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You know the Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1969, Let it Bleed)?

My favorite line from that song is, “You can’t always get what you want… you get what you need”.

But never, in my 45 years, did I imagine that this line would apply so perfectly to a pet turtle entering our lives.

Allow me to explain. You see, our kids have been begging for a pet turtle over the past, oh I don’t know, eight years. The begging actually reminds me of an episode of The Goldbergs where Barry constantly asks his dad for a dog. Our son really, really, really wanted a pet turtle. And my daughter decided after a few years that she really, really wanted a pet turtle too. Through the years, it would go something like this:

“Can we get a turtle, Mom?”

“Sorry, no.”

“Can we get a turtle, Mom?”

“No. Ask your dad.”

“Can we get a turtle, Dad?”


“Can we get a turtle, Dad?”


“Can we get a turtle, Dad?”

“Uh, let me think about it,…No.”

You get the idea. Let me mention here that we have two dogs. Two rambunctious Golden Retrievers that are so loyal, we’re almost positive the oldest thinks I’m his real mother. So it’s not as if we are the worst img_1944-digbyparents in the world who don’t allow any pets in the house. (Not that NOT having a pet is a bad thing. Oh lordy, I can just feel the comments coming.) We just haven’t heard positive things about turtles, from emitting off-putting odors to transmitting potential diseases. So we’ve steered clear of them, praying our kids would one day forget about the little critters.

Then one day last week, while unpacking a new side table from an oversized cardboard box, my husband noticed a small toy fall out of the packaging. Thinking it was one of our son’s old mini Godzilla toys, he tossed it on top of his work bench in the garage. He went about his day, and came back an hour or so later to find that the small “toy” had moved. Not fallen. But moved from the workbench to the garage floor. He looked closer and realized it was moving. The toy wasn’t a toy, it was a moving rock. No, it was a turtle! A tiny turtle. And the box was labeled from Indonesia. This turtle is about the size of a mini plastic army guy. No bigger than a potato chip. And able to jump from a workbench in a single bound.

So my husband gathered some leaves and placed it in a safe box. We were surprised yet secretly overjoyed that we were now the parents of two kids, two Golden retrievers, four goldfish, a koi and a turtle.

I could just picture the smiles.

The looks on our kids’ faces.

Even our teenager!

“Where is it?”

“I want to name it Lola!”

“No, not Lola!”

“Can we keep it, Mom?”

“Can we keep it, Dad?”

“Yeah, can we?” Even I started to chime in, hoping it would be named Lola.

Then we Googled turtles.

We found out it’s a snapping turtle. A baby snapping turtle. These turtles can apparently live up to 80 years or something crazy like that and weigh like 80 pounds, which leads my very witty husband to decide, “I’m going to raise it like it’s my own.”

Now we’re all in love with a moving rock that my son has named Digby Bevan James. (No idea why, but my daughter and I had named our second dog, so Lola was out.)

We take it down to Petco. We’re all anticipating positive feedback.

But they tell us that we shouldn’t keep it. Not because of a disease or off-putting odor. Simply because, “You don’t want to keep it.”

Fan-fubbing-tastic. First we don’t want a turtle, then we have a turtle, then we all need the turtle, then we can’t have it.

We all want it at this point. So we took the turtle to an animal shelter to get a second opinion.

They recommend that we release it into the wild. On our own.

So before we say our final goodbyes, we’ve decided to temporarily place it a water-logged area in our backyard. We will be taking it to a bigger pond soon. Together. To release it back into the wild, where baby snapping turtles hiding in packages apparently originating from Indonesia belong.

Even though we were all secretly hoping that Mr. Digby Bevan James would be with us for the next 20 years. I guess it’s time to say goodbye.

Because you can’t always get what you want. You get what you need.