Kind of a sad day at our house today. Our pet Russian Tortoise, Jeff, died this afternoon. Jeff was a really cool tortoise. We used to take her for walks, well, those walks consisted of us standing around while she pretty much stood in the grass and ate whatever was in front of her, but they were always a good time. On a good day, one when she was feeling fast, we might have to move a few feet every 10 minutes or so to catch up with her, but I loved taking Jeff for a walk.
When my son was little, he would play Battleship with Jeff. I still haven't figured out who won, but it was cute and he had fun.
Something I should mention about the name Jeff. Jeff was a female. When we first got her many years ago, we were told that she was a he, so my son named her Jeff. Well, we found out the he was she, but since we liked the name, it sort of stuck. So, our female Russian Tortoise went through life with the name of Jeff.
Years ago, we read that Russian Tortoises can live around 50 years or more. The kids and I used to joke that Jeff would outlive all of us and someday the kids would have to put her in their Wills as to who would get her.
Jeff was just cool. For a tortoise, she was kind of feisty and just kind of did what she wanted. But she was cool.
About two weeks ago, she seemed to sleep a lot. She wasn't eating very much and just didn't have her usual spunk. I thought she was sick so we tried to take care of her the best we knew how. Over the weekend, I was pretty worried about her as she wanted to sleep all the time and wouldn't touch her food. I stayed up with her and checked on her throughout the night. The next day she seemed to perk up a little bit. She ate a few bites and even opened her eyes. She wandered around her cage and the kids and I seemed to not worry as much.
Just this morning I put up a new post in a Russian Tortoise online group saying she was getting better and we were thinking she was getting back to her normal self. I was pretty happy.
Later in the day, I called my kids and asked how Jeff was doing. My son said he gave her a bath and she seemed really tired. But, we were thinking she was getting better so he let her sleep. When I got home, and after stopping by the store to get her some new lettuce that I thought she would like, I opened her cage and went to feed her....She was dead. I started to cry and then I told the kids. It was pretty hard as we really thought she was getting better. We just all stared at her cage in disbelief for a while and were sad. My son got a shovel and we buried her next to the side of the house.
I sometimes forget how important pets are and what a big impact they have on a family until they are gone. I have to say that never in my life did I ever imagine that I would cry over a tortoise, but she became part of our family. Friends would often ask about her, the neighbor's cat would hang out with her and they would walk around the yard together, or the cat would try to steal her lettuce. I miss the Jeffers. She was just cool.
RIP Jeff. 4-18-2012
For anything you need to know about Russian Tortoises, and a great group of people who are very helpful, please go to http://www.russiantortoise.org/