Sitting in a chair at a local oncology center, Bobbi Akin was in the midst of her chemotherapy treatment Thursday when she began to cry.
Rummaging through her purse, Akin eventually found a crumpled tissue that she used to wipe a tear that was trickling down her cheek as she began to talk about her pet, Chewy.
Chewy, a five-year-old desert tortoise that has been missing since July 23, weighs about 75 pounds and is over three feet long.
Named for her "strange but cute" way of chewing leafy greens, Akin fondly called Chewy her "critter kid."
"She was my baby, and I miss her so much," Akin said. "We've done everything we can do. Somebody knows something."
Still, how Chewy managed to escape Akin's backyard in Woodbridge is a mystery.
Akin believes the only way Chewy could have gotten out was when gardeners came to her residence to mow her lawn and tidy up her backyard and that when they left, they accidentally left the garden gate open.
Akin said it was six to eight hours after the gardeners left before she went outside and noticed the animal was missing.
"You can't miss something like (a tortoise) moving around in the yard," she said. "(The gardeners) knew she was there."
Akin said she has put up flyers in her neighborhood asking people with information about Chewy to call her.
However, since posting the flyers three weeks ago, only two people have called.
One caller asked if a reward for the safe return of the tortoise was involved. Another caller asked if she could have Chewy's box, which has a heat lamp inside, and use it for her own tortoise.
"I just think those calls were so insensitive," she said. "I mean, I would never ask someone who had just lost a pet if I could take that animal's home and use it for my own." Akin, who has stage four metistatic breast cancer, cannot walk on her own and has to use a wheelchair to get around.
Her biggest fear is that she cannot search the canal, which sits across the street from her home. She fears Chewy may have wandered over and ended up in the water.
According to Sylvia Adams, an employee at The Serpentarium on Maggio Circle, should anyone find Chewy, the best thing to do would be to feed the tortoise leafy greens — the darker the better — and make sure the animal is placed under a heat lamp to sustain its body temperature.
Adams said fruit can also be given to a tortoise as a treat and that should anyone find the lost tortoise to bring it to The Serpentarium.
In general, Adams said any lost tortoise will be able to say at The Serpentarium until the staff can find it a good home.
The Lodi Animal Shelter had not received any calls of a lost tortoise either as of press time.
"I really want her back, but if someone's got her and has kids or has a family, all I guess I can do is pray and leave it up to God to decide the rest," Akin said.
Should you have information on Chewy the missing tortoise, please call Akin at 327-0768.
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.