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Old May 24th, 2007, 07:35 PM
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: New Brunswick - Nova Scotia
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Golden Retriver Adopts Bunnies

This is such an adorable story - as someone who has loved a bunny for so many years and loves my brother's lovable friendly chocolate lab almost as much (I don't like to start saying I love one more than the other but my bunny was so special and I only see my lab nephew when I "lab sit" - tho he is such a sweet dog. (He'd make an utterly awful watch dog since he loves everyone, lol)

This golden in Nova Scotia - found some baby bunnies in the woods and is now "mothering" them - with the help of her people of course.

Here is the story from the Halifax Herald:

A maternal instinct
Golden retriever nurtures two newborn bunnies
By DAVENE JEFFREY Staff Reporter

Jessie, a South Shore golden retriever, has become a media darling.

Ever since the seven-year-old canine adopted three baby bunnies, sheís been in the spotlight.

"Itís nerve-racking," said Janette Fisher of Hunts Point as she rhymed off a list of media outlets who have been to her home near Liverpool to witness the female dog mothering tiny rabbits.

Most of the neighbourhood children, including a local Beaver troop, have tramped through her house as well to visit the animals.

The unusual story began about a week and a half ago, when Mrs. Fisherís husband Marty took Jessie for a walk in woods near their hunting camp in Port Joli.

"One by one, she brought them out of the woods," Mrs. Fisher said during an interview in her home Wednesday.

"I had to get her out of there or she might have brought more," said Mr. Fisher.

Ironically, the Fishers had been teaching Jessie to hunt rabbits. They arenít sure whether she was guided by her retriever instinct or her maternal instinct when she presented them with her foundlings.

The Fishers believe the bunnies were little more than newborn when Jessie discovered them. Afraid the mother would reject her babies once they were covered with Jessieís scent, the Fishers decided to try to keep them alive.

That night, the bunnies were put to bed in a lower bunk. During the night, they tumbled out onto a mat on the floor. In the morning, the Fishers found Jessie curled up on the mat keeping the tiny animals warm.

Since then, her days have revolved around her little charges, though they now number only two.

"I feed them," Mrs. Fisher said, "but Jessie does the rest."

Relying on the advice of a local vet, Mrs. Fisher has been feeding them a concoction she calls the bunny recipe ó a mixture of two per cent milk, egg yolk, milk powder, corn syrup and bone meal.

She fills a large syringe with warmed formula and holds it to the bunniesí mouths for them to lap up.

"They donít like it cold."

When they are finished eating, Jessie licks them off, sending the little hares rolling across the floor.

One of the bunnies died earlier this week, but Mrs. Fisher said it always appeared sickly. It may have been hurt when Jessie carried it out of the woods, she speculated.

The two remaining little animals have doubled in size. Mr. Fisher estimates they weigh four to five ounces each.

On Wednesday, Mrs. Fisher moved the bunnies from a blanket-lined laundry basket to a cage with wood shavings on the floor. Jessie has parked herself right beside the cage.

"Thatís what she does all day ó lays down and looks at them," Mrs. Fisher said.

She believes they are nearly ready to try solid food ó a bit of bread or oats soaked in milk. After that, sheíll move them on to rabbit pellets. The Fishers have plenty of those.

"I have a 50-pound bag," Mrs. Fisher said.

It seems the entire neighbourhood is alive with wild hares and tame rabbits. When an older man in the community died, many locals adopted his rabbits. Some are living in the woods but hang around the houses where people, including the Fishers, put out food for them.

The Fishers would like to release the bunnies when they are ready but arenít sure whether they can return to the wild.

"If they see a coyote, they will probably run up to it thinking itís a dog," Mr. Fisher said.

"Whatís best for the bunnies, thatís what will happen to them," Mrs. Fisher said.

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