Drawing of Cooper and mommy by the artsywhim
About

In memory of Cooper…

Nine years and five months, that’s how long I shared my life with Cooper. I wish it could have been a lifetime. I like to consider Cooper being my true love. He taught me what love for an animal is and losing him taught me how much of our lives they fill.

It’s taken me a few months to write about his passing and updating his website. It hasn’t been easy, copping with Cooper’s loss has been quite difficult for me. I’ve been lucky to have lived my adult life without losing an immediate family member, so I don’t know what that loss feels like. But losing Cooper has been detrimental to me. Having a pet in your lives means that your life revolves around them. You have their feeding times present at all times and with a rabbit, you monitor their every move to prevent any illness. You don’t realize how much of your life they occupy until you lose them. I was very aware of this in the last few years and I dedicated my life to him. I created his website and grew his social media platforms to help bring awareness to proper rabbit care. I made a career off of this, and I’m thankful to say that thanks to Cooper I am where I am today. Wanting to help other rabbit parents pushed me to learn so much and because of this, I am where I am in my career.

There hasn’t been a day since Cooper’s passing that I haven’t shed tears. Everything that I do reminds me of him. What hurts the mosr is knowing how much he suffered at the end. He should have died of old age soundly in his sleep, he didn’t deserve to suffer. This is what hunts me the most.

Carrying on with his social media platforms was something I wanted to do, I wanted his legacy to live on. But I have found it difficult and overwhelming to do. Finding images to share and reading everyone’s comments/messages are triggers for me and there are some days that I don’t want to do it. At the same time, I’ve received so many supporting messages thanking me for continuing to post and that’s what’s keeping me posting.

It wasn’t until this week that I was finally able to go through all the messages of condolence that I received on Instagram. It was amazing to see the immediate support that I received, and I’m still receiving it. It was so overwhelming that I had to open a PO box for him, so many wanted my address to send something. And I’m still receiving cards and gifts of condolence. Yesterday I was at a local store shopping with my husband, when we approached the cashier she immediately asked me if I was Cooper’s mom. We were both frozen at our tracks. I said yes and she expressed her condolences and told me to give myself time to heal, and how very sorry she was for my loss. I felt my voice cracking as we spoke and as soon as we stepped out of the store the tears just shed down my cheeks.

It’s not easy. I recently read an article about a similar situation and one paragraph resonated with me.

“Pheobe’s death makes me feel like someone has come along with a giant eraser and rubbed out my face. I am going to have to learn to exist without a face. And possibly a personality”

That’s me in a nutshell. I feel as I’ve lost my personality, my face, the one thing that gave me purpose and made me not only be a better person but do better for animals alike.

I was very lucky to have him in my life, and I’ll be eternally thankful that he was placed in it. He was perfect, and sometimes even the best of luck seems perfectly devastating.

In loving memory of Cooper the Pooper – 12/05/09 – 05/21/19
Thumper a Netherland Dwarf Rabbit - sitting in his litter box
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I’m coming clean!

Last weekend Gainesville Rabbit Rescue informed me that Orlando Rabbit Care and Adoptions (ORCA) had a Netherland Dwarf up for adoption. I wasn’t looking to adopt but I filled out the adoption application. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be I thought.

Monday morning Sue from ORCA contacted me and inform that Butter, that’s his name, was already spoken for BUT they had received information about another Nethie that needed a home. Later that evening I spoke with Sue and she placed me in contact with his owner. Here’s where Thumper, featured in the photos comes in. He was purchased from a breeder for a little girl, unfortunately, she became allergic and they needed to re-home him quickly. He is approximately 6 months old and needs to be neutered. I made arrangements to pick him up on Wednesday.

The night before was very emotional as I needed to move Cooper’s urn from inside his cottage. I dusted and cleaned his entire room and re-arranged his hat collection. I set Cooper’s urn on the back ledge, against the wall, centered in the middle of his hats and crowns. I set both Angel statutes I received as gifts at his sides and placed his Mickey ears and first crown on top of the urn. Then I prayed. I prayed to Cooper and asked him if this was okay if I was making the right decision. I asked him to give me a sign that I could bring a bunny home and into his area. I lit a candle and continued praying.

