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Leaving a community shell-shocked

Photo courtesy of Lou’s Pet Shop
FOREVER IN OUR HEART Frankie the tortoise brightens up the day of a young kid and helps him to discover his lifetime love of animals as the beloved community pet he is.

Thirty-three years old and 90 pounds, he was a friend we’ll never forget. His life may have been cut tragically short, but his memory lives on in every little kid that remembers seeing his smile, every employee that remembers his companionship and every parent who adored the spirit he brought to Lou’s Pet Shop.

On Tuesday, Oct. 24, Frankie the tortoise, the beloved mascot of almost 20 years at Lou’s Pet Shop, took his final stroll around the store and passed on. Although the cause of death at the moment is unclear, the turtle is currently being studied at Michigan State University’s pathology lab for further information.

“Around the shop is just heartache,” Lou’s Pet Shop owner Donnie Cook said. “I kind of expect to be cleaning up tortoise mess all day. It’s just a little bit more somber around here (after) having him part of the community as long as he was.”

Cook said Frankie had a special personality unlike any other tortoise he’s come across, and it ultimately was what drew people to come visit him so often; he could really be a friend to the community.

“He just had a unique little smiling face and a cool personality,” Cook said. “He always wanted to be part of what was happening in the shop. If you were cleaning or putting some new products on the shelf, he wanted to come inspect what you’re doing to see if there’s food involved.”

Cook mentioned that Frankie never missed the chance to get to interact with customers and brighten up someone’s day.

“If there was a lot of activity, he thought maybe there’s an opportunity for being scratched on the head,” Cook said. “He was almost like a dog really.”

While most Grosse Pointers know about beloved Frankie’s life in the pet store, they don’t know the story of how he actually came to Lou’s as a 15 pound, rehomed turtle that had been chewing holes in his family’s drywall in need of a new place to live.

“I was only at the shop for a year when we got the call about Frankie,” Cook said. “Originally, when we agreed to take him in, we thought we’d have him for a week or so. Then we made this little sign with his name on it and it just snowballed into this new community pet.”

South student Brigid Williams ’25 said she was heartbroken after hearing the news about Frankie’s passing, and can’t believe her favorite tortoise won’t be in the shop anymore.

“A big part of my childhood was seeing the turtle on the weekend when my dad would take me to Lou’s Pet Shop to get treats for my dog,” Williams said. “I’m just really sad about it.”

Frankie’s impact reached into every part of the community, especially at South. Science teacher Shelly Rothenbuhler is known for her class pets, and has purchased a number of animals from Lou’s Pet Shop, including frogs, arachnids and even sugar gliders.

“Everyone who ever went into Lou’s knows Frankie,” Rothenbuhler said. “I can’t imagine going in there and not tripping on a tortoise.”

While everyone is still aching from the loss of Frankie, Lou’s Pet Shop hopes that, once they’ve had time to heal, they’ll be able to help another tortoise the way they helped Frankie.

“There are a lot of turtles out there that need a home,” Cook said. “We’re hoping that, once the dust settles, Frankie’s legacy can be passed on to another.”

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About the Contributor
Charlotte Glasser '25
Charlotte Glasser '25, Supervising Page Editor
When she’s not baking or watching Gilmore Girls, second year staffer and Supervising Copy Editor Charlotte Glasser ’25 is behind the computer making The Tower newspaper come alive. Glasser takes French through University of Detroit Mercy, her goal is to become fluent; she was inspired this year after her trip to France in July, this past summer.“I think that French is such a beautiful language and I have always wanted to be bilingual,” Glasser said. Both of Glasser’s siblings have been on The Tower in years prior—her sister enjoyed it so much that Glasser decided to follow in her footsteps. She said that one of the reasons she loves Tower is that journalism is its style of writing.“If essay writing or creative writing isn’t your thing, maybe this is and I love how Tower has something for everyone,” said Glasser.

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