On Monday, firefighters in Yucca Valley, California, responded to a distress call of two puppies trapped inside a tortoise den. For those of us who are unfamiliar with these archaic desert creatures, tortoises dig their burrows in the dirt and sand. And while generally shallow, they can occasionally tunnel upwards of thirty feet in length.
One such burrow that exists just outside of a Yucca Valley home is occupied by a one-hundred-pound tortoise named Oscar. This particular tortoise is looked after by the mother of the two puppies who center today’s story. He was rescued from a garbage dump, and the inspiration for his name was found in Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street – a beloved green trash monster with a comically grumpy disposition.
Desert tortoises are herbivores and generally considered harmless, though their body mass itself can be intimidating. And intimidated perfectly described the demeanor of two shepherd puppies who had become trapped inside the den and couldn’t find a way out.
Their owner suspected that the two notoriously adventurous puppies had been playing near the den and found entry. Once inside, however, Oscar the Tortoise came in behind them and blocked the only exit. While we’re unsure whether or not the puppies attempted to move past him, it’s safe to say they were likely intimidated by the size of the gentle giant and stayed put.
When firefighters arrived on scene, they initially tried to lure Oscar out from the burrow with a piece of watermelon tied to a long stick. The officials were hoping that if they could move the tortoise out of the way, the puppies may come running out. However, the tortoise refused to move and did not fall for their tricks.
This led them to perform their backup plan: dig a sizeable hole on the opposite side of the burrow to free the trapped puppies. This plan, though not ideal, was successful, and in a video released by the San Bernandino County Fire Department, we can see officers reaching into the man-made hole and pulling out the puppies.
The two five-month-old babes, Peo and Finn, were excited and thankful to be rescued. They showered the firefighters with kisses and snuggles before running over to their owner, reunited at last.
All three boys, Oscar included, are now safe-and-sound. The puppies are as adventurous and playful as ever, while Oscar, according to some sources, still hasn’t moved from his resting place in the sunny California desert.
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