The following day after work, I headed his way and came home with Thumper. Upon his arrival, he inspected Cooper’s room entirely. He binkied and climbed on everything. He was happy and made himself right at home! I had brand new toys for him, Oxbow Animal Health had sent Cooper his sponsored box for April and May. Unfortunately, Cooper wasn’t able to enjoy neither as this was the time he became ill. I spent the evening with Thumper, and three months after Cooper’s passing I found myself sleeping on the floor of Cooper’s room again. I was afraid Thumper would jump out of the enclosure. That night he was a busy body, exploring every inch of Cooper’s area, climbing onto the terrace and stretching as far as he could reach to look out the window and gaze into the stars. He would stand on his tippy-toes and sniff every hanging light and the letters spelling out Cooper’s name. He is the tiniest, little guy, litter box trained and extremely friendly. I had mixed feelings about having another rabbit shortly after Cooper’s passing, but my heart was at peace, I knew Cooper was okay with my decision. But our happiness came to a quick stop.

On our way home I felt my lungs a bit tight, I suffer from asthma, I brushed it off thinking it was the excitement. As the night progressed I felt them getting tighter and my rescue inhaler wasn’t helping. I fought it throughout the night but eventually had to put on a mask. I couldn’t breathe and my medication wasn’t helping. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t stop thinking – his fur was affecting my asthma. Around 3 AM I drafted an email to Sue, I wouldn’t be able to keep Thumper. But I couldn’t press send, I kept thinking that this would go away. But who was I kidding, this happened when I fostered a rabbit in hopes of getting Cooper a mate. I knew my symptoms would get worse so I sent the email. He finally settled down and we both got some sleep that night.

The next morning I made arrangements with Sue to meet later in the evening to surrender Thumper. My heart was broken. He was such a sweet little guy, he deserved a loving home and it couldn’t be ours. I came home from work that evening and packed everything I had set out for him. I sent him with all new toys, fresh hay, and food.

During the years I spent with Cooper I never realized the reach and impact I had on the bunny community. It wasn’t until Cooper’s passing that I realized that I had made a difference and had helped make the world a better place for rabbits. At least in a small way, but we helped make a difference.

When I was handing Thumper over to Sue she said something that resonated with me. She said, “it was such an honor to help find YOU a rabbit”. Help find ME a rabbit, me – Cooper’s mom, I was left speechless. For me, everything I did was for Cooper’s well-being and to help others through my experiences with him. I was humbled by her words.

I kissed Thumper goodbye and handed Sue a large bag with all his old and new items. I told her not to hesitate on asking me for food and supplies for Thumper, I’d be more than happy to support him until he found his forever home. Let’s pray that this day comes soon!

Cooper the Pooper - Periscoping in front of his enclosure
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DIY Rabbit Enclosure

Bunny parents biggest dilemma? Wanting a free-roaming rabbit and at the same time, protecting their homes. I know this all too well, and that’s why I had Cooper’s enclosure built.
Cooper was a free-roaming rabbit in our previous house, and if you’ve lived with a rabbit you know they are natural chewers. They’ll tear out the carpet and ruin your baseboards. I dealt with that issue before, patched up baseboards and corners where Cooper had torn out the carpet. But once we moved into our new home I wanted to protect it and keep it looking new.
I went to my brother-in-law with photos and an idea. He came back with a master plan, with floor plans and all, a true engineer. From what I shared with him he sketched out the floor plan and how the final product would turn out. It looked amazing on paper.
Needless to say that the final product is amazing too!

Cooper the Pooper's enclosure
Cooper the Pooper’s enclosure

The back panel is made out of the following materials:

  • 2- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 7ft in length
  • 2- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 2ft 2 inches in height
  • 1- piece of wire mesh 7 ft x 2ft 2 inches
    1. wire mesh is stapled on outside edge)

The side panels are made out of the following materials:

  • 4- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 4ft  2 inches in length
  • 4- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 2ft 2 inches in height
  • 2- plexiglass panels (thickness is your preference)
    1. length & height depends on deepness of grove made to insert plexiglass into lumber

The front panel is made out of three parts, two side panels and one door:

Panels:

