JAY – Andrew Ellis wet his hands with water and smoothed them over Cocoa’s chestnut fur to remove the rabbit’s molting hair. Then he used a wire-type brush known as a dog slicker to brush the rabbit on the grooming table.
Ellis, 11, of Temple and neighbor Liz Grover, owner of Points North Rabbitry, decided to raise funds for their rabbit club, Western Maine Rabbit Breeders Association in Fryeburg, by grooming rabbits and giving them a health check Monday.
Ellis, dressed in a white lab coat similar to Grover’s, handled the grooming of Cocoa, the only client in the first hour of the service, in the lower-level of the Bean’s Corner Baptist Church.
The pair, with the help of Ellis’ mother, Peg, brought some of their own rabbits to prepare for show Saturday. The bunnies sat in cages in the room with Flick, a large white English Angora, looking up over the top of his cage, and Fatty Patty, a whitish French Angora, looking through hers.
Grover has 23 rabbits – he sold seven Saturday – with a couple of litters on the way, and Andrew Ellis has two rabbits with a litter on the way.
Grover checked out Cocoa as his owner, Brianna Crocker, 15, and her mother, Nancy, both of Wilton, watched.
Brianna Crocker didn’t know what type of rabbit Cocoa was. She’s had him for about two years and just about everything she was told when she first got him was wrong.
Cocoa is a Netherland dwarf, Grover said.
The teenager had clipped the rabbit’s toenails before but cut to the quick once and has been afraid of doing it ever since, her mother said.
Grover took the bunny – she estimated it weighed 3 to 4 pounds – and laid it on its back on her lap. She held his head between her side and her elbow and clipped the nails as Cocoa remained calm.
Grover gave Crocker a tip that if she cut to the quick again on the nail, which it happens sometimes, she said, put some black pepper on it to stop the bleeding.
While Grover checked Cocoa’s teeth and nose, Ellis handed the Crockers a container of papaya tablets.
When rabbits clean themselves, the hair goes into their belly and stays there, Grover said. The papaya helps break up the hairballs and aids in digestion, she said.
“He’s being exceptionally good,” Nancy Crocker said.
Rabbits behave when they are nervous, Grover said.
Cocoa’s favorite toys are old plastic, measuring cups that he flips around, the elder Crocker said. He has the run of the house and returns to its cage to do its bathroom duties.
Cocoa’s nose twitched as he moved around the grooming table.
She could tell the bunny was well cared for,Grover said.
“The eyes and the coat will tell you everything,” Grover said.
After they left, Grover turned to Andrew.
“You did a very good job, Andrew,” she said.
The two went back to grooming their rabbits and brought out what looked to be a gray colored bunny but in the rabbit world, Grover said, its referred to as blue.
Ellis named it Foxy Mama as he brushed the soft fur of the Jersey Wooly, a cross between a French Angora and a Netherland dwarf.
Grover picked up Foxy Mama and blew on the fur and it parted to the skin.
“If I can blow on the hair and see all the way down to the skin” its ready for show, she said.