Bunny Adoption Anticipation

I clicked the box “adopt me” on the NYC ACC Animal Care Center site for a beautiful “boroughbred” rabbit right before the start of the New Year.

Taking care of house rabbits was a delightful part of my life for about 5 years while we had Riley, our dwarf Hotot pictured below, and then his bonded pair, a dwarf Agouti, Clover, who came to us a year later. My daughter adopted them from the Manhattan ACC shelter, and when she moved from our place into her new apartment this fall, the bunnies went with her. I miss them more than I can say.

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
– John Steinbeck

Rabbits are fascinating. They run and jump and binky – hop while kicking their legs out. They are biters too, so you have to be gentle and keep fragile things out of their way – bunny-proof your place in a sense. Because rabbits are likely to have families pretty quickly, it was important to have them neutered before we had them bond together. Now Riley and Clover are an inseparable bonded pair. I visit them in their new home with my daughter, where they seem very happily adjusted and comfortable already without me. I miss taking care of them every day. I’m not so comfortable without all of them.

You can’t replace a daughter, but maybe you can replace a rabbit, I thought and looked on the NYC ACC pet adoption site daily for a few months. Bunnies find their way to shelters because they escape or are abandoned. This might be because they grow up, or bite, or are unwanted, or cannot be cared for anymore in their prior home – so it is important to be sure you are ready for a rabbit from the start. The Manhattan ACC shelter usually has about 5 or 10 rabbits at any given time that are up for adoption.

I planned to visit the shelter and adopt a bunny but found this isn’t as easy as it used to be before the COVID pandemic. I had to fill out an application online, wait, email, wait, and eventually found out that appointments were only available when scheduled on the website. The site had no appointments for January and none for any of the other months of 2022 either when I looked on the first of the month. But I checked back, found one appointment for two weeks out, and booked it at once. The email sent to confirm my browsing appointment noted that the rabbit I hoped to adopt might not still be there when I come by. Bunny adoptions are first-come, first-serve.

To browse the rabbits for fostering or adoption you have to have an appointment two weeks out, wear two masks, and be on time. If you are more than 10 minutes late, the appointment is cancelled, and they might not book you for another one. You have 30 minutes to spend there and then your time is up. I can’t wait to see how it goes and whether the shelter staff will let me take a rabbit home with me.

“Hallo, Rabbit,” he said, “is that you?”
“Let’s pretend it isn’t,” said Rabbit, “and see what happens.”
― A. A. Milne

Because bunnies are prey in the wild, they tend to be skittish, and they hide when they can. When frightened, they may sit absolutely still so you think they are not there. But they get used to people and become very social – enjoying being pet and playing with toys, especially those made of hay.

I have all new things ready for our new family member now, the toys, the blankets, the pillows, the hay and pellets, the hay basket as a litter box. The day I found out I would have to wait indefinitely to see the rabbits at the shelter, I looked at all the bunny things with an empty feeling, like would it really happen? I hope so and it is something to anticipate, to really look forward to in the New Year.

The Bunny Lady on YouTube is a great source of information about keeping house rabbits and she has new videos that come out every week in case you are intrigued.

My 2022 New Year’s Resolution: Prevent Cancer If I Can

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health estimate that up to 75% of American cancer deaths can be prevented

For 2022, My New Year’s resolution is to have the best health I can. Top on my list of things I can do are those that prevent cancer. Cancer is the leading cause of death in the U.S. for those of us who are younger than 65. But I can choose many optional things to prevent cancer, that research shows lower the risks. I lost both my parents to cancer, and I work in cancer prevention at the NYC Health Department, so it is something I think about a lot. My mother died of breast cancer when she was 57, and my father died of lung cancer when he was 77. What can I do to avoid the same fates?

Here is a list of 10 Ways to Prevent Cancer that I worked on writing at the Health Department that’s now available online. For the New Year, I’m going through them to see which things I can do differently in 2022.

  1. If you smoke, try to quit.
  2. Eat fewer processed meats.
  3. Eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  4. Drink less alcohol.
  5. Increase your physical activity.
  6. Try to maintain your weight.
  7. Protect your skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
  8. Get vaccinated against human papilloma virus (HPV).
  9. Get vaccinated against hepatitis B (HBV).
  10. Get screened for cancers.

I could do better with #3, 4, 5, 7, and 10. So these are great to start with for the New Year.

I sometimes imagine I won’t get breast cancer like my mother did because I didn’t take hormone replacement therapy, which was her risk factor. And I usually think I won’t get lung cancer because I didn’t smoke like my father, which was his risk factor. But so many other things factor into whether I will get cancer. Looking at the list, I know I could eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I am mostly vegan, but not completely and so that is a new goal. When it comes to drinking, I enjoy a pint of beer once a week or so, which I could cut out with a healthy alternative. I didn’t pick one yet, but I’m working on it. Any amount of drinking increases a woman’s risk of breast cancer.

Increasing physical activity is something I definitely can do. I will make more time for my long walks and my free yoga with Adriene in the New Year. And while I am at it, I could also protect my skin from the sun, which I don’t do, thinking I need the vitamin D. But two of my friends had skin cancers removed from their faces in the last year, so I shouldn’t imagine that risk isn’t real.

The final tip, to get screened for cancers is something we all need to remember. To get vaccinated for HPV if you are a young adult, and HBV at any age if you haven’t can cut the risk of cervical and liver cancers. Get screened for breast cancer at 40 if you are a woman, colon cancer at 45, lung cancer at 50 if you smoked a lot, and prostate cancer at 55 if you are a man – these things don’t take long to do and can be life-saving proactive steps for good health.

My mother’s cancer was found when it already had metastasized from her breast to her liver, and she passed away only a few short months after her diagnosis. My father’s cancer was found when it had already metastasized from his lungs to his bones, and he passed away only 2 months after his diagnosis. What a difference early screening could have meant for them and for our family. It would have meant more successful treatment and longer survival.

And prevention goes even farther than screening, by lowering your risk of any cancer getting started in the first place.

So for the New Year 2022 I wish you your best health. Let’s prevent cancer any way we can.