Frankie Tortoise Tales Frankie Tortoise Tails sulcata care tortoise sulcata husbandry Frankie Tortoise Tails Frankie Tortoise Tails: Dreaded Delivery



March 30, 2011

Dreaded Delivery

It arrived in the mailbox. It’s as welcome as the annual reminder that my dental appointment approaches. I haven’t thought about it since last year. But there it is: the dreaded yearly wellness exam postcard from Frankie’s veterinarian.

I ignore the friendly reminder with the cute dog who says, “Can’t wait to see you again.”

Yeah, right.

Three weeks go by. A second postcard arrives from Riverview Animal Hospital. This time the picture is a Chihuahua sticking his tongue out at me, “Don’t forget.” I shutter.

There is a “list” of family needs: new tires for the Prius, a motherboard for Greg’s computer, and a laptop for me. But yes, Frankie has to get on the list. His annual check up is important.

In the past taking Frankie to the veterinarian was easy and fun. I get to show off my beautiful giant of a tortoise, so healthy, so interesting, so big….so strong, so smelly.

I must solve the bathing problem. But I am ignoring the post card reminder again.

Two more days pass. I find the post card tucked in among the monthly bills.

Just what is bothering me about this visit? What am I really afraid of?

I’ve accepted the bill can be anywhere from $125 to $300. Money is in the budget for Frankie but yes, it pushes the laptop purchase into April. I can handle that.

Okay, Greg has to be part of the transportation. I can’t pick up Frankie alone. Last year it was very helpful to have two Frankie experts during the “x-ray” event.

So what has my stomach all in knots? What is it that I am dreading? Honestly?

This year, Frankie gets his first ever “blood panel.” Frankie has never gotten a shot before.

Does this sound easy? Think it’s an accomplishable task? Aren’t veterinarians and veterinarian technicians skilled at this?

Keepers with sulcata tortoises that weigh ten pounds or more know what I am talking about. I’ve heard stories.

Three reasons to “fear the sulcata”: 1) They are strong, 2) They are really, really strong, and 3) they have a very, very hard shell. Did I forget to mention they are really, really strong?

Let me describe it this way. If you put your hand around the bend of a sulcata’s front leg and the sulcata decides to pull his leg back into his shell just as far as he can get it, it’s gonna hurt.

If the hand jams into the shell as the sulcata pulls back there will be screaming: screaming like a little girl screaming.

If the sulcata decides to keep your hand five inches into this shell, it’s gonna stay. A body building car mechanic with a crow bar may be needed.

But image Frankie lets the veterinarian extend his front arm because he has no fear of anything. Hmmm, since Frankie will never allow this, image another sulcata in his place. This sulcata even likes to have his head pet. This does not matter, that sulcata is going to strongly object to the sharp needed required to gain a blood sample.

Giving a shot is still easier than taking a blood sample. Taking a blood sample is gonna be more challenging. I’m betting the average veterinarian doesn’t have lots of experience giving large land tortoises shots.

Frankie isn’t gonna allow an unskilled person with a needle anywhere near his softer skin. It will take a highly skilled tortoise veterinarian with a voice like a lullaby and warm soft touch just to get Frankie to give permission to touch his upper leg area.

I’ve never owned a pet that has caused a veterinarian physical harm. I brought in all kinds of potentially dangerous animals to my veterinarians: feral cats, frighten dogs, wild critters and even the dreaded Tasmanian devil-pit bull of the reptile world, the much hated and guaranteed to bite the wholly crap outta anyone: the Tokay gecko.

I fear none of those animals will compare to getting a blood sample from Frankie. I have no earthy idea how Dr. Atlas is going to get blood from Frankie, and Dr. Atlas specializes in turtles.

Do veterinarians carry hazardous occupation insurance or permanent disability insurance?

I have worked myself up into a huge frenzy dreading the possible outcomes of this event. No, I have not made an appointment yet for Frankie’s annual examination.

These reminder post cards from the veterinarian clinic give me heart palpitations. I don’t even want to go to the mail box anymore.

I think I have started grinding my teeth. Going to the dentist just doesn’t seem all that traumatic anymore.

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