I apologize for being a bit absent over the past couple of weeks. It's not just about my blog, but I feel like I've missed out on your blogs, too, so I have some catching up to do. My excuse? Our family moved. Between the boxes and the bitching and our week-long lack of internet service (gasp!), life had to give here and there.
I rediscovered the suckage of moving. And it's even worse with young kids. And what's worse than that? Moving with pets. They are more underfoot than kids and don't understand why you can't play just now. And even more so than the kids, they don't understand why you can't find the food or a particular toy.
And then there's the moping. All the boxes must mean something–but what? "And am I going, too, or being left behind with the dust bunnies?" We try our best to reassure, but, frankly, as much as I think my pets understand me, they "get it" even less than the human littles. I know they knew something was up.
The drama with N.A.S.H.A. began when the first box came out. Stuff was getting packed. Like a vacation, but worse. More and more packing. As her environment became more sparse, she became more clingy. She'd greet us after a trip to the grocery store as if we'd been gone for a month. "You came BACK! THANK DOG! I knew for sure, this time was it. You were leaving me for good with all those boxes and never ever ever coming back and I'd be alone in this blank house with only a small scoop of food and half a bowl of water FOREVER" is what she'd express. She's doing the same, now that we're in the new house, but she's found her favorite toys and a cozy spot atop the back of the couch right in the sunny spot of the window. She's all set, mostly.
Though the fish and the tortoise showed curiosity about the boxes parading by their tanks, they seemed much less affected by the packing process. It was the actual moving that got them.
Our Sulcata Tortoise, Fluffy, has been completely depressed. He finally ate yesterday–whew! He seems to like the new back yard. There are fewer hiding places, so he has more freedom to roam. But every time he goes back in his tank, he retreats to his burrow. Sigh. I've told him all about how great the new house is, and how as soon as we get all the boxes unpacked, he can roam around downstairs (all tile, easy to clean if he decides to let something loose), but he's not convinced. We got some gorgeous organic strawberries yesterday, so I'll try to coax him with the lush greens from those today. Is there such a thing as tortoise Prozac?
And, then, the fish. My littles each have a Beta. The fish are about a year-and-a-half old and seem to weather just about anything. We transported them in their usual tanks, secure in a cardboard box, semi-secure on the lap of our teen thing. Plantie (Po's fish) did just fine, as anticipated. Plantie is a wild child, and smart, I swear. He always swims to greet us when we feed him, and I've had to rescue him from several suicide attempts as he plays dolphin and jumps the bowl when we open the cover. We have to watch that one. He didn't mind the sloshing transportation at all. Goldie (Cam's fish), on the other hand...we didn't think she was going to make it. When she arrived at the new house, she was laying on her side on the bottom of her tank. I tapped the side a little, and she sprung to life, thankfully. Over the past week, she goes from swimming fine to laying on the bottom. Perhaps she's just protesting the change in our lives. Cam cried a little, too.
Mind you, we only moved five miles away. No one changed schools or friends, and we are still feeding the same beloved pet food. So even a tiny move can cause major drama with our furry, feathered, and scaly friends. But we're in. We're finally in.
Have you moved with pets before? How did it go?
The other day, our one-year-old sulcata tortoise, Fluffy, was enjoying some lettuce on the patio. I think watching him eat is like watching a dinosaur. He's just so cool. So I took a video for posterity. Check out how awesome he is: [wpvideo k6zMKvIZ]
Fluffy is too young and small to be outside by himself for a length of time, so I often go out with him. Like a rebellious teen, he's old enough to want to be out A LOT and past his curfew, so I can't always watch him every second. If I lose track of him, I ask N.A.S.H.A. to "find Fluffy!" She's great at sniffing him out. The unlikely pair get along really well. He doesn't even pull inside his shell when she approaches. That means love. They are buds. She's always been the mothering type, so it doesn't surprise me that she's taken him under her wing.
I took another video.
I didn't realize that N.A.S.H.A. was in the background until I watched it back. N.A.S.H.A. is a mixed terrier in every way, and she often alerts to things outside. Maybe a rabbit hopping through the yard, a lizard rustling through the bushes, or a teenager walking home from the high school down the street. I find it completely fascinating how Fluffy completely plays off N.A.S.H.A.'s cues.
I stopped recording because he stopped eating. Immediately after I stopped, N.A.S.H.A. started barking her head off, and Fluffy pulled into his shell. I find it amazing that he knew something was up just by her body language before she even let out the alarm. He's much more intuitive than I am.
In October of last year, we added a new member to our family, Fluffy the Sulcata Tortoise. A client of mine let me know that she had several that were looking for homes since her neighbor's Sulcata had babies. "Do you want one?" she asked. "You're the first person I thought of." Of course I was. I'm a professional-pet-sitter-don't-try-this-at-home.
My first instinct was impulsively optimistic, but I acted grown up and told her I appreciated her offer but would need to "consult the family" before accepting.
Then, I was even more grown up. I spoke to my husband about it before telling the kids, so there was no ganging up or anything, and we deliberated for a couple of weeks. Deciding to take on a pet that will likely outlive your children is a big commitment. We covered all of the bases, and decided to take the plunge. We told the littles and the teen thing, and they were beyond thrilled. We made them promise that they would make sure their children took great care of the tortoise in his later years (because a fifteen-, five- and three-year-old totally get that kind of commitment), and we went in with full-family responsibility.
Fluffy lives in a large apartment we call "the tank," (because it's a converted fish tank) and gets out in our back yard ("garden," for you UK-ers) to exercise, explore, and graze nearly every day.
I think he's really smart because he knows enough to like me best. If anyone but me approaches him, he pulls into his shell for a bit until he recognizes the human, but he knows I do 99% of the feeding and cuddling and freeing, so he's attached to me and stays out of his shell whenever I reach for him. This proportion of care totally violates the original family contract, but did not surprise me.
Oh, and perhaps I should mention that we don't yet know his gender, but we call him a "he." We might change his name to Mrs. Doubtfire if he turns out to be a she.
There is a ton of conflicting information on the 'net about Sulcatas, but Wikipedia warned me that Fluffy will eventually tip the scales at 100-200 pounds, and he can live to be 50-150 years or "much longer." So perhaps the great grandchildren should be prepared.
Fluffy has brought so much unexpected joy to our family. He's got a personality, and a bit of an attitude, so he fits right in. It is SO fun to watch him eat. Check it out:
That's him eating weeds in our yard, which is awesome. Can you imagine how many weeds he'll help us out with when he's 150 pounds? Oh, wait...I'll be dead. The great-grandchildren will appreciate that, I'm sure.
For now, we love Fluffy, and he seems to love us.