Rescued Tortoise And Pet Dog Become The 'Best Of Friends'

Larry the tortoise finally finds a safe home, and a furry best friend in the process.

When Christine Hill took her children to an educational animal centre in Santa Barbara, California, she never thought she’d be going home with a fully grown tortoise.

But Larry the African spurred tortoise was the runt in a group of four, and he was getting savagely attacked by the other males in his enclosure as they vied for the affections of a female.

When Hill and her children saw Larry getting pushed around they complained to his keepers, but they said they wanted to let nature sort it out. Still, Hill eventually convinced the centre to allow her to take Larry home with her to stop the bullying.

Hill describes herself as a passionate animal lover, and her home in Palos Verdes is in a constant rotation of a variety of rescued animals, including eels and lobsters she’s bought from seafood restaurants to save. “We’ve got around thirty animals right now,” says Hill.


Larry the rescued tortoise enjoys a slice of watermelon with his canine companion, Cricket.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE HILL, @FOZZCOOK

“When we first brought Larry home he was in self-defence mode, just trying to flee to the fence any chance he got,” she says.

But Hill eventually coaxed Larry inside the house, where he met the family’s golden retriever, Cricket.

“I know this sounds silly, but it was almost like they were chatting,” Hill says about Cricket and Larry’s first encounter. Hill explained that her dog Cricket plopped down next to Larry, which completely put the tortoise at ease for the first time since his arrival at her home. 

“Since that day, they’ve been inseparable,” Hill says.

They eat side by side, sleep next to each other in the kitchen, and go on walks together. Last year, when Larry went into hibernation, he insisted on burying himself underneath Cricket’s dog bed in Hill’s bedroom. (Read about why dogs have feelings.)


Which one is the tortoise? Animal pals Larry and Cricket spend time together in the yard.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE HILL, @FOZZCOOK

Sulcata, or African spurred tortoises (Geochelone [Centrochelys] Sulcata), are found naturally in the southern rim of the Sahara Desert, and they can live upwards of 70 years. Hill adds that Larry is thriving in the hot, dry climate of southern California.

“He’s a funny little guy—he has so much character,” she says. “He will come wobbling down the hallway to greet us with Cricket when we get home. Larry and Cricket really are the best of buds.”

Lead Image: Larry the tortoise was rescued from bullying by other tortoises and brought to the home of Cricket the Golden Retriever. Photograph from footage by Fozzcook via Storyful. 

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