I do not and should not have a pet.  Anyone who knows me, knows this.  Yet, it does not stop them from telling me on a daily basis how I should get a pet.  

I am, in no way, cruel to pets- I would swerve if one ran in front of my car- but I do not want to OWN one.  I’ll preface all of this by saying that we did not have a dog or cat growing up, so I never learned to appreciate them.  I simply knew them as an annoyance to my parents, when their owners did not clean up after them or when they’d bark at all hours of the night. 

We had an occasional fish and I even had a bird at one point in my childhood (one of the messiest animals to ever exist).  But, they all died- as if I were being sent a message from the universe that I should never, ever own a pet.  Pets are messy.  They’re loud.  They smell.  They ruin furniture and tear up beautiful lawns.  Pets cost a lot of money, they leave hair everywhere and they sniff at your crotch.  All pets except tortoises. 

In keeping with my family history of warm-and-fuzzy, cuddly pets- I decided to adopt one of my aunt’s tortoises, so that my kids can never claim to have been deprived of the joy that a pet can bring.   We built a hut, created a huge, fenced-in area for her in the backyard, fed her organic kale (I don’t even give my KIDS organic kale!) and tried to make Tilly the Tortoise a cozy, little home. 

We’ve had this thing for all of three weeks.  Three weeks and $300.  Within the first few days, Tilly began wheezing, or whistling when she breathed.  She was just getting used to the moist California air, I thought.   But when my mother visited, she advised me to take Tilly to the reptile vet two towns over.  $300 later- after the visit fee, the antibiotics (we declined the option to pay for having a stool sample and X-ray done of Tilly!) and the instruction manual on how to care for a tortoise- we were send home with the suggestion that we invest in a heat lamp (but to “be extra careful that it not start a fire in the backyard foliage”) which, apparently, is more common than you would think.

So for 10 days, I’ve had to hold Tilly, pull her head out, pry her little mouth open and squirt in the antibiotic drops.  She is still wheezing (and, I’m certain, giving me evil glares every time I come looking for her).

Needless to say, my children (who lost interest in Tilly in Week One) got to experience having their very own tortoise, and will bid her a fond farewell once I find out if UPS ships animals, and can return her to her rightful home in the Arizona desert.


3 thoughts on “Pets

  1. …and we’d love to have Tilly join our other desert tortoises. being a female, she would be readily accepted by our resident male and female pair. we use to have two males but they were forever fighting for dominance. they’d bump and nip at each other and then, in the quintessential contest for defining who the boss was, try to tip the other over. we never understood this. it was always, ALWAYS initiated by the smaller of the two tortoises (smaller by a third) and he would ALWAYS lose. i’d see him tipped on his back with his legs flailing in the air or hunting for purchase in the grass and then, once gaining that foothold, would right himself and trundle away. OK, sometimes i’d go out and help him back over. i’d counsel him with, “well stupid, upside down again, huh? aren’t you ever going to learn?” last summer. while we were away for the weekend, the bigger one lost. he’d never lost and being on his back was foreign to him. he was unable to flip back over and he cooked under the Arizona sun. it was a sad demise but we survived by the start of the work week.

    Tilly and the other female wouldn’t fight. they wouldn’t even think about it. they’d appreciate each other and they’d get along marvelously. they’d look at one another as a godsend and to help share the male’s persistent, unwanted and juggernauseous attempts at affection. Tilly would love it here. her two other yard-mates are unnamed as it is my belief that naming them would make them pets and we have no pets…. we have tortoises… well, tortoises and a dozen box turtles.

    i should mention that, growing up MaryLynn DID have pets. they just weren’t too long lived. there was Phyllis Fish (Emily dropped a salt shaker on her head), Treefrog (froze in his terrarium home one cold winter day), Joan (as in Matthew, Mark, Luke and Joan) the Gerbil (apparently starved to death), Crunchy the Turtle (couldn’t survive being continually dragged out of hibernation), Crazy the Cat who simply disappeared after one short week with us (and, oddly enough, after a weekend visit from the Kimball boys) and Catalina the bunny who was handled to death. and yes, ML did have that filthy, time demanding parakeet but it died while she was at summer camp. ML’s mother and i had purchased and exact duplicate with which to replace it but she wasn’t fooled in the slightest. i have no idea what happened to this pretender and will have to check her old room when i go home tonight.

  2. I’m laughing outloud. We just found a baby tortoise while walking and are trying to figure out what to do with it. Suzette

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