As a rabbit breeder, I discover, solve, and treat problems on a regular basis. As I face new difficulties, learning to embrace and learn from the consequent failures and victories is a hard process, especially when it affects those I promise to humanely raise and protect. 

A couple years ago, before I had even begun the rabbit raising journey, I had a pair of Hotot mix bucks named Ink and Escher. I had bought them from a questionable situation where it was obvious from the way they interacted with their owner that they were completely terrified of the human race. With patience and valuable bonding time, I was slowly able to befriend Ink, the more outgoing of the two. Regardless of tasty treat bribes and fun toys, Escher continued to remain stubbornly afraid of me. Doubting myself and my ability to socialize him, I did tons of web surfing and researching to try and discover the secret to bonding with him. Then tragedy struck. 

Feeding him one morning, I noticed a slight head tilt and that he seemed to be having trouble balancing. Immediately, I became concerned. Anyone who has done any research into rabbit diseases will have heard of wry neck, aka head tilt. This disease can be caused by many agents, such as bacteria, viruses, etc, and consequently is hard to treat correctly, meaning that almost all wry neck cases lead to death. I was heartbroken. I felt like this was completely my fault (although in reality, it is often caused by things out of the owner’s control) and I wasn’t sure if there was anything I could do to save him, but I wasn’t going to let him go without a fight.

So, out came the laptop and my handy rabbit raising handbook, and I looked and looked and looked for a possible cure. Finally, I found a rabbit forum (Thanks rabbittalk!) and another corroborating article that recommended the use of Ivermectin (a medicine for cows) that could possibly cure wry neck, depending on the cause. By this point, Escher was unable to walk straight and had to be fed with a syringe and was confined to a small padded cage, to ensure he didn’t hurt himself. Carefully, I would feed and give him water multiple times a day, cuddling him and talking to him, hoping he would understand that I was trying to help him. And slowly, I saw a change, both physically and emotionally. 

Escher gradually began to appear to enjoy the cuddles and soggy banana pieces we gave him, while day by day, he grew stronger. After several weeks, he was able to move back to his normal cage again. But now, things were different. He would greet me when I came to feed him and would enjoy the attention I lavished upon him. And it made me realize that these apparent failures (whether in preparedness or disease prevention or properly bonding with a bunny) eventually led to a successful relationship with my adorable bun, Escher, and a victory of self-esteem. I was able to find a cure and successfully treat a supposedly untreatable disease. This trial of failure not only gave me experience, but a sweet and shy little bunny friend named Escher.

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