Hermione’s story

Hello! My name is Hermione (or Hermi for short). I came to live at Helicopter Ears just before Christmas 2013. I had a big open wound on my face, and my vets didn’t think I would survive—but I did. I am now a resident here because I have health issues, and I’m looking for sponsors. Here’s my story.

Hermione
Hermione arrives with a wound on her face

In autumn 2013, my then-owner brought me to a vet. I had an abscess on my face. It was very large, enveloping my jaw, ear to ear, and taking up most of my dewlap. My owner said I was a boy and my name was Herman. The vet said I needed an operation. My owner thought it was a great idea, but she couldn’t afford it, so she took me back.

Soon, we were back: my abscess became so uncomfortable I wasn’t able to chew my food, and I stopped eating. This time, she said that I was a stray bunny, and because she found me in the street, she shouldn’t have to pay. The vet said that unfortunately she still had to pay. My owner got upset and argued that the vet was cruel and bad. The vet suggested that my owner signs me over to her so that she operates at her own expense and finds me a new home. As you see, the vet was not at all bad or cruel—to the contrary, a very nice vet. My owner refused this offer and stormed out, causing a small scene on her way.

We tried more than one vet, without any luck, and many weeks had passed before my owner brought me to the practice, left me on the doorstep, and left—without me. And there I was, sick and alone.

When the vet found me, I was so ill even she didn’t think she could save me anymore.

Other vets at the practice all said I was probably too ill for the operation, and if I survived it, I was unlikely to recover. I was thin and weak from not eating, my head was the size of a football, and I was very sad. But the vet wanted to give me a chance, and she operated at her own expense.

Herimione's wound
Hermione needed daily iodine soaks and flushes.

It was a long and difficult operation. The vet had to remove so much skin from my face, jaw and dewlap there was nothing left to stitch together. She tried her best, but my skin died away and all the stitches came out. There was no way to close my wound. The surgery was closing for the holidays and the vet couldn’t continue caring for me: she was going away for the holidays. This is how I came to Helicopter Ears just before Christmas. My prognosis was not very good.

The vet explained I needed daily soaks with iodine solution and twice-daily flushes of my wound, and Mike and Kim got straight down to work. I spent hours upside-down so that my wound would be cleaned and pieces of hay which got constantly caught in it pulled out from it. But hay was the least of our problems: there was so much nastiness in the wound we had to use dozens of cotton buds to clean it, and sometimes a syringe to syphon it out.

Hermione's cuddles
Hermione’s post-cleaning cuddles

There seemed to be no end to infection: every time we cleaned it, it was worse than before. I spent hours upside-down, and I was very good, but my wound looked worse every day. This is when Kim started reading, and she learned that medical grade Manuka honey was sometimes used (for people). She found the highest UMF Manuka honey she could get (it has to be UMF-certified) and we began putting it straight into the wound: we would warm it up to make it thinner, and with a syringe, push it straight into my dewlap. Desperate times call for desperate measures, right? I didn’t complain one bit.

I needed around the clock care, and after each clean-up, I needed lots of cuddles, which I came to enjoy very much I must admit.

Then Kim researched into skin regeneration treatments and came across a paper about the wonderful effects of special thermal spring water. We couldn’t get the exact water we needed, but we ordered the closest we could get to it, and I was getting half-hourly mistings. To everyone’s amazement, my wound began to close!

Hermione's wound closing
Hermione’s wound began closing up quicker than we expected

Once the water was working, my wound was closing so fast that even cleaning it became a problem. Kim and Michael used tweezers and all sorts of contraptions to pull out the last strings of pus and dead tissue before there was no opening left. Within days, my wound closed up, and my only hope to avoid reinfection was daily antibiotic injections, which we continued for several months.

I was no longer in pain, my appetite returned, and I started gaining weight. My face remained deformed because of all the surgery and how the wound pulled together, but how happy I was! How glad was everyone at Helicopter Ears!

Hermione and Muffin
Just look at me and Muffin! We were such a pair.

Soon I met Muffin. He looked just like me, only smaller. We bonded at first sight, and my new life began.

Once I was in the clear, Muffin and I were adopted, and my new life began. After a couple of years, Muffin passed away, and I lived alone. It wasn’t too bad—I had a wonderful new family, but soon, I was in trouble again. My deformed cheek began to enlarge, closing up my nostrils and making me unable to breathe. The scar pulling on my eye made it constantly water. My teeth began hurting and I stopped eating. My owners were not confident enough to deal with my illness, and I came back to Helicopter Ears.

