This is Big Dude aka "Trudy". We are thinking of sellotaping a bow to her head and making her the Miss Gracie mascot. Who is Trudy? Trudy, originally named Big Dude, was the pet of a family in California in the 1960s. In 1984 and with their children grown, Big Dude came to live with our family. As I recall, my parents, in a leap of faith, left their four teenagers alone while they took a much deserved three week tour of China. Leaving four teenagers for three weeks was risky but they returned to find we had all survived and the house was intact although... two tortoises, a rabbit and a bird had been added to the existing menagerie of a dog, two cats and a tank full of fish. Our mother gave her usual reply of "as long as you feed them", we had either worn her down over the years or she was ridiculously tolerant.
Most small pets don't have much of a shelf life but a tortoise I recommend. Not only do they hibernate for four months of the year, a towel and a box is all that is required from November to March, but they are particularly good at devouring the left over veg, carrying a beer can (we were teenagers) and are easy to catch. Big Dude was free to roam around the house and garden and often accompanied us to parties, the beach and she has even been sailing.
Big Dude is now known as "Trudy". We moved to England in 1994 and an animal loving friend with two young children offered Big Dude the perfect home in our absence. Big Dude had a new family and thanks to their research, we now know Big Dude is a girl - "Trudy". Eighteen years on, we are still in England and Trudy continues to live a charmed life in the California sunshine.