. Or put it in an arm (leg) bar.

  21. #21 |  Phanatic | 

    Gotta agree with the training comments.

    One time when I was a kid our free-range German Shorthair started scratching at the door. Opened it, he was standing there with something in his mouth.

    “Drop it.”

    Out plopped three intact and unharmed, although slightly moist, baby rabbits. Dog’s entire attitude was “Found these, didn’t know what to do with them, figured you might want ‘em.”

  22. #22 |  derfel cadarn | 

    As a side note baby rabbits(hares) are commonly called leverets.

  23. #23 |  GÄC | 

    My hunde are some sort of boxer/lab/pit bull mix. When they get fixated on something, there is no stopping them. We used to have a little cat that we kept in a different part of the house. The hunde only met the cat once, and that nearly resulted in a dead kitty. My wife was home alone at the time, and she was punching the dogs in the face and it didn’t phase them.

    They did have a run-in with another animal they didn’t know what to do with. I was taking them on a walk through the woods outside our house. They heard an animal coming down the path, but couldn’t see it. As we approached a bend in the trail, a huge war horse came around the corner (the middle of it’s back was taller than me, and I’m just over 6′ tall). The hunde took one look at it and decided that they should give it some room. My hunde are very expressive, and you could see “@#$% that, I’m leaving that one alone” written all over their faces….

  24. #24 |  En Passant | 

    #19 Steve Hill wrote on July 16th, 2012 at 9:51 am:
    One of the more valuable commands we teach all of our dogs is to drop whatever they have in their mouths on command. They are retrievers, you YMMV in teaching your dogs this trick.IME dogs learn like most critters, including humans — by baby steps then bigger steps, with “rewards” consistently applied. For humans, the rewards eventually become very abstract. First you learn your ABCs, then to read, and eventually you are rewarded for reading by the pleasure of reading a good book.

    If you want to teach your dog to “drop it” on command, here’s a rough outline. I’ll assume you are already throwing things for dog to fetch. If you’re not, then just begin with some opportunity when your dog has something in his mouth and is near you.

    1. Use the cheek squeeze method above, and say “drop it” while you’re doing it.

    2. Reward the dog immediately after he drops it. Dogs are cheap about rewards, a hug and pat and voicing “good dog” will do; some doggie munchy along with a hug and pat and “good dog” won’t hurt but often isn’t necessary. Use massive amounts of hugs, pats and “good dog” at first. Always use some sound, like “good dog” along with the hug and pat.

    3. Next time dog approaches with something in his mouth, say “drop it” just before you apply the cheek squeeze method. Reward doggie after he drops it.

    4. Keep repeating (3) and gradually lengthen the time between “drop it” and cheek squeeze. Always reward doggie after he drops it.

    5. After surprisingly few lessons, doggie will drop it without the cheek squeeze. Always reward doggie after he drops it.

    6. After doggy consistently drops it when you say “drop it”, you can gradually back off on the rewards. Start early with long hugs and pats, and saying “good dog” several times. Gradually decrease to a quick pat on the head while saying “good dog”. Eventually all you need to do the reinforce the behavior is to say “good dog”.

    7. You may be surprised how fast dog will learn. But don’t be surprised if you have to back up a bit to an earlier step sometimes in the first few weeks. Dog will catch up faster and faster from relapse over the days and weeks.

    8. If you’re really into “reading” dogs body language, you’ll probably notice a distinct sign when he “gets it”, somewhere between steps 1 and 3.

    All that may appear to be right out of B.F. Skinner, but actually Skinner just figured out what owners of well behaved dogs have known since Adam, Eve and Rover.

  25. #25 |  pierre | 

    My moms dogs favorite tastey treats are rabbits and voles. This is not discouraged. Keep out of our garden!

    The one dog actually tosses them up in the air and scarfs them before they hit the ground – all in one smooth motion.

  26. #26 |  Onlooker | 

    Oh blah, you should have just let him eat the damned thing. It’s good nutritious food, unlike the crap that is sold as “food” for our pets.

    I think bunnies are cute too, but in most places their population is bursting from a lack of natural predators. Why not let your dog serve the ecological function of helping keep that population in check?

    My dog loves bunny snacks. She’s a machine as she searches through the brush for nests. Though I do avoid listening to the (brief) squeals.

  27. #27 |  matt | 

    Indeed teaching the drop it command is a must for any dog I raise.

  28. #28 |  PogueMahone | 

    @ #10 Joel,

    Joel has a great idea there. I’m a beekeeper, and when I want to mix two weak hives to make one strong one, I mist them all (bees, honeycomb, everything) with a sugar syrup with a drop or two of either vanilla or lemongrass extract – this makes them all smell the same. Much better chance of them acclimating to each other. Without the extract, the bees would fight.

    In the future, I would follow Joel’s advice, but mix it with water and mist down both the wildlife and the nest they are in.

    Cool pic.

    Thanks for sharing the story!

    Cheers.

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