Happy Things

It’s Spring Break! Well, it was. I had a whole week off. That’s a lie. I had quite a to-do list, so there was very little time for the nothingness I had hoped for, but it was still pretty darned good. I thought I would share a little of the awesome with you.

Most folks know I’m a zoo girl. One day a week, it is my privilege to get to work with critically endangered turtles and tortoises. One of them is the Radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata), a species native to Madagascar whose numbers have dropped by half in the last ten years. We have a breeding pair of them, and this year I was asked to teach them to drink out of a water  bowl. Sounds weird. An animal encounters water, they should know how to drink, right? But some animals do not. If the surface of the water is not moving, many desert animals are not stimulated to drink. They can see the water, and they can smell it, but they don’t quite know what to do with it. The chances of them encountering standing water in the wild are almost non-existent.

Armed with a spray mister and no small amount of determination, I set out to teach our pair what a water bowl is for. When Radiated tortoises feel a spray of rain, they instinctively stand. They have even been known to dance. The idea behind the spray mister is to get them to their feet and then place the water bowl right next to them so that when they lay down, they are practically in it. Then the surface of the water is sprayed to agitate it an hopefully inspire the animal to take a drink.

The animals are naturally shy. At first, I had to stand behind them while I sprayed so that they would come out of their shell at all. Tortoises can see colors, and the bright blue volunteer shirt was a little off-putting and reminded them I was there.  I had no luck at first. They were too intimidated by my presence to drink. After a few weeks, we began to see some progress. They would stand for up to 20 minutes while I sprayed them, but they still wouldn’t drink. A couple of times, one or the other would land clumsily in the water bowl. I could see twin dimples in the water from their nostrils as they took the scent of the water. They tasted it briefly, and then got startled and pulled back in their shells.

Long story short (too late?), after three months of work, my work is done. Just in time to send them outside for the summer where they will forget everything I taught them. But I did it. There is nothing more satisfying than watching the female turn toward the bowl and dip her head, the muscles in her neck moving rhythmically as she takes a long drink.

There are things you don’t expect to see on my blog. Mammals are one of those things. But my friend called a couple of days ago and shared the exciting news that her English cocker spaniel had delivered a litter of eight puppies. Eight. Six girls, two boys, all doing very well.

Over the next couple of weeks, the pigment in their noses will begin to appear, their ears will open, and their fur will fill in. Right now they look like they haven’t quite cooked all the way. Give them time!

And here is my favorite happy thing to share today. People ask what I get out of blogging. Besides the endless piles of cash, of course. Sometimes the benefits of blogging are intangible. There’s the satisfaction of a job well done. There is also the joy of meeting a fellow blogger in person and learning they are exactly as you imagined them to be, except even better. And then there’s this:

Yes. It's a barf bag. The most wonderful barf bag in the history of such things.

Yes. It’s a barf bag. The most wonderful barf bag in the history of such things.

 

I came home the other day, and I found this beauty in the mail. After reading my Pinterest craft post, a wonderful blogger sent me the most fabulous Hello Kitty motion discomfort bag. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world! I can now honestly say I am not in blogging for the money. I’m in it for the barf bags. Thank you, Susan! I treasure it! And if you have never read Susan’s work, go visit her at Lost In China. She has been Freshly Pressed a few times, and for good reason. Go read about her online dating life and life with her very traditional parents. I’ve linked you to one of my favorite posts. Go! Read! Laugh!

I have other good things to share. There is just too much awesome in my life for one post. Stay tuned! What’s awesome in your world?

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14 thoughts on “Happy Things

  1. What an upbeat post to start the week – barf bag and all 🙂 Unexpected gifts are the best kind. Your patience with your tortoises is admirable, and I will use it to remind me to slow my expectations of both time and rewards. A tiny tongue lapping a drink is all we need. Those tortoises show hints of blue in your photos – is that right? They are very pretty.

      • Thanks, I thought maybe “Madagascar” held a certain magical color in reserve for their tortoises. No matter, I absolutely loved the way you told your story of slow, patient progression and their sweet learning curve. Life truly can be lived in small moments, and you showed me that.

  2. These are all VERY happy things! I don’t know what’s happiest. Trained tortoises! Cuddly puppies! Cheerful barf bags!

    I think it’s a happy season. Things are starting to warm up; the sun’s out more; spring’s actually showing signs of showing up, rather than flirting with us and running off laughing. I know my spirits are rising along with the temperatures. And posts like this help with this a lot, so thank you!

  3. Yay! Go turtles, go! Also, that barf bag! I though it was for popcorn at first… 😛 Thanks for the rec! Her blog looks great. I’ll have to head over there. 🙂

  4. What an uplifting and cheerful post! I know nothing about turtles and I was enthralled. I’m not a dog person, but I was cooing along with everybody else. Thank you for giving us all a little lift telling us about a world that few of us would ever venture into. Happy spring!

    • Some tortoises see very little water in their lifetimes. Turtles live in or around water usually, but not tortoises. Desert animals might never encounter a pool of standing water because it dries up so fast, so they suck up water off the ground as it is falling. Blows the mind, doesn’t it?

A penny for your thoughts! And by penny, I mean a warm-fuzzy in your heart.

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