Tai Gooden
July 14, 2015 4:31 pm

In honor of #TransformationTuesday on social media, we have the perfect story to show what happened when a very special someone decided to come out of her shy shell and found confidence through helping others. Let us introduce you to Wasabi the very cool, very stylish tortoise. She’s been living with Lisa Chicarella in Maryland ever since Chicarella adopted her eight years ago.

For the first couple of weeks of living with Chicarella, the African spur tortoise hid in her “mobile home” and refused to come out. So, Ms. Chicarella decided to give her lady tortoise a spicy new moniker to encourage her to stop being fearful: Wasabi. Yes, like the hot Japanese condiment we love.

The new name did wonders for the 42-pound reptile. She soon became an energetic and demanding (yet loving) sidekick who grew to love people-watching and pizza crust. Her lively personality haphazardly led to a gig as a therapy pet in 2010. Her owner Lisa was actually training her dog Chief to be a certified therapy pet, but the beloved dog suddenly passed away during the process. Jokingly, Lisa told the executive director at Therapy Pets Unlimited that her tortoise would be a great candidate for the job and, to her surprise, they gave Wasabi a chance to show her stuff. No, she wasn’t very cuddly-looking, but tortoises are generally known to be quite intelligent, so it was worth giving her a shot!

Everyone needs a new outfit or two for a new job, right? For her first winter as a therapy tortoise, “Chicarella wrapped her in heat packs and stuck them on with a diaper,” My Modern Met reports. Chicarella thought Wasabi could do waaay better than a diaper (no offense, diapers) —so she had a dress custom designed and made. According to My Modern Met, Wasabi’s style was “an instant hit” with her patients. And, the rest is fashion history — Wasabi became the most fashionable tortoise in Maryland.

She is now known to rock a ton of gorgeous dresses, which her owner orders from specialty tailors, and bring smiles to people who desperately need a pick-me-up. Five years into her career, Wasabi makes her rounds to nursing homes, schools, and even the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore, Maryland. And, she catches everyone’s attention along the way when they see the very unlikely pet all dressed up and ready to help distract people their daily problems.

Wasabi’s boss, Vicki Rummel, absolutely loves her faithful employee and has nothing but great things to say about her work: “Wasabi is a cool tortoise. She is friendly, She gets attention and seems to love the attention. She is an asset to our organization!”

Now that’s a #TransformationTuesday post worth talking about! Check out more photos of Wasabi and her fashion sense below:

(Images via Twitter, Facebook)

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