  • 4- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 2ft 5 inches in length
  • 4- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 2ft 2 inches in height
  • 2 – plexiglass panels (thickness is your preference)
    1. length & height depends on deepness of grove made to insert plexiglass into lumber

Door:

  • 4- 2×4 pieces of lumber each 2 ft in length
  • 1- plexiglass panel (thickness is your preference)
  • length & height depends on deepness of grove made to insert plexiglass into lumber
  • 2- door hinges

Additional materials: Nails and screws as needed
The interior is all up to you and how you decide to decorate your rabbit’s play area. To protect ,y carpet, I bought an area rug from IKEA. My brother in law built the enclosure around the measurements of the rug. So if you purchase a larger rug, make the measurement adjustments around it.
Good luck building yours and please share your final product with me, I would love to see everyone’s enclosures.

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Are you prepared?

Rabbits are a great responsibility, they may seem easy to care for, but you don’t really know until you live with one. They are considered exotics, so any medical visit is costly.
I may sound repetitive, but honestly I can’t say this enough. Day after day I read so many stories of rabbits being abandoned and found in terrible conditions. This happens because people don’t do research. You have to know what you’re getting into and learn about what you’re thinking of bringing home. Be prepared to rabbit proof your house and to provide them with a proper diet to keep them healthy and live long. Be able to financially provide for them, they are expensive pets to care for. And if you want to keep a nice, clean home you’ll need to make adjustments because they require ample space to run and jump in. You can’t stick them in a small cage and let them roam free for 30 or 50 minutes a day; they require much more than that.
Do research and make sure a rabbit is right for your family and lifestyle. Once you’re ready, adopt don’t shop. Contact your local rescues and shelters, ask them questions, they’ll be able to help you make the right decision. But please make sure you’re in it for the long run. They come into your homes and win over your hearts. It’s true what they say, “there’s no love like bunny love”.
Within the past month I paid $1,000 USD in vet bills. This is quite a burden for anyone who makes a decent living and has responsibilities. We work hard for our money and I know it’s not easy to spend this amount, or even more on a small animal. Especially a small animal like Cooper, a 2lb rabbit. Most people when faced with a situation like this may surrender the animal or take it home and disregard it. This is why I emphasize on being financially capable of providing for a rabbit. You never know when an emergency may come up and since they are considered exotics, it’ll be pricey.
Now ask yourself, are you prepared to care for a rabbit?

CCooper the Pooper - Grey Netherland Dwarf Rabbit - Sitting by a tree with teal and black sunglasses
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When your rabbit is cooler than you!

Recently I had an amazing opportunity, I was interviewed by The Dodo. They wanted to learn about Cooper and how he came into my life.
At the beginning of February I had a video interview with Andrei Alupului from The Dodo, we chatted a bit about Cooper and how he came into my life. He learn a lot about my struggles with his diet and how he earned his moniker, Cooper the Pooper.
We chatted for about half an hour, Andrei had more than enough information to get him started with the video. I supplied them with a few images but he gathered as much content as possible from my social media platforms. He did an amazing job gathering, combining and editing all the content. I was quite impressed with the end results.
It went live yesterday on their Facebook page and I am amazed at how well it’s done. Even more, at the positive feedback I’ve received from hundreds of people from around the world. Everyone seems to be so grateful at the hard work and dedication I have invested over the years. It was a struggle for me at first, he was a difficult rabbit to care for, but this motivated me to create this website. I wanted to gather as much information as possible and share it with others. I knew there had to be other human’s going through the same difficulties with their rabbits. I now know I am not alone. I receive emails from people from around the world thanking me for helping them through my website, they ask for my advise and tips on how I’ve kept Cooper healthy. As much as I love helping others, I always remind people to first contact their veterinary as they are more useful than me. I just share what I’ve learn throughout the years, but it has always been with the helping hand of our vets.
If you haven’t seen the video, here it is, hope you enjoy! Click here –> The Dodo

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Oxbow, my best friend!

