June 5, 2010

White Dog hopped up and sat gently against me this morning. This is not her usual return from running in the Park and helping Steve with early morning feeding chores so I felt a disquiet. When Steve sat on the bed next to her and took my hand I knew the next words were not going to be good news. "Tortuga died," Steve said softly.

It was just last weekend that we finally moved our Saharan Spur-Heeled Tortoise to his summer enclosure in the yard. All week he relished the fresh air and the sunlight. He ate with gusto. This morning when White Dog and Steve went out to feed him and spend a little time talking with him (as they do each morning), they found him in the corner of his shelter, no longer of this realm.

Tortuga came into our lives as a Biology Project when I home schooled my niece through her high school years. She wanted to follow the life of and learn about an animal "most people don't find cute or interesting." She discovered Tortuga actually had a personality (he loved watermelon, hated strawberries...would come when she clapped...was stubborn about being told "no"); that he was beautiful in a body filled with geometric patterns and amazing adaptations, and that his species was far older and wiser than humans. That was seven years ago. It never failed when my niece, now a mom, brought her son to visit, that he wanted to "see the giant turtle." He, too, was fascinated with this quiet mysterious being (who had grown from palm size to be 16" across) that scared him yet compelled him to want to feel the many textures of Tortuga's shell, and legs, and head.

Our family gathered in the yard at sunset tonight to bury Tortuga and to mark his passing with our farewells. White Dog and Quinn both sat at attention next to the grave in absolute stillness as Steve filled the hole and covered the grave with a large stone. I shed tears for times past that will never be again as well as for potential cut short (Tortuga will never see his 140th birthday as many of his species do). White Dog moved to sit next to me and licked my hand in comfort.

We know there is a special place over the Rainbow Bridge where even slow ponderous tortoises play and enjoy a perfect afterlife. We wish Tortuga godspeed and thank him for sharing our lives.


Sally Ann said...

Mommy and I are very sadened to hear about your Tourtuga. I know that he is eating his watermelon and walking happily now.
Sally Ann and her Mommy

Khyra, Khousin Merdie, And Sometimes Her Mom said...

We are sorry fur your loss -

I'm sure the residents of The Rainbow Bridge are happy to have a new turtle to snoof!

Khyra & Khousin Merdie

♥♥♥ The OP Pack ♥♥♥ said...

That is really sad to read about Tortuga - his life held so many memories for you.

Hugs and Woos - Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

bbes tribe said...

Sounds like Tortuga had a loving home with you. Sorry to hear he has passed. We are sure turtles also cross the Rainbow Bridge. He'll probably find other turtle friends.

Suka said...

Siku Marie, Mighty Quinn, and Family,

We just read your blog. We are so heartbroken to read of the loss of your beautiful Tourtuga. You wrote a lovely, heartfelt post about him and it brought tears to our eyes. What a wonderfully beautiful creature he was and we are deeply saddened by his sudden passing. We love how you mentioned his likes and dislikes, and his personality.

Please accept our heartfelt condolences. We know he is happily playing over the Rainbow Bridge with all the other amazing creatures from Earth who have passed on. I hope all of you are doing OK. Tourtuga will always live within you in your memories, and heart.


Suka and K

Ginger Jasper said...

I am sorry to hear you lost your pet. You wrote a lovely tribute and it is obvious to us that That he lived a happy life and will be missed. I so believe he will be with others of his kind playing at the bridge..

Cappy the Eskie said...

Hi Everyone,
We were sorry to hear about the passing of Tortuga. We hope that he is enjoying life over the Bridge in a watermelon patch.

Dr. Seuss said it best: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

Hugs and yips,
Cappy and Ollie

Prinnie,Digby and Atka said...

Siku, Quinn, Aunt Sue and Uncle Steve:

My brother, sister, parents and I are so, so sorry for the loss of Tortuga. My whole family just cuddled in a circle and held paws and hands for all of you, and wished your pain away. We then went outside and found THE perfect star and named it in honor of our cousin. He will be with you each and every night as you look into the sky. Look for his star; The Star of Tortuga. I will help you find it, Siku, as we share our night tonight. Know that you all gave him a true home. You gave him love and shelter and life. He is, no doubt, grateful.

We love you all,
Prinnie and your family.

Amy and The House of Cats said...

We are so sorry for the loss of Torguga. I had a turtle for a few years and so I know that they are far more intereting then anyone would think. But at least he got to enjoy some time outside in the sun before having to go to the bridge. We are sending over comforting purrs and prayers.

Prints the Cat said...

We are sad to hear about Tortuga. He was such a beautiful tortoise and I am sure well loved in your family. Our condolences to you.