Sunday, January 23, 2011

Kid's City; Play Paradise in Borne

In the weekend the boys and I finally made it to Kid's City, a large indoor playground about 30 minutes away in Borne, near the German border. I say finally because we were on our way out the door to visit it when Rocco had his accident. Although I moan about my kids sometimes, I was proud of the way they swallowed their disappointment at having that trip cancelled as they were literally climbing into the car and focused on Rocco's problems for the weekend instead; not bad for a 6 and 9 year old.
The delay just made our visit even more fun this time. With a swash-buckling pirate theme, Kids City is three floor of sweat-inducing fun for under 12s. The multi-layered playground is of the type you see everywhere these days with netted sides and padded obstacles, except bigger and better! 50 different play elements have been incorporated into the structure, which is a veritable maze. Several seating areas provide places for parents to escape to, although as is always the case in these places, ear plugs or an iPod are essential to prevent your brains bledding out of your ears every time (someone ele's) brat gives a piercing squeal.

The cafe sells pirate themed food and for those who really can't bear to leave, there's a Pirate Buffet at night. Really.
Because the seating area is raised up, you can look down into the play area and watch Dad's being pelted to a pulp in the ball-bin, and little boys pinging themselves of the walls of the bouncy castle until they want to puke. And all for only €4.95 per child! Guess where we'll be going for Carl's 7th birthday next month...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Update on Rocco, & the Perfect Winter Pavillion

Firstly thanks to those of you who rang or emailed messages of support for Rocco. The good news is; he's doing fabulously! In fact after the first day he couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about, although he was high for a week on painkillers which may explain that. Anyway I appreciated the good wishes and they at least partially compensated for the 125 new grey hairs which appeared overnight. Rocco had his stitches removed on Monday afternoon, and he is healing well. I've just this minute raced outside to take a photo so here he is:

I think his new look makes him look wily and wise, although it has been sorely tempting to put a pirate patch over his eye...
By the way this photo was taken in the bunnies new Winter Pavillion. After last year's cold and snowy winter I wanted to find a good solution for the rabbits this year that would allow them to enjoy their daily activities outside without having the discomfort of dealing with the snow and ice for weeks on end. I think Rocco is too much of a Senior Bun to have to deal with wading through snow, and sometimes last year the fur around his bum seemed to be wet and cold for days. So one afternoon in late November I had a flash of inspiration and sketched up the design for the Winter Pavillion. Our good freind Derek agreed to make it, and even drew it up professionally in 3D Auto Cad to make sure it was perfect!The Pavillion is basically a deep tray with an overhanging roof, raised off the ground to prevent it getting damp. Lower access points have been made on three sides, wheels at one end and a handle at the other make it easy to move, and the generous overhang keeps out snow and rain. With a deep layer of hay it's the perfect place to chill, hang out, and have your ears licked (if you're into that kind of thing). The main thing is, the bunnies LOVE it! Key to the success of the Pavillion I think is that it's open on all sides so they have a 360 degree view (well at least Punky Muffin does because she can see!) to patrol the garden, while still being sheltered from wind and rain. Once the snow started falling they literally spent all day in there, nibbling on snacks like veges or apple branches which I toss in a couple of times a day. If anybody wants the plans on CD, you can have them in excahnge for a donation to the Opvang Franky rabbit rescue; just send me an email via the comments button below.
With Rocco being blind (even before he lost his right eye), he relies on his sense of smell to navigate around the garden and the snow seems to mask many of the familiar scents; the first snowy day I saw him standing bewildered and a bit lost, nose in the air, trying to figure out where he was. So each day I shovelled the 'bunny trails' clear for him, keeping his regular circuit free of snow; the perimieter of the garden, his favourite pee spot, access to either side of the Winter Pavillion and to the ivy plant he's determined to kill by chewing through its ankles before spring. With these paths kept clear he would happy hop around, stretching his legs doing his circuit before snuggling back into the pavillion. We could almost hear him happily "bumbly bumbly bumbly" - ing to himself as he went along. As I tell my friends, my rabbits are not spoilt; they are much loved.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A VERY Bad Day

