Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Not as newsworthy as the Olympics.

I apologize for taking so long to update the seven of you on Franklin's status.

I'm sure you've barely slept.

This would have come sooner but we've been packing and shipping the girls off to camp at Pine Cove which is awesome.

You know what would also be awesome?  If every stinkin' year, I didn't get into my car the morning after drop-off and find some child's toothbrush.  At this point in the week, while normal  parents are checking the website for pictures of their campers, I'm checking their camper accounts to see if they've actually purchased another toothbrush. As of Tuesday morning, that would be a no.

Their dentist will be thrilled.

Also thrilling was the to-do list I found taped to my door when we got home.  By it, you can see two things: 1. Franklin survived.
2. According to Sadie, I'm supposed to do nothing else this week but care for her turtle.
3. She can't spell dessert.  Her teacher, come August 23, will also be thrilled.

That's actually three things because I like to keep this whole blog nutty and unpredictable.

After a week in Turtle ICU, Dr. Effie over at City Vet decided Franklin was ready to come home.
This is a picture of the repair of Franklin's plastron.  Fun fact - Franklin is a girl.  Who knew?  Well, probably anyone who knows anything about turtles which, as of two weeks ago, ruled out our entire family.  Now we feel like experts.

They actually drilled holes in her shell and secured it will sutures that will come out in a couple of months.  Turtles are slow healers.  My favorite line I heard at pick-up was from a vet tech who 'scrubbed in on Franklin's surgery.'  "We think Franklin was someone's pet at one time because he's very comfortable around people.  He actually let me hold his head while I administered oxygen."  Oxygen.

 My least favorite line was, "Now, will you be comfortable giving her shots?"

Um, no?

'Well, you see Mrs. Owner of a Box Turtle Who Has Recently Undergone Surgery Because Your Dog Thought she Was a Chew Toy, Franklin's going to need two intramuscular shots administered daily for two weeks.  Pain killers and antibiotics.  So, now's a fantastic time to learn.'

There are a few things I never thought I would hear myself say.
1. 'Another handful of Junior Mints?  No thank you.'
2. 'Oh, I'd love to go to the party with you but I've got to cheer at the Homecoming Game.'
3. 'Yes children, we'll leave for the pool right after I give the turtle her shots.'

I had actually just given her his first round right before this picture was taken.  Notice hergiving me the stink-eye?  I retaliated by giving her a guilt trip about how, because of her being all irresistible to my dog , my carpets won't be getting cleaned.

I don't think turtles have a conscience (that word took me an embarrassingly long time to spell).

But, who's not giving me the stink-eye is this small child who, like her turtle friend, also does not care about my dirty carpets but instead cares only that I replenish Franklin's tomato supply before and after I take him for a walk.  Twice daily.  And give her a turtle-massage.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oh, Brother.

Last week, as part of his sabbatical, Trey skipped town and went to Vegas because nothing says Sabbath like Sin City.

Not really.

He actually spent a week at a beautiful monastery in Arkansas on a 'silent retreat'.

I just kept picturing him getting bored and trying to strike up a conversation with one of the Monks only to have the Abbot crossly hiss, "SHHHHHHHH!  No talking"!

Didn't happen but it made me laugh all week thinking about it.

All the monks address one another as 'Brother (insert first name) which is what I've started calling Trey.

Brother Trey.  We're full of whimsy like that.

On Sunday evening, before he left, Trey took the girls to a nearby lake for a little fishing because, well, that's how they roll.  And of course they came home with a pet because what else is a husband supposed to do before he leaves for five days but bring home an exotic animal.

And by exotic, I mean turtle.

Box turtle to be specific.

New love of Sadie's life to be exact.  She named him Franklin.

Now, I don't know a ton about turtles, except the volumes I haven't read in books, journals, and periodicals over the years, but I assumed - as far as actual pets were concerned - they were pretty bland.

Not Franklin.  He was lively with spunk and personality!  He almost never tucked into his shell and speed-walked around the lawn like, well, any other animal besides an actual turtle.

Did I mention Sadie's love for him?

L. O. V. E.

Well, we had done a pretty decent job caring for the little guy all week sans Head of House.  We fed him berries, changed his water, kept him properly shaded and sunned, and let him walk around the yard supervised three times a day.  (I love summer.)

