Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: Frankie vs. Tigger



February 13, 2010

Frankie vs. Tigger

Frankie has crossed paths with many dogs during trips to pet stores, visits to the park and walking in pet parades. In general, he just ignores them.

Frankie's general disinterest in dogs suits me just fine. When either takes notice of the other, something passes between the dog and Frankie that just doesn't look like friendship.

Dogs react one of several ways when meeting Frankie. Some dogs take a sniff and then move on as if they had seen a rock or cement block. What ever that was, it's not worth a thought for the rest of their doggy lives.

Some dogs take a look at Frankie, tuck their tails, whimper and move as far away as possible hoping never to encounter such as oddity of nature again.

Occasionally a dog recognizes Frankie as a super-sized chew toy. Those dogs act as if they have hit the doggy-toy-jackpot. Dogs of this nature would love to eat Frankie. They would love to eat him now. They love Frankie the way the Cookie Monster loves cookies.

When it comes to dogs and Frankie, there is just no predicting the outcome in advance. It is a watch and see situation.

The potential risk crossed my mind when a neighbor asked if I would take care of her dog for three days while they were out of town......take care of the dog at my house.

Enter Tigger. Tigger is a medium sized, Boxer/Pit bull/Dalmatian dog mix, weighing in at 65 pounds and standing three foot to the top of his shoulders. Tigger is spoiled (momma loves her Tigger) but a personable, well behaved dog.

As I expected, Tigger would not be left alone when I went to the gecko room for my daily three hour job (watering, feeding, caring, cleaning, cleaning, and cleaning). As long as he was well behaved, Tigger was invited into the gecko room.

Tigger was overwhelmed by a sheer aromatic rapture from 200+ geckos and lizards, and turtles and crickets by the thousands. Tigger wandered about the room exploring sights, sounds and smells never before experienced. Eventually, Tigger came across the most curious of creatures ever: Frankie.

Enter Frankie. Frankie is an eight year old sulcata tortoise, weighing in at 65 pounds, and nearly a foot tall. Frankie is a bit spoiled (momma loves her Frankie), friendly but capable of bulldozing large pieces of furniture.

Due to freezing weather, Frankie was sitting in his igloo, anticipating breakfast, looking forward to a boring day roaming the gecko room, getting under Leann's feet and banging on the door to go outside.

Frankie emerged from his igloo once I set down his breakfast of damp hay mixed with shredded carrots. As hoped, Frankie took one look at Tigger and immediately looked past him like he had just encountered a tree branch - Tigger was of no interest, no consequence, and no bother.

On the other hand, Tigger stared at Frankie as if he "could not believe his doggy eyes." With great fear and exhilaration, Tigger approached Frankie. Keeping his back feet anchored as if on a safety line, Tigger stretched his head and lengthen his body, inching his front feet toward the occupied Frankie.

"Tigger," I gently warned, "behave." Instantly Tigger scrambled backwards and hid behind a near shelf lest he become the monster's next meal. Yet Tigger could not resist this thing, this rock, this whatever!

Mesmerized, Tigger stood intrigued as he witnessed the huge shelled thing walk passed him. Tigger snuck behind Frankie to get a closer look at the igloo -- perhaps the igloo itself had answers. Tigger again anchored his back feet on the ground and lean in this time close enough to put his head through the igloo door to get a big sniff of what ever evidence was left behind.

Only a few times has Frankie giving serious attention to a dog. Once at a pet store there was this black Labrador with raised fur assertively sniffing Frankie. Taking offense to this show of male dog dominance, and without any warning, Frankie lunged toward the dog to show him what was what. Had the dog not has his eyes glued on Frankie, there could have been serious damage to the dog's front legs. Luckily the stunned dog managed to jump to safety. No doubt that dog learned who was boss in Pet Smart.

In the instance of Frankie verses Tigger, Frankie was not trying to show Tigger who was boss in the gecko room, but Frankie clearly wanted Tigger know that the igloo was a Frankie-only-area. With that unexpected and amazingly fast sulcata-ramming-speed, Frankie ran between the igloo and Tigger. Tigger scrambled safely away but still showed intentions to re-investigate should the opportunity arise

Having made his point, Frankie returned to finish his breakfast. Tigger was lucky. Frankie could have taken him out in the surprise from-the-back-sulcata-attack

For the next three days, Tigger was torn between obedience of a law laid down by Frankie and a never ending curiosity of a creature that scared and fascinated the daylights out of him.

It was a draw in the battle of Frankie verses Tigger. Neither had established complete dominance yet neither caved in. Frankie was willing to share space but there were places sacred to him. Tigger took any opportunity when Frankie's shell was turned away to investigate Frankie, the igloo or any Frankie artifact.

Who ever first wrote the words "dogs and turtles don't mix" probably saw the aftermath of what can happen when a dog quits seeing a turtle as a turtle and instead sees a turtle as a chew toy. For now, Tigger and Frankie exist peacefully in separate yards: exactly where they should be.

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