Sunday, May 11, 2014

A few words for Hemingway the Turtle

"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." ~ Martin Buber -

Totally out of the blue, I got a lesson on Red-Eared Slider Turtles.

We met Hemingway on a recent trip to the Ozarks. Hemingway is the resident pet and greeter at a book and toy store and he loves his job. What does he love?

Plain and simple: Hemingway loves being the center of attention.

How did he get this cushy gig? We asked the folks behind the counter who told us he actually started out thinking he was a dog. Named Fido, he palled around with several canines before finding a home at the store.

When I connected with Hemingway, I asked if he liked his home? At first he didn't respond but after a few seconds he sensed me and gazed in my direction. He replied, very surprised. "You are talking to me? No one ever talks to me."

I rephrased my question and asked if he liked his space. I projected my thought to him and let him know I would try to hear him and, yes, I was talking to him. He said he yes, liked his space and told me there were some who fed him more than others. I asked how he came to the story and he told me he ran away and they caught him.

I ended the conversation at that point and walked away to shop.

We came back to check out and started talking about the turtle and the comment was made that he might be better in the bigger tank at Bass Pro. I suggested having an Animal Communicator connect with Hemingway to ask him about himself. The response was simply to know what food he liked.

So I asked him. We thought together for a moment and he gave me an image of flakes or dry stuff it seemed to be a shrimp flavor. YES. He likes the shrimp food. They hadn't given him any recently.

What happened then is how it helped us to see that he was an active participant in the exchange. Hemingway became animated. He knew I was trying to help and moved from the perch he had been sitting on to swim directly in front of me and then quickly returned to the perch and look pointedly at the two women standing behind his tank as I spoke for him and said he liked "gummy worms." It made no sense to me but they immediately responded. Yes, he gets worms in his diet. 

As we spoke, he was directing his actions toward them, moving his head to nod at each one, saying - "Do you hear this? Are you listening. She is telling you what I said."

His behavior at this point was in direct contrast to the activity he exhibited earlier when we came into the store. Before we began talking with the clerks, he had been quietly sitting on the floating station in his tank.

At the mention of who feeds him more, one person admitted to forgetting on occasion. He didn't have anything negative to say about that other than to say he knows the difference in his caregivers. Also explains the occasional missing shrimp, goldfish, etc. He eats when he is hungry and he considers it a game.

Is there anything special that he likes? He says he likes to run. (At that time, I didn't know he had been raised with dogs.) And the clerks told me he loves to entertain the children and swims for them. Hemingway agreed. He loves being the center of attention and seeing the activity is fun for him too. He feels the energy and the excitement.

Although the bigger space at Bass Pro might sound like a good alternative, if Hemingway can remain in his special area, he really does have a better life. He has been raised as a pet. The world he knows is interactive and humans are part of his tribe. He is given constant care, attention and interaction.

Losing that would be stressful and could actually make him depressed at the loss of his "friends". However, his keepers will have to determine the best home for Hemingway.

I wanted to help Hemingway so this is what we did. We donated a book on Red Slider turtles to offer tips on diet and habitat and health information. And we donated a tarp and fence to give Hemingway a chance to get out and romp around (like he used to with his canine pals) and for a playtime diversion and exercise.

He is a wonderful animal care advocate and mascot for the store and could be very helpful if he were incorporated into presentations or mini-sessions on pet care, environment and ecology. Giving him a job description and an employee status in the Public Relations and Marketing Department provides funding for his care and habitat.

I really enjoyed meeting Hemingway and kept my questions to a minimum. He does like his space and wants to stay there. The concern was that his tank would be too small. So we got the book to address some basic care issues.

Hemingway, rather than relocation to a place where he would lose his special status, could benefit from a few improvements. But that doesn't come from me. It's all in the turtle care book.

We learn so much when we connect with our animal kin. The presence of Hemingway, the red-eared slider turtle - who knows he is unique, gives us an incentive and an opportunity to learn more.

We can also better appreciate the importance of preserving an environment where nature can survive and humans and animals can thrive.

Animals appreciate it when we learn how to listen and hear them. I tried to talk to him and just let him choose to respond or not. When we did connect he requested that I maintain eye contact. He wanted to read my energy and reaction to determine for himself if I was really paying attention to him. Truly, a king in his world.

Hemingway the Red-Eared Slider Turtle

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