He was 11 months when we bought the place, just a year when we moved onto it, and at that age his shoulders already came up to mid-thigh on me. One day soon after, while we worked on some things he explored nearby (in the area which is now, in fact, Squrrl's spot) and set up the Alert! Alert! bark while bouncing about in the brush. I went and checked it out and he'd spotted A Rock That Moves, which is not normal, you know. I explained that it was a young gopher tortoise (about 7 inches long), and that it was OK, it belonged here. He sat back away from it (so it would calm down), and watched it start walking away, followed it over to where it had a burrow. Often, later on, he'd check out the other burrows about the place, now knowing What Lived There. Sometimes we would see Gopher moving along from one burrow to another, and snuffle at them before leaving them to go their way. And life was Good.
Long about four-five years later, during the nice balmy months when we can leave doors and windows open, Herself heard an odd muffled bark at the front door. Wormf! Wormf!
She went to the door & there was Kuma, with something in his mouth. Somewhat concerned that he'd bitten something and it got stuck, she checked him out and he gently, gently placed into her hand a very fresh-hatched baby gopher tortoise, about 1.5 - 2 inches long. She praised him, turned around to grab an empty planter to put the baby tortoise into, and when she turned back Kuma was gone.
Back again in about 10 minutes. Wormf! Wormf!
She went out to him, and he again gently, gently placed into her hand a very fresh-hatched baby gopher tortoise, about 1.5 - 2 inches long. And immediately took off around the corner of the house. Back again in about 10 minutes and gently placed into her hand another very fresh-hatched baby gopher tortoise, about 1.5 - 2 inches long. Off immediately around the corner of the house.
This went on for 15 baby tortoises.
And Herself assured Kuma he was a good dog, while calling Baja Jorja Fish and Wildlife and told them she had these baby tortoises to hand in. Yes, she knew they are endangered, that's why she called F&W. Yes, she could meet the F&W agent in Archer in 10 minutes. She brought Kuma along with her, because she knew the agent would want to know how she acquired this many endangered baby tortoises. She told him the story, with Kuma standing over the (now in a cardboard box) clutch of baby tortoises, wagging his wee stump of a tail so fast and hard he couldn't hardly stay upright, because he knew he had saved these Baby Rocks that Move.
Mr. Agent said, 'If I hadn't of seen this dog, I'm not sure I'd of believed it.'
This story is dedicated to St. slave2tehtink
of the Terrapins.