The Saga of Pretty Boy Floyd


Isabel Bearman Bucher   

© Copyright 2019 by Isabel Bearman Bucher 


Photo of Isabel's turtle.

                                                Photo by the author.

My retired husband, Robert, is want to go to garage sales.  Over the years he’s come home with a few treasures, but more often than not, the objects are real pitch-out dogs.  When he’s forgotten about them, I usually toss them into the garbage or the give-away pile.  One year, he came home with Pretty Boy Floyd, an American,  three-toed box turtle, for which he paid the handsome sum of five bucks.  The turtle really was a beauty; ergo his name.   Brilliant orange spots that resembled Halloween candy corn,  flamed up his legs and was matched by clear blazing orange eyes.  Holding him, he let you scratch his head, while his legs went like windmills. A week later, he got sick.

I brought him to the vet,” Robert said in an incredulous tone, “They gave him a shot, and set up two more appointments.  It’s going to cost $75!  And, he bit the vet.”

The five buck garage sale bargain got better, and so did our story, which we thought had ended.  The years went by.  We got Lady and Big Boy turtles from a pet store for ten bucks each and  rescued Arkey from an Arkansas road.  Floyd hibernated, romped around the yard of our old house summers, ate buckets of grubs, crunched through snail shells nonchalantly and developed an obsession for bananas.   He obeyed the call to propagate his species by running after Lady, who took off pell-mell in any direction when she spied his freight-train approach.  Then, we moved up closer to the mountain.  Lady disappeared, probably out an open gate, as did Arky and Big Boy, for whatever reasons,  but Floyd tromped around year after year.  We joined the Rio Grande Turtle and Tortoise Club, adopted a one-eyed reclusive female called “Sweetheart,” who was supposed to create a balanced menu in Turtledom.   

This year, Floyd  came out of hibernation full of his usual enthusiasm.  We went off for a brief vacation, and when we returned home,  he presented himself on a brick edging and it was obvious that he was terribly sick.  Bubbles were foaming out his nose and  his eyes were swollen shut.    

This time, he’s on his own,” Robert stated.  

I watched for a couple of days, and not only was he bubbling out the nose, but it was coming out his mouth.  His eyes were permanently swollen shut.  I couldn’t stand it!  I gave him a soak in the utility sink with warm water.  I wiped his nose. The vet I called said to boil water and steam him, so Robert, now enlisted in the saving process,  got a plastic crate, elevated it with bricks, and Floyd got steamed all night long.  Early the next morning, I showed up at the vet’s office carrying the patient in a wine carton.   

Take Pretty Boy into examination room one, please,”  stated the receptionist.  “The doctor will be with you shortly.”

$180 bucks later, Pretty boy had received intravenous fluids, Vitamins A,B,C and an exotic German anti-biotic shot.  

Pretty Boy needs to come back for three more shots a week apart,” stated the vet.

I can’t do that,” I whined. “We’re going up north to a cabin in the woods.  I will give the shots.”

Can you give shots?” asked the Vet.

No.  But, I can learn.”

I got the short shot course in needles, cc amounts, load, stick technique and how to fish out a left and right front leg.  

If I flunk the Florence Nightingale jabbing,  then he croaks,” I stated with alacrity, inserting a feeble attempt at humor.

You’ll need to get some Gatorade powder,” continued the vet, seemingly unaware of my acid haha, “Give him a soak in it twice a day.  He’ll pick up electrolytes, carbs and fluids through his skin.  Here’s his eye drops - once a day written on the bottle;  the antibiotic written on the container, it’s very viscous.  You’re not going for a vein, so you don’t have to be so careful about air bubbles.  And here’s extra needles.  Change them, as they get ragged, then you rip skin.”

Oy.” I groaned.

All we have is orange-lemon flavor,” the Smith’s employee stated.  “But don’t you love this stuff, especially over cracked ice?”

I don’t drink it,” I answered reaching for the five buck container, adding that mentally in my head to the vet bill.  

What are you buying it for?”

Pretty Boy Floyd,” I answered absently, reading the label.  

Who is that?” she asked, confused.  

A turtle,” I responded.  “He didn’t have the practicality  to die under a rock.”

She threw me a look of horror.  

Oh, he got a very bad infection -  bubbled at the nose and mouth; his eyes swelled shut.  What was I gonna do?  I took him to the vet, and it’s now cost me $185,  adding this.”

It was worth it,” she said smiling.

I tossed her a lemony smile, left for home,  and began nursing.

We took Pretty Boy to the cabin and continued treatments.  He got his eye drops.  He got his shots, although it took two of us to splay out his front legs while he tried to bite us because he recognized the needle.   He got his Gatorade baths, and the little bugger actually got hooked on the stuff, submerging his head and drinking it.  He got washed off and dried.  He got a nice hospital room - two crates, one atop the other, a plant pot for seclusion and shredded bark for comfort.  He got organic strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, Taos alpine worms, expensive gourmet cat food and red leaf lettuce.  

Fully recovered, he’s tromping around the back yard chasing Sweetheart, who is running for cover.  I figure he’s cost us $275.25 to date.  

Humanitarianism lives,  and if you hang yourself up on a brick edging, some people will feel sorry for you and get you fixed, even if you don’t lick their hands or bark at strangers.   Ah, that we could do the very same thing  to the world.  

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