Mike and Kim took me to a vet, and I had some dental work done and started eating again. But I needed another operation to sort out the other problems, for which I had to go to a rabbit specialist vet. I fundraised for my surgery and our amazing and bunderful Iain Cope from Vets4Pets Newmarket was able to remove the troublesome scar tissue, pulling my loose cheek skin up tight so I could breathe. Then, I developed an infection in my nose and had to have treatment for that too.

I am old now, and because of everything that was wrong with me, we can’t be sure that another illness is not just around the corner, so I’m staying at Helicopter Ears. There are so many ill bunnies here I had to move outdoors as soon as I was better because there is no room for me inside. Mike and Kim keep a watchful eye on me, and I hope to have a friend again someday, to bond with somebun, perhaps, so that I can spend my sunset years in the good company.

Thank you for helping me and other rabbits like me by supporting Helicopter Ears!

Hermione x

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So Many Rabbits!

Our friends have been coming back to us at Helicopter Ears. Their forever mums have been taken so ill, these gorgeous little things are now up for adoption. I had a sneak around the house on a covert mission to see if I could get a room to myself. Would you believe it I’m in the bathroom and not because I’m is dirty. Barry, that skinny dog has the most space and he gets to go out in the fields. It has been raining so much. Wet fur and me don’t get on, so I am not jealous of him.

If any of you bunny lovers would like to adopt a furry friend. Then please get in touch.

? Caramel ?

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Kiki and the disappearing Bumble’

Hi to you all! You won’t believe what has happened, that horrible painful thing on my foot has gone. I had a minor operation to remove the muck and dead tissue, but a huge lump was still left. I had it cleaned, treated and bandaged every day for what seemed weeks. That thing just would not go. Then Mike got some iodine, it came all the way from Ukraine. He gently put that on the lump using a cotton bud. Then one day I looked down and my ‘Bumble Foot’ had gone. It is so nice to be able to waddle like my sisters again. Thank you for supporting me. Kiki ?

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Hello, Brian!

Brian when I brought him in.

Last week, we brought a magpie home. It wasn’t there as we went to our local shop, which is just across the road, but on our way back, it was sitting on the grass verge, by a busy road, concussed, bleeding, and helpless. Michael said, ‘That bird is not right.’ And yes, he wasn’t. He needed help.

I asked Mike to step back, then snuck up and pounced on the bird. And sometimes there is a need for speed, but that bird wasn’t going anywhere. It didn’t even flinch. As I carried it, I thought it had died. His left eye was closed, and I couldn’t see what was happening to the right one. It wasn’t struggling or even reacting to surroundings. And it was bleeding out of his head. I had no clue about birds and even less about corvids. I have no idea whether it’s a he or a she. Apparently, it can be very hard to tell. But he looked like a Brian, so for now, our Brian is a he.

Continue reading “Hello, Brian!”

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It takes two to Tango

The hardest decision you’ll ever make: Part I

As a child, I had several pet hamsters and a pet rat. My father is fond of cats, and we always had a cat. But never a dog. As soon as Michael and I got married, we started talking about getting a one. I fancied a German Shepherd. Michael said they had bad press, and he wanted something smaller.

As soon as the couple and their dog left, I asked Mike, ‘What kind of dog is that?’ ‘A German Shepherd,’ he said. Really? I wanted one so badly I didn’t know what it looked like.

One day, as we walked by the St Albans Cathedral, we met our perfect dog. I fussed him, and he licked my face. Now I wanted a dog just like him: large, black, and long-haired.

Our perfect dog

Michael liked that dog. He said if we were to get a German Shepherd, it would have to be a long-haired black one. Of course we were getting one! How silly we must look walking around by ourselves—like a pair of loiters. If we walked with a dog, however, we would be walking a dog. And what a dog it would be! Everyone would see us, and say, ‘Wow! What a dog!’ And he would be our dog.

Immediately on return, I began searching. I should have been researching, but I had no time for that: we were already on our way to see puppies I found advertised in a local paper.

‘Remember, we are only going to look,’ Michael said, and I ‘completely agreed’.

The perfect dog

With the mother of the puppies
With the mother of the puppies

The breeder didn’t do it for living: she just wanted to let her bitch have a litter before spaying her (a common misconception). She explained the bitch was tall for the breed, as was the stud, and so the puppies would likely grow large. We liked the bitch. She was cautious but friendly and without apparent temperament flaws. Both parents had been screened for inherited diseases, and the puppies KC-registered.

The litter played and tumbled. They were fuzzy and fat and black, and they had chunky paws. One came to Michael, lay on his feet, and fell asleep on his shoes. Eventually, Michael needed to move his feet; so, he picked up the puppy and put him with the rest of the litter. The puppy promptly returned, lay across Michael’s feet again, and resumed the sleeping.

That’s how we picked our dog, or rather, our dog picked us. We put down the deposit, and I’ve never been more clueless or excited in my life.

An imperfect owner

I had no idea what to do with a dog or how to train one. Instead of reading up, however, I went to a pet store and bought a fabulous food dish, a tonne of toys, and the loveliest lead, then phoned work to book two weeks off so I would be at home when the puppy arrives and help him settle in. I was now ready for my dog. (That two-week holiday gave Tango nothing but separation anxiety, which he never got over.)

At first, it was easy, because Tango mostly slept. On my slippers. Soon, he grew into an impressive, even scary-looking hound, but he harmed no-one. Michael’s little nephew once slapped Tango on the face, and hard, but Tango just squealed and walked away.

Continue reading “It takes two to Tango”

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Waffles bottom wash

Hi, I’m Waffle, I had a very embarrassing problem… My bottom was dirty, that’s right a dirty bottom. It happens every time I moult. The hay and dirt gets caught up in the loose fur and before long, a messy bottom. This is not something a beautiful bunny should have to own up to. Help was on hand, Anastasia and Mike offered to discreetly clean me up in our new sink. It was so big and spacious, it even had a special place for me to rest my upper body so only my hind legs and bottom got wet. Anastasia did a wonderful job looking after me, she kept me calm and dried me so well. Before I knew it I was back outside showing off my new look to Marmalade. ?❤

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Rabbit-Proofing Your House

Hi from Mike, everybunny. By popular demand, here is my rabbit-proofing feature. I hope you enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing from you with your tips and photos.


Rabbit-proofing … This task is almost impossible, but I urge you to give it a go—don’t give up at the first bitten cable, because the joys of having a house rabbit outweigh the troubles. You get to see their little quirks and the way they wait for you to notice them, the way they run around your feet and get excited at the sound of opening the fridge door. Illness can also be spotted earlier as can be overgrown claws and teeth. You and your bunnies will be better off for it.

Now for the job at hand.

Litter trays

A suitably sized litter tray must be placed in the area the bunny needs to go—it is not your choice, unfortunately. Alternatively, you can stretch a large sheet of tarpaulin over the whole floor. For the litter trays, we use garden potting trays, as they have a high back and a low front to allow the less agile bunny to get in, and even somebun as big as Paddington cannot pee over the tall edge. It’s also important to use the litter they like: if they don’t like it, they won’t use it, remember.

We use compressed straw pellets—the horse kind—for the litter and place plenty of hay on top to entice them in:

This is how litter trays are set up at Helicopter Ears. Bunnies love them!

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Rabbits as children’s pets

If you’re looking for a quick answer, here it is:

Rabbits do NOT make good pets for children. Full stop.

If you’re looking for a detailed one, I’ll describe an experience I once had with an Amazon delivery driver.

After I signed for the delivery, the man asked if I happened to keep rabbits: he saw a rabbit run out in the front (well, it was a chicken coop really, with a run attached). We use the front run to let them have a play somewhere new during the day sometimes. The run was empty on the day. But the answer was Yes—just a few! I don’t usually invite strangers into the house, but on this occasion, I did, keen to put him off.

“Wow! You keep them indoors?” he asked.

“Yep, and outdoors, too,” I said, and proceeded to ask a few questions.

Continue reading “Rabbits as children’s pets”

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Victor is back

Hi, I’m Victor and I used to live here years ago. I’m back as I’m not well, the usual things that creep up on you in your old age. It is so nice to be inside, I can hear how windy it is and even heard that one of the ducks had the misfortune of being picked up by the wind and bashed into the window. Both are OK!
I’ve been getting my medication, which is helping and we received a big box of wonderful treats from an adoring fan of Roys. He is so kind and loving. He is letting Mike share them out between all of us rabbits. Victor ?

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I’m Annabelle, not Snoopy

Yes, my name is Annabelle, I may look like the bunderful Snoopy who lived here a while ago. That is where the similarities end. Mike still expects to be bitten when feeding me, but I’m the gentle loving kind and will lick his hand instead. My thing is hay, oh boy do I love it. I gather it up and make buntastic nests out of it. Some of it may get eaten on the way. Must go just had a hay delivery. Annabelle ?

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