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The Daily Grind

June 5, 2010

It was Saturday morning, and I decided to be "June Cleaver" and "Donna Reed" all rolled into one. I didn't don the pearls or heels, but I fixed a big breakfast and made the kids come to the table, and on a Saturday, none the less!

We were enjoying our brunch when the Spunky (beagle) siren bark went off. Nothing new about that, but when Sky the husky joined in, we all stopped eating and just looked at each other. He was nowhere to be seen, but his continual barking was a first for Sky since he was gifted to us (can you say thrust upon?) by our dear friends, the Wilsons. Sky will usually give Spunky a couple of barks to let her know "he has her back" when she spots something, someone or just anything worthy of a conniption fit. However, this time was different.

Kristin began her Lassie impressions of "what is it Sky, is Timmy in the well?" and the kids were having a hay day with remarks and laughter. Sky continued to bark, but was nowhere to be seen.

I arose and felt the need to examine further. With my hair in a pony tail, no make up (yikes) a big tee-shirt and shorts, I doned my fuchsia garden shoes, and was quite honestly a sight. I could be chosen as a "does this woman need a makeover, or what competitions." The barking came from beneath the deck and I realize, he had "treed" something. With great trepidation I slowly approached the deck, thinking in the back of my mind that I may find a skunk or a groundhog. Sky was fit to be tied and the hair on his back was standing straight up. I'd never seen him so vicious before. My eyes then rested upon the intruder: it was a huge turtle!

I laughed and yelled back for reinforcements to tie Sky up so I could remove the poor and innocent thing. As I drew closer, however, Sky became hysterical as he lunged and kept himself between me and the hard-shelled creature. I wanted to pick it up, but Sky would not allow me close to it.

Strangely, Sky had three or four scrapes right down his long nose. All of the sudden, it hit me: this was no ordinary turtle indeed. Sky lunged and snapped and the turtle lunged back and snapped.

I grabbed Jimmy's handy-dandy Boy Scout shovel (we use it for everything) and went in closer. The boys finally coaxed Sky out from under the deck with people food and got him tied. I poked gently on the turtle and with lightning speed, its neck flew out like a flash about 6 inches and grabbed my shovel and jerked me around like a noodle. This was more than just an ordinary turtle, this was an "Arnold Schwartza-snappin' turtle!" This was nothing like June Cleaver or Donna Reed's Saturday mornings!

How do I get myself into these situations? All I wanted to do was help this pre-historic looking creature escape the crazed dog, and now I'm his target? He's got nerve, I tell you! If I got close to him, he whipped out his neck and "struck" just like a snake. His tongue was massive and teeth treacherous looking! Every single time I tried to shovel him up, he bit my shovel and slung me around again. My kids are laughing hysterically and the boys are, uh ... helping by poking him from other directions to watch him bite. With every bite he bent the metal rods and shovel.

We decided to call in reinforcement: "Billy the Exterminator"... if you haven't seen the show, it's on A and E and is quite entertaining. Of course, Billy was nowhere to be found, so we called "Jon the Exterminator," who, by the way, could do an awesome impression of Billy or anyone else if he so chose.

My nephew, Jon, got a pole, and inserted a rope. He enticed the snappin' turtle by provoking him, and "Arnie" as in Arnold Swartzaturtle (you know how I love to name the creatures who inhabit my yard) would bit the rope. When Arnie bit the rope, Jon and my son, Jim would yank and bring him flyin' a foot or two, all the while keeping a safe distance. This went on for over an hour. They enticed him with the rope, he bit, and they yanked, and Arnie went for a ride. Finally, Arnie was out from under my deck and we put him into a huge tub in order to examine him.

With the "fun" over, Jon and the boys took Arnie down to the stream behind the house and set him free while singing "Born Free." Well, not really, but you get the picture. Sky still bears the marks on his nose of Arnie's razor sharp teeth. Someone said if the turtle had clamped down, Sky would still be running all over the yard and trying to sling that turtle off him! He also checks beneath the deck regularly. It's his routine.

So, you men and women with your big coon dogs, bear dogs and rabbit chasin' beagles, don't be jealous or hate me because I have the only snappin' turtle dog known to man. And hey, if you ever need help, just call Jon the Exterminator and he'll eradicate your problem and entertain you while he does so.

(Kimberly Short-Wolfe, MA, is a home school mom and the grief counselor and chaplain for Mountain Hospice. Contact:, or call 304-823-3925, ext. 136.)



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