Oxbow products are truly my best friend, they have come incredibly handy with such a picky eater. As most of you already know, Cooper doesn’t eat hay, he never has and we all know how important hay is for rabbits. Unfortunately, this made my first few years with him incredibly difficult. Thankfully by now, after more than a handful of trials and errors, I have his diet down packed and able to keep him healthy!
Recently, I’ve received a lot of e-mails asking me how I manage to keep Cooper healthy after so many years, if he doesn’t eat hay. These e-mails couldn’t have come at a better time as I recently ordered a few items from Oxbow. I’m always trying to find alternatives to have him eat hay.
I also came across two Oxbow products which I was eager for Cooper to try, Oxbow Garden Select Adult Rabbit food and Oxbow Hay Blends, Western Timothy and Orchard Grass mixed together. These were great as I’m always trying to keep weight on Cooper, he may look chubby but it’s all fluff! I followed the transition directions stated on the back, Cooper was a bit hesitant at first but as I decreased his old pellets and added more Garden Select he gave in and now loves them!
The ingredients sound amazing; rosemary, thyme, whole yellow pea, tomato, spinach, carrot and banana! I don’t know anybunny who wouldn’t love Garden Select Adult Rabbit food from Oxbow, I highly suggest everyone gives them a try.
Garden Select Adult Rabbit Food
Unfortunately I didn’t have the same luck with the Oxbow Hay Blend. I think I was asking for too much, but I’m always hopeful and willing to try different hays in case he likes one kind. I’ve had it available for him in different places of his area and even switched out his litter box hay, but he still won’t eat hay. It smells great, maybe your bunny will enjoy it!
Hay Blends
The following Oxbow products are my to-go products, I couldn’t live without them because of Cooper’s limited diet. He does eat veggies, which I have upped his intake because it helps him grind his teeth down.
Oxbow Science Digestive Support tablets- helps his tummy work better since he doesn’t eat hay. Please follow the directions depending on your rabbit’s weight.
Digestive Support Tablets
Oxbow Natural Science Urinary Support – I started giving these to Cooper since 2014 when he had surgery to remove stones from his bladder and urethral.

Oxbow Simple Rewards Baked Treats with Apple & Banana – I’ve been feeding him these for the past couple of months until Oxbow Bena Terra Barley Biscuits are back on the market. Cooper loves those! 
He’s taken a liking to the Apple & Banana treats as well, but the Barley biscuits are his absolutely favorite. Besides not eating hay, Cooper doesn’t like fruit either, what an odd ball he is. Ha!
These you may know as his “morning biscuit” he’s a grumpy bunny in the mornings until he gets one. Guess you can call it his morning coffee. #donttalktomebeforebiscuits
Apple & Banana Treats
Oxbow Simple Rewards Timothy Treats –  He won’t eat hay but he’ll eat treats made of it? Yes, that’s Cooper for you, always making mom’s life just a tab bit difficult, but I wouldn’t want it any other way. I feed him one a day when I get home from work.
Timothy Treats
The last two items I always keep at hand because he enjoys a bit of “bunstruction” early on the weekend mornings. Don’t ask me why, but it’s only on weekend mornings that he likes to make such racket that he ends up waking us up. Maybe it’s because I’m not up at the crack of dawn getting ready for work and getting his morning biscuit nice and early.
Nonetheless, these come in handy for bunstruction. I keep them in his cardboard bachelor pad on all three levels for him to tear up.
Timothy Mats       Timothy Twists
 
 
 
 
 
I hope this comes in helpful to those who reached out to me. I know I’m not the only one struggling with a picky eater, and I know how difficult it is at the beginning trying to find healthy alternatives for them. I can honestly say the struggle is real, but you are not alone and I’m glad people reach out to me. It’s taken me years to get where I am at with Cooper’s health so please count on me if you need to talk or throw ideas back and forth on what’s worked for me or not. But please never forget that your veterinary comes first. Always reach out to them before seeking help from the internet!
And like I’ve mentioned before, I’m always trying to find healthy alternatives for Cooper due to his limited diet, so if you have found something that works for you, please share it with me too!

