Weston Shellebrates World Turtle Day with the Release of Hobbes

Today turns out to be a best day for the Weston Owl, and a really good, perfect day for Hobbes, the Cat Rock snapping turtle. And probably it is the day that you learn to believe in the overwhelming awesomeness of our public safety officers. Let me start at the beginning–grab some bon-bons and head for the couch–if you’re at work, tell them it’s World Turtle Day and you get the rest of it off.

Last May, the Weston Owl reported on the discovery of Hobbes, a giant snapping turtle who loved hanging out in the corner of the chain link fence of the spillway at Hobbs Pond. Animal Control Officer (ACO) Karen O’Reilly was called out multiple times to rescue the poor beast who just wanted to sit in the corner and dream of his amphibian dinner. After a while the calls stopped, and Hobbes had been assumed to have swum off to finer pastures. Something of that metaphor does not work.

Flash forward to September 2021, when Hobbes suffered major head trauma, and a walker at Cat Rock called in ACO Karen to rescue the poor beast. If you want to see that gruesome injury, you can read this Owl. I would skip it. Just know it was very yucky, and that no one ever figured out how it happened. The injury was significant enough that Hobbes spent the winter at Tufts Wildlife Recovery…until this morning, when ACO Karen, knowing the Owl would want to be a part of the release party called over and said “today’s the day!”

The Owl flew (while obeying all speed limits) to the parking lot of Cat Rock where ACO Karen had discovered that she was not going to be able to handle the very chonky Hobbes and his holey Tupperware crate by herself. So what do we do? We call for back-up and who shows up but our favorite K9 Officer Mike Rizzitello and Knox (who was barking his celebratory World Turtle Day song from the K9 vehicle). And it was determined that we should move the release party to enter at Lexington Street at the gate there…and of course then we had to call the Fire Department for help with the gate. And if this is not a release party, people, as we paraded the cars through Cat Rock Park, I have noooooo idea what qualifies for one here in Weston. My day had been made with the first phone call so how in the world could it get better?

It did. Hobbes got a lift over the bridge and then ceremoniously (ummm, well, unceremoniously) dumped into the brook at an undisclosed location which was really close to where he had been found.

While Karen, Mike and I watched, Hobbes sat there in the shallows, blinked, slowly turned his head, blinked, slowly turned his head, blinked, sat, water went by, time went by, people went by, wet dogs went by, blinked again, do you get the idea here? Turtles are not exactly exciting to watch though the fact that they even exist in all their amazingness is well…amazing…

Blink…head turn…zzzzz

I have to believe that Hobbes in his turtle-y way, and possibly with some lasting brain injury issues, was either not in any hurry, or had momentarily forgotten he was a turtle. So unless you want me to narrate the next twenty minutes, I’ll skip a bit ahead and just say he eventually pushed off with one mighty foot and moved ever so slowly into the faster water, dipping his head in for long periods (we googled it and they can stay underwater for 45 minutes so no, he was not drowning) .

Move it, Hobbes (can you see him looking like a rock?)

Another ten minutes went by until Hobbes “swam” into a little eddy and there he lay, water coursing over his back, and pretended he was a rock. He is a very good rock. Various passers-by asked us what we were looking at and we said a rock. No, we said it was a turtle, but by this point Hobbes was very hard to see.

Please note that if you have an off-leash dog at Cat Rock, you will want to get Fido to give Hobbes a wide berth–wildlife rules in our Conservation land and Hobbes has the full protection of all who know him. You will recognize him by the large white scar on his head (see cover photo).

Then we put on our party hats, ate our World Turtle Day cupcakes, and honked our horns and sounded the sirens on our way out of the park. Actually no. But my day is just a whole lot better. Also I just love the word “shellebration” so thank you to Mass Wildlife for that one.

Thank you to ACO Karen O’Reilly and Officer Mike Rizzitello, who possibly had his weirdest call of the day. Or not.

Go Hobbes!

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