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.