CCooper the Pooper - Grey Netherland Dwarf Rabbit - Sitting next to a tiny felt replica of him
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Savvy Shots Pet Photography

Ever since Cooper had a photoshoot for the cover of the Orlando Magazine I’ve been wanting to do one at home with him. Lucky enough I met a wonderful photographer through my line of work. Savannah Butler, all the way from Greensburg, PA, she’s constantly traveling due to work, that’s how I was able to meet her in Florida. She photograph’s weddings, events, pets and more.
A few months after meeting Savannah, and after Cooper stopped shedding she came to our house. She was excited to meet him as she’d seen all his social media posts, he wasn’t thrilled to meet her though. We schedule the photoshoot in the middle of the day interrupting his slumber, boo-who. It was great that Savannah agreed to come over to our home as it was already very hot in Florida to take Cooper out, plus doing the photoshoot in a familiar setting helped Cooper be more active. And active he was! We had to set up a fence around where Savannah was shooting because Cooper kept running around everywhere. I had done my make up and hair to get a few shots in with him, when the time came to get the photos done, I was a hot mess. Needless to say, I won’t be sharing those images. Ha! Just kidding, Savannah did an amazing job at capturing our bond, you’ve probably seen some of our images on his social media by now.
Here you can see the fence we had to set up. Even with this he found a way to run around, even crawling all over Savannah. I don’t know how she managed with those 2 lbs of fluff crawling all over her.
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Savannah hadn’t photographed a rabbit before so she didn’t know what to expect. But mom was prepared, I pulled out his hat collection and we were able to get a few good shots. I’ll probably be able to use some for a new calendar for 2018, a themed calendar for each month of the year. How does that sound?
I had so much fun working with her, I was hoping to get a few shots outside, but Florida weather was not cooperating. Too hot for bunnies! So we got creative with a few things at home, got some shots with mini Cooper too.
Can you spot him?
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Overall it was great working with Savannah, she travels all around the world, so please check her out. She’s amazing with animals, Cooper loved her and mom enjoyed working with her as well. She’s located in Pennsylvania, so if you’re a local to the Greensburg area, well lucky you. Here’s her website Savvyshots.photography, she’s also on social media too, instagram @savvyshots_pets and Facebook at Savvy Shots Photography, keep in mind she has vast knowledge in photography so if don’t have pets but need a photographer, she’s great to work with.
Thanks to Savannah I now have beautiful shots of my sweet Cooper and me to cherish forever. How lucky was I to meet her!
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Here’s a sample of what you can expect from Savannah’s work, amazing huh?
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It’s Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW)

