Tortoise Lost for Two Weeks Finally Makes It Home
It all started on Oct. 5. "Lucy usually stays outside during the day, and when she's ready to come in around 5 o'clock, she'll knock her shell on the door to come inside," Rockley tells PEOPLEPets.com. When Lucy didn't come knocking that evening, Rockley and her husband Robin went looking for their pet, only to discover a hole in their fence. Lucy was gone.
Over the course of the next two weeks, Lucy embarked on an odyssey as the Rockleys did everything they could to find her. After they posted a note about her on Craigslist, they heard from several Good Samaritans who had spotted her near a highway several miles from the family's house. As Rockley retells it, Lucy followed her scent – as Sulcata tortoises do – back toward home, getting a lift across the highway from an alert passerby.
But when Lucy returned to the Rockley's home, Sheila and Robin were both out, and new neighbors were moving in next door. When Lucy approached one of the movers, he decided to take the seemingly stray creature home. But his wife rejected Lucy, so he left her at a nearby pond – not realizing that desert tortoises don't actually like water. By then, any hope of the tortoise following her scent home for a second time was lost.
"Some shelters got in touch with me and told me to contact the media," Rockley says. "They said it would be the only way to find her." Once the story got out, Rockley's neighbor told her about the tortoise's encounter with the mover, and put them in touch. The mover took the Rockleys to the site of the pond, seven miles from their home, but there was no sign of Lucy. A thorough search the next day didn't provide any clues, either. "I was definitely worried [we wouldn't get her back]," Rockley says. "You get to a point where you kind of think, 'Gosh, I'm just not sure we're going to find her.' "
As it turns out, Lucy had made her way to another home in the area, only to be returned to the pond by that resident. Determined and presumably hungry, she then ambled to a nearby feed store, where a bus driver happened to spot her outside. Last Tuesday, the Rockleys got a call from the feed store. "We spoke to the owner, who said one of his employees had [taken] Lucy home," Rockley recalls. By this time, not only had the tortoise been without food for weeks, but she was at risk during the frosty nighttime weather, too.
Getting Lucy back at this point wasn't quite so simple, however: the feed store employee who found her had fallen for the tortoise. "We wound up meeting Thomas, the employee, at the store [last] Tuesday," Rockley recalls. "As soon as we walked in, Lucy saw us and came running – as fast as a tortoise can run – up to us. Thomas said that he could tell where she really needed to be was at home, with us."
Though the reptile had a few cuts and bruises, and had clearly lost some weight, she's now back to her old self, relaxing at the Rockley's Westminster home with her puppy pals Juno, Puck and Baby Bacchus, and cat Rizzo. "When we first brought her home they were running up to her, they were so happy. She's part of the family," Rockley says. "It was a very, very, very long two weeks."
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