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June 28, 2013

Gentlemen Start Your Engines

A long time ago, when I was a Wanna-Be-A-Sulcata-Owner, before there was a Frankie, my now 90 pound sulcata tortoise, I hung out with turtle people to learn more about sulcata tortoises.  I really wanted to have a sulcata so I listened very carefully to sulcata owners for tips and advise.

One of those sulcata owners had a large 20 year old male sulcata tortoise named "Sam."  The owner told me that he had trained Sam to come to the sound of a bell by feeding Sam a strawberry every time he rang the bell.  It took Sam a while to catch on but his owner thought it was worth months of training:  when the bell rings Sam comes running.

I have never tried to train Frankie to come running to the sound of a bell.  I never had to train Frankie to respond to the word "carrot."  He figured that word out all by himself.   A key word I've tried to train Frankie to understand is "No!".

Maybe Frankie doesn't really understand the word "NO!" but he certainly responds to my loud, high pitched, panic screams of "NO!   I think it's the tone rather than the word that catches his attention.

Frankie does recognize the word "carrot" and "treat".  Sometimes he ignores me but usually he responds with a beeline dash in my direction the minute I say, "Hey, Frankie! Wanna carrot?"

This evening I went outside to admire Frankie grazing on a freshly mowed lawn.  Upon reaching the bottom stair step and stepping onto the ground I was puzzled when I spied Frankie making a fast double-time trot in my direction with enthusiasm in those dark glistening eyes.

I hadn't said anything.  I didn't announce myself.  I didn't say, "Hello."  I didn't wave at Frankie or show a carrot or anything.  Still, Frankie was heading my way so fast I checked my clothes to see if I was wearing orange.

I prudently took a step to the side from where Frankie was heading to avoid being shin slammed. The side step gave me a needed extra moment to wonder what Frankie was up to or was expecting from me.

There was no slow down to Frankie fervent pursuit to reach me.  By the time Frankie was nose to feet with me I was still side-stepping so he didn't run me down.  Frankie finely came to a screeching halt right on my heals.

"Hello, Frankie."

Frankie immediately started grazing the grass around my feet.

"Okay.  Well, it's nice to see you too, Frankie."  I was a bit relived.

I took a couple steps away and sat down on the grass.  Not to be left two feet away from me Frankie turned around to follow and then continued grazing the grass all around me.

Grazing next to my hip Frankie was dangerously close to grazing my shorts.

"No, no, no! No eating the shorts.  Good Frankie."  Frankie looks up at me then goes back to eating grass....a little to close to my sandals.

"No, no, NO! Not the toes! Frankie!."  Frankie moves away from my toes and sandals.

Frankie passes by my side so I can give him a good shell rub.  He continued to graze around me.

I get up deciding to get Frankie a cuttlebone.  Fetching one from the storage area I turn around to find Frankie tight on my heals.  I didn't even say cuttlebone out loud.  I have to step over him to get back into the yard.

Again I sit down on the grass and then hold the cuttlebone up so Frankie can see what I have for him.

The owner of Sam who showed me how to get a sulcata to "come here" failed to warn me about sulcata collisions. It's like being hit by a cinder block on a skateboard.

I didn't have a chance to say "No!"

Holy NASCAR, Indy and Formula 1!  I attempted a scramble back up on my feet to avoid having Frankie run me down.

I needed a new pair of sandals anyway.

It's the second pair he's ripped up this year.

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