A Daughter, A Tortoise, And A Ray Of Hope…


A Family Trait…

Several weeks ago, my brother and I were driving through a snow storm in the mountains of Colorado. As he drove, he explained to me that among his highest priorities as a father is to raise his children with a sense of compassion for animals. A love of, and a compassion for animals is something I have seen in my brother since we were children.

With the windshield wipers scraping, and Dos Gringos providing the soundtrack, that conversation transported my mind to a memory of my own daughter a few years back, and her compassion for animals. I am grateful her mother and I raised her with an appreciation for all creatures great and small.

Shell Game…

During her sophomore year at DePaul University, my daughter and a friend spent an afternoon in Chicago’s Chinatown. Somewhere between dining and shopping, they visited an Asian market with a unique product; live tortoises. Being 19 years old, and seeing the world with ultra-clear vision, my daughter and her friend each arrived home that evening with a tortoise of their very own. By my daughter’s account, each bought her tortoise responsibly, with all the appropriate tortoise gear, and with the best of tortoise intentions.

Okay, so maybe ultra-clear vision was obscured by whimsical impulse. Probably not the most responsible decision for my daughter or her friend. After several weeks of stewardship, my daughter decided that things with her and the tortoise were not working out, and that each might be in a better place without the other, but what to do…?

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Understand, this animal was scarcely the size of a 50 cent piece. A teenage girl living in the big city could have easily released this tortoise on its own recognizance, exonerated herself from all responsibility, and done so in a variety of ways; the toilet, Lake Michigan, the dumpster out back, whatever. What she chose to do on behalf of this reptile still resonates with me today.

Reptile Rescue…

She advertised him on craigslist, free to a good home. After several inquiries and telephone interviews – yes interviews, she selected a new home for the creature; a young business man and his wife. When the time came to arrange for the delivery of the tortoise though, my daughter was unable to get a hold of person she selected for adoption. It was the weekend. Pressed for time, and with a working college student’s Monday morning closing in fast, she sought a second option.

Rather than toss it out the window or throw it away, she found the nearest tortoise rescue – in Milwaukee, some three hours away. On a very cold Sunday morning in Chicago, she bundled herself and the little creature up, and prepared to deliver him to the rescue in the neighboring state by way of subway, bus, and ultimately by taxicab.  She was committed to doing the right thing.

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The Chicago tortoise transit system…

As she was headed out the door to catch the subway, her phone rang. It was the young businessman she had previously spoken to about adopting the tortoise. He was still interested. Rather than boarding the train and hauling the little creature to another state, she met the man and his wife at a coffee shop later in the morning.

Not only was she impressed with them, but impressed with their intentions as well. Apparently they had several other rescued tortoises, and seem to put a great deal of emphasis on proper care of the animals. The reassignment took place, and all was good with the world.

Better Than We Did…

In this age when it is easy to see and believe that our next generation is doing less than our own on behalf of the planet, I think of my daughter, of her friends, of her generation, and I wonder why my generation has not done as much as is being done by the youth of today — especially when it comes to compassion for animals.  This, in my opinion, is one area where my daughter’s generation far exceeds my own.

Even Stroodle Has Compassion For Animals...

Even Stroodle Has Compassion For Animals…

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Or perhaps it’s a morsel to him…

There are many more mindful people out there than not these days – I truly believe that, and the next generation of mindfulness grows. I hope that my get off my lawn generation can put down our negativity and the evening news every so often, and take a better look at the young people of today and all they are doing to better the planet.

It’s easy – so easy for all of us to look for the bad. I have news for us. If we quit looking for it, we just might find a lot less of it. Be well… rc

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Please check back in a few weeks to see what happens when I push the STOP button on the blender in my head.  Oh, and there’s this from  Al Green  Enjoy!

13 responses

  1. lol! Lovely story with a message, charm and humor!

    When I was a kid at camp for the summer in Wisconsin, I captured a five inch snapping turtle in the local lake. Taking him home, I loved my little pet. I would feed him small bits of meat, and I was sure he could recognize me, even excited, as only a turtle can be when I came home from school! It was all going along quite well as he grew larger until one day, something changed. My little buddy began to see me as his meal, snapping at the hand that feeds you so to speak. I knew the time had come for us to part. I convinced my mom, who had less kind ideas for my turtle, to drive about 40 minutes to a large lake, not unlike his original home, in a forest preserve north of Chicago and sadder but wiser, I returned my turtle to where he really belonged.

  2. A fine piece Roy! I agree more than not in the mindfulness category. As for the get off my lawn crowd, Arlo said it best, “I met some I didn’t expect to.”

    • Thanks Julie. I think in Dr. J’s case it was wise, but I agree with you overall. The number and varieties of animal rescues in this country says a lot to me — about our next generation.

  3. As kids we brought home the tortoises testudines cousin the turtle. Our mom joking, I hope she was joking told us if we didn’t stop bringing home those turtles she’d make turtle soup with them. What a way to learn about responsibility. We quickly returned them back to the woods.Could not fathom the thought of her cooking up those precious creatures.

  4. I love this! I feel like I so often have negative thoughts about the younger generation (and, ahem, my own), but this is a good reminder that while there are problems with the younger generation compared to older ones, there are other ways that the younger generation IS making a big impact – such as with animal welfare. Lovely story and great points!

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