Zeke, the missing turtle, reunited with family after monthlong trek; travels took him about 1,000 feet

Debbie Young's lost turtle Zeke
The Young family's turtle, Zeke, was AWOL for a month. His travels took him about a fifth of a mile.
Debbie Young

Zeke, the missing turtle, has been reunited with his family after a month on the run, his slow but sure travels ending about 1,000 feet away from where he busted out of his home.

Tom Fortunato of Beverly said his golden retriever was sniffing around some ivy in his yard a few nights ago when “something caught his nose,” he said.

As Fortunato let Jake back into their home on Bates Park Avenue Tuesday afternoon, he noticed a small lump in the middle of the grass.

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“He was just sitting there on the lawn, just waiting to be found,” Fortunato said. “It was easy pickings.”

He brought his dog into the garage and picked up the turtle. He figured the little guy had to be Zeke, and left a voice mail for the Youngs.

“Bob called me back a couple hours later and couldn’t believe it,” Fortunato said. “He was thrilled.”

The box turtle had made a not-so-quick escape from his home on Western Avenue in Beverly on July 30 after the family cat pawed open the screen door to the back deck.

Bob and Debbie Young have owned Zeke for 31 years and made every effort to find their reptilian friend once they realized he was gone.

The Youngs placed ads in the local paper, put up fliers around town, and even called in the help of a reptile expert and a search and rescue dog trained to track reptiles and amphibians.

But it was Fortunato who reunited Zeke with his worried family, with a little help from his dog’s nose.

Fortunato lives about a fifth of a mile from Zeke’s family, and said the turtle must have trekked through some thick woods during his journey.

The Youngs had offered a reward to anyone who could find their beloved pet, but Fortunato said he wasn’t interested.

“I didn’t want any reward,” he said. “It wasn’t like he was too hard to catch.”