Monday, July 15, 2013

The Day Shelly Came To Visit

Just last week sweet Deb over at Paper Turtle posted a picture of her dear pet turtle, Rexy.  I thought he was adorable and just seeing him brought back memories of all the turtles of my childhood.  Where I grew up, Eastern Box Turtles were EVERYWHERE.  Once I learned to drive, I'd often stop the car to save them from the road.  You could say that I really like turtles.  So I emailed Deb to ask how Rexy had come into her family and we corresponded a bit over email.  It was so nice to find a fellow turtle lover!

You can imagine my surprise when I walked into my garage yesterday to find this.....

I am pretty sure I squealed when I saw her.

We've lived in our house over a decade and I've never seen a turtle in our yard.  Yet this one was in the garage!!!  I was home alone at the time because Alain had shuffled the girls off to the pool.  I knew Sophie & Clara had never seen a turtle up close so I put this sweet baby into our kiddie pool with some snacks and water. 

For the next hour, I spent time with her.  Played with her, let her walk around in the yard, took pictures of her, etc.  I was smitten!

Her shell was quite dirty with birdseed and other debris so I washed off her shell.  It was beautiful! 

It was quite sunny so she sought out any shaded area she could find.

When Sophie & Clara got home, they were deliriously excited about the turtle!  Sophie was a little scared to handle her so I taught her how.  After that, it was on.  Every time I looked out the window, Sophie was carrying her to a new place.  I started to feel bad for the sweet turtle. 

I loved watching her walk around in the yard....the way she'd lift her head up high to see above the grass!

I won't lie.....I wanted to keep her as a pet.  In my heart though, I didn't feel that it was right.

I did some research online.  This baby was definitely a female.  And I learned that the box turtles have now entered the first category of threatened species.  Because they're slow to mature and have so few offspring, they're quite susceptible to human activities. Many get hit by cars but mainly, in this area, we just destroy their habitats with our endless,greedy need to develop every square inch of land.  Also, when I read the section about the pet trade on this page, I felt really ashamed that I'd ever entertained the idea of keeping her.  I can hardly believe I'm writing it here.  But I am only human.

It made me sad to read all of this. I thought long and hard and decided that this baby needed to be in the "wild".  While there are a lot of dangers for her out there (roads, cars, lawn mowers, etc), she'd still have a chance to reproduce.  There's a pond area not far from our house with some woodland close by and we thought that would be a good place to "relocate" her. 

We knew she'd have a lot of friends there. (Yes, I've read way too many kids' books!)

We put her in a box (so as not to bite Soph while we were driving over in the car).....

.....and found a nice spot for the sweet turtle that Sophie had named Shelly.

Shelly.....because she has a shell.....and after the character "Shelly" from the kids' movie A Turtle's Tale.

Sophie was just as smitten with Shelly as I was.  It was hard to let her go out in the big, dangerous world!

Shelly checked out her new surroundings.

Even though she's a land turtle, we made sure she was close to the water.  We'd read that the box turtles do sometimes venture to water's edge. 

Sophie stayed to watch her for a long time.

Shelly seemed reticent to come out while Soph was standing there.

I insisted to Soph that we go to the other side of the pond to give Shelly some space.

So we watched the ducks....

.....and Sophie looked for fish.....

....until I couldn't take it any longer and we ventured back to sneak a peek.

Shelly's head was way out and she was looking all around.

And, in the next moment, she started on her next great adventure!

When I put Soph to bed last night, I asked her about her favorite part of the weekend.  I was SURE it would be the couple of hours she'd been at the pool with Daddy.  She's a pool fanatic.  Much to my surprise, she said, "Playing with and carrying around Shelly.  I loved her."  

Me too, Sophie, me too!


  1. Oh I just love this post, Audrey! I still can't believe how this turtle found you, right after we'd been emailing about our love of turtles. Don't you just love serendipity?! I think it's so cool that your cute little Sophie got to have this experience, and I'm also very impressed that you were able to turn it into a little lesson in nature by returning that little turtle to a nearby pond. I smiled when I read that you had named her Shelley. :o) As I type, it is pouring rain outside (monsoon season in Arizona) and Rexy is out having a shower - he LOVES the rain! Great post and fantastic photos. :o)!!!

    1. We miss her....we really do! I think I'll just live vicariously as a turtle owner through you for the time being. Although, once school starts back up, I think I'll call the Humane Society and put our names on a list in case an injured turtle comes in (or one that can't go back into the wild!). I still CANNOT believe she was in our garage...after I'd just read your email. That was too, too wild!

  2. This truly is serendipity, as Deb says :) what a beautiful beautiful post. And how lovely of a story then ended in releasing the turtle back to its pond home. I had a pet turtle for a while when I was little and I didn't want to give it up but mom made me return it to Mother Nature, which of course was the right thing to do :)


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