Yesterday was supposed to be such a nice day. The kids and I discovered that there's a massive indoor playground about half an hour away on the A1 heading towards Germany and planned to spend the day there; me with a pile of books and my iPod, them running around and yelling themselves hoarse in the pirate-themed 'play paradise'.
We were getting ready to go, and in the back of my mind it registered that I hadn't seen Rocco outside for a while. As we got our stuff together I glanced out a few times, checking the places he would normally be around 10am and decided to have a quick check before jumping in the car. I found him in the hutch with his back to the door. Opening up the lid I said " hey Rocco..." then noticed two drops of blood in the straw bedding. Carefully scooping him up, I looked down and spotted a red mass protruding from his head where his right eye should be. It was one of those horrendous moments, when you feel like your guts have just dropped into your shoes while your brain implodes against the top of your skull. My heartbeat went from 60 to 120 in about 0.5 of a second as Crisis Mode set in. I quickly put him back down, flicked the door of the hutch shut in case he tried to leave and ran inside. Grabbing the phone I rang the vet clinic; they were just about to shut. After telling them I would be there in less than 5 minutes with an emergency I yelled at the kids to either come with me or stay here but to decide RIGHT NOW. Within a minute I had Rocco in the car and we were at the vet within 2 more minutes.
At first it looked hopeful; as the vet first cleaned the wound with saline, the red mass turned out to be a blood clot. However as she rinsed further we both went "Oh!" as we simultaneously saw what was clearly the lens of the eye crumpled on his lower eye lid. The eyeball was ruptured. The eye would have to be surgically removed and the lids stitched permanently shut if he was to survive.
It's at moments like this that I start mentally kicking myself in the head as I try not to get emotional, not to let feelings take over from logic and crowding the space in my head as critical split-second decisions need to be made. The vet and her assistant were both on their own time; in theory I should bring Rocco back on Monday (never an option) or find the emergency vet in the region. However without hesitation she asked her assistant if she would work overtime and the answer was yes.
There was no question about whether or not to operate. Rocco has been practically blind in both eyes anyway for a long time due to cataracts, and if he survived the operation his quality of life would not be impaired; he would not be in any pain or further handicapped. However the big danger was the anaesthetic. Rocco is 'officially' (according to the vet) the oldest rabbit in our town, and at 9 years 7 months, the oldest one she has ever seen. Surviving the operation was a huge risk for him, but one we had to take. There simply wasn't another option. As he hunched on the examination table, motionlessly leaning his head in the palm of my hand, I wondered if this was goodbye. He never made a noise the entire time, but feeling that small weight of him in my hand, leaning for support in a silent plea for help, I was acutely aware that his life was literally in the balance. Gently putting him back into the cage, I tried not to think that I may never get to pat him again and telling him I'd see him soon, I left.
There followed 90 nail-biting minutes while I waited at home for the phone call. I filled the time frantically trying to find what he had poked his eye on, and setting up a large cage in the lounge for him to recover in for the next week or so. He will have to be separated from Punky Muffin until the stitches come out (PLEASE don't let them un-bond again!) and for the first night he would need extra heating to prevent post-operative shock setting in.

Finally the phone rang; he had survived and was starting to wake up. I collected him gratefully, only just resisting the temptation to crush the vet in a huge hug. Gingerly laying him in his temporary home in the lounge, he flopped groggily into the soft bedding and gradully woke up over the next four hours or so. By late afternoon he was starting to nibble vegetables, and he was more or less fully awake by late evening. This morning he was feeling a bit lethargic but since the weather was sunny and all the snow has melted in the past couple of days I let him out - closely supervised - to spend time on the grass with Punky Muffin. He immediately cheered up, gave himself a thorough groom and started trying to hump her. He is truly unbelievable.
The reason I'm posting these pictures is so that you can see that while small animals do get seriously hurt despite our best attempts to keep them safe, rapid veterinary help can do wonders. Don't give up on them. The odds of Rocco not waking up after surgery were high, but he deserved the chance, and he sailed through. He's got some recovering to do but with continued TLC he should make a full recovery and be back harassing his girlfriend within 8 or 9 days. Once the swelling goes down and his fur grows back he won't look like he's just gone 3 rounds with Mike Tyson. The point is our pets deserve every chance we can give them to lead long, healthy lives.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Happy 2011!

You're probably sick of hearing it by now but I really mean it: I hope no-one I know has anything blight their year and that the next 12 months are a box of fluffies! Unfortunately that's pretty unlikely but fingers crossed.
The kids were back to school today, and as I was trying to swoosh them out the door on time Carl had his first little melt down of the year. I bought him some snow boots just before the Christmas holidays started and he's been proudly stomping around in them ever sinice. Problem is...they have laces. Kids these days just don't do laces. Shoes are velcro-strapped until they are at least 10 years old and somewhere along the way we'd forgotten to teach him how to lace his shoes.
Tears and frustration at not being able to tie a bow himself threatened to ruin his day. Fortunately he has another pair of boots (with velcro) which he could wear instead tonight is lace-tying lesson time!!