tortoise vet visit

The Hummingbirds have continued to use their tortoise as fodder for explorations during the Clocks arc, from trying to determine its birthday based on the seasons, to timing the speed it takes to walk from point A to point B. But the tortoise is also an excellent way for the kids to learn responsibility and empathy for another living being in feeding, watering, and caring for a dependent creature . Earlier this week, the Hummingbirds decided on the name for their pet in preparation for the vet visit, which happened on Tuesday. Shawna describes the process of naming and the vet visit:

“So – it turns out that our tortoise is a “He,” not a “She”! When we purchased the tortoise from Petco, Cassie (the store employee who helped us) said she thought it was a girl from looking at the area near the tail. But we took our tortoise to the vet this week and Dr. Alex Herman confirmed that our tortoise is actually a boy!

Luckily, we had chosen a name that can go either way: Asrll, pronounced AZZRUL, is the final name of our tortoise. It was a fun process of narrowing down our options. Since at the time the kids and I thought she was a girl, they had a long list of girl names. They then decided to pick their top four and cross off the others that didn’t make any of their lists.

Aurora collects the name choices in her purse.

I used “veto power” over any name that already belonged to a community member (so Sadie, Largo and Ramses were crossed off the list). From there, we talked about what to do next. The children talked about further narrowing it down, or voting. Largo suggested, “How about we make up a new name using the letters from our names?” Lucy and Aurora loved this idea and I quickly gave them their first letters written on little squares of paper so they could move them around on the table to try different combos. You can see the joy and excitement when they sounded out Asrll.

The children all wrote down their first, second and third choices for a name. It was clear from looking at the data that Asrll was the logical choice; all five Hummingbirds had chosen Asrll as one of their top choices, whereas the other name choices had only received one or two votes.

Our vet visit at All Pets Hospital was so amazing. Dr. Alex Herman’s bedside manner was impressive, with not only Asrll, but all of us as well. She told us that she is a doctor of many reptiles including a 150-year-old tortoise; he’s been around since the Gold Rush. Largo responded, “That was before the earthquake!” She said yes, it was a very long time ago, which is why owning a tortoise is a big responsibility.

I felt really proud of our children because they knew many answers to her questions, confidently telling her the difference between turtles and tortoises, hand washing after touching the tortoise due to salmonella, etc. And they had a lot of questions for her as well. Also, I was proud because Dr. Herman said from what she noticed, Asrll is well taken care of: a strong, hard shell and clear eyes are two things she looks for in tortoises. She explained that it was a good thing that Asrll had pooped too (during the long wait for the doctor to show up after the nurse had weighed Asrll) because she wanted to take a fecal sample to test for parasites (side note: his pooping and anxious movements inside the small bin spurred empathetic talks of times we’ve had to wait uncomfortably on the exam table at the doctor’s office, and times of embarrassment to give samples for testing).”

The Hummingbirds wrote thank-you notes to Dr. Herman following their visit.