In a story -not unlike the classic ’Homeward Bound’ -a family pet went missing, only to find his way back, less than 24 hours later, all by himself.
The dramatic events unfolded yesterday evening when it was realised that Schumacher the tortoise, aptly named due to his surprising pace, had gone missing from a back garden in Cork city, close to UCC.
The tortoise which is 49-years-old, was actually on holidays at the time, staying with the family of his owner, 94-year-old Denis Kelly.
Young Conor Kelly, aged just eight-years-old, had been minding the tortoise for his grandad when the pet went missing.
Conor’s mother Michele said Conor was very upset about losing Schumacher and the whole family were afraid to tell Denis his beloved pet of 49 years could not be found.
On top of all that stress, young Conor was also about to make his Communion the next day.
"Conor was minding Schumacher for his grandad Denis and he was due to return the tortoise the next day on his communion.
"We were actually supposed to return Schumacher last week, but Conor begged to be allowed to keep the tortoise another week so he would be here on his communion for all the cousins to see."
The family realised Schumacher was not in the garden around 6pm Thursday evening and spent several hours looking for him.
"We checked the whole garden again and again and he wasn’t there. The neighbours even cut their lawn to make sure he hadn’t wandered in to their lawns."
Using social media the family sent out missing notices and then on Friday they got a call from a man saying he had found their tortoise by Atlantic pond, by the Cork marina.
Unfortunately for the Kelly family, it was not their tortoise, in fact it was a turtle.
"We ended up getting a turtle from this man and it was in terrible condition, the shell is all scratched and he was suffering from a calcium deficiency.
"We are going to bring him to the vet tomorrow, we can’t keep him, he is not ours and we would hate it if someone else had kept our tortoise."
When all seemed lost and the Kelly’s had almost given up hope ever finding old Schumacher, Conor stepped out into the garden and spotted the large green shell wandering around the garden.
Schumacher had found his way home.
"We were delighted he found his way home. We still haven’t told Denis he was missing, but he will probably find out by now as it is the talk of the town!"