So, Thursday night came and the kids were all getting ready for bed.  And by 'getting ready for bed', I mean starting a movie, fixing a snack, and making up dance moves to "Payphone" by Maroon 5.  Sadie was helping Dea do laundry.

And I had just sat down on the couch with a nice glass of wine and a book which always spells trouble.  Will I never learn?

Usually, when I sit down for a millisecond, Scout is right next to me wanting me to scratch her ears.  It's a thing we do that she, apparently, never grows tired of.  Never.

But Scout was mysteriously absent.

My Spidey senses started tingling because she's a labradoodle so, really, really un-mysterious by definition and always, awkwardly present.

I ran to the backyard, where she never stays alone because, honestly, I think she's a little afraid of the dark.  And the bugs. And the gunfire.

Not so scared tonight.  She had found the ultimate distraction and he was encased in a hard, turtle shell.


I may have cussed.

I said may have but probably not because, remember, I am married to a man who was spending a week at a monastery in silent prayer and those kinds of wives do not cuss.

When I recovered the turtle from my dog, I could immediately see the two had not been equal partakers of 'playtime'.  The turtle shell was cracked and there was blood.  Reptile blood. Gag.  Franklin had closed himself inside his shell and was obviously dead.

Insert child screams. 

And tears by all my children except Dea because he tends to keep his head in situations like these.  He may have made himself a burrito.

I spent the next hour soothing and singing four children to sleep which is no easy task because I have the singing voice of a howler monkey .  It was especially tough for my youngest child who had just lost her 'Most Beloved Pet EVER'.

Remember, we'd had him five days - attachment is not her issue.

When everyone was finally settled down and restlessly sleeping, I went back outside to further inspect the damage.  Franklin had not come out of his broken shell and there was more blood at the crack so I wrapped him in a grocery bag in preparation for the morning burial I knew we would be having.

All without Brother Trey. 

The next morning, I went back down to transfer Franklin's corpse to a box so none of the kids would have to see the horror.  Except, there was no Franklin.

I may have actually cussed here.

I looked all around frantically, convinced a rabid dog had entered our backyard in the middle of the night and made off with the body.  I was dreading finding remnants.  Remnants would have been real bad.

Instead, I found the empty grocery bag and immediately started thinking of how I was going to spin this one because I like myself some closure and my acorns didn't fall far from their momma tree.

Suddenly, my neighbor called out from across the street, "Hey!  There's a little turtle over here that looks like he might have gotten hit by a car!"


Franklin was alive and had walked out of my backyard, across the street and into my neighbors yard in an effort, I'm sure, to get as far away from my dog as possible.


Mr. Chan said his son used to have turtles when he was little and slapped a some duct tape on that broken shell and called it a day. And that would have been super-perfect except for a little thing called 'the internet' so, after I'd told the children and they danced and sang and apologized to Scout for wishing her a slow, painful dog death, I did some googling.  Not my best idea ever.

You see, "turtles can survive with cracked shells but they are prone to infection without proper treatment so your only option is to get them to a vet ASAP" said every site I clicked on.

Awesome.  That's just fantastic because I would SO MUCH rather spend the money I've been saving to have my carpets cleaned on a vet bill for a pet turtle we'd had for five days.  FIVE DAYS!

And right about now, you're probably thinking - like Brother Trey was when he got home Friday night - that I should just let that turtle live out its last days in happiness, down by the lake, wounded and fending for itself.

I'm sorry, have we met?

And have you met Sadie?

Yeah, Big Talker.  Why don't you try explaining to her how we're going to deny her pet turtle - the one we took from it's natural habitat and allowed to be attacked by our dog - some much needed medical attention because momma would rather have her carpets cleaned and turtles really don't qualify as pets, anyway.  Go right ahead and try.  I may pop some popcorn, sprinkle it with Junior Mints, pour myself an ice cold Diet Coke and watch just for fun.

Straight up, you wouldn't last 47 seconds.

So, as of this evening, Franklin has been under observation at the vet for four days.  Every time I call, they all know my name and gush about what a fabulous turtle he is.  How he's doing great and recovering and making friends.  The vet - who knows the whole story and promises she's not making any money on this deal - actually asked to forward pictures of his injury to her graduate school professor/herpetology expert at the Austin Zoo because "if the injury is on a joint, we may need to do surgery".


Oh, Brother.