It all started a few years back when I was at the beach and feeling kind of bummed out. I walked into a small chachki shop and there was a tank full of baby turtles. They were awesome. And only $18. The guy told me they were like goldfish; they’ll only grow as big as the bowl you put them in. They ate fish food and were very easy to take care of.
This was all false. I got my red eared slider home and found out they require a special turtle diet. A tank with 10 gallons of water for each inch of their carapace. Heated water. Land, especially for female turtles (which mine was.) UV rays via a lamp. And a pretty hefty filter. I had the money. I was annoyed, but took care of her. Because I loved her.
I bought her aquarium decorations to play in. She destroyed them. I bought her minnows to eat. She had one, then kept the other one as a friend for months until one day she decided to send it to its unfortunate end by swatting it into the filter. Oh, and the filters? I couldn’t just replace the cartridges. She destroyed an entire filter about once a month.
I think she was happy. She loved the boyfriend. I can say that without a doubt. She was just always following her instinctual drive to try to find an escape route. It was costing us a pretty penny. Our budget got slimmer. Our time to devote to her grew less. We had to do the right thing.
I took her to the Humane Society last month. I put my finger to her tank and she followed it one last time. I was in tears. Yes, over a turtle. She’s been with me for five crazy years seeing me through ups and downs. She’s capable of living past my own likely expiration date. I thought we’d always be together. While she never showed the affection of more commonly domesticated pets, her presence also didn’t cost me a security deposit or a hike in rent. She was perfect for me, until she wasn’t anymore.
I keep trying to call the humane society to check up on her. They don’t put turtles down unless they’re seriously sick. So even though I can’t get through (I took her to the original Humane Society, so they’re always busy,) I’m confident that she’s okay. And even though it hurts to part ways, I know it’s better for her to have people who are capable of taking the absolute best care for her.
I have a feeling she’s done a lot better than her siblings that went home from that beach shop with eight year old kids and unsuspecting parents in a fish bowl.