For years now, our kids have been pestering us for a pet.
Preferably a dog, but they would take a lizard, bird, turtle or fish, please, please, PLEASE! Brennan’s third grade persuasive essay was on the virtues of getting a dog. Jason, having given up on that idea after seeing how it worked out for Brennan, went with why we should get a turtle.
I grew up with pets and brought home a beautiful tortoiseshell cat the day after our honeymoon. Pat wasn’t that excited about the idea. When he was a boy, his only experience with a pet was a wild-caught turtle that ran away. But I wasn’t deterred. A spunky, gray tabby, came home with me a few months later.
Sadly, we had to find new homes for the cats after Reese had a scary asthma attack at 10 months old. We were taken by ambulance to the hospital from an urgent care. A pulmonologist explained the cats could be a tipping point for Reese. After that episode, we were regulars in the emergency room every few months.
It’s been years since Reese has had a scare and the boys have started up their pestering again. They want something to play with and love and snuggle.
I’ve been thinking a pup might be a nice addition to our family. Pat isn’t that excited about the idea, but was willing to listen to Jason’s arguments about getting a turtle. I caved and said OK, but knew we should look at the tortoise so that it could be handled a bit and not need water for swimming.
We told Jason it could be a birthday present.
And that is where we made our mistake.
We hadn’t done any research and didn’t know they can live for 75 YEARS. Jason could have a tortoise into old age. To make sure they are taken care of, tortoise owners have been known to put the critters in their wills. Quite a commitment to make at the age of 10.
Plus, they are more difficult to care for than we thought. People who handle the creatures need to wash hands often to prevent the spread of Salmonella. There is housing to consider – fenced -in pens need to go underground to prevent burrowing escapes. Turtles need UV and heat lamps. In all, the set-up is about $150 with tortoises costing $60 and up. On-line sites describe their care in captivity as complicated.
We were picturing a simple aquarium and some lettuce.
Also, it’s kind of hard to snuggle with or walk a turtle.
Nothing against the reptiles, but for the trouble of having a pet, a dog is looking better and better.