Did you know that a rabbit’s diet consists of 85-90% fresh hay?
Maybe you did, but a lot of rabbit owners don’t know this information as most pet stores sell rabbits as a starter pet. Sold with a small cage, pellets and told to feed them lettuce and carrots. Wonderful! Not really, and this is why it is important we have Rabbit Awareness Week (RAW). This year RAW falls on the week of June 17-June 24.
Rabbit Awareness Week was started over 11 years ago in the UK as a campaign to shed some light on rabbit welfare. Over the years, RAW has been honored throughout the world thanks to the power of Social Media.
When I brought Cooper home, he was given to me in a small cage, with lots of gourmet pellets, cat clumping litter and no hay. Imagine my shock when I did research and truly educated myself on proper rabbit care. I was appalled at the instructions I was given, which is why I created this website. I found it extremely difficult to find the correct information online and even more difficult to find a veterinary that would see a rabbit. Thankfully, overtime things have changed and rabbits are now the fourth most popular pet to have. Meaning, there are more resources online and veterinaries that specialize in rabbits. But regardless, it is always important to share any information you have with those who need it.
You may be aware of a friend or neighbor that has a rabbit or recently brought one home. Befriend them, tell them you also have a rabbit, see where you or them may be wrong, share with them useful information. I use to carry around fact sheets with all bunny basic information on it, I shared it a few times with strangers, even at pet stores. Now, I just share with them my website, it’s my best tool as I have gathered information from personal experience and from Cooper’s vets.
Here are 5 important tips that are always very important to know:
1. Environment – Rabbits are runners and jumpers, they need lots of room for exercise. This is why a hutch is never enough!
2. Diet – Rabbits cannot regurgitate, meaning, unlike cats they cannot spit out hairballs. How do rabbits bathe? By grooming themselves with their tongues, this is why it is very important they have a high fiber diet. It is essential for their dental, digestive and emotional health. A rabbit’s diet should consist 85-90% fresh hay.
You must be saying “But Cooper doesn’t eat hay!” I know, I know, there are those stubborn few that will not eat hay. This is a struggle for quite a few people as I am contacted frequently about what to do with their non-eating hay rabbit. My suggestion to those who have reached out to me, talk to your vet and in the meantime check out my website as I discuss Cooper’s diet. Maybe share this information with your vet to see what they suggest for you. Of course, when you have run out of resources and you know your rabbit will not eat ANY type of hay. Which is my case with Cooper.
3. Behavior- In the wild rabbits rummage through all sorts of leaves, trees and branches. Make sure to keep their environment interesting and filled with toys to chew on and caves to hide in. A bored rabbit may lead to behavioral issues and health problems, like their teeth. Rabbits need to constantly chew on wood to wear them down.
4. Company- Rabbits are incredibly social, they need company and stimulation to keep themselves entertained. This can also be traced back to behavior, a rabbit left alone in a hutch will become aggressive towards you. It is very important to spend lots of time with them at their level, on the ground allowing them to sniff you and get used to your presence. They also have complex social needs which is why it is also best to keep them with another friendly rabbit.
Again, you’re probably saying “Hey but Cooper doesn’t have a companion!” I know, I know and trust me I tried. There is something about rabbit fur that terribly affects my asthma. I fostered a female rabbit a few years ago, in hopes of keeping her with Cooper, unfortunately I got terribly ill. I kept her for over a month but I couldn’t take of a surgical mask when I was at home, I could not breath because of all the rabbit fur. It’s unfortunate for Cooper because he bonds with any animal, he’s bonded with my sister’s dog, he tried bonding with our cat and he’s allowed several rabbits into his area throughout the years. I know Cooper has no issue bonding with another rabbit, but my lungs cannot handle too much rabbit fur.
5. Health- Keeping your rabbit fit and healthy should be your number 1 priority in order for them to live a long and happy life. It is important to groom them at least weekly and when doing so check their skin, teeth, eyes, nails and their bottom area. With good care and proper feeding you’ll have your rabbit in your life for possibly 10+ years.
To further learn more please check out RAW‘s website and remember to share as much information on proper rabbit care as possible!
 
 
 

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For the love of Exotics!

Although the rabbit community is quite large, it’s still difficult in many cities to find veterinarians that specialize in exotics. Yes, rabbits are considered an exotic pet. I’ve been very lucky with Cooper, in both cities I’ve lived in I have found veterinarians that treat exotics.
As you all know, recently we made some changes in our lives and I needed to find a vet closer to home. I went on Orlandorabbit.org and found a few options, I did some research and felt that Dr. Santiago Diaz best fitted my requirements. He was closer to home, specialized in rabbits, came highly recommended in our community and had competitive prices.
I made an appointment and two weeks later we met Dr. Díaz. I’m overprotective of Cooper and always want to be overly prepared, so I typed up a bio on him. From his eating habits, his medical history to my recent concerns. Very thorough and complete, even included a photo of Cooper. While helpful to Dr. Díaz and his staff, I know they needed to request his medical records from his previous vet.
My overall opinion on Exotic Animal Hospital of Orlando, extremely knowledgeable and educational. Although I believe I’m well educated on proper rabbit care, Dr. Díaz and his staff educated me and thoroughly explained everything to me which helped me understand why this and that may happen to rabbits. Cooper has had a watery eye for the past two years and will be starting, an affordable, treatment with Dr. Díaz to try to correct or alleviate the issue.

Cooper received a check up and was extremely well behaved for Dr. Díaz. My favorite part was seeing him wrap Cooper up into a cute, fluffy burrito!

He checked his teeth, examined him completely, got some blood work done and got a mani/pedi.
For the love of Exotics. While waiting for Cooper to get blood work, we met several rabbits out in the waiting room! From large to small, Dr. Díaz sees them all. We also met a chinchilla, flying squirrel, a hedgehog and a cockatoo. They even have a resident Bearded Dragon Khaleesi (The Queen of Dragons) and she’s three years old!
Fully stocked on all your rabbit needs and you can even board them while on vacation!

If you’re in the Orlando area, I suggest you give them a try, I’m sure you’ll be quite satisfied as I was!
See, I got good teeth…..