The last year or so I am suddenly struck by how much Mario has aged since our early years together. This is quite a depressing thing for me so I try to not think about it too much. The changes have happened so slowly I wouldn't even think anything was different if I didn't stop to reflect sometimes.
For example, his appetite is quite reduced from when he was younger. He used to inhale his pellets in one sitting and now he will graze on them throughout the day, sometimes leaving some behind. I used to use his pellets as treats in training and would have his full attention when I had some to hand out. The last time I tried this, he lost interest after eating just a few. He still does Bunny 500's when he is out to play, but not every day. And he rarely does vertical binkies anymore. He naps more often and sleeps much deeper than when he was younger. In his younger days if I just looked at him hard when he was sleeping he would pop up onto his feet. Now I can pet him and wiggle him around a bit and he will barely stir. Not that he doesn't get into mischief sometimes, but I am not constantly on alert to what he is doing when he is out. He spends the majority of his playtime bunny loafed in his favorite spots. I remember when he was younger it was like a toddler out to play who was always exploring and I had to keep an eye on him all the time.
I bought Mario the 36" exercise pen when I converted him from his cube cage. I was told it was a rare rabbit who would jump out of the 24" pen, but I wanted to be safe and he used to jump onto my window ledge when he was younger which was about 2 feet off the ground.
|c. 2005 Mario on the window ledge in NYC. Oh, the stuff he got into back then! |
And that was with slippery wood floor traction for a launchpad, too.
I sometimes regret getting the 36" since it is much more obtrusive and not possible to pet him from the top. I also thought down the road I may adopt another rabbit who was a jumper (Chloe for sure could have jumped out of the 36" if she put her mind to it) so I figured it was a longterm investment as well.
This past week we had to take down Mario's pen for some maintenance work in our home. I usually construct a 2 panel wide x 2 panel deep x 1 panel high temporary pen (if you scroll down on this post you can see it -- for new readers, visit this post to see Mario at the Grand Canyon) for him. I dislike it, though, because it doesn't allow him to stand up on his hind legs. As I was getting that pen out from under the couch I pulled out the Christmas tree barrier. I figured I'd see if it would keep him contained.
What do you know!? It worked. He lived in the above for three days and never once jumped out. It was actually nice because it was so easy to stop and pet him and I briefly considered making a bigger one for his new permanent pen (having nowhere great to store the exercise pen, we ended up going back to it).
But then I got to thinking... Back in NYC when I wanted to do a really deep clean of their cage, I would barricade Mario and Chloe in a hallway using the above panels. I would make a baby gate barrier that was 2 panels high, sometimes even 3 panels. And do you know, the two of them would find a way to jump out.
It was sobering to realize that Mario would now spend all day in a much smaller space than a hallway, contained by a 1 panel high barrier and be totally content. It breaks my heart.
Anyone else notice similar